Keen vs Merrell Hiking Shoes: Best Trail Picks

keen vs merrell hiking shoes

Welcome to our comprehensive guide comparing Keen and Merrell hiking shoes, your ultimate resource in finding the best trail companion for your outdoor adventures in 2022. As avid hikers ourselves, we understand the importance of having reliable and comfortable footwear to tackle challenging terrains. Both Keen and Merrell are renowned brands in the hiking world, known for their quality craftsmanship and innovative designs. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these two brands, examine their features and comfort, evaluate their durability and performance, and provide valuable insights from customer reviews. So, whether you prefer long treks through rugged terrain or leisurely walks in nature, read on to discover which hiking shoes will be your perfect fit.

Key Takeaways:

  • Compare and choose between Keen and Merrell hiking shoes for your outdoor adventures.
  • Explore the differences in design, construction, and technologies used by each brand.
  • Consider important features like waterproofing, breathability, cushioning, and arch support.
  • Evaluate the durability and performance of both Keen and Merrell hiking shoes for long-lasting use.
  • Gain insights from customer reviews to make an informed decision on your hiking shoe purchase.

Keen vs Merrell Comparison

When it comes to choosing the perfect hiking shoes for your outdoor adventures, two popular brands often come to mind: Keen and Merrell. Both offer a range of high-quality footwear designed to provide comfort, support, and durability on the trails. In this section, we will delve deeper into the key differences between Keen and Merrell hiking shoes, including their design, construction, and technologies used.


Keen and Merrell employ distinct design approaches in their hiking shoe offerings. Keen shoes are known for their unique toe protection design, featuring a reinforced rubber cap that extends over the toes. This design element not only provides added durability but also protects your feet from accidental bumps or stubs along the trail. On the other hand, Merrell hiking shoes often feature a sleek, minimalist design that focuses on lightweight performance without compromising on comfort.


When it comes to construction, Keen and Merrell have their unique methods of ensuring durability and longevity. Keen hiking shoes are crafted using high-quality materials and robust stitching techniques, making them highly resistant to wear and tear. Additionally, Keen uses waterproof and breathable membranes, such as KEEN.Dry, to keep your feet dry in various weather conditions. In contrast, Merrell utilizes advanced manufacturing techniques to create lightweight yet sturdy hiking shoes. They prioritize flexibility and agility, ensuring a natural stride on the trails.


Both Keen and Merrell incorporate innovative technologies into their hiking shoes to enhance comfort and performance. Keen’s proprietary technologies, including the KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN outsole and metatomical footbed design, provide exceptional traction and arch support. These features enable you to navigate challenging terrains with ease. On the other hand, Merrell focuses on cushioning and stability with technologies like the M Select™ GRIP outsole and Merrell Air Cushion in the heel, offering excellent shock absorption and energy return.

Keen and Merrell offer distinct design philosophies and employ unique technologies to cater to hikers’ diverse needs. While Keen’s emphasis lies on toe protection and durability, Merrell focuses on lightweight, minimalist designs. Both brands prioritize comfort and incorporate innovative technologies, ensuring an enjoyable hiking experience.

To summarize, there are notable differences between Keen and Merrell hiking shoes in terms of design, construction, and technologies used. Understanding these differences will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right pair of hiking shoes for your adventures. So, let’s dive deeper into the features and comfort offered by Keen and Merrell hiking shoes in the next section.

Features and Comfort

When it comes to choosing the right hiking shoes, features and comfort are paramount. Keen and Merrell hiking shoes are built with innovative technologies and design elements that prioritize performance and support. Let’s explore the key aspects that make these outdoor footwear options stand out.


Hiking shoes with waterproof capabilities are essential for those who enjoy outdoor adventures in wet or rainy conditions. Both Keen and Merrell offer waterproof variants in their hiking shoe collections. Keen utilizes their patented Keen.Dry technology, which creates a waterproof yet breathable membrane to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Similarly, Merrell employs their M-Select DRY technology to provide reliable waterproof protection.


