Are Keen Boots Good for Hiking?
When looking to take on the magnificence that is a day hike, nothing can quite compare with some quality hiking boots. The right footwear not only makes you feel more confident on your feet, but it also protects your sensitive skin from the elements.
Hiking in the winter can be especially challenging and downright miserable. So where do you turn if you’re looking to take on the hills this season? If you’re a hiker, then it might be worth looking into getting some keens instead. These rugged hiking boots have been around for ages, so they must be beneficial for something.
If you’ve ever hiked in the backcountry, chances are you’ve encountered snow and ice. This makes great trekking boots a must-have item for any serious hiker. Keens are made of water-resistant leather, so they should be able to handle anything Mother Nature dishes out.
And best of all, these versatile shoes come in a variety of styles, colours and patterns to perfectly complement any look and mood. Here are 4 reasons why you should get yourself some keens.
Table of Contents
Are Keen Boots Good for Hiking?
The answer is yes—knee-highs are perfect for hikers. While they can make life more challenging as they are often heavy and bulky, they make a great choice when you’re looking to challenge yourself outside.
4 Reasons Why You Should Get Yourself Some Keens
So if you’re looking for some new and exciting ways to spend your hard-earned cash, check out these top 4 reasons why you should get yourself some keens.
I. They’re Insanely Durable
This is one of the most important things people don’t know about keens. These boots are far from delicate, and as such, they are incredibly durable. There are lots of choices out there on the market today that are made of synthetic materials, but none of them are as durable as real sheepskin. In fact, it’s been proven that keens only wear out after 3-4 times of heavy use, which is pretty incredible.
II. They Can Keep Your Feet Tougher Than Other Shoe Types
Getting to the top of that mountain doesn’t mean having to go through shoes with feet of iron. That’s not the case with keens, which have been around for a while. These boots are known for having a rugged sole, which makes them ideal for hiking in all weather conditions.
They’re also great for snowboarding and skiing as well since they have a special grip sole that’s perfect for icy slopes. They’re especially durable on the outside, thanks to their handmade nature and the fact that they’re made of genuine sheepskin.
III. The Right Boot for Any Occasion
You might have an idea of what kind of hiking boots you should get, but are you sure that they’re the right ones for you? Consider the following: you’re probably a casual hiker who’s only interested in short, occasional walks. In this case, a trail running shoe might be the perfect match. On the other hand, if you like to hit the trails regularly, then a hiking shoe with a dedicated trail mode is what you need.
Here are a few examples: If you’re a beginner hiker, you may want a more casual shoe to accommodate less-experienced feet. On the other hand, if you’re an advanced hiker who loves to push your limits and has seen fit to acquire blisters, then a trail running shoe with a higher instep is what you need.
IV. You Can Look Like A Boss in Them
Not only are these shoes super fashionable, but they can also double as collectables. If you go long distances regularly, you may want to keep these classic hiking boots in top shape so they look and function like new.
This is where the rich, worn-in look of a good pair of keens comes into play. When you wear them, you instantly look like a pro, hunting down those distant peaks.
Our Top 4 Tips on Choosing The Right Boot for Hiking
If you’ve got some extra cash to spend or are happy to splurge on quality, we’ve rounded up our top 5 tips on choosing the right boot for hiking.
I. Cushioned EVA Midsole
There are a few different types of midsole cushioning. In some shoes, the midsole is the actual footbed, making it a separate piece. In other shoes, the midsole is the cushioned insert that sits between your foot and the ground. You want the EVA type in the former case because it is designed to support your foot.
You can find a memory foam, air, and responsive foams in hiking shoes. Define what you want your footbed to feel like and stick with that. When it comes to responsive foams, you want the memory foam type that gives you good support without being too squishy.
It’s smart to get a softer, more responsive foam for the landing zone because you’ll be putting pressure on it when you’re hiking in rough terrain. This helps you get a good workout while supporting your feet and preventing blisters.
