Reviews You Can Rely On

Keen Zionic Speed - Women's Review

Similar to a modern trail running shoe, this hiking shoe features a super lightweight design, a very flexible performance mesh upper, and sufficient traction for groomer trail systems
gearlab tested logo
Keen Zionic Speed - Women's Review
Credit: Trish Matheny
Price:  $145 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 3, 2023
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 20% 5.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 4.0
  • Weight - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Keen Zionic Speed is a modern hiking shoe designed to focus on light and fast missions through a minimalist and lightweight construction. It requires no extended break-in period and offers comfort for both wide and narrow feet. Though the support is limited due to a very flexible performance mesh upper and nominal padding to reduce weight, the Zionic is perfect for hikes on well-maintained trail systems. The lack of waterproof performance can also be used to your advantage, especially for those desert hikes during the heat of summer, as the shoe offers a breathable textile lining. Sufficient traction is a plus, but we question the durability of the lightweight and soft rubber that makes up most of the outsole. If you're focused on speed and don't plan on carrying a heavy pack or getting wet, this shoe could be a great niche option for your quiver.
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Comfortable out of the box
Roomy toe box
Solid traction
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited support
Minimal padding
Questionable durability
Not waterproof
Floppy lacing system

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $83.97 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$78.83 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$89.40 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$96.76 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$52.49 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
65
78
76
68
65
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line This lightweight and affordable hiking shoe is designed to maximize speed through a stripped down and simple constructionThese shoes will encourage confidence with every step thanks to incredible grip and sticky Vibram rubber outsolesHigh performance without the added weight, this shoe is built for pushing the pace in mountainous terrainThis affordable hiking shoe offers great support for those with high archesThe lightweight design and sneaker-like feel provide ample comfort under foot
Rating Categories Keen Zionic Speed -... La Sportiva TX4 - W... The North Face VECT... Merrell Moab 3 - Wo... Columbia Crestwood...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.5
Support (20%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.5
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
4.0
5.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
Weight (15%)
9.0
7.4
8.0
5.3
6.8
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.5
6.5
Specs Keen Zionic Speed -... La Sportiva TX4 - W... The North Face VECT... Merrell Moab 3 - Wo... Columbia Crestwood...
Measured Weight (per pair, size 8.5) 1.20 lbs 1.42 lbs 1.34 lbs 1.70 lbs 1.50 lbs
Upper Performance mesh Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand Performance mesh Pigskin leather, mesh Leather, mesh, and webbing
Lining Breathable textile Nonslip mesh futurelight waterproof membrane Recycled mesh Omni-Tech
Flood Level 3.5" 3.5" 3.3" 3.5" 3.5"
Midsole Compression-molded EVA Traverse Injection MEMlex Single-density EVA Super rebound compound Techlite
Outsole Nonmarking rubber Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System Surface Control rubber Vibram TC5 Omni-Grip
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide Regular, wide

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Keen Zionic Speed is a super light and minimalist hiker designed with speed in mind. These shoes offer comfort right out of the box, but unfortunately, the flexible upper doesn't provide a ton of support for those demanding off-trail missions. The traction of the TPU outsole is sufficient, but these shoes aren't waterproof. That said, if you're looking for a lightweight hiking shoe for lower-elevation hikes on well-maintained trails, this could be a good option for your consideration.

Performance Comparison


keen zionic speed for women - the zionic speed is a great option for those seeking a lightweight...
The Zionic Speed is a great option for those seeking a lightweight structure for well-maintained trails.
Credit: Trish Matheny


Comfort


The Zionic Speed offers immediate comfort for both narrow and wide feet. The design is similar to a minimalist trail running shoe with a roomy toe box and very limited padding around the ankle and tongue. Quick-drying linings and an odor-control treatment also help this non-waterproof shoe to be more comfortable by shedding excess moisture, making it a great option for hikes during the heat of summer at lower elevations. Keen also included their Luftcell technology, which includes a cushioned midsole with micro air pockets to help with shock absorption and rebound with every stride.

