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Hands-on Gear Review

Keen Voyageur - Women's Review

Keen Voyageur - Women's
Price:   $115 List | $114.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Meshy, breathable
Cons:  Not waterproof
Bottom line:  Great shoe for those with wide feet who need a hiker for arid areas.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Keen

Our Verdict

The Keen Voyageur is a shoe at home romping around in hot, dry, desert environments. It features a mesh upper which makes it super breathable but not so waterproof. They are lightweight, but don't have as much cushioning or support as our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry - Women's. They do have a protective rubber toe-box, the classic Keen look, but the exposed EVA foam on the sole does not last over multiple hiking seasons. They are cut on the wide side, so if you have trouble finding shoes that properly fit due to the width of your feet, these might be the perfect pair for you.

Update - June 2017
The current model of the Women's Voyageur looks slightly different than the model we originally reviewed. We contacted Keen and they assure us that the slight modifications are purely cosmetic. Keep reading to learn more.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Shoes for Women Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
March 26, 2017

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The Current Model of the Voyageur vs. the Older Model


Since our original review, the Women's Voyageur is donning a few cosmetic tweaks. We contacted Keen, and they let us know that the updates are solely cosmetic and shouldn't affect the performance of the product. New and fresh colors are available and the list price is unwavering, at $115 a pair.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the latest version of the Voyageur Women's pictured on the left and the older version shown on the right.
Keen Voyageur - Women's
Keen Voyageur - Women's NEW
 


Here's a summary of the key differences between the latest model and the previous version:
  • Outsole — The outsole of the new model is more streamlined and less bulky than the original version of this shoe.
  • Color Options — The soft green color of the model we originally tested is no longer available, but you can currently buy this shoe in the following earthy color options: Brindle/Alaskan Blue, Raven/Rose Dawn, and Neutral Gray/Lime Green.

We haven't had the opportunity to test out this new version of the Women's Voyageur. That said, we believe that the cosmetic changes are not likely to have a major impact on its performance, as the main features and design of these hiking shoes pretty much remain the same. The text and ratings in this review still reflect the older version.

Hands-on Review of the Original Women's Keen Voyageur


The Keen Voyageur has a "water resistant" leather and mesh upper, a dual density EVA midsole, and a non-marking rubber sole with 4 mm lugs. While the length of these shoes ran true to size, the cut was on the wide side compared to the other models in this review.

This classic hiking shoe has some great features  like a breathable mesh liner and great traction.
This classic hiking shoe has some great features, like a breathable mesh liner and great traction.

Unfortunately, the Voyageurs had one of the lowest scores in our testing.


Comfort


Keen's footwear has a reputation for being cut on the wide side, and these hiking shoes were true to their style. While that is a bonus for the wide-footed ladies out there, they don't work so well for the narrow-footed hikers, like our main tester. While we couldn't knock off any points for that (because what is not comfortable for us could be the best fit ever for someone else), we did find a lack of cushion under the forefoot to be a bit of a problem by the end of a five mile hike. We could feet every pebble and cobble, and really wished there was a little more cushion underfoot. Our Top Pick for Comfort, the Hoka One One Tor Summit WP - Women's, gave us all the cushioning we could ask for and then some.

We also did experience some hot spot issues under our big toes with this pair. Our feet were sliding around so much in the overly (for us) wide toe box that we started to get some irritation underfoot. Again, we can't fault the shoe too much, because it's just not cut for our foot, but it is something to keep in mind when sizing a pair — too wide and you'll have friction issues from your foot sliding around, and too narrow and you'll have friction issues from your feet rubbing against the sides. You can check out our Buying Advice guide, where we break down the things to look for when sizing a shoe, and also make recommendations for different brands and models to look for depending on the width of your foot.

There's not a lot of cushioning in the forefoot of this shoe  which affected its comfort score. Our feet were also sliding around quite a bit in the front due to the wider cut  which caused some hot spots underfoot.
There's not a lot of cushioning in the forefoot of this shoe, which affected its comfort score. Our feet were also sliding around quite a bit in the front due to the wider cut, which caused some hot spots underfoot.