II. Keep Your Feet Dry
The most important tip when it comes to hiking in the rain? The shoes have to be able to keep your feet dry. Make sure they have a water-releasing bladder and a waterproof sock liner. If you’re not absolutely sure, check out this guide to buying the right boot for hiking in the rain. Once you’ve got the right shoes, make sure they stay dry.
It’s not luck; it’s science—shoes that are able to stay dry are going to perform better and get you a better workout. Waterlogged shoes don’t respond well to massage or provide a good workout. There’s a reason hiker-specific shoes are specifically designed for the outdoors.
III. Look out for Natural Treading
Most hiking boots will have a synthetic “tread” pattern on the bottom to help you better traction in the muddy or snowy terrain. This is great for hiking but not so great for the streets or sidewalks where you’d like to walk. Luckily, there are a few options that let you choose between natural and synthetic soles. Depending on your preferences, you can pick either pattern.
Natural soles offer more grip while also looking more natural. However, if you plan to wear your boots frequently outside, you should probably go with the synthetic option. Natural soles wear out quickly while synthetic soles can last a lifetime.
IV. Get a Discreet Liner
If you’re looking for something a little more discrete, you can go with the GoreTex lined Gore-Tex Pro or the CDA or CDA Pro. These are the most popular types of hiking boots and come with a built-in easy-to-use liner. They’re a perfect choice if you’re not wanting to advertise that you’re wearing them.
If you’re someone who wants to show off your boots and wants to make it obvious that you have them on but doesn’t want to advertise it to the world, a zipper-lock polypropylene bag is your friend.
These bags are odour- and moisture-free, easy to clean, and can retain their shape after being stuffed full of dirt and rocks. You can even wash your boots in the bag if you want to.
If you’ve ever hiked in the backcountry, chances are you’ve encountered snow and ice. This makes great trekking boots a must-have item for any serious hiker. Keens are made of water-resistant leather, so they should be able to handle anything Mother Nature dishes out. And best of all, these versatile shoes come in a variety of styles, colours and patterns to perfectly complement any look and mood.
So get out there, start hiking and don’t forget your keens. That’s it. We hope that together, we’ve given you a better understanding of the importance of getting yourself a pair of keens.
To put it simply, keens are the best hiking boots available today. They’re rugged, reliable, comfortable and withstand extreme conditions well. They’re also very affordable, which makes them an excellent investment for anyone looking to get into hiking this season.
Keen vs Salomon Hiking Shoes and Boots: A Comparison
At the time of writing this piece, we are in the month of January, the harshest month here in the Northern Hemisphere.
So, hiking and long walks in the outdoors are a distant memory for many, even though for some people winter is not really a problem.
But two months can pass very quickly and to be prepared for the next warmer season, today we’ll talk about hiking shoes and boots.
And not from any brand, but from two very popular and reputable names in the outdoor industry: Keen and Salomon.
The former is American and quite new (2003), while the latter is French and with a long history (1947).
The former started as a footwear brand, while the latter as a saw blades’ shop (yes, incredible, don’t you think?).
So, which did better over the years? And which would be better for your needs now?
We will try to answer these questions below. Let’s begin!
* Note: The availability of products on this page may change at any time. Please check the materials, features, colors, and sizes on the various shops (linked on this page) before buying, because sometimes our articles may contain errors. The product images you see here are for illustration purposes.
A Short History of the Brand
As we said in the introduction, Keen is an American brand founded in 2003 and currently based in Portland, Oregon.
One of their mottos that you can find in one of their videos and that reads “Consciously Created for a Better Planet”, says it all about this brand – they are focused on creating innovative products with a strong focus on environmental consciousness. We have added the video below.
Keen started by offering their Newport sandal to the market, which appreciated it very much at the point of identifying the brand with this sandal.
And the market was right because the sandal, originally designed to protect the toes, not only did its job very well but soon became a symbol of outdoor life and travel.
But Keen doesn’t only produce sandals, as we will see more in detail below!
In 2010, they introduced the Utility work boots to guarantee protection for many hard workers.
And next, there are their hiking boots and shoes, much loved and raved about by enthusiasts of various types who push them to the limits on all kinds of terrains and trails in the USA and all over the world.