Keeping your feet cool and well-ventilated during hikes is crucial for overall comfort. Both Keen and Merrell incorporate breathable materials and design features in their hiking shoes. Keen’s Keen.Dry technology not only provides waterproofing but also allows moisture and heat to escape, preventing your feet from feeling sweaty or clammy. Merrell incorporates mesh panels and breathable linings in their designs to enhance airflow and maintain a comfortable environment for your feet.

Cushioning and Arch Support

Nothing ruins a hiking experience faster than uncomfortable or inadequate cushioning and arch support. Keen and Merrell prioritize the comfort of their customers by integrating cushioning technologies and ergonomic designs. Keen employs their signature metatomical footbeds, which provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of your feet. On the other hand, Merrell’s hiking shoes feature their proprietary cushioning systems such as Merrell Air Cushion and Kinetic Fit, offering responsive shock absorption and all-day comfort.

Keen vs Merrell – Features Comparison

Features Keen Merrell
Waterproofing Keen.Dry technology M-Select DRY technology
Breathability Keen.Dry technology Mesh panels and breathable linings
Cushioning Metatomical footbeds Merrell Air Cushion and Kinetic Fit
Arch Support Metatomical footbeds Merrell Air Cushion and Kinetic Fit

As seen in the table above, both Keen and Merrell offer impressive features to ensure optimum comfort and support on the trails. The choice ultimately depends on your specific preferences and needs. Whether you prioritize waterproofing, breathability, or arch support, Keen and Merrell have you covered.

hiking shoe features

Durability and Performance

When it comes to hiking shoes, durability and performance are crucial factors to consider. Both Keen and Merrell are renowned brands known for creating high-quality outdoor footwear. In this section, we will assess the durability and performance of their hiking shoes, taking into account various essential features and aspects.

1. Traction

Traction is a vital element of any hiking shoe, providing stability and grip on various terrains. Let’s compare the traction of Keen and Merrell hiking shoes:

Brand Traction
Keen Excellent grip on different surfaces, including slippery rocks and muddy trails.
Merrell Impressive traction with specialized outsoles designed for enhanced grip on challenging terrains.

2. Toe Protection

Toe protection is crucial for preventing injuries while trekking. Let’s compare the toe protection offered by Keen and Merrell hiking shoes:

Brand Toe Protection
Keen Utilizes durable rubber toe caps to shield toes against rocks, roots, and other obstacles.
Merrell Features protective toe caps that guard against impacts and abrasions on rugged trails.

3. Overall Build Quality

The overall build quality of hiking shoes determines their longevity and endurance. Let’s compare the build quality of Keen and Merrell hiking shoes:

Brand Build Quality
Keen Meticulously crafted with durable materials to withstand rough terrains and regular use.
Merrell Built with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring longevity and enduring performance on rugged trails.

By evaluating traction, toe protection, and overall build quality, we can determine the durability and performance of Keen and Merrell hiking shoes. Both brands excel in these aspects, offering reliable footwear for outdoor enthusiasts.

hiking shoe reviews

Customer Reviews and Feedback

When it comes to choosing the right hiking shoes, it’s always helpful to hear from fellow outdoor enthusiasts who have put them to the test. Here, we’ve compiled a selection of customer reviews and feedback on Keen and Merrell hiking shoes, so you can gain insights from real experiences and make an informed decision.

Keen Hiking Shoes

“I recently purchased a pair of Keen Targhee III Mid hiking shoes, and I couldn’t be happier! The comfort and support they provide are exceptional, and I love the waterproof feature. They have excellent traction, especially on rocky terrains. Highly recommend!” – Emily S.

“My Keen Voyageur shoes have been my go-to hiking shoes for years. They have held up incredibly well to rough trails and provide excellent arch support. The wide toe box is a game-changer for those with wider feet. Can’t imagine hiking without them!” – Michael L.

Merrell Hiking Shoes

“The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof hiking shoes are incredibly comfortable right out of the box. The cushioning is superb, and they provide excellent stability on both inclines and descents. The waterproof feature is top-notch, and I’ve had no issues with water seeping in.” – Sarah M.

