Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Kit review: Keen Gypsum walking boots

Written by Fiona November 28 2011

What is the rain good for? Mud. And what are both rain and mud good for? Testing walking boots, of course. The first up are Keen’s Gypsum Mid Walking boots. I’m a big fan of Keen boots – and so, it seems, are many of my friends who whenever they see me in my fave Keen Hoodoo boots comment on how a) they’d love a pair or b) they have just bought a pair. The Hoodoo have been indestructible and still offer great comfort, warmth and waterproofing. They are my ultimate dog walking and scuffing about boots.

Keen Gypsum Mid walking boots

Keen Gypsum Mid walking boots

Unique look of Keen walking shoes and boots

Keen shoes tend to look a little cartoony, in a good way. What I mean is, stylishly cartoony! They generally suit wider footed folks, too, although I have still found them (with my skinny feet) to be a good fit if I pop on a pair of thick socks. I like to wear thick socks for added warmth so Keen suit me.

The Keen Gypsum boots look much more like a traditional walking boot than others in their range, but they still boast the characteristic rounded toe, chunky sole, funky design and comfort. And it was comfort that most impressed me when I first tried on the boots. They immediately felt great. This is vital if you’re about to set out on a long walk or on a bumpy trail.

I also love the laces. If you are fed up with laces that continually come undone you’ll like the Keen boot detailing. The laces are ridged along their length so as to keep them tied once you’ve tied them.

The Keen website states that the Gypsum boots are: Perfect for following the trail further afield.  An all-terrain boot built with the technology to take you there. Featuring a wide, 4mm lugged outsole, a KEEN.Zorb strobel and KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane, the Gypsum Mid delivers the stability, comfort and moisture management needed for overnight hikes and winter ascents.

What I think of the Keen Gypsum walking boots

This is a well-designed, robust and highly comfortable walking boot that will suit wet summer days and many winter walking conditions. I wouldn’t try to add crampons to this kind of boot so it’s not for serious high-level mountaineering in snow and ice conditions but for most other winter walking conditions the boots will do a great job.

Walking in the boots feels stable, well balanced and grippy. I was confident walking up and down wet and muddy trails and off-route on grass. As I said, I like the ribbed laces and this meant that the boots rarely needed re-tightening even over a day of challenging walking.

Thanks to the nubuck leather uppers your Keen Gypsums will provide long-lasting durability, while also offering tons of flexibility and breathability for great comfort on and off the trail. The well-protected toe area of the boot is built to last even after repeated knocks and bumps.

Also, being a woman with big feet I’m pleased to see that the women’s Keen Gypsum boots go up to an UK8.5 size. Personally I’d prefer a slightly slimmer fit around the toe and ankle but most people have wider feet than me so I’m imagining these will be a perfect fit for the majority.

The other potential disadvantage is that these boots do not have a Gore-tex layer, which means they may not be as waterproof or breathable as walking boots that do have a Gore-tex layer. In my test walking the boots did keep my feet dry and this reveals that the KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane was doing its job. However, I have never found a waterproof membrane that’s as good as Gore-tex so only time would tell if the Keen boots hold up as waterproof as long as a pair with Gore-tex.

Final thoughts on Keen Gypsum walking boots

In conclusion, the Keen Gypsum boots look great and feel brilliant on your feet. They are sturdy and grippy and would suit summer walking in a wide range of terrain, and winter walking so long as you’re not heading into steep slopes with deep snow and ice, where crampons would be essential.  If you only used the boots for winter dog walking and trips to the shops I’m pretty sure you’d have the Gypsum boots in 20 year’s time.

There is also a men’s version of the Gympsum walking boots.

More Like This


BAM products: Bid to make bamboo more sustainable


3 GB Ultras wins in a row for Scott Brown


Review: Rab MUON women’s ND 50 pack


17 things I have learned when walking in claggy mountains


Isle of arran Corbetts: Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn


Review: Lowe Alpine Women’s AirZone Ultra ND26L Hiking Pack