The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Keen Marshall - Women's Review

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Price:  $110 List
Pros:  lightweight, vibrant color schemes, breathable, fast drying
Cons:  flexible soles, break in period (1-2 hikes), unusual arch support
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Briana Valorosi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 19, 2015
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77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support - 15% 7
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 8
  • Water Resistance - 5% 5
  • Durability - 5% 7

The Skinny

The Marshall is a vibrant summer hiking shoe with a sturdy sole yet the lightweight feel and flexibility of a trail running shoe. It is incredibly breathable with an airy mesh upper that is fast drying, and it is noticeably lightweight. Characteristics of the popular Keen sandals are present in the toe protection and spacious toe box. This shoe is an ideal summer shoe for mountain trails, park trails, and around town. For a more supportive option for light backpacking, check out the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh - Women's, which is similarly airy and breathable yet offers more support underfoot and water-resistant uppers.

Keen has discontinued the Marshall, but check out our comprehensive women's hiking shoe review to see our current top choices.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Summer heat and the likelihood of water crossings demand a shoe that is breathable and fast drying. The Keen Marshall is well suited for the demands of summer hiking.

Performance Comparison


We encountered a diversity of trails while hiking along the Thompson Divide in Colorado. From mud to sand to rock and even some light rain  the Keen Marshalls were one of many pair of hiking shoes to take on the variable conditions.
We encountered a diversity of trails while hiking along the Thompson Divide in Colorado. From mud to sand to rock and even some light rain, the Keen Marshalls were one of many pair of hiking shoes to take on the variable conditions.

Weight


The Marshall weighs in only 0.2 pounds heavier than the lightest pair of hiking shoes in our review, the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh. At 1.55 pounds, the Marshall is incredibly lightweight on trail and feels light enough to comfortably wear around town. Unlike the Vasque Grand Traverse that also weighs 1.55 pounds, the Marshall is made of airy textile uppers and rubber soles that are both sturdy and light.

The Keen Marshalls are among the lightest hiking shoes in our review. They are covered in mesh and airy padding to keep feet comfortable and well ventilated while hiking.
The Keen Marshalls are among the lightest hiking shoes in our review. They are covered in mesh and airy padding to keep feet comfortable and well ventilated while hiking.

Comfort


Of all of the women's hiking shoes, these require one of the longest break-in periods for comfort. The stiff toe protection is great for durability and long term comfort, yet it is very rigid straight out of the box and requires a hike or two to soften. The insoles and midsoles of the Marshall have minimal padding, but removable EVA insoles can be replaced with after market insoles like Superfeet.

Straight out of the box, these shoes are comparable to new sandals with synthetic material that softens and conforms after some activity. The textile mesh uppers are breathable and airy, lending to summer hiking comfort in warm temperatures. Padding around the ankles is minimal compared to the plush padding in the Merrell Moab Ventilator - Women's. Over time, the lightweight Marshall softens and becomes comfortable for all day trail use. For comfort paired with support, consider the Editors' Choice award winning Salomon Ellipse - Women's hiking shoes. For flexibility and softness, consider the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh. For straight out of the box padding and comfort, the Merrell Moab Ventilator is among the most comfortable.

Creasing at the forefoot should not limit your range of motion while hiking. The Marshalls are designed with a soft mesh  textile  and synthetic upper that flexes with each step.
Creasing at the forefoot should not limit your range of motion while hiking. The Marshalls are designed with a soft mesh, textile, and synthetic upper that flexes with each step.

Support


The Marshall has the flexibility and weight of a trail running shoe paired with the sturdy soles of a hiking shoe. The EVA midsoles stand over solid, non-marking rubber outsoles that can withstand miles of rocky trail. The uppers are flexible and unrestricting during stride. Stiffness paired with flexibility makes for a supportive day hiking shoe and around town walking shoe. We found them to be too stiff for trail running, though.

