By L. Clark Tate
Planning isn’t a natural penchant of mine. I tend to let each day take me where it will. This allows for impromptu adventures but drives structured friends crazy and is very hard on my wardrobe. Hence, I love gear that pulls double duty, looking and feeling good on the street and the trail. Such attire is rare, so I was intrigued by KEEN’s Bryce WP light hikers, which the shoe maker pegs as “a streamlined trail shoe for global exploration.” That claim covers a lot of territory, so I was curious if they’d stack up.
Designed for day hikes or short overnight treks, the Bryce WP lays claim to a bevy of attractive features. Advertised as wet-weather ready, the shoe sports waterproof Nubuck leather uppers and KEEN’s proprietary watertight but breathable membrane. A TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) shank provides stability for the poundage of a pack but keeps the shoe light—a mere 13.5 ounces. On top of that a KEEN’s cushion layer delivers foam-based comfort from heel to toe. The classic Keen toe protection pairs with non-marking tread that “clings to the trail” to round out this well-considered design.
Our Take: This is my kind of shoe. Instantly comfortable, the fit only improved with time. The waterproofing was ample for a marshy hike up a desert stream, though some moisture did seep in during prolonged submersion (i.e. standing in water to the rims for five minutes). The shank provided plenty of support for hauling gear to a crag or spare backcountry camp and the tread felt secure both on steep, loose rock-strewn trails and slickrock. If longer treks are your goal, KEEN has a mid-cut version of the Bryce that offers increased protection and stability. Their rugged cuteness and women’s-specific, foot-cradling metatomical footbed, which provides targeted arch support for female forms, make these sturdy treads functionally feminine.