Walking boot review – the KEEN women’s Zionic waterproof

These walking boots were given to me in return for an honest review here on my blog and on social media.

Description: The KEEN women’s Zionic waterproof hiking boot is a lighter-weight walking boot that is as comfortable and attractive as trainers but has the technical features to take you as far off-track as you would like to go.

Stars: 4 ****


  • Very lightweight and flexible
  • Surprisingly supportive
  • Brightly coloured and attractive
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • No PFAS (‘forever’ chemicals)


  • Slightly slim for wider feet
  • Shorter tongue bellow


This is a lightweight walking and hiking boot that bridges the gap between a trainer and a more substantial leather walking boot. With a flexibility of use that is lacking in some more traditional boots, the KEEN Zionic hiking boot will take you happily from town pavement to muddy field footpath but perhaps not through winter upland bogs.

Match your walking boots to your activity

Apple picking – Fi Darby

Buying a new pair of walking boots can often involve serious investment so it pays to make sure you’re making a good match between the type of boots you choose and the type of activity you intend to use them for.

Even if it is just catching a train.

After nearly two years of train adventures, I’ve realised that travelling light makes a lot of sense. As well as carrying less weight in my rucksack than I would on a hill day, I’ve also seen the benefit of lighter weight outdoor gear for train adventures.

And that includes my walking boots.

When I asked to try the KEEN Zionic waterproof hiking boot, I wasn’t after a replacement for my leather hill boots, I wanted something that would be light enough for me to sit in on the train and wear all day but serious enough to keep my feet dry in the rain, at the same time as supporting my slightly dodgy ankles.

Walking boots that look and feel like trainers

Trainers are great when it comes to comfort, flexibility and around-town good looks, and walking boots fit the bill when you know you’re going to be treading through bogs.

But what if you don’t know exactly what your day is going to bring?

When I hop off the train in a new location, I can’t tell what the footpaths are going to be like, how far I’m going to walk or even whether I’m going to end up exploring the town (and its cafes). Sometimes I even have to run to catch the train, and once I ended up walking along the tidal foreshore between Teignmouth and Newton Abbot.

So far my KEEN Zionic walking boots have met all the challenges I’ve given them.

At 450g, they feel as light and comfortable as my lightest pair of trainers but I’m pretty sure they’re going to last a lot longer. With flexible waterproof ripstop uppers and TPU overlays for strength, as well as a TPU outsole, they should exhibit the level of durability that suits my ‘buy to last’ ethos.

Although not a natural material, TPU is recyclable and biodegradable.

After years of dull tones, I love their bright colour-way.

Turquoise is a colour that makes me smile (especially with a hint of orange) but, if you don’t want a pair of walking boots that is quite as zingy as mine, KEEN have other more muted colour-ways available.

And I love that I now have a pair of boots that goes with so many of my clothes.

Environmentally friendly walking boots?

When it comes to outdoor gear, one of the best ways to keep your carbon footprint down is not to buy too much of it. This means that durability and suitability-for-purpose become really important. It remains to be seen whether or not these boots will last as long as a leather pair but with their lightness and good looks, they definitely have a broader range of suitability.

And KEEN have some impressive eco-credentials.

As well as giving PFAS ‘the boot’ since 2018, they avoid a whole range of other harmful chemicals and harvest waste for upcyling and recycling.

PFAS, per- or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances are also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they take so long to degrade in the environment.

Read more about KEEN’s sustainability measures.

Lightweight walking boots for wet days as well as dry ones

One thing you do need from a pair of walking boots is a certain degree of waterproofing. Even on a train adventure, it doesn’t take long to find a puddle or some long grass. On my West Highland Line winter adventure, I even found some snow.

But sweaty feet can also feel wet.

Which is why, as with any waterproof outdoor gear, a good balance between waterproofing and breathability is essential. The KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane used in the Zionic range is PFC-free, and won’t let water in but should allow some escape of vapour as your feet sweat.

It’s worth remembering walking boots can take you through deeper puddles than walking shoes or trainers.

The other factors that affect whether or not water will enter a boot include:

  1. Boot height (the Zionic is not the tallest but is a decent 13 cm at the heel)
  2. The bellows tongue between the tongue and the boot side (the Zionic has a half tongue so some protection there)
  3. Water running down your clothes into the boot (you can avoid this by wearing waterproof over-trousers or gaiters).

So far I’ve tested the Zionic through autumn puddles and across long wet grass with absolutely no water ingress. I wasn’t originally planning to take them up onto Dartmoor until the summer, but they are so comfortable and versatile, I can see me being tempted.

Boots to get me outside.

I’m looking forward to testing these walking boot further and will keep you updated on their progress. It shouldn’t take me long to get a good measure of them as they’ve already become my footwear of choice whenever I head outside.





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