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My favorite shoes
A peaceful winter trail walk
A long summer hike
I don’t always write poems about my shoes. But when I do, they’re haikus. Okay, I never write poems about my shoes or anything else. But I feel a bit wistful about my favorite hiking shoes. Yesterday, I bought new shoes. My old ones carried me along countless miles of Oregon trails, above ground and below. I’ve hiked desert trails, forest trails, high altitude and low. I’ve hiked caves and lava tubes, and I’ve stood in creeks running with frigid water, while my toes stayed warm and dry. It’s an odd thing to bond with inanimate objects, and yet, I’ve done so. My Keens have been with me for years. My heart leaps at adventure as my hands reach for my Keens.
The beginning of my love affair with Keens
I first met Keen in 2009. My husband and I are pretty rugged people. We’re tough on shoes, so they have to be excellent quality. I’d tried some sport sandals that weren’t up to the task, and I looked for something new. I kept hearing about these Keen sandals, and I finally gave them a try. My first sandals arrived in June 2009, the original Newport Sandals in Shitake and Baroque Rose (uh, brown and pink). I broke them in on a 2 mile trail that included wet river crossings. That’s right, I hiked in brand new sandals that were WET. For 2 miles. You don’t need to be a hiking expert to know this is a bad idea! But my new sandals did alright, and I came home with my skin and my feet intact. Over the next few summers, I wore those sandals hard.
My favorite hiking shoes for women
A couple of years later, I needed new hiking shoes. My old ones were in good shape, but with age and babies, my feet had widened. My Keen sandals fit perfectly, so I visited a local shoe store and came home with my first pair of Keen Targhee II hiking shoes. I loved the low-rise hiker that felt more like a sneaker than a boot. They were waterproof and had the signature Keen sole. Over the next 8 years, I would practically live in those shoes.
I wore my Keen hiking shoes around town on rainy days. I wore them on our rare snowy winter days to go sledding with my kids or dig out the van. We went on dozens, if not hundreds, of walks and hikes. We explored local trails and we drove long hours to reach far flung trails in the outer reaches of Oregon. I’ve ventured deep into caves, and I’ve climbed hills to see stunning vistas. Sunrise to sunset, from tent to house, on foot or in the van, my Keen shoes and I traveled a long way together.
My favorite hiking sandals for women
My beloved Newport sandals finally died a couple of years ago. The inner sole disintegrated after 10 years of heavy use. I held on to them for another year, and finally admitted it was the end for them. This year, I replaced them with a pair of Keen Whisper Sandals, perfect for water activities. I broke them in with an inaugural outing to a swimming hole, where I dove right in to the water and declared to the world (okay, just myself) that these were my new sandals and we were going to adventure. The molded EVA midsole is super comfortable and perfect for using in the water. But don’t misjudge these sandals, they aren’t just for water. I’ve also done regular hikes in these and they are fantastic. The lug sole is thick enough to protect from rocks and trail debris, and the comfort lasts all day.
And this summer, it became clear that it was also time to shop for new hiking shoes. My Keen Targhee II shoes look pretty good, but the upper is separating from the sole. It’s fair, I’ve owned them since 2011 and have worn them almost daily during the winter, plus throughout our summer hikes. They’ve carried me over trails of obsidian and down into lava tube caves. We’ve explored slot canyons and abandoned gold mines.
The dawning of a new era
This weekend was my birthday…again. Haha. I bought my first Targhee hiking shoes on my birthday 8 years ago, and my second pair of Targhee hiking shoes on my birthday this year. After a rather exhausting search (seriously, shoe shopping is a workout! Phew!) and three stores, I found the perfect new shoes. I tried on dozens of pairs in several brands. I prefer low-rise hikers that fit more like a sneaker. Keens are my one true love, and I know why. They fit me beautifully, and they feel like they’re already broken in. I had trouble finding my size in stock, and in the end, the shoes that won my heart are Men’s Targhee III low-rise hiking shoes. The men’s version is slightly wider, and finding my size was much easier.
They make two versions now. The Targhee III Vent are not waterproof, and they have mesh fabric built into them for extra ventilation. They’re lighter weight and have a lower price point. But I need waterproof for our rainy Oregon days, so I bought the Dry version. I haven’t worn them for a hike yet, but my husband is challenging us to break them in with 12 hikes in 12 weeks. We can do it!
A tip for breaking in boots
At the shoe store, the salesman suggested I pull out the insoles from my old hiking shoes and trade them with the new insoles in the new shoes. That way, the footbed is already broken in, and it will be more comfortable to break in the rest of the boot. Then someday, I can trade back to the new insoles and break those in. I’m taking this advice, and I’ll let you know how that works out for me! The arch support is a little different between the two insoles, so this may be the best advice I’ve ever gotten!