Keen A86 Trail Runner shoes – a first impression

Having read about Steven Horner’s experiences with the Keen A86 TR’s (sounds like a dual carriageway) I was (ahem) keen to see if they were as good as I thought they would be. I had a pair turn up in the post a couple of days ago and whilst I havent had a chance to use them on the hills yet, I thought I would post a few first impressions…

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The first thing I noted about them was not the colour interestingly enough. When I lifted the box, with the shoes still cocooned in them,  I was for an instant convinced that there would only be one shoe inside. Nope. There were 2 bright blue shoes sat nestled in their box looking up at me. Ignoring all other things first, I quickly weighed them….476g for a size 7.5 UK! Staggeringly light then although more than the quoted website weights (454g although it doesnt state what size this weight represents).

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So as to the shoes themselves, well they are very bright and colourful and I had plumped for the blue ones. On handling the shoes, apart from the weight, the design is very aesthetic and the sole and uppers are very flexible. The sole itself has multi shallow “studs” which appear slightly softer in composition than on other shoes I have used (apart from perhaps the Montrail Highlanders). This should give good grip in the wet but perhaps at the expense of longevity.

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On the fitting side of things, I have to say that I am impressed. I have tried really lightweight shoes before (ie Innov8s) and found them to be horrendously uncomfortable. Not so with the A86’s, they went on and felt instantly like they were a pair of slippers. They are that comfy… The fit is glove like and soft with the snaking design of laces and uppers supposed to flex around your foot movements. Time will tell on that design feature but for the moment it suffices to say that they are comfy, well fitted and well made.

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There must be a downside and for me I guess the lightweight materials and soles may not last as long as other trail shoes but we shall see. Also the mesh uppers (as reported by Steve Horner) are very light and thin and so water and fine silt will find their way in. Thats not a problem for me personally as I dont wear waterproof shoes or socks for 3 seasons of the year anyway.

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Well, to summarise I think I am really going to like the A86s as they are insanely lit, fit extremely well and appear suited to gripping wet rock (the bane of my life!). I’ll report back after I have done a walk or 2 in them but until then I am wildly optimistic…

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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8 Responses to Keen A86 Trail Runner shoes – a first impression

  1. Maz says:

    And I thought the La Sportiva Raptors I have just bought were loud – holy Moses those will be seen from a distance. Nice review! I am very unsure about those soles though – not much in the way of grip in wet mud? Was the weight for them both? The Raptors weigh 438g (each) for a UK 12/EU 47 which I thought was pretty good.

  2. R MacE says:

    Wow those are bright, but that’s alright. There’s something to be said for shoes that are mesh and little else, they dry very quickly.

    Grip is always a tricky one I think, it’s difficult to get something that works well on all surfaces, I have a pair of skate trainers with no tread at all but they grip on rock extremely well, wet grass is a different ball game altogether. Some tread patterns grip well on grass initially but clog very easily but the Keen’s look like they won’t clog. Could be a good option, it’ll be interesting to see how you find them.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      yep. they are bright alright! the sole seems to indicate that they wont clog as the studs are quite far apart but wont know how they fare on wet grass/mud until I try it

  3. Mr. 13 1/2 says:

    I just got a pair of these from Winners in Vancouver. And they’re BLACK. Just the tiny red triangle on the tip of toe and red edge and top of tongue. I was just about to leave, very disappointed at the crappy selection of 13 or over shoes. Then I saw these on the very end shelf. No 13’s, no 14’s, just a pair of 15’s. So I tried them on anyways. Good grief the damn things fit! I’m about a 13 1/2 or 14 and my width is a tad on the narrow side. But with these they fit great and almost a thumb width space at end of toes. Must have something to do with the extra low laces, that can let you draw the width up even tighter. They felt like they were already broken in….and more cushy than 95% of runners I try on.

    One thing I noticed different from the blue ones pictured here, is that open V-shape on the solid smooth part of the toes….they’re more closed on mine. Which makes sense. As doing the older more open style tight, they would probably make a crease and no look very good. They were $50. So far I’m very impressed. But time will tell for durability.

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    well fancy that?!

    I am glad you found a pair to fit you and that you like the shoes themselves.
    I am waiting for the summer to be able to wear mine again. Definitely not a winter shoe though! 🙂

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