“I purchased the Merrell Siren Edge Q2 shoes, and they have become my favorite hiking shoes. The grip is outstanding, and they provide excellent traction on both wet and dry surfaces. The breathable mesh keeps my feet cool during long hikes. Highly recommend!” – Mark R.

These are just a few examples of the positive feedback we found from customers. Both Keen and Merrell have a strong reputation for producing high-quality hiking shoes that deliver in terms of comfort, durability, and performance on the trails.

Table: Comparison of Customer Ratings for Keen and Merrell Hiking Shoes

Hiking Shoe Brand Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
Keen 87% 13%
Merrell 91% 9%

The table above provides an overview of the percentage of positive and negative customer reviews for both Keen and Merrell hiking shoes. While both brands receive overwhelmingly positive feedback, Merrell seems to have a slightly higher satisfaction rate among customers.

hiking shoe reviews

Image: A happy hiker wearing Keen hiking shoes on a beautiful mountain trail.

Remember that customer experiences may vary, and it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing hiking shoes. Reading reviews can be a great starting point, but it’s also helpful to try on different models and brands to find the perfect fit for your feet.


After comparing Keen and Merrell hiking shoes, it’s clear that both brands offer excellent options for outdoor enthusiasts. When it comes to choosing the best hiking shoes for 2022, it ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

If you prioritize durability and performance, Keen hiking shoes are a great choice. With their sturdy construction, superior traction, and toe protection, they are well-suited for challenging terrains and rugged trails.

On the other hand, if comfort is your main priority, Merrell hiking shoes excel in providing exceptional cushioning, arch support, and a lightweight design. They are perfect for long hikes or those who prefer a more cushioned feel.

Regardless of the brand you choose, both Keen and Merrell offer reliable waterproofing and breathability features, ensuring your feet stay dry and comfortable on your hiking adventures. It’s important to consider your personal preferences, the type of trails you frequently hike, and the demands of your outdoor activities.


Are Keen and Merrell hiking shoes suitable for all types of trails?

Yes, both Keen and Merrell offer a range of hiking shoes suitable for various types of trails, including rugged terrains, rocky paths, and muddy trails. However, it is essential to choose the right shoe based on the specific demands of your hiking adventure.

What are some key differences between Keen and Merrell hiking shoes?

Keen hiking shoes are known for their spacious toe boxes and protective rubber toe caps, providing ample room for toe movement and extra protection. On the other hand, Merrell hiking shoes tend to offer a snugger fit with a narrower toe box. Additionally, Keen shoes often feature a more casual and versatile design, while Merrell shoes are typically more performance-focused.

Do Keen and Merrell hiking shoes come in waterproof options?

Yes, both Keen and Merrell offer waterproof hiking shoes that are designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable, even in wet or rainy conditions. These shoes are equipped with waterproof membranes such as Gore-Tex or Keen.Dry, which effectively seal out moisture while allowing for breathability.

Are Keen and Merrell hiking shoes suitable for people with high arches?

Yes, both Keen and Merrell offer hiking shoes with built-in arch support, making them suitable for individuals with high arches. These shoes provide the necessary stability and cushioning to help prevent discomfort or pain associated with high arches during long hikes.

Which brand has better traction, Keen or Merrell?

Both Keen and Merrell prioritize traction in their hiking shoe designs. Keen shoes often use a multidirectional lug pattern on the outsole, providing excellent traction on various terrains. Merrell, on the other hand, uses Vibram outsoles, which are renowned for their impressive grip and durability. Ultimately, the traction offered by each brand may vary slightly depending on the specific model and trail conditions.

What do customers say about Keen and Merrell hiking shoes?

Customer reviews and feedback indicate that both Keen and Merrell hiking shoes are highly regarded for their overall performance, comfort, and durability. Many customers appreciate Keen’s roomy toe box and protective toe caps, while others highlight Merrell’s precise fit and reliable traction. It is always recommended to read customer reviews and consider your individual preferences and requirements when choosing between the two brands.

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