KEEN A86 Trail Shoes

During Outdoor Retailer, Blaine from KEEN offered me a pair of A86 TR trail shoes to test out and see what I thought. Ever since, I have been wearing these fast and light trail shoes for everything from day hikes in Colorado and trail running in California to just walking around town. 

The KEEN A86 TRs are so lightweight you can barely tell you have shoes on your feet. I thought the Pearl Izumi SyncroFuels were a nice lightweight option for trail running but the KEEN trail shoes shave almost 100 g of weight off of each foot and offer a more minimalist approach. 

I have been practicing my barefoot running technique while wearing my A86 TRs on the trails. As you saw in my Vibram FiveFingers Flow review, I will wear my VFFs on the beach but not on the trail. I found the KEEN fast and light trail shoes to be that perfect step up to give me the underfoot comfort I need for running on rocky trails. The superlight midsole and removable high rebound footbed give you that little extra cushioning while still letting you feel the terrain underneath your feet.

I was amazed at the amount of traction given by the multi-directional lugs on the sole. I felt secure over various terrain from granite filled trails in Colorado to the loose surface rock and often wet and muddy trails around San Francisco. I feel more secure underfoot running and hiking in my KEEN A86 TRs than I do in some more heavy duty hiking shoes. 

The bright colors and what some of my friends call the Mork & Mindy look will definitely get you noticed on the trail. The super breathable mesh upper and offset lacing system hug your foot so you don't slide around. 

Bottom Line: If you want a fun, lightweight, minimalist trail shoe but aren't ready for the full Vibram FiveFinger experience, the KEEN A86 TRs are for you. These trail shoes have converted me to the minimalist trail experience and I wear mine almost everyday for hiking or trail running.

The KEEN A86 TR trail shoes will retail for $90 and be out in January 2011.  

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  1. I’ve always been a fan of Keens, their normal wear shoes were a god send for my wide toe box needs. how do thes fit in the toe box? the look unusually narrow and pointy for a keen. what is the heel drop in them, does it seem fairly low?

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    The toe box is a bit thinner at the top than a normal KEEN hiker but I didn’t find it to be a problem as they still give ample room. I put a picture up on The GearCaster Facebook page with the two side by side so you can see the difference:

    The heel drop is indeed very low- not exactly barefoot, but with my crude measurement I would say around 3mm.


  3. how does the size compare to a keen sandal size? I know most people go up 1/2 a size for a keen sandal over their “Street shoe” size, but many folks go down 1/2 size for running shoes across several brands.

    what’s your take?

  4. Hey there- in terms of sizing, the A86s fit me in the same size as my street shoes- I wouldn’t go up a 1/2 size in these as they might get a bit too sloppy. Hope that helps!

  5. You’re probably right that it would have been an awful experience, and they likely would have taken credit in the end for any creative input you had in the process…everything happens for a reason, and I’m sure you’re better off where you are now! It also sounds like you learned from it, so that’s invaluable!

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