Keen Versacore Speed Shoe | Tested and reviewed

Promising to be a do-it-all outdoor shoe, we put that bold claim to the test to see whether the Keen Versacore Speed Shoe delivers.

from KEEN
RRP  £112.00
Closeup of LFTO tester wearing Keen Versacore Speed Shoe with award rating

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Keen has made a bold claim with its Versacore Speed: it’s a shoe for 'everything you want to do outside’. As hiking footwear goes, that’s a tall order.

In a more specific sense, Keen categorises its Versacore Speed as an athletic hiking shoe – another way of saying lightweight hiking shoe.

Some other models that would fall under this umbrella term have been well received by us before – a prime example would be Inov-8's Roclite G 315 GTX V2 hiking shoe because it is indeed suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities.

Can the Versacore Speed pull of the same trick?

Pros

  • Amazingly comfortable fit
  • Very lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Good value
  • Highly breathable

Cons

  • Not suitable for technical terrain or long treks
  • Not the most durable hiking shoe

Design and features

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe lacing
©LFTO

There’s certainly no denying it’s lightweight. The non-waterproof version we tested is just 330g (per shoe) with the waterproof version being a little heavier at 380g. There is high demand for lightweight hiking footwear at the moment so it’s not surprising to see Keen release a shoe like this.

The construction of the Versacore Speed is fairly conventional: KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN outsole, foam midsole, and thin synthetic upper available with or without KEEN.DRY waterproof lining.

But what does set the Versacore Speed apart from much of its competition is shape. We’ve found that lightweight hiking footwear tend to have a narrower last, but with the Versacore Speed, Keen continues to offer its signature wider fit, albeit marginally narrower than its boots.

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe upper materials and toecap
©LFTO

From lugs to laces, the Versacore Speed appears to be all about versatility. The tread isn’t overly aggressive and instead looks to offer mixed terrain traction. Likewise, the upper isn’t wrapped in a durable rand to fend off abrasion on rocky mountain ridges, but does feature a robust and stiffened toecap – the heel counter is also pleasingly rigid.

Performance and comfort

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe outsole
©LFTO

We haven’t always found Keen boots to be the most agreeable for fit. Sure, we love the extra room at the forefoot but sometimes found the heel to be a bit loose and the midsole pretty flat.

We were therefore very happy to find that the Versacore Speed addresses the heel and midsole niggles, locking the heel in nicely and providing more plush cushioning underfoot. We think that the Versacore Speed has almost the perfect fit.

It also feels incredibly light to wear – there are even lighter trail shoes around but the Versacore Speed feels featherweight – particularly in the non-waterproof version because it’s so breathable.

In terms of grip and construction, this isn’t a tough or technical mountain or approach shoe largely because it lacks durability. Nor is it great for trekking with a heavy pack because it lacks the support.

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe midsole
©LFTO

But it is brilliant for use on summer hikes, for rocky trails, and for low level scrambling. That KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN tread works best on dry terrain, and the underfoot cushioning provides ample comfort for long days on the trail. It's not a plush as some, but those super spongy midsoles tend to compact down quite quickly.

Its look and styling means the Versacore Speed blends into more urban settings better than hardcore hiking footwear as well.

Sustainability

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe with insole removed
©LFTO

Eco credentials aren’t a strong suit of lightweight footwear. They use almost exclusively synthetic material, and have considerable durability issues.

It’s the same story with the Versacore Speed. While well made, we don’t think it’ll last as long as more heavy duty hiking footwear. But overall, Keen is better than most footwear brands when it comes to sustainability.

For example, it’s been PFAS/PFC-free since 2018, only uses leather from silver or gold rated tanneries as certified by the Leather Working Group, and ensures none of its leather come from Brazil where cattle raised for beef and leather have been shown to contribute to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Price and competition

Keen Versacore Speed Shoe and rival models
©LFTO

At the time of writing, the Versacore Speed has an RRP of £110 (£120 for the waterproof version). That price makes it pretty good value in a market where we reckon the mean price for footwear of this type is around £130.

There are a couple of rivals of the Versacore Speed that spring to mind for us. One is Hoka’s Anacapa Breeze Low. Like the Versacore Speed, it’s a versatile, lightweight hiking shoe available with or without a waterproof lining. We think the Hoka shoe has even more cushioning and arguably better grip from its Vibram sole – but the Keen has a better fit, and has a lower price.

There’s also Inov-8's Roclite G 315 GTX V2. It’s even lighter than the Keen shoe and is better on slippery ground thanks to its aggressive 6mm lugs. But as with the Hoka shoe, we think the Keen Versacore Speed has a better fit, and is also better value.

Verdict

Closeup of LFTO tester wearing Keen Versacore Speed Shoe
©LFTO

Offering an impressively low weight, good value, and class leading comfort and fit, Keen’s Versacore Speed is the sort of hiking shoe that appeals to anyone.

It can handle most dry, non-technical hikes very well, and the non-waterproof version excels in summer. Some might want a more aggressive tread, but as an all rounder, this is an impressive shoe.

How we tested

Chris Williams hiking in Lake District wearing Artilect Divide Fusion Stretch Jacket

The Keen Versacore Speed Shoe was tested and reviewed by Chris Williams. Chris is one of our staff writers and gear testers and has been with us since 2021. He is a journalist and hiking fanatic from New Zealand.

Don't forget to subscribe to the Live For The Outdoors newsletter to get expert advice and outdoor inspiration delivered to your inbox!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us