The Keen NXIS Evo mid boot claims to be an upgraded, fast hiking boot with a ‘running shoe feel’ and an engineered knit upper. The styling is more aggressive than you'd find in most of today's best hiking boots, but how do they perform on a trek?We put a pair to the test to find out. Read on for our Keen NXIS Evo mid hiking boot review.
These are available in men's and ladies' fits, but for more options there, check out our guide to the best hiking boots for women.
Keen NXIS Evo mid boot review: design
The design of the Keen NXIS Evo mid boot is typical Keen - broad of toe-box, deep of sole, with plenty of neat touches to elevate it beyond more budget-conscious competitors. As with many lightweight boots, the Keen NXIS Evo mid boot has gone with an engineered knit upper, backed with Keen’s own ‘Keen Dry’ waterproof membrane to keep the weather out. There are small areas of TPU reinforcement around the lace loops, and the high-wear areas of the toe and a stiffening section on the gusseted tongue.
The penultimate lace hole is part of a KonnectFit heel-capture system, in practice a cradle of plastic and cord that links laces behind the achilles at the rear, and down into the sole at the bottom. The idea being to clamp the heel tightly and prevent heel lift. A further gesture in this heel-control theme is an internal bolster, neatly labelled ‘Heel Lock’, just to dispel any confusion about its purpose.
Down in the sole unit, there's a bunch of 4mm multi-directional horseshoe tread pattern lugs to grip stuff with, sculpted from KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber, ably supported by a compression-moulded EVA midsole to add bounce.
Keen NXIS Evo mid boot review: comfort and performance
Keen boots are usually comfortable, thanks to their broad foot and cushioned soles, and the Keen NXIS Evo mid boot is no exception. The boot wraps round the foot neatly, giving a real sense of security and solidity, in spite of the lightweight nature of the boot and upper construction. This is aided by the ankle padding, with extra raised sections over the ankle bone and that Achilles bolster helping lock the ankle into place. The lacing contributes here too, the lower section having higher friction thanks to the cord loops, which means the slicker top two eyelets around the ankle tighten more readily than the lower, ensuring the ankle is tight.
The ride is certainly pretty plush, the midsole offering a fair amount of energy return for a walking boot, and a chunky removable insole also amping up the squishiness factor. The sole unit is trainer-flexible lengthways, resulting in immediate comfort straight out of the box, but laterally it’s surprisingly stiff, good news for the more adventurous walker. There’s very little weight in each boot (417.9 grams), adding to a trainer-esque feel, and the low heel gives plenty of room for manoeuvre, especially welcome on steeper inclines.
The chunky 4mm horseshoe-pattern tread does a solid job on the grippiness front, dealing with mud and wet grass with ease. It’s quite happy on harder surfaces too, refusing to break traction on surfaces ranging from gravel to greasy tarmac. The big compromise here is protection around the foot, not such a surprise given the light weight and running shoe design heritage. There’s a section of sole that wraps up and around the toe, creating a welcome buffer against toe-stubbage, but the sides of the foot have to manage with simple TPU overlays. This is fine for light walking, footpaths and the odd Sunday ramble, but anything more dramatic will throw up challenges.
Keen NXIS Evo mid boot review: verdict
The Keen NXIS Evo mid boot has a pretty aggressive look, which to be fair is borne out in practice. It gives a lightweight, fast, predictable ride, and feels very deft on the foot - thanks to the lack of weight and slimline profile. Comfort is very good, the broad foot and dropped heel making for a plush and friendly experience.
Although the toe protection is pretty decent for a lightweight mid boot, side protection is the main thing you’re losing out on, making the Keen NXIS Evo mid boot great for footpaths and similar tracks, but less ideal for striking out into the wilderness. As a relatively breathable summer rambler though, there’s plenty to like here.