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Gear Test: Patagonia Women's Kicks

Patagonia introduces women-specific footwear—and the ladies of BACKPACKER give them a spin

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This summer, Patagonia’s introducing three all-new women’s specific “multi-sport” shoes, so we asked the multi-sporty females of BACKPACKER to give ’em a whirl. They went above and beyond the call by testing them in wildly diverse conditions, from the Colorado’s San Juan mountains to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park to their home gardens and kitchens. Check it:

Patagonia Bly, $110

Senior Editor Tracy Ross: These low-top hikers are, hands-down, the most comfy-out-of-the-box hiking shoes I’ve ever put on. They were comfortable with the tag on, and kept on being comfortable as I hiked them from the town of Telluride to the top of a San-Juan waterfall one day last week. They splashed through creeks and kept my feet dry; they had this cool sort of push up support underfoot that helped alleviate what I call the “stone bruise” feeling (which could be early arthritis from years of telemarking in the wrong boots).

On tricky scrambles up scree fields, they felt so trustworthy and grippy, I might as well have been wearing mountain goat hooves. I love them. I only wish they came in a beefier version that I could wear on a long backpacking trip.

Web Producer Katie Herrell: First thing I noticed was great toe cover. I ran into our metal stove at one point and didn’t feel it. Also, pretty good traction on the rocks; sometimes trail-like shoes can be a little sparse on the gripping power, but these held up. While they look heavy, like mountaineering shoes, they actually didn’t weigh me down and I felt more protected around my foot than I do with a typical trailrunning shoe.

These might be my dress up trail shoes. Not sure I’d want to wear them through mud or high water, because I wouldn’t want to muck up the pretty blue color or patterned fabric around the laces. If I did, the brown or green ones might be more practical.

Linda Edmonson (Ross’s mother-in-law): The boots are awesome—I really love them. There was absolutely no break-in required. They provided good support for hiking in Yosemite, and my feet were as comfortable at the end of the hike as when we started. It rained the entire trip and my feet stayed relatively dry.

The biggest test came while hiking along the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. In addition to the rain, as we approached each fall, the force creates its own weather system, with whipping wind and enormous spray from the falls. At times, the trail was covered with several inches of water—enough to come over the soles of the boots and seep through the tongue. However, I can’t say my feet actually got wet; I could feel some dampness, but by the end of the hike, my socks were dry and my feet warm. No blisters or discomfort. I love these boots!

Patagonia Kenosha, $90

Ross: As for these Mary Jane hikers, what can I say? I didn’t really trust them enough to hike in them, but my friend Jackie wore them trail running and said “no thanks.” They’re cute and sturdy enough for river-rock scrambling and trail hiking with my kids, which maybe is what they’re intended for. I like them, and vow to wear them on my next walk up Sanitas, but can’t say I’d die without them.

Assistant Art Director Jackie McCaffrey: The shoes are SUPER comfortable and easy to wear; I have wider feet, and they fit perfectly. The Velcro strap on the top of your foot as well as on the heel makes adjustment easy. It’s awesome for just running errands, or hanging out camping. I’ve also used them for short, mild hikes, but don’t really recommend doing any moderate to strenuous hikes in them.

On the downside, they don’t have a ton of flex, and are a little heavier on your foot, so trailrunning really isn’t that comfortable, even though that’s a recommended use (unrelated: they’re great for skateboarding, though). Overall, awesome shoe for walks, errands, or just hanging out, super casual and would definitely recommend for any woman in need of a quasi-casual/technical shoe.

Assistant Editor Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan: At first, the Kenoshas were a conundrum to me: What, exactly, are they supposed to do for you? Are they casual, or athletically functional? The Velcro strap and Mary Jane style suggest the former, but then again, they’ve got grippy Vibram soles.

After wearing them around town and on low-key trails from Boulder to New York City, I’ve found that the Kenoshas don’t fit in either category. Though the soles are supportive, the shoes would never carry you on a trail run or anything more than an easy hike. The mesh material does make them quite breathable and comfortable for extended strolls, but then again, the straps rubbed raw spots on my feet after walking more than a few hours.

But this past weekend, I finally hit upon the perfect use for these babies: a subway trek from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side, then a two-hour walk through Central Park, when I found myself wishing for the Kenoshas. The stroll wasn’t too long, so the abrasive strap wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was long enough for me to wish for the support of their stiff soles. They’re cute enough for the around-town portion of the day. And they would have handled some scrambling around in Central Park’s The Ramble waaay better than my flip-flops.

Bottom line: Supercute, airy, and fairly supportive, the Kenoshas are great for summertime light duty in town and on easy trails. But don’t push them too far—running, even moderately steep trails, and extended city walks are beyond their ability.

Patagonia Pinhook, $90

Assistant Map Editor Kim Phillips
: In South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, the Pinhooks performed really well on different types of terrain: crumbling Badland formations, rutted grasslands (with hidden cactus), and sandy/muddy washes. They provided support when I ascended and descended countless washes, the Vibram soles gave me a lot of traction on the formations, and the mesh kept my feet from overheating in a baking desert. On the second day of my trip, I sunk into a mud hole and my legs and shoes were caked in thick mud. The shoes dried really quickly, which made for a comfortable rest of the day and fewer blisters. The Pinhooks are a great all-around, warm-weather hiking shoe.

—Ted Alvarez

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