The Keen WK400 walking shoes are on their way (the official launch date is 28 February 2023 in the UK), but we have managed to get our hands (well, feet) on an advanced pair. And, after putting them through their paces for a month, here are our thoughts.
In the last year or so, footwear using plate technology and curved midsoles have been all the rage – mostly in the running world, but increasingly for walkers too, thanks to products like the Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex hiking shoe. The Keen WK400 is a more extreme concept. We're talking energy, return, forward momentum and constant curve technology that makes every step feel more like a roll.
After being impressed by the Keen Revel IV Polar High, the Keen NXIS Evo Mid and the Keen Ridge Flex WP hiking boots, we were looking forward to putting the Keen WK400 through their paces, to see whether they were worthy of joining the ranks of the best walking shoes out there.
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Price and release date
Launched and on sale in the UK at the end of February 2023, the Keen WK400 walking shoes sell for UK£135/US$157/AU$235 in a bunch of two-tone designs – yellow/black, pink/white, white, and black (women’s), and yellow/black, blue/white, grey/white, and black (men’s).
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Tech
At the core of these walking shoes is the KEEN:CURVE technology. The result, says Keen, of three years and 10,000 hours of R&D and 5,000 miles of walking, is a structure and shape design to give the wearer the feeling of forward momentum. It's a combination of a curved plate to create a rolling movement and a high-energy midsole that cushions any rebound and gently propels the wearer forward.
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Ergonomics
The Keen WK400 certainly achieved what it set out to do. What is immediately noticeable is the arch support, which is an inevitable consequence of such a beefy midsole. The forward motion created by the KEEN:CURVE tech works best on flat ground where there's a feeling of one step rolling into another. It's a slightly odd sensation at first, but having worn them for a few weeks we can say it works well and at no point did we get exhausted even during a few long walks.
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Aesthetics
The Keen WK400 may be designed to make walking easier, but they also make you stand taller. The upper part of the shoe is ultra-lightweight mesh, which is breathable, but also water-resistant. However, the most notable aesthetic decision is offset lacing, designed to relieve pressure on the top of your feet but looks a little odd at first. For consistency, the key logo is presented below the offset lacing, but at the same angle. On the heel are two webbing loops to make them easier to yank off, though the lower one is way too small for anything other than a pinkie finger.
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Verdict
If unorthodox styling is your thing then you’ll love the Keen WK400, which combines a mile-munching design that propels the wearer forward. That takes a little getting used to, as do the offset laces, but the Keen WK400’s springy soles win the day.
Keen WK400 walking shoes review: Also consider
The top choice in our best women's walking shoes is the Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo, which features breathable Gore-Tex waterproofing. Strikingly different and with similar dynamic looks to the Keen WK400 are the Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex walking shoes, which add waterproofing to the mix and earn a place in our Best walking shoes for men.