It’s hard to overstate the value of a good approach shoe. It needs to be comfortable enough to slip into after a day in the hills, heavy duty enough to survive in a snow packed parking lot, loose enough to pull on and off with ease and well fitting enough for the drive to the trailhead. And that’s to say nothing of the importance of all around good looks for simply wearing around town or to the bar. Nobody wants to go to dinner wearing a pair of clunky old backcountry boots.
That said, finding footwear that meets all of these criteria isn’t always an easy task. In my experience, it’s often a choice between something that’s either too light for tromping around in the snow, or too heavy for the drive up.
That’s why I was so excited when I first saw KEEN’s Pearson Mid. Out of the box, this casual boot seems to hit many of my high points: it’s waterproof, it’s lightweight and it has a solid, hiking boot inspired sole. It’s also a KEEN, so it has that ultrawide toe box that makes KEEN’s summer sandals so comfortable. The company sells the Pearson Mid as a boot for all-around wet and cold conditions – it’s flannel lined and features the KEEN.DRY waterproof/breathable membrane – with a nubuck leather upper that gives the boot a more refined, around town sort of look.
Overall, these boots live up to their billing. I took them out to the trailhead several times and even wore them to work once or twice and they always felt great. The memory foam footbed – made of the same material used in those mattresses and pillows that are always being advertised on TV — is surprisingly comfortable and the wide toebox is downright luxurious. As a “snow day shoe” they’re a solid choice.
On the other hand, the Peason isn’t perfect. The side zipper, while a nice way to snug up the ankle, makes for a somewhat clunky entry process (two hands are required) that isn’t exactly easy to perform while standing in the snow or sitting on a tailgate. And the uppers are a little shorter than I would like, especially for wearing in the rain, and I often found myself pulling my pant cuffs down over the boots when snow found its way in. As far as the style is concerned … well, you either love the KEEN look or you don’t, but there’s no arguing the fact that they’re very distinctive and they’re certainly comfortable.
As all around cold weather and approach boots, the Peason Mid is top notch – comfortable, warm and dry. And what more do you really need in a pair of winter boots?