First Impressions

There’s no doubt about it, the Keen A86 trail runner is an interesting looking shoe. I’ve never been a fan of shoes – or any clothing really – with the brand postered across it, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not what stands out most in these shoes.

Out of the box, the Keen A86 shoes have a lot more style than your typical trail hiker. The colors are great and the Keen logo blazes across the shoe front. They are also much lighter – about ¼ the weight of the running shoes that I generally wear on the trails – and definitely part of the new trend in light hiking/running shoes. The Keen A86 also has an interesting lacing system that sweeps across the foot versus an average shoe that lace straight up the tongue.


Did I mention these shoes are light? One of the most interesting features in this shoe is the weight. I was interested to see how these did on the trail, especially because I was so used to a hiker that had some “substance” on them. The new curved lacing was also a nice feature increasing the comfort somewhat and adding some flare. The A86 also has Keen’s signature toe cap, but in this case it’s much smaller than on other Keen shoes.


The Keen A86 shoes fit like a well-worn glove right out of the box. Following my typical move of wearing my athletic shoes one size bigger than my regular shoes, my A86 trail runners fit well. They were slightly even on the loose side in the toe box, which was nice.

Going back to the weight of the shoe, this is what I liked the most and the least about these shoes. While they felt great, they could be off putting to a runner used to any typical trail or running shoe where with some weight and girth to them. If you are a runner/hiker who does not like your feet to feel “heavy,” then these are for you.

Shoes on and laced. Time to hit the trail. My first two runs in the A86s were about 4.5 miles with moderate hills on moderately rocky terrain. The A86s provided surprisingly great grip on the hills and on the rocks. I felt stable and extremely close to the ground because they had a much thinner sole compared to my running shoes. I truly loved the stability they gave, never feeling as if I could easily roll my ankle on a bad rock.

I have to say there was not strong arch support in these shoes. (I have very “average” arches) and my feet felt a little raw on the bottom from being so close to the ground. To solve that issue, just add an aftermarket insole – like those from Superfeet – and you’re good to go with additional support.

Final Verdict

The Keen A86 trail runner is a great shoe for someone who is looking for an ultra lightweight hiker and runner. If your terrain is bumpy, these are fantastic for their support. If the shoe were going to be worn more for running, then I would recommend adding additional aftermarket insole.

The Keen A86s are great on the mountain and I also think they are great shoes to wear around town. They have far more style than most of the trail shoes I’ve seen on the market. Let’s hope the Keen A86 trail hikers open the door for style on the trails!

First Impressions:
[Rating:4/5] Features:
[Rating:5/5] Fit:
[Rating:5/5] Final Verdict:

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. And thanks to Keen and JAM Media for providing product for this review. Written by Layla M.