Traction


A varied tread pattern is ideal for traction in a hiking shoe. The Marshall has 4mm lug depth with a tread pattern that is varied, shedding away dirt, mud, and sand. In all conditions this shoe maintained traction. We found the Marshall to rank among the best options for crossing wet rock, rivers, and on muddy spring trails, although the uppers allow water to seep into the shoe. They excel on easy to moderate terrain and on wet terrain.

Versatility


The Marshall lacks the versatility we have come to expect from other shoes. Many hiking shoes are suitable for day hiking, backpacking, and even some for trail running. These are best for easy to moderate trail terrain with a daypack or around town. The soles are too stiff for comfortable trail running and they lack enough support to comfortably carry weight on overnight treks. The lack of water resistance on the uppers (note: they are also available in a waterproof model), limits them to warm climate use. For a three season hiking shoe that is also versatile in application, take a look at our review of the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh.

Water Resistance


Mesh uppers are synonymous with breathability, although they often lack water resistance. The textile uppers of the Marshalls are incredibly breathable and airy, yet they welcome water in without resistance. While standing in shallow water, our socks were wet in seconds. The mesh uppers of the Sugarpine Air Mesh are surprisingly water resistant and offer a comparable degree of breathability. The Marshall is best suited for dry climates.

Deep mud is no match for the sturdy soles and varied tread pattern of the Marshalls. Although  the mesh uppers did not offer much for keeping our feet dry.
Deep mud is no match for the sturdy soles and varied tread pattern of the Marshalls. Although, the mesh uppers did not offer much for keeping our feet dry.

Durability


Synthetic, textile uppers are durable against abrasion but will wear out faster than leather designs. For a lightweight hiking shoe, the Marshall is relatively durable. Metal grommets, as opposed to nylon rings or plastic eyelets, lend to greater durability along the lacing system. After miles of hiking through mud and dirt, a quick rinse brought them back to looking like new. Unlike the Siren Sport, which, after days of trail use appeared very worn in. The overall durability of materials and construction is high. Keen's proprietary toe protection adds to the durability of these shoes; contact with rock and terrain will not compromise the comfort of your toes and feet.

Best Applications


The Marshall is designed with a textile mesh upper and moisture wicking lining. They are ideal in summer temperatures and warmer climates. We recommend them for day hiking on easy to moderate terrain, including parks and around town. The sturdy soles are comfortable on rugged terrain, although the thin mesh uppers do not offer substantial protection against the elements, rocks, or trail debris. Hiking through shallow creeks and puddles, the Marshall maintained stability on wet terrain and dried incredibly fast. We do not recommend hiking in them barefoot- the textile uppers crease uncomfortably against bare feet. Bring extra socks if you intend to utilize them as river crossing shoes or you anticipate hiking in wet regions.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff. The Marshalls  like many of the shoes in our hiking shoe review  are great for moderate terrain and some scrambling over rocks. For technical terrain  consider either pair of Salomon shoes.
Sitting on the edge of a cliff. The Marshalls, like many of the shoes in our hiking shoe review, are great for moderate terrain and some scrambling over rocks. For technical terrain, consider either pair of Salomon shoes.

Value


At $110, the Marshall is a good value for a lightweight hiking shoe that is breathable and sturdy underfoot. We recommend them mainly for summer hiking because of their airy feel and lack of any insulating property, therefore finding them to be limited in versatility. This decreases the overall value of these shoes - most hiking shoes can be worn from spring, through summer, and into fall. For a three season hiking shoe that offers similar characteristics of breathability and light weight yet is capable of a broad range of trail and weather conditions, consider the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh or our Best Buy winning Merrell Siren Sport 2 - Women's.

Conclusion


For a breathable, lightweight summer hiking shoe, consider the durable construction and flexibility of the Keen Marshall. Vibrant color options and a low profile lend to trail-to-town versatility. They offer incredible traction on dry and wet surfaces, including rock and sand. The Marshall is a durable option for many summer days on the trail.


Briana Valorosi