I’ll tell you honestly, that when the Bryce WP arrived from Keen I dismissed it as a fashion shoe. The kind of thing that I’d very happily wear to the pub, but leave at home when planning a trip to the rough stuff. But after a first outing which turned in to a 4-mile stomp through unspeakably nasty boggy ground, the Bryce WP have proven themselves to be simply outstanding.
Styled in a slightly mottled look nubuck leather upper with a fabric mesh underlayer, the Bryce shoes are contemporary and urban looking with an homage to trail-safe colours and materials. Their massive rubber toe box is a clear design key from Keen’s own line of sandals which leave the foot open but protect the toes from sharp stuff, and here it gives the shoe somewhat of a Tonka-toy rufty-tuftyness. The caricature is continued by Keen’s upside-down hazard sign sitting proudly up front announcing its arrival.
The lacing system works through webbing loops and combined with a very generously padded inner the Bryce is a comfortable shoe straight from the box. The upper is soft and pliable, with lots of foam (they call it Keen.Zorb) around the heel and ankle, tongue and sides of the foot to keep it snug and warm.
There’s little structure or support when compared directly to a hiking boot. This is a soft shoe which allows your foot to move a lot and I haven’t taken them off for a week, such is there all-round comfort. Keen say there’s a TPU shank in the mid-sole to help with the rigidity, but it’s a subtle effect.
The sole of the Bryce is a very grippy soft rubber unit which I haven’t slipped on any surface in yet. It seems to shed sticky mud fairly well too.
My pair of Bryce got a rude introduction to the outdoors this weekend in Yorkshire. We decided to go for a walk with the dogs before heading for a pub lunch and found ourselves shepherded on to a longer-than-planned route by a very aggressive herd of cows. The route looped down through a forest and across open fields where the Bryce were phenomenally good at coping with everything from loose leaves on rocky stream beds, right through to deep, stinking cow crap. After 3 hours of walking through mud, puddles and poo my socks were still dry and the Bryce were still comfortable. I was genuinely amazed.
My feet have been hot-spot free, comfortable, not sweaty and with enough support that anything non-technical has been easy.
At £110 they’re not the cheapest waterproof hiking shoe available, but to my mind the comfort and level of protection from water and crud that I’ve experienced makes them worth every penny.
SUMMARY: They look like a casual shoe, but the Bryce WP proved itself to be a very capable, very comfortable and very waterproof shoe during a baptism of fire/poo. They’re not going to be to everyone’s taste, with their large toe-box and contemporary styling, but for me they’re a winner.
More: Keen (US site)