APPLICATION - Keen Oregon PCT Boots - Yi-Jien Hwa
- So... third-time boot applicant lucky? Come on guys, I know I'm still
a newbie, but I seriously have no intentions of eloping with your
gear! Promise. Besides, my wife would kill me.
As usual I would really appreciate any feedback/comments from anyone
that would help make my application stronger.
I am happy to have this chance to apply to test the Keen Oregon PCT.
My tester agreement is on file, and I have indeed read the BGT
survival guide and bylaws v. 0.609, including chapters 4 & 5.
I think the Keen Oregon look like a very exciting pair of boots that
may give Timberland, Scarpa and Kayland (and the others of course!) a
run for their money. I've been looking for a lightweight yet rugged
pair of boots that will help lighten my load, and these things look
great! They fit the bill perfectly for many of the hikes that we are
planning to do this summer and in the Fall.
I. Biographical Information
1. Age: 27
2. Gender: Male
3. Height: 6' 1" (184cm)
4. Weight: 160 lbs (73 kg)
5. Shoe size: US Size 11, Euro Size 44.5
6. Foot Measurements: Maximum width at forefoot: 4 1/4 "/11 cm;
Maximum length: 10 1/4 "/26 cm (Right) 10 3/8 "/26.3 cm (Left)
7. Foot type: Medium width and volume.
8. Occupation: Seminary Student and part-time Youth Minister
9. Email address: yijienATalumni.bates.edu
10. Current Location (City, State): Wilmore, Kentucky.
II. Backpacking background:
I have backpacked since senior year of high school, but only really
got into it last year. My first serious backpacking trip with my wife
was a week-long expedition to Isle Royale National Park. I'm not sure
exactly what happened there. Maybe it was sitting at that dock at
McCargoe Cove, watching the morning mist gently float over the waters,
and hoping in vain for what sounded like a moose in the brush to
produce a live moose. Maybe it was walking along the majestic
Greenstone Ridge, or chilling out in the 50 degree F (10 C) waters of
Merritt Lane. Maybe it was eating dinner over Tobin Harbor bathed in
gold by the setting sun. Perhaps we discovered something of the
powerful, even mystical, connection between humankind and creation in
the experience of nature through the primal rhythm of walking, eating,
and sleeping. But, whatever it was, a new passion was birthed at Isle
Royale that August.
Since Isle Royale, we've done the Smokey Mountains last December (and
again at the end of this past March), Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
and the Muliwai trail on the Big Island, as well as our local haunt,
Kentucky's Red River Gorge multiple times. We are medium-weight
backpackers at the moment, still trying to cut weight. Our base weight
currently for summer camping is about 45 lbs (20 kg) for both of us,
and we're hoping to improve on that. (These light-weight boots would
be a great help here!)
III. Field information
We are planning a "greatest hits" backpacking tour of the continental
USA in August and early September. If I am chosen to test these, and
they arrive in time, I will test them on some of the most varied and
challenging terrain you can find in the National park system. During
the Fall, we had to cancel our trip to Europe-Asia because a family
member has been diagnosed with cancer. So instead, if I am privileged
to test these, I will run them all over Hong Kong, Malaysia and
possibly China. (My wife hails from Hong Kong, and I'm from Malaysia).
Depending on when they arrive, the boots may get tested in the
1) Theodore Roosevalt National Park, North Dakota. August 8-9. Our
plans for this park are not fixed, but will involve a decent day hike,
probably 12-15 miles. The temperature there at that time of the year
is between 52-87 F (11-30 C) and the elevation is pretty low, about
2592 ft/790 m.
2) Glacier National Park. August 10-18. We start off-trail close to
the Continental Divide from Logan Pass, to Sperry Glacier all the way
through Goat Haunt, Fifty Mountain, Hole in the Wall, to Upper Kinta
Lake. The terrain will be rocky, difficult, and will involve some
scrambling up the Continental Divide on our off trail route. The
elevation here will be between 4000-8680 ft or 1219-2646 m. We are
expecting over night lows of 20-30 F (-6 to -1 C) at higher altitudes,
and highs up till 80 F (27 C). Mileage: 82 miles/132 km.
3) Yellowstone National Park. August 19-23. After the strenuous
Glacier trip, we're planning on taking it a bit easier in Yellowstone
and being flexible with our trips. We're thinking of doing a day hike
or two, and an overnight trip, depending perhaps on how our feet are
doing at that point. Our elevation in this park will be in the
7733-9000 feet (2357-2743 m) range, and the temperature will probably
between 80 F (27 C) and 20 F (-6 C). Projected Mileage: 30-40
4) Grand Teton National Park. August 24-28. After a nice Yellowstone
breather, we're planning on doing good 3 nights starting at 6880 ft
(2097 m) at the Leigh Lake trailhead, through Paintbrush Canyon,
Hurricane Pass (10372 ft/3161 m), and Death Canyon. Because of the
higher altitude, we are expecting a lower overnight temperature of
maybe 15 (-9 C), and a high of 80 F (27 C) during the afternoon in the
lower elevations. Mileage: 36 miles/58 km.
5) Grand Canyon National Park. August 31-September 6. We're probably
going to do the Escalante Route. This may be the most physically
demanding and challenging of our trips (on us and this pair of boots)
because of the extremes in elevation gain, terrain, and weather. Among
the niceties that the Escalante will dish out include 20 ft+ (6 m+)
climbs, steep talus slopes, and a 150-ft (45m) rock slide. The
temperature will range from a low of maybe 47 F (8 C) at night on the
South Rim to 100 F (38 C) in the inner canyon during the afternoon.
