While first impressions are important, those of us who utilize our outdoor gear heavily know that the proof is actually in the functionality first, and the aesthetic is farther down the list. With that in mind, I tried my best to overlook what I felt was a poor reveal; with it’s clunky, oversized toe cap and the lack of any heel rise, I gave the Bryce a chance to prove its mettle while afield. To its credit, I did appreciate the reflective lace grommets and ‘worn in’ look of the soft leather.
Notes on the Bryce product page indicate that the fit may run about a half size small, so be forewarned. However, that was not my experience. I had adequate toe-box space with minimal slip at the heel fresh out of the box. Like so many leather outer shoes these days, the break-in period was very minimal. The Bryce is wearable and supple right away. Yet, the more I wore them and the more broken in the leather became, I did need to make sure to sufficiently tighten the laces around my ankle to prevent heel abrasions. It seemed as though the heel widened out a bit over time.
One of my first runs out was a rock scramble in post-rain conditions to check how the sole would articulate on rock as well as to see how it fared on slick surfaces. The Bryce was the poster child for grippy soles which can be accredited to that lack of any heel rise. Essentially, there is more surface area to make contact. The down side of that same feature is that the Bryce does not release mud very well and it can be prone to balling up on the sole from time to time.
Waterproofing was excellent with no water penetration no matter how hard I tried. Breathability was not a negative either. As a waterproof hiker, it is obviously not as breathable as your trail runners but it didn’t feel like a sauna after a short 6-8 milers either. The shoe also feels reasonably light on the foot and never made mileage a chore.
Overall, I found the Keen Bryce to be a good dayhiker in wet conditions or a grippy alternative during a nice rock scramble with its soft fit and extra sole contact. However, the inability to shed mud was frustrating and given how quickly the leather spread out and the soft nature of the sole, I have questions as to the longevity of the shoe.
- Grippy sole
- Light feel
- Quick break-in period
- Decent moisture exchange
- Inability to release mud from sole
- Widening of heel cup allows for some slippage
- Sole shows wear quickly
Date available: Currently Available
Manufacturer’s Website: Keen Byrce Mid
Listed Weight: 18.5 ounces
Materials: Nubuck and Textile Upper Keen.Dry Lining
Warranty info: If within 30 days you are not entirely happy with your purchase from keenfootwear.com, you may return it to us. Period.