Keen Ambler Mesh ReviewJuly 20, 2012
- Supremely comfortable for short on-trail hikes and walks
- Able to withstand more serious trails than you’d think
- Mesh upper is super breathable
- Versatile: goes seamlessly from trail to town
- Not good for carrying substantial weight
- Not waterproof
- Feet tire after a few miles (minimal support)
The best way to put it—this is a cross between a very light liker and a town shoe. Top-of-the-charts comfort with just enough muscle to handle light trails. It’s perfect as an all-around summer light hiker for shorter on-trail walks with no pack.
By the time I switched to the Ambler, my feet were sweaty from the previous shoe I was testing and blisters were just beginning to form, so the breathability of the Ambler was a welcome change. This breathable mesh construction also makes the Ambler very lightweight. The moisture wicking lining also helps keep feet dry and blister-free.
Support & Stability
Even compared to other low-cuts, this shoe isn’t designed to provide much stability. It’s still a soft shoe with no shank, so there sole is comfortable but twisty and bendable in mixed terrain. Although this is not an appropriate hiker for very rocky or unstable terrain, it is perfect for short day hikes on-trail. The Ambler uses a blend of polyurethane, cork, and memory foam that the company claims will “contour” to your foot, eliminating uncomfortable pressure points. We didn’t test it long enough to notice that effect, but regardless—the comfort rating on these shoes is at the top of the charts.
The padding in the sidewalls and the toe bumper gives these a touch more protection than your average trail running shoe.
Technically, these are not waterproof shoes, but they are quite water resistant (exhibit A: stumbling into a low stream, no penetration). Although not built for wet weather, they will withstand some dampness.
For the price ($95) the Ambler is a phenomenal value for an all-around summer outdoor shoe—not one that’s ready for off-trail or load-bearing backpacking, but one that’s perfect for those mellow adventures where a trail running shoe is not protective enough.
The all-mesh construction make these nicely breathable, though there’s going to be some sacrifice in durability. The fat rubber toe rand helps somewhat, but the mesh upper is not going to withstand many seasons of sidewall scraping.