Gear Guide 2012: Keen Alamosa Mid Shoe

This shoe offers a great fit and highly breathable mesh great for hot-weather hiking.

[hot-weather hiker]

Sign up for a marathon rim-to-rim dayhike of the Grand Canyon, with 21 miles of hiking and 12,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, and you can almost certainly expect a few monster blisters as proof of your achievement. But our tester, who has suffered from them in the past, was amazed to complete the 14-hour journey without a single hot spot—while wearing the Alamosa.

The key is a combination of a great fit (it’s especially roomy in the toebox to allow for long-mileage foot swelling) and the highly breathable mesh-and-nubuck upper (it has no waterproof liner). “Aside from pressure, blisters come from friction, and friction comes from heat-caused sweat,” says our veteran tester. “The fact that my feet stayed dry despite the intensity of the hike and high temps (upper 70s) was pretty amazing.”

Another tester, who wore the Alamosa on a four-day September backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths, reports “I hiked up to 18 miles a day and forded many shallow rivers, and they dried on my feet within a few hours.” The compression-molded EVA midsole is light and cushiony, with a sneakerlike flex in the forefoot—perfect for fastpacking long miles with light loads. “But the midsole lacks the protection I need for backpacking off-trail or with more than 30 pounds on my back,” says one tester. Best for mid-volume feet. $120; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-11;