Waterproof low-cut shoes: always a talking point. I can sit on both side of the fence and appreciate that the grass does look drier on both sides. For trail running and open hillside shenanigans, waterproof shoes just trap the water inside and grind away at your feet if the fit of the shoe and your socks aren’t perfect. For trail use and general outdoor cutting about, it’s the toe area that gets the wettest, walking through puddles and up grassy slopes. So for dry feet without having to boots or mids, lined shoes are where you go.
But, so many waterproof shoes have rubbish soles: “We’ve designed these shoes to keep out the water, so let’s slap an outsole on it which grips only the driest of dusty trails to piss folk off”. Yes, thanks for that XA GTX.
A few though get it right, Inov8 being the most obvious, and just in for test is the Red Rock from Keen.
Keen styling always goes its own way, and the Red Rock’s carry the flag high. The fit is a little more snug that usual, and that’s something I’ve noticed from Keen in the past few seasons, different lasts for different intended use. Another area Keen have been moving forward is in their outsoles, this unit has multiple blocks and shapes with a pretty aggressive heel, so I’m hopeful of a decent performance. Flex is good at the toe, with a stiffer rear 2/3, a format I liked when I discovered it in old Montrails, good dexterity on the move and and nice platform for your heel. The laces go well down the foot for a secure feel, the heel and toe are beefy and there’s extra protective randing at the sides, covering some vulnerable stitching.
Fit seems good, and my foot does feel quite low-to-the-ground inside which I wasn’t expecting. I like the fact that some folk are still making proper trail shoes that don’t look like running shoes as well. We need that, not everyone wants the racer look, but trails shoes are everybody. An’ that.