I must confess something: I’m not a very fast hiker.

I love being outside in nature, huffing and puffing as I propel my legs up a mountain, sweat dripping down my spine. But hiking has never been a speedy activity for me.

Most of the time, I struggle to trust my feet on precarious terrain, so I lace up heavy, mid-rise boots. I crave the stability and ankle support offered by these types of hiking boots, but the weighty, stiff design can also slow me down on easy or moderate trails.

I’ve often felt more limber while exercising in sneakers. The issue? A lack of durability, protection and confidence on the trail.

Enter the KEEN NXIS.

Hiking Buntzen LakeAlison Karlene Hodgins

Recently, I trekked a new-to-me wilderness trail (to Eagle Bluff Viewpoint in Buntzen Lake Recreational Area) wearing KEEN’s NXIS EVO Waterproof Shoe. To my delight, the hiking shoes offered root- and rock-protection with the rubber toecap, out-of-the-box comfort with a cushioned eco anti-odour footbed, and all-terrain tread perfectly suited to the changing trail.

hiking the mountain in KEENsAlison Karlene Hodgins

We started our journey at the gate to Buntzen Lake, where employees checked our parking pass. (Parking is free, but a reservation is now required one day in advance.)

After a quick peek at the busy beach, we headed away from the crowds. We decided to start on the Halvor Lunden Trail and turn onto the Academy Trail. A yellow laminated sign warned of a cougar in the area, but we weren’t deterred. We talked loudly to each other as we crossed a bridge over a dried-up creek bed and began walking over dirt and pine needles through a forest of tall trees.

Hiking trailAlison Karlene Hodgins

The elevation came quick and steep. Switchbacks interspersed with gnarled roots carried us towards the treetops until we emerged in a grassy field with red berries and purple foxgloves. Power lines thrummed overhead, and loose grey rocks shifted beneath my feet—but my ankles felt supported, my heels were locked in, and my toes avoided injury.

We reached a fork in the road and continued along a narrow path towards the Eagle Bluff Lookout, using a downloaded map from AllTrails. We climbed through stunning greenery over moss-covered boulders, navigating carefully along a sloping hillside.

New shoesAlison Karlene Hodgins

Finally, we reached the viewpoint: navy-blue Buntzen Lake spread out before us. To the south, we could spot high-rises. As I stood beneath the transmission tower, I felt my skin start to prickle with static electricity. I shocked my friend while reaching for his phone to take a photograph.

view from the topAlison Karlene Hodgins

We moved to a nearby rock to relax and refuel. I glanced down at my hiking shoes, pleased to see they’d gathered a few scuffs and dirt streaks after their first use. I had barely noticed the weight of the shoes, so I was impressed by their toughness and versatility—delivering the perfect balance between a hiking boot and a sneaker.

scuffs on my shoesAlison Karlene Hodgins

The trail continued, but we decided to return to our car, since our parking pass expired in less than an hour. Hiking back, we maneuvered around steep drops that tumbled down towards the lake and brushed past leafy ferns. We completed the successful 4.1-kilometre round-trip out-and-back trek with nearly 250 metres of elevation gain in one hour and 39 minutes.

pizzaAlison Karlene Hodgins

Obviously, we deserved a beer, so we headed to Twin Sails on Port Moody’s brewery row for a tasting flight and pizza from a nearby food truck. Usually, this would be the time I ripped off my stiff hiking boots and slipped into a pair of airy sandals, but I wore my KEEN NXIS the entire time, delighted by the easy, comfortable transition from dirt to mud, rock to roots, and pavement to patio.


This article was sponsored by KEEN Canada

We’re a family-owned, values-led maker of hybrid footwear, and we’re on a mission to make the outdoors and trades more accessible and inclusive. 

KEEN’s for everyone who wants to make a difference. We’re action-taking do-gooders who happen to make shoes that people really, really love. 

Hey everyone, let’s get out there together.