There exists a large amount modified trail running shoes and light hikers on the market. But the Keen Erickson PCT is none of those. It is a proud high top hiking boot for heavier loads, longer treks, and rougher trails. But having put this boot through the paces on a handful of trails in the Wasatch, I can happily say that it will end up replacing at least 3 or 4 lighter-weight shoes and boots I have sitting in my closet.
Yes, the Erickson PCT is that versatile. But it doesn’t get that way by wimping out. It gets that way by taking a very unique and comfortable fit, and placing it on the sort of sturdy trekking platform that reduces foot fatigue under most sizes of loads. It also has a deep V cutout for the Achilles tendon, making it surprisingly good at scrambling, steep slopes and quick paces. On top of that, it does so within an upper that is almost entirely full grain leather — not much canvas or Cordura-style material in the upper. Not only is that simply a much cooler look than mixed material, coupled with Keen Dry waterproof membrane it gives a lot more confidence in the weather-proof nature of the boot.
Having hiked the Erickson PCT boot over several trails here in the Wasatch already, in heat and dust as well as surprise rain showers and muddy streams, I can say that it holds up its end of the burliness equation. It’s built with metal lace loops, the upper three of which are hook style. The toe is of course the distinctive Keen rubber toe bumper, which is awesome — I love it. I must admit that in other Keen shoes I have felt the toe bumper to be too much, and the feel of the fit to be too short and wide. So I usually have to size up a half size, as I do with skate shoes like Vans and Emerica, but then sometimes it becomes a bit wide for my average feet. Not with the Erickson PCT. I ordered right on a 9.5 instead of the size 10 I thought I would need, and the 9.5 is a perfect fit — even with a pretty thick Teko hiking sock.
The boot also has an aggressive rubber outsole, and what they call a TPU stability shank. What this does is reduce the flex of the sole very significantly, which is absolutely the right thing for a hiking boot intended for heavy loads and long treks. The inflexibility of the sole reduces foot fatigue from bumps and rocks in the trail, which I can attest to from experience. I’ve taken them on steep trail-less scrambles and up the gut of washed out rocky ravines and screes, and I never suffered from the foot fatigue that is an inevitability with lighter-duty hiking shoes.
At the same time, I have also worn these boots to the office with jeans and never wanted to take them off. That’s why I find them so unique, and why I say that they will replace 3 or 4 other shoes in my closet. They have the lightweight feel of a light hiker, but the sturdy sole flex holds up to nasty trails and ankle-twisting rocks without transmitting the shocks to your foot to cause fatigue. The Erickson PCT boot has that rare balance of both sturdiness and wearability. Many others that try to strike that note end up feeling wimpy or clunky. The Ericksons are neither. And in the all-black color, they look great as well.
The more I punished these boots, the more I realized that I only had one major complaint: I wish that they were lined on the inside and along the tongue with calfskin instead of fabric material. That would make sliding them on and off easier, without making your socks bunch. And it would feel nicer to have calfskin around the ankle instead of grippy fabric. That of course might push the price up above $170, but it would make the boot close to flawless in my opinion — and I’ve owned everything from Merrell to Asolo and everything in between.
In the end, the Keen Erickson PCT Mens boot is a very solid mid-to-heavy hiking boot. But I’ve found that doesn’t mean it can’t easily kick around town and on lighter hikes, too. If you’re in the market for a good solid hiker, or even for a lighter hiker, and you want versatility and burl, I recommend taking a long look at the Keen Erickson PCT.
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