Elevation will be a high of 6800 ft/2072 m (8000 ft/2438 m if we spend
a night on the North Rim), and a low of 2200 ft/670 m near the
Colorado River. If we have an extra day, we may do a day hike at
Powell Plateau in the Grand Canyon, or at Kings Canyon/Sequoia
National Park on the way to San Francisco. Mileage: 33-50 mi/53-80 km.
7) Hong Kong. We have no fixed plans at this point during these
months, but we will certainly get out to do a lot of hiking, as I plan
to spend a month or two recovering from studying burnout. Hong Kong is
a subtropical climate, and the weather in September to December will
be between 60 F (16 C) to 90 F (30 C). The beautiful terrain is hilly
(think Shangri-La and Chinese landscapes) and elevations we may hike
in range from sea level to 3140 ft (957 m). Hong Kong, you may be
surprised to know, has several long-distance trails, ranging from the
63 mile (100 km) MacLehose Trail to the 31 mile (50 km) Hong Kong Trail.
8) Malaysia on the other hand is a tropical climate, so when it rains
it pours, especially during the monsoon periods. The places we may
hike range from sea-level to the heights of Mount Kinabalu--13,435 ft
(4095 m), though it is not a difficult hike. The weather is generally
between 77 F (25 C) to 100 F (37 C), but in the highlands it is
possible for the temperature to drop to freezing. One route I would
like to do if we can fit it into our schedule is a 10-day trek to Mt.
Tahan, the tallest mountain in W. Malaysia. The route is difficult,
including 12,467 ft (3800 m) of elevation gain, river crossings, some
scrambling in spots, and weather ranging from boiling jungle humidity
to 39 F (4 C) at the top.
III. Testing Criteria
1) Fit. How well does the cork/EVA cushioning insert cradle my pointy
ankles and prevent heel-lift? Does it provide enough room for my toes,
or are my toes pinched? Is the fit snug or is it too wide or narrow,
too voluminous or small? Does the Keen Key-Tech TPU plate truly
provide "optimal forefoot flexibility" for my feet? (In other words,
do the things bend at the right places!) How much break-in time does
the boot need? Does the lacing system provide sufficient means to
adjust the boot's fit? How "one" do I feel with my boots? :)
2) Support/Rigidity. Does the boot provide adequate support to my
entire foot, but particularly in the forefoot, instep and heel? How
much support do the Metatomical Tri-Density Footbeds provide? How do
they compare to the other insoles I have used? (This also affects fit,
obviously.) The inclusion of forefoot torsion bars I only know off
from athletic shoes are an interesting feature. How much do they help
the help the lateral stability, particularly for edging? Do the EVA
midsoles continue to support well with a heavy (up to 55 lb/25 kg)
pack on long days over extended trips, or do they begin to get
squishy? Does the boot's TPU stability shank make it rigid and
supportive enough for difficult terrain, particularly off-trail use:
hopping and scrambling on scree, talus and volcanic rock?
3) Comfort. In what temperatures is this boot comfortable when active
or sitting? Keen claims that the "Keen.Dry" membrane is "A breathable
and supremely waterproof membrane." This kind of language tends to
imply that the liner is pretty waterproof, but not very breathable.
So, how breathable is the Keen.Dry liner? In what conditions (if any)
does it get hot and clammy? Does it get damp from within? How smelly
does the boot get with prolonged use?
4) Water-proofing. How well does the Keen.Dry liner keep out water on
long river crossings, and in pouring rain? Does it ever get damp from
without (or leak!)? Is the liner durable? How long will it last?
5) Traction. How will the outsoles, with their 4 mm (0.16")
multi-directional traction lugs do on the varied and difficult terrain
we will hike on? Do they cling well to smooth and slippery surfaces,
logs and rocks, even and especially in heavy rain? (May be a big deal
in tropical climates!) How will it do for scrambling and a little
climbing (obviously its not an approach shoe, but can it be stretched
for this purpose when necessary)?
6) Durability. How much wear will 100s of miles (and kilometers!) of
difficult terrain put on the boot's uppers, and its outsole? How long
will the insole, the EVA midsole and the (propriety?) outsole last?
How good is the toe rand for protecting the leather from scratching
and scuffing? How strong are the suede uppers, and are they durable
enough for such vigorous use?
7) Care. What kind of care/conditioning will this boot need? How easy
will it be to maintain and clean?
IV. Previously written reports:
OR - Black Diamond Trekking Poles
OR - Black Diamond Powerstretch Gloves
IR - UCO Ultra Pod Digital
FR (posted too early, but will be reposted mid-July) - UCO Ultra Pod
I know I am still new on this list, but I think you will find that
even based on the limited ORs and the one IR I have done (FR coming
soon!) that I am a very conscientious, and detail-oriented tester. You
will find my stuff at:
My fixed projected mileage in these boots, if they arrive in time for
my USA trips, is between 233-260 miles (375-419 km). I will also put a
lot of miles/kilometers on them in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Though it
is impossible to estimate right now how far I will hike during the
testing period, it will certainly be far more than the requisite 5 nights.
Thanks for your time spent in reading my application, and all the best
in choosing the best three!