Gear Closet: Keen Ambler Hiking Shoes

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Despite the fact that the calendar still reads winter, we all know spring is now just a few short weeks away. That means it is time to put away the thick winter clothes and store those bulky snow boots for another year. This spring Keen is helping us make the transition back to the warmer weather with a new pair of light hiking shoes that could help to redefine the category.

The new Ambler light hiker features a very soft waxed suede upper that is both durable and water resistant, helping to keep the shoes looking good and maintaining their overall condition. After breaking the shoes in by wearing them around town I was eager to hit some local trails and after several day hikes in a variety of conditions, I can honestly say that my Amblers still look like they just came out of the box. The suede makes them very easy to keep clean and with a little attention, you’d hardly know that they’ve been used as much as they have.

On the inside, the Amblers sport a well cushioned footpad that conforms to the shape of your foot, actually becoming more comfortable as you wear them. A moisture-wicking lining helps to keep your feet cool and dry no matter the what the weather throws at you and the lightweight, yet rugged, sole round out the package.

Of course, all of that sounds like what you would expect out of just about any light hiker from just about any company. But as usual, Keen has a few surprises in store for us, not the least of which is how good these shoes actually look. The Amblers have a nice sense of style about them that is unique and truly makes them stand out from a crowded field of competitors that mostly look the same. You can wear these shoes on a trail all day, then go to the local watering hole immediately afterward without a second thought, and I was surprised at how many people made comments on these shoes while I had them on.

We all know that how good a shoe looks is secondary to how well it performs however and we all want our hiking shoes to live up to our expectations. The Amblers don’t disappoint in that area either and I was continually impressed with how light and comfortable they were. In fact I regularly had to remind myself that I wasn’t wearing a pair of trail running shoes, albeit ones that protect my feet more fully.

The Amblers don’t just make a great trail shoe however as their versatility make them perfect for travel as well. When I hit the road I tend to travel light, rarely carrying more than two pairs of shoes with me at any given time. Because these shoes are great both on the trail and around town, they are the perfect option no matter what the destination.

The great looks, comfort, and versatility all come with a great price tag as well. The MSRP on the Keen Amblers is just $100 which is a bargain for quality shoes of this type. From my perspective, Keen has another hit on their hands.

Kraig Becker

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