KEEN’s New Hiking Boots Encourages Us to Leave No Trace


Can you rattle off the seven principles of Leave No Trace from memory? Congrats if you can—but even more important than its memorization is understanding the “why?” behind these vital philosophies, each aimed at preserving natural spaces for future generations and limiting impact on flora and fauna.

Principle number two—Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces—is key to keep in mind whenever you hike. Look down at your feet—what are you stepping on? Now, if you slip into a pair of new KEEN Pyrenees, when you look down you’ll get an instant memory prompt to this principle.

KEEN has been partnering with Leave No Trace Canada for the past 13 years, and with the Leave No Trace (LNT) US chapter for 15 years. New in 2023, KEEN’s classic, all-leather, European-style Pyrenees hiker features the Leave No Trace branding near the heel—plus, the company will give three per cent of the proceeds from these hikers to Leave No Trace.

“This kind of commitment from a well-known, international supplier is an indication of how far we’ve come in Canada. We hope outdoor enthusiasts across the country will support this initiative as they are reminded to Leave No Trace,” said Richard Vinson, Partnerships Director, Leave No Trace Canada.KEEN

But how do they perform? The Pyrenees is a sturdy boot suitable for technical day hikes and moderate multi-day backing. At 592 grams, they’re not lightweights, but the classic KEEN forefoot—which allows your toes to spread out and find comfort—makes up for the relative heft.

On muddy North Vancouver slopes, its four-millimetre treads dig in well, while also being sensible enough for comfort on flatter, harder-packed trails. Its heel-capture fit means comfort and stability on loose rocks and up steep climbs. An external shank stiffens the sole and provides serious rock protection. Six speed-hooks open up the boots well, so the stiffness of the leather doesn’t impede quick on-and-offs. In short—the Pyrenees balances the technical needs of a backpacking boot with the comfort of a general-purpose day-hiker.KEEN

The all-leather upper requires more care than a synthetic or mostly-synthetic construction—consider buying a leather cleaning kit to preserve the look long-term.

The KEEN.DRY waterproof and breathable membrane, found on most KEEN boots, lives up to its promise of dry feet (as best it can—use gaiters for extra-wet trekking). But it’s the PFAS-free durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment that deserves a closer look.KEEN

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been traditionally used in making DWR—the stuff that makes rain beads on your new jacket. But PFAS are toxic and never break down, earning the dubious name of “forever chemicals.” Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US have dubbed PFAS as “chemicals of concern.” Studies have uncovered PFAS in waterbodies, in the food we eat and in the tissue of most animals, including us.

KEEN has not only stepped away from PFAS in the manufacture of these boots, but the stylish leather is Leather Working Group certified, which means it’s third-party certified for sustainable leather production. Add KEEN’s Eco-Odour Control to that, which uses pesticide-free materials in its anti-odour, and you can see that KEEN is hiking the hike when it comes to environmental leadership.

Heck, the sole is even non-marking—meaning it’ll leave no trace on your kitchen floors too.KEEN

Let’s circle back on the second Leave No Trace principle—Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. When it comes to hiking in these new boots, or whichever other sport, it means you should always travel and camp on existing trails and campsites. If it is absolutely necessary to travel off-trail, walk upon durable surfaces like bare ground, rock, sand, dry grass or even deep snow. This principle even comes into play on well-travelled trails, where you should walk single file down the middle of the path, avoiding trail edges. (Waterproof boots like the Pyrenees means you won’t have to skirt edges to avoid puddles.)

And in a pair of Pyrenees, you can step even lighter knowing that your purchase helps fund LNT efforts—and you can show off your commitment to the seven principles wherever you travel (as long as it’s on durable surfaces).KEEN

  • Find the entire list of Leave No Trace principles here.
  • Find more information about the KEEN Pyrenees here.
  • KEEN Pyrenees LNT Canada retail for $230. Buy them at MEC

Exploretm is a supporting partner of Leave No Trace Canada.


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