Published on August 11th, 2009 | by Greg0
Keen to Try New Things
I discovered KEENs when I moved to Hawaii and was looking for a sandal I could wear for everyday. They are perhaps best known for their previously-reviewed iconic sandals, sturdy enough to trek through backwoods trails, get wet and support your feet at the same time.
While most of KEEN’s product line is aimed at the “trailhead” for their day hikes in rocky places, they have also put their mind to designing a few product lines aimed at the laid-back, granola-eating trekker in their off-hours. They have shoes aimed at city-dwellers and also a lot of very nice bags in a variety of cute colors.
Perhaps they understand that the female trail-hiker isn’t necessarily your average girl. In a time when the fashion seems to be the “baby carrier” (complete with the hunch that sometimes accompanies it), KEEN has a nice, small utilitarian pocketbook you can wear across your chest, the Fremont. Having prided myself on avoiding getting a purse for years, I finally broke down after the purchase of an iPhone and searched for an appropriate carrying conveyance.
When trying to find a bag, I called upon my mother’s wisdom, who used to spend hours over days over weeks, ruminating over the appropriate purse. Her requirement? As many compartments as possible. It once stopped a man from pick-pocketing her. He couldn’t find her cash before she noticed him looking for it, but she had her purse organized exactly the way she wanted and could find anything on a dime.
KEEN fulfills this requirement in spades, especially for such a small bag. It is perfect for carrying a lot of small things in separate compartments, with places for credit cards, cash, coins, keys and cell phones. It was wider than I expected, with more room on the side than my iPhone needed.
KEEN’s Fremont bag uses magnets instead of clips. This is actually quite convenient as it is easy to snap and unsnap. The downside is that sometimes it comes undone of its own accord and even more so when you try to carry more than the bag is meant to handle. Additionally, though it’s quite light, it can have the tendency to chafe if worn for too long, especially if you’re wearing a tank top or something that exposes your shoulder. It’s an excellent size for a passport, which makes it ideal for world traveling in hot weather, and despite its slight security flaw, there are so many compartments that it is easy to hide cash, credit cards and traveler’s checks away from one another.
The other thing I love about this bag is the style. I think of it as a purse, but really it’s an advanced fanny pack in some ways. I’ve handed it off to my boyfriend a few times and while in San Francisco he wouldn’t get many looks anyway, the dark black strap and fairly utilitarian look doesn’t call immediate attention to it.
KEEN also has a variety of shoes that are catered towards city trekking and not backwoods hiking or adverse river conditions. Their “BLVD” and “Market” lines have a distinctly West Coast city look. I tried out the Coronados in the BLVD line. They’re vaguely reminiscent of a few other shoe types, including Converse sneakers. The shoes are made of canvas, which is not ideal for rainy weather, but has a very cute and distinctly old school look. The colors, like all of KEEN’s shoe colors, are also a good mix of trendy stand-out colors and muted blend-in colors.
The shoes do not have much support, which is rather typical of this type of shoe. Surprisingly, however, they’re quite comfortable. It’s like your feet are sleeping in bed instead of walking the streets. It doesn’t stop your feet from feeling sore after wandering around all day, but they’re always super comfy to put on. Perhaps the secret is in the soles, which are a combination of recycled polyurethane and cork, and create a very nice, bouncy feel.