While our testing team can appreciate the limited padding within this simple design, the material used around the ankle would often grab our sock as we put on the shoe and create unnecessary friction. Though the Zionic is comfortable and doesn't require any break-in period, we found the flexible performance mesh upper to demand more from our feet — the design led to early fatigue and discomfort during our days on the trail.

keen zionic speed for women - though the minimalist design showcases limited padding in exchange...
Though the minimalist design showcases limited padding in exchange for a lighter weight, the toebox is big enough to support those with wider feet.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Support


Though Keen advertises the super lightweight and athletic design of the Zionic Speed as stable and supportive, our testing team found the support to be minimal and singularly focused. The removable PU insoles offer limited arch support, especially for those with high arches, and the Keen Contoured Fit technology that hugs the natural shape of the foot provides minimal support, especially for those with narrow feet.

While our testing team appreciated the stability shanks that Keen included to improve mobility and rebound on uneven surfaces, ultimately, it wasn't enough support to inspire confidence on technical terrain. The upper is simply too soft (even when including the extra runner's loop eyelet) and flexible to lock your heel in place and offer the stability needed to confidently push the pace or carry a heavy pack.

keen zionic speed for women - the support is limited within this flexible upper, however, we found...
The support is limited within this flexible upper, however, we found that utilizing the additional runner's eyelet helped to lock our heel into place.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Traction


The Zionic Speed design features nimble traction complete with a 4mm multi-directional lug pattern that performs better on uniform surfaces such as slippery rock slabs versus trail debris and decomposing granite. Though the outsole offers ample performance, our testing team prefers the high-performing Vibram outsoles in the lineup that maximize stability on a variety of terrains.

keen zionic speed for women - though the unique outsole performed well in most terrain, our...
Though the unique outsole performed well in most terrain, our testing team prefers a design that offers a deeper lug pattern for better control underfoot.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Water Resistance


Though the Zionic Speed does not offer a waterproof membrane nor a waterproof upper, this can be used to your advantage. For those who live at lower elevations and warmer climates, this could be the perfect hiking shoe to maintain comfort on the trails, thanks to the shoe's quick-drying liners and simple design. However, if waterproof performance is a key metric for your hiking shoe selection, the Zionic will certainly disappoint.

keen zionic speed for women - this shoe failed our water resistance testing when submerged...
This shoe failed our water resistance testing when submerged, however, we found that the upper was indeed waterproof as long as the stream was shallow and didn't run over the tongue.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Weight


The Zionic Speed received the highest marks in this metric due to its incredibly lightweight design. Weighing in at only 1.2 pounds for a US women's size 8.5, this is an incredibly light hiking shoe. Unfortunately, in shedding extra ounces in the minimalist design, you also sacrifice versatility, support, waterproof performance, and optimal durability for rugged trail systems.

keen zionic speed for women - this shoe features one of the lightest designs that we tested.
This shoe features one of the lightest designs that we tested.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Durability


The Zionic Speed is constructed from a combination of mesh and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) overlays that help to reduce the weight of the design but limit the shoe's ability to perform on technical trails. The toe cap is tiny, and the soft rubber that combines with the TPU rubber outsole left our team questioning how long the shoe will last on the trail.

During our extensive testing period, we noted the impact of sharp rocks on the soft rubber in addition to the low-performing toe cap that simply doesn't get the job done on demanding trails. These minimalist shoes are designed for speed; however, we're not confident in how long they will last.

keen zionic speed for women - the soft rubber and nominal toe cap caused long-term durability...
The soft rubber and nominal toe cap caused long-term durability concerns amongst our testing team due to their lightweight and minimal construction.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Should You Buy the Keen Zionic Speed?


If you're interested in an affordable and lightweight hiking shoe that features a minimalist design, the Keen Zionic Speed should definitely be on your shortlist. This comfortable hiking shoe offers ample traction, out-of-the-box comfort for multiple foot shapes, and enough durability for well-maintained trail systems. That being said, it will certainly disappoint those who are seeking structure, stability, waterproof performance, and a higher-quality design that's built to last.

keen zionic speed for women - the keen zionic speed is a good option for those looking for a...
The Keen Zionic Speed is a good option for those looking for a lightweight and minimal design that can easily navigate well-maintained trails without the weight of a pack.
Credit: Trish Matheny

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


If you're interested in other hiking shoes that feature a lightweight, simple design, check out the Altra LP Alpine, which is similar to the Zionic Speed in terms of limited support and waterproof protection.

keen zionic speed for women - though it is available at a more affordable price, our testing team...
Though it is available at a more affordable price, our testing team favored other options that offer more in terms of waterproof performance, support, and durability.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Trish Matheny