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Gear Test : Keen Venice H2 at Mt. Batulao

My feet and screaming calves found a new friend in Keen's Venice H2. 
Photo taken by my friend Kian Vicera. 

Keen Philippines, a footwear brand that originated in the US,  has asked me to do a product test on of their new arrivals, Venice H2.  As I've been contemplating of getting a footwear that's cute and hiker-friendly, I got excited about the whole thing.  

Two days after getting a fresh pair, I set off with two friends to Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas for a quick hike. 

Excellent Traction Footwear
We went up via the longer, old trail and took a shorter trail down. The initial section was muddy but I had no issues at all in negotiating the slippery parts. We also passed a steep portion of the trail a few minutes away from the summit which involved nearly 90 degrees of vertical rock climbing.  It's probably around 10 feet long or less but it was scary! Good thing the soles had excellent grip. 

The most nerve wrecking section for me because I'm afraid of heights!
Photo from Kian Vicera
Comfy, Soft Soles
We hiked for a total of 4 hours and I didn't get any blisters. It's soft on the soles and the strappy parts that were up against my feet rubbed gently against my skin.  My friend Kian who wore trail running shoes  asked me several times along the trail if I developed any blisters yet and each time, I proudly answered, "No blisters, yay!". 

Almost near the summit and I was only too happy that I didn't have any issues on
my choice of footwear. Photo from Kian Vicera
Easy to Clean, Quick Drying
As the sandals exposed some parts of my feet, a bit of mud got in, but I was able to wash it off easily when we  got to a stream. It dried quickly in under an hour of trekking under the sun. I'm amazed. What's also great is that Keen is machine washable too so after your trip, you can just throw it inside a washing machine and let it do all the work. 

Toe Protection
Mt. Batulao has several rocky segments and I stubbed my toe against a rock. My toes hit it so hard, I almost lost my balance.  Fortunately, since my sandals had toe protection, I just laughed it off.  I won that round. :P 

Happy feet at the summit of Mt. Batulao. My two friends also wore Keen trail running shoes and they
seem to be pleased with theirs. Photo from Kian Vicera
Flexible & Lightweight 
After the hike, I just washed the mud off and wore it again to travel to nearby Tagaytay city to dine at Bag of Beans,  a popular restaurant and one of my favorites, which I haven't visited in years! As the weather's cold, the inner portion of the strap didn't dry quickly this time but it wasn't uncomfortable either. 

I can imagine using this for backpacking trips where I want to pack light and not check any luggage on the plane. 

Making our way don the mountain. Bag of Beans, here we come! Photo from Kian Vicera
The Not so Lovable Bits
Since the design had some sections that are open, the part of my feet that was exposed to the sun became tanner than the rest of my feet. Haha! Next time, I'm going to put a sunblock on it or maybe wear pants and socks on it since it looks hip enough to wear it with socks. 

I also wish there would be more designs in neutral colors and perhaps something that looks less bulkier. Mine's quite a jolly color and I can't just pair it with anything. :P  At the store, I did see another design that came in black but it looked too serious. :P 

Final Thoughts + Travel Information on Mt. Batulao 

Over-all, my initial test with Keen was very satisfying and I'd recommend it to friends who are also into a variety of activities. It certainly fit my need to bring just one type of footwear on trips that's light, good traction for spur of the moment short hikes, cross a river, then perhaps, go on a food trip or  visit a museum the next day. :) 

Since I haven't worn mine long enough, I'd have to let time pass by before I can say it's durable but with its sturdy design that's made to face harsh outdoor conditions,  I'm quite confident it can withstand me and my escapades.

I get into the silliest accidents and quite callous with my gear so I only trust a handful of brands when enjoying the outdoors since my safety's at stake. Keen certainly got mine. ;) 

Oh, and if you're interested in seeing the gorgeous and rugged peaks of Mt. Batulao, do visit my friend's blog for more information - Pinoy Mountaineer

Keen strike your fancy? In the Philippines, you can grab your own pair in R.O.X., Res | Toe | Run branches, Grind and RSH, Festival Mall, Alabang. You can also get in touch with them through their FB Page, Keen Footwear Philippines. For non-residents, visit the Keen website for more information. Price Range depends on the design but the one I wore costs 4,290 PHP (Venice H2, Women). 

Shout out to my friends who accompanied me on this hiking trip, Mariel & Kian. Thanks love birds! :) Til our next adventure.

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