Support


This shoe felt really flat under the arch. Perhaps this was due to its wider cut overall, but we didn't feel much support in that area, which then decreased the lateral stability of the shoe. While this model still works well as a light day-hiker, if you are looking for something that you can also carry a heavier backpack with, check out the Lowa Renegade II GTX LO - Women's, which has a stiffer sole and provides more support overall.

Even hiking on flat trails we didn't feel much support from this shoe.
Even hiking on flat trails we didn't feel much support from this shoe.

Traction


The 4 mm multi-directional lugs on the sole provide good traction on moderately technical terrain. They weren't the "stickiest" shoe in the bunch, but worked well for a variety of loose dirt trails and even some low angle scrambling.

We were able to hike up and down moderate slabs in these shoes with ease.
We were able to hike up and down moderate slabs in these shoes with ease.

Weight


At 1 lb 15 oz in a women's size 10, this pair is in the middle of the pack weight wise. You can shave a few ounces off each foot with the Ahnu Sugarpine WP - Women's, but you'll sacrifice some support and durability in the process.

Water Resistance


Keen states that the Voyageur has a "water resistant" upper, which means that if there's a light rain or you're walking through dew-coated grass, your feet might still stay dry. But once submerged in water, either on purpose (like we did in our bucket test) or by accident (say your foot slips while crossing a stream), you have about 30 seconds until the shoe is soaked through. While this is probably a deal breaker for someone in the Pacific Northwest, if you are mostly hiking in dry climates, then a non-waterproof shoe is a great option as they tend to be more breathable than a pair with a waterproof lining. Note that Keen does not make a waterproof version of this model. The other non-waterproof shoe in this review, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator, is available in a fully waterproof version, the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof - Women's.

Durability


The rubber toe cap on the Voyageur (right) provides a lot more protection than some other models  like the Ahnu Sugarpine (left).
The rubber toe cap on the Voyageur (right) provides a lot more protection than some other models, like the Ahnu Sugarpine (left).

Overall, these shoes seem sturdy and durable. The extra rubber on the toe gives the shoe a "function over fashion" look, but holds up to as much toe-stubbing as the sloppiest hiker can manage. However, the first thing to wear out is the exposed EVA foam on the sole, which is fragile compared to the bottom rubber. We polled other outdoorsy women to see if they had opinions of the boots in this review, and one female Forest Service employee showed us her pair that she wore in the back country for one season. The sole was deteriorating, having been banged up by rough terrain. If you know you'll be hiking in rocky conditions, look for a pair like the Lowa Renegade II GTX LO, which has rugged rubber around the entire shoe.

This shoe has a large swath of exposed softer EVA midsole  which can't withstand the same abuse as the rubber toe cap.
This shoe has a large swath of exposed softer EVA midsole, which can't withstand the same abuse as the rubber toe cap.

Best Applications


The Keen Voyageur is ideal for day-hiking in hot, dry conditions, thanks to its breathable mesh construction. The gusseted tongue keeps sand and pebbles out from under the laces, and the toe bumper protects the foot in uneven and variable terrain.

If your looking for a light hiker for desert conditions  this pair is a good bet.
If your looking for a light hiker for desert conditions, this pair is a good bet.

Value


These shoes retail for $115, which is a little more than the similar non-waterproof Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's. However, if they fit your feet well then it's worth paying a little more to get a good fit.

Conclusion


The Keen Voyageur did not score very high overall in our tests, but that doesn't mean it's not a good shoe for certain applications. In fact, if you live in the desert and have wide feet, these might be your perfect pair. As the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it!

Other Versions


This shoe also comes in a mid-version ($125) for those that prefer a little more coverage or ankle support.
Cam McKenzie Ring

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Most recent review: March 26, 2017
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