Gear Review: KEEN Obsidian WP Trail Shoe

A stable lightweight trail shoe for trail running or light backpacking trips

Speed Hiker

The lines between shoe categories get blurrier every year. Exhibit A: this trail runner-turned-light hiker. One tester wore the Obsidians through Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness while carrying a 30-pound pack and reports, “I felt like I was cheating—getting all the benefits of a solid mid-duty hiker at a fraction of the weight.”

The Obsidian’s midsole delivers all-day support and underfoot protection with an arch-only TPU shank and a dense EVA sheet that’s more like plastic than blown EVA (commonly used in running shoes). The combination prevents sore or bruised feet on long days over hard ground. Grooved cutouts in the forefoot enhance flex for easy striding, and asymmetric lacing allows a snug fit that eliminates toe-bang on downhills. After a thru-hike of the 273-mile Long Trail, one tester said that the traction saved her on a descent of Mt. Ira Allen after a storm. “The rocks were slippery as ice, the trail was a muddy, flowing river, and my hiking companion was on his butt—but I stayed upright.”

Credit wedge-shaped lugs that are angled forward, backward, and side-to-side, and punch-outs that are like recessed tire treads. Bonus: An external heel cup enhances ankle stability. Bummer: The polyurethane-based waterproof membrane isn’t as breathable as leading liners. $125; 1 lb. 12 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 5-11