Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots review: for pacy trekking on solid trails (not so good in boggy mud)

These lightweight Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots are designed for fast-paced footpath and trail trekking in drier landscapes across nine months of the year

Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots review image size
(Image: © Pat Kinsella)

Advnture Verdict

Although these boots are waterproof and feature Keen’s trademark toe protection (albeit scaled down) the lightweight NXIS EVOs perform best as a fair-weather option on fairly well-established trails and sub-alpine tracks. They’re excellent for fast-paced single- and multi-day adventures in such terrain, supplying superlative heel support and enough ankle protection to keep you stable while wearing a pack, but avoid boggy and muddy landscapes.


  • +


  • +

    Excellent heel lock

  • +

    Waterproof and breathable

  • +

    Plenty of color choices


  • -

    External mesh upper collects muck

  • -

    4mm lugs not very aggressive

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    Not rigid enough for rock edging

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    Too soft for hardcore hiking and winter adventures

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Keen NXIS EVO Mid: first impressions

Also available as a hiking shoe, the Keen NXIS EVO mid offers additional ankle support for trekkers taking on slightly more technical trails and/or multi-day escapades while wearing a pack. 


• List price: $180 (US) / £140 (UK
• Gender availability: Male / female
• Weight (per boot): Men’s 429g / 15.13oz; women’s 353g / 12.45oz
• Materials: Performance mesh upper with TPU overlays, KEEN.DRY waterproof & breathable membrane, speed-lace webbing system, breathable textile lining, removable PU insole, compression-molded EVA midsole, KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole
Colors: Men’s: Magnet & Bright Cobalt / Forest Night & Dark Olive / Triple Black and more; Women’s: Black & Blue Glass / Olive Drab & Silver Birch / Vintage Indigo & Harbor Gray and more
• Compatibility: Three-season hiking, trekking and fastpacking with or without packs on peaks and trails; good for hut-to-hut hikes, weekend adventures and day walks in non-muddy conditions

The core piece of DNA in the NXIS EVO family is the innovative KonnectFit heel-capture system, which loops right around the back of your foot and works with the laces to supply a super-secure grip across your heel and forefoot area, providing complete confidence with every step, even on rough terrain while wearing a pack.

The upper chassis has a knit mesh finish, and the Keen NXIS EVOs are waterproof and breathable thanks to the brand’s own KEEN.DRY membrane. 

Cushioning comes from a compression-molded EVA midsole. Keen’s signature oversize toe bumper has been scaled down quite significantly on this model to reduce weight, but there’s still ample foot cover.

This is definitely one of the lighter and less protective and aggressive models in the Keen boot range, however, and it’s aimed at people who prioritize staying nimble and moving fast across less challenging landscapes – such as long-distance trails – rather than attempting difficult hikes in really tough or muddy, boggy terrain. The 4mm multidirectional lugs on the boots’ outsoles are adequate for easier escapades in most conditions, but they’re not aggressive enough for anything too epic.

Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots outer soles

The outer soles of the Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots boast 4mm multidirectional lugs, which aren’t really designed for tackling extreme mud (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

There’s a lot of flex across the length of this boot, which will suit some people (they’re almost as soft and bendy as a trail-running shoe). But if you prefer a more rigid boot that will provide better foot support and more advanced performance while edging around rocks and ascending more technical peaks, then the Keen NXIS EVO Mid isn’t really for you.

Keen NXIS EVO Mid: on the trails

Man trekking in Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots

Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots in fastpacking action on the West Highland Way (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Although I wouldn’t take these boots too far off the beaten track, used in the right conditions and on the trails they were designed to tackle, the NXIS EVO Mids are ideal for day hikes in the hills and multi-day backpacking escapades along reasonably technical but well-defined sub-alpine paths from early spring through to late fall. 

Quick and easy to put on, they feel fantastically light and comfortable on my feet, and the innovative heel-lock genuinely does enhance the fit and fills me with confidence when ascents and descents get gnarly.

Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots KonnectFiy heel capture system

The Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots’ KonnectFit heel capture system really enhances the fit and gives you confidence on ascents and descents (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The biggest test I’ve given the Keen NXIS EVOs so far was during a four-day fastpacking adventure along the West Highland Way in the north of Scotland in late October. It was wet and wild the entire time, and the boots did get waterlogged after a while, but they still kept me warm and comfortable. The compression-molded EVA midsole supplied decent amounts of bounce and cushioning, and the lightweight build meant I could travel quickly.

Aside from the fact that they got soggy, my biggest concern about the design of the Keen NXIS EVOs is that in wet and muddy conditions, such as I encountered in Scotland, the external knit mesh accumulated loads of dirt, which impacted performance, was fiddly to clean and made me question the longevity of the product. I think this model is best suited to drier climes such as Colorado, rather than the oft-soggy landscape we have here in the UK.

dirty Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots

The external mech of the Keen NXIS EVO Mids does tend to get clogged up with dirt in wet conditions (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve appreciated using them a whole lot more in better, benign conditions, when I can move along the trail at a good pace, enjoying the secure hold the boot has on my foot and the perceptible feedback from the trail you still get through the outer and mid sole.

Man on wet rocks wearing Keen NXIS EVO Mid walking boots

Stay away from extreme mud or challenging terrain, and the Keen NXIS EVO Mids act as light and bouncy walking boots that encourage you to up the pace (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and Instagram here.