Will Renwick headed to the Brecon Beacons to put Keen waterproof boots through their paces
These boots are a blend of old and new; a classic shell of hardy-full grain leather with a distinctly modern, typically Keen look. They’re the brand’s “flagship hiking collection for 2015,” designed for “technical ascents and longer backpacking trips.”
The sole unit feels rigid while shock is absorbed by an integrated heel cushion. The padding around the ankle is generous and overall the compact (somewhat stubby) shape makes them feel agile rather than lumbering. On rocky terrain the multi-directional lugs give good grip, though on one grassy descent in the rain they did slip a touch. Perhaps the lugs could be a bit more aggressive to stop this but that would likely take away from their lightweight, agile feel.
It’s the waterproofing of these hiking boots that impresses me the most. The Keen.Dry membrane really holds up, and on top of this there are very few seams (sometimes a flashpoint for water entry) thanks to the single-piece leather design. On a boggy day in the Brecon Beacons my feet stayed completely dry, and I had confidence to really splash about. It was possible to submerge the boots to about three-quarters of the way up the tongue. On a fast-paced hike on a warmish September day they also didn’t seem to get clammy and breathed well. They aren’t designed for winter mountains, but for three-season technical ascents and long backpacks, they are as Keen intended, very well suited.