– Moisture wicking lining
– Breathable, durable mesh with waxed suede trim
– Removable dual density EVA footbed
– S3 heel support structure
– Weight 1 lb. 8 oz. (Women’s size 8)
– Available in Mens sizes 7-14, Women’s 5-11
– Retail $95.00
As a rule, I don’t wear new hiking shoes for anything over a few miles. However, the morning I was frantically packing to leave for a five day hike, my worn-in pair were nowhere to be found. In desperation, and with my 5am ride honking in the driveway, I grabbed the pair of Ambler Mesh that KEEN sent me and ran out the door.
I wore them a little bit around town before my hike, but not nearly enough to break them in for a hike of this distance. So many have made the same mistake of wearing new shoes on an extended hike, and paid dearly in blisters and wasted time soothing sore feet. Lucky for me, I was much more fortunate.
(click to enlarge)
The features of this warm-weather hiker were a pleasant surprise. The molded heel cup did a great job of holding my heel securely in place without any slipping or movement, even when we were hiking through more aggressive terrain. The back of the shoe was low enough that there was no irritation, and with extra cushion on the edges there’s no rubbing or chaffing. Having the rubber outsole wrap onto the toe is somewhat of a KEEN signature look. In this case especially, it added the bonus of good protection against rocks and stumps. The tread was great, with some good sticky rubber to keep slippage at bay. The mesh was breathable as promised, and when worn with the right socks, the temp was perfect.
My favorite thing by far, about this shoe is how it performs on steep, downhill terrain- it’s the ultimate test to me of a good hiker. After hours heading down a steep grade with a full pack, the tips of my toes were still blissfully happy. The toe-box on the Ambler is slightly wider than a typical hiker and allowed for a nice roomy feel without being to big. Allowing for foot splay in a minimalist shoe is a given in the current market, but it was a welcome discovery in a hiking shoe. In fact, I loved the little bit of extra room so much that since returning from my trip, I’ve had a hard time convincing myself to find my regular hiking shoes.
KEEN is a thoughtful brand, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that they were comfortable out-of-the-box, but they really did blow me away.