Review: Keen Gypsum trail shoes

Chris Townsend reviews the best outdoor trail shoes for hillwalking.

Illustration photo of Review: Keen Gypsum trail shoes


  • durability, cusioning, supportive footbeds
  • quite heavy
  • PRICE £120
  • UPPER Nubuck leather/synthetic
  • LINING Keen.Dry waterproof/breathable membrane
  • MIDSOLE dual density EVA/torsion shank
  • OUTSOLE non-marking rubber
  • WEIGHT 970 grams
  • SIZES men 6 -10.5, women 3.5-8.5

I’ve been using these chunky shoes for several years now and have found them excellent for walks in cold and wet weather and even snow as long as it’s not too deep. The uppers are mostly leather, which gives better protection to the waterproof/breathable membrane than synthetic fabrics. The latter plus the substantial upper does make the shoes warm – I don’t wear them in the summer. They are slow drying if they do get wet but still quite warm. I prefer shoes without waterproof linings but if shoes do have them I think they should have tough uppers like the Gypsum to protect them.

The sole is quite deep with a thick and effective cushioning wedge and a tread that grips well. The shoes flex easily at the forefoot but are quite stiff laterally. The toe bumper is solid as is the heel cup. Lacing is via webbing loops. The fit is roomy and I can wear the Gypsums with thick socks. The top lacing loops are the ends of a strip of webbing that runs round the heel and that pulls the shoe in securely round the foot when the laces are tightened. I’ve had no problems with heel lift. Unlike most of the shoes tested, the removable footbeds are actually supportive and for once I haven’t replaced them with Superfeet.

The only drawback to the Gypsums is the rather high weight but so far they have proved very durable. Outside of warm weather these are excellent shoes.

First published October 2013.