You can tell a KEEN boot from across a large outdoors store. The rounded, almost cartoony, styling and distinctively funky design has gained many fans. KEEN is a bit of a Marmite thing: You either love them or you hate them. I really like KEEN (and Marmite, if you interested!)
The latest collection from KEEN, called European Made, is designed for technical ascents and longer backpacking trips on challenging terrain, and includes the Liberty Ridge.
“Made with pride” in KEEN’s new European factory, the Liberty Ridge is crafted from a single piece of full-grain leather and features synthetic overlays for added support and durability.
The boots, which come in men and women’s fit, are leather-lined and feature a KEEN.DRY waterproof and breathable membrane. They are constructed with KEEN’s special PU midsole for durability and to maintain good cushioning over many, many walking miles.
There’s also an integrated heel cushion to give additional underfoot comfort and protection, while a full-length shank offers increased stability underfoot, “even on demanding and unpredictable terrain”.
The compound rubber outsole is “rugged and aggressively lugged to ensure enhanced traction”.
On test: KEEN Liberty Ridge walking boots
As I said, there is a distinctive look to KEEN boots. They have a rounded kind of styling, especially the heel and toe of the boots. Although, in fact, the new Liberty Ridge boots look at lot more like ordinary walking boots than others I have tested.
The best thing about KEEN boots is the comfort level. Put your foot in the boot and they feel immediately comfortable. The insole is really comfy but not too soft, nor too hard. The tongue is thick and cushioned.
The look and feel of the boots says quality. I am not normally a leather walking boot person, opting instead for lighter boots constructed with Gore-Tex fabric, but I can see that these boots will be highly durable and long-lasting.
The outer is made from one piece of leather and surrounding this is a really decent rubber last. It comes up high over the toes and kicks up at the back of the boot, too.
You could walk for many miles on rough trails and the boots would withstand whatever came at them.
The other most noticeable quality features are the metal lacing eyes. So many times I wear boots that have basic eyes or fabric for the eyelets and these break after a few months of wear.
The KEEN metal eyelets look made to last and they also allow for a good level of tension when tying them. The top two eyelets are half open, like hooks.
I also like the laces. You can’t tell until close up but they have a ridged design that means when they are tied they stay tight for longer. Many laces on other boots are too soft and slippery and end up untying too easily when walking. The ridged laces are a nice touch from KEEN.
The soles of the boots say to me: Rugged, trails and some muddy hills. These are not winter mountaineering boots but rather they are boots of hiking on long-distance trails, heading into the hills for hiking or Munro bagging. For winter mountains I always make sure my boots are crampon compatible and these are not.
Saying that, the KEEN Liberty Ridge boots would cope with most walking situations. They could serve you well in spring, summer and autumn as well as on some winter days but not in severely snowy and icy conditions.
It’s worth noting, too, that the rounded heel does not offer good grip when coming downhill on muddy or loose terrain and paths. In this situation I usually need to dig in my heel and I prefer more of a right-angle edge to properly grip.
The boots feel sturdy on my feet and give good traction and grip on trails. I feel like it’s a four-wheel drive kind of walking in the boots. I don’t think much would get in the way of them and they will withstand a lot of wear and tear.
They are also comfortable even on the first wear on an off-road hike and coped well with undulating and thick heathery terrain. The leather and waterproof inner keeps feet nice and dry, as well as warm.
I found the boots to be quite heavy compared to my fabric boots but that is because they are made of leather. This is a boot that I would class as for “general” countryside walking. It is also a boot that will keep your feet warm and dry, except for on the coldest winter days and the most severe snow.
For stockists or to buy on-line at £150 see KEEN Footwear