Gear Review - KEEN's Ambler Ladies’ Walking Shoes
The Keen Ambler is advertised as a bit of an all-rounder hiking shoe, so to do it justice it needed testing over a variety of terrain. Taking into account that this is a shoe rather than a full-on walking boot, the rubber sole was certainly soft and sticky enough for a bit of boulder hopping, but also firm enough to still be supportive over rocky ground and long days out on mountain trails. The upper and tongue are quite stiff, and dug in a little until they were worn in; however, the inside structure of the shoe made for a comfortable, snug and supportive fit when worn all day long, which can’t be said for all walking shoes of this type. Without dunking the shoes in a bucket of water to test the water resistance to the maximum, they certainly kept dry when walking though wet grassy fields, and were breathable enough to keep the feet dry when walking in warm conditions. As for the style – perhaps this is the area they slightly lack. Keen seem to have opted for a very traditional colour choice (brown or grey), which - when you consider the ever-more brightly coloured and stylish selection of competitor options available - might act as a downside for the female market.
So is it an all-rounder? This shoe proved itself to be as comfortable ambling over Welsh mountain trails as for approach and descent in the Italian dolomites. For what it is – a hiking shoe rather than a boot - this is a comfortable and reliable choice for trails and fairly easy ground, also stretching into more demanding territory, in which other walking shoes might not be sufficiently supportive or comfortable. Another consideration for this shoe is the price - at £84.99 it isn't the cheapest on the market, especially considering that it is not fully waterproof, and given the availability of other (many more stylish) shoes on the market.
If you are looking for function as a priority, and don't mind the price, then you can't go far wrong.
Rating - versatile footwear with perfect protection for your feet.
For further information visit www.keenfootwear.com
Review date - 3rd March 2012 - Reviewed by OJ