We have to say that we like very much their simple design and features, and of course, they will be the focus of this article.
Along with shoes, boots, and sandals, Keen also produces hats, bags, socks, and other accessories, always with responsibility and transparency as some of their main values.
Materials and Manufacture
For those who love technicalities among you, let’s move on now to Keen’s materials and manufacturing processes.
Many outdoor brands use Gore-Tex. We have talked about how it works here, take a look at that article if you are curious.
Keen uses their own fabric technology, KEEN.DRY!
The brand is from Portland, a place with a long rainy season. So, they know a thing or two about waterproof shoes.
The KEEN.DRY technology is very similar to Gore-Tex and other similar alternatives and consists of a membrane with a large number of microscopic holes that let water vapor out without letting water in.
This way you get waterproof shoes that are also breathable.
Of course, they are not 100% breathable, you have sandals for that. And they are not 100% waterproof where you stay all day immersed in water, you have rubber boots for that.
But in most cases, when hiking, you don’t stay immersed in the water this long, do you?
Suggestion: to improve waterproofness, choose the height of your shoe carefully, and use boots that have been treated with water repellent products, for example, DWR sprays.
Other Keen’s materials are hydrophobic mesh linings, leather, rubber outsoles, EVA insoles, PFC-free water repellent materials, and Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control.
Some frequently asked questions about Keen:
Is Keen a good brand?
Innovative features, good materials, a manufacturing process that strives to leave a lighter footprint on the environment, and designs that we love because they are a combination of modern and classic style.
Yes, we think Keen is a good brand to seriously consider trying if you haven’t already.
Where are Keen shoes and boots made?
Keen’s “American Built” collection is made in Portland, Oregon, USA, with materials that come from around the world. They also have factories in Thailand and Mexico, and from what we understand, in other countries too. (source)
Let’s take a look at some of Keen’s best-sellers.
KEEN Men’s Targhee III Mid Height Hiking Boot
The Keen Targhee III is a popular boot for men with all-terrain features. It’s an upgrade of Keen’s iconic award-winning Targhee boot.
We particularly like the design, while the KEEN.DRY waterproof and breathable membrane, the leather and mesh upper, the rubber outsole for good grip, and the EVA midsole are some of the main features that get the job done.
What’s the difference between Keen Targhee II and III?
The Targhee III has a slightly sleeker outsole and the fit is more casual, meaning that it feels more like a sneaker and you will be able to feel the trail.
The Targhee II has a more traditional fit and a heel that is slightly elevated. (source)
KEEN Women’s Explore Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
For women, we have picked the Explore Waterproof Boot, which is very beautiful with a sneaker style, and lightweight.
Some of the main features include the KEEN.All-Terrain outsole, EVA midsole, mesh lining for breathability, speed hooks, and the KEEN.Dry membrane.
Keen’s hiking footwear’s prices range from around $100 up to $200, with an average price of $130 – $150.
Compared to other brands’ prices that we have seen so far, Keen is more or less in line with the other big names in the outdoor niche.
Are Keen’s hiking shoes and boots worth the price?
Keen offers quality materials, performance, and innovation both in features and design. Also, their shoes go on sale often. Their footwear is definitely worth the price if you ask us.
A Short History of the Brand
Salomon is older than Keen, it has been founded in 1947 in Annecy, France.
The brand started out as a small shop specializing in saw blades. This specialization in metalworking and the proximity to the French Alps created the perfect combination for the brand to enter the skiing industry.
Why so? What’s common between skiing and metalworking?
Well, they were able to make skis, for example. And not only were they good at making metal edges for skis, but they also brought some innovation to the industry.
For example, they invented a new ski binding type that was different from the traditional leather binding straps of the time.
But we are not here to talk about skiing, are we? Ok, ok, let’s move on to their shoes.
Salomon launched their first hiking shoes in 1992, many years after the company’s foundation. After that, they launched trail running shoes, winter apparel, softshell jackets, along with many custom technologies.
Today the brand has an expanded product range, but it is mainly renowned among outdoor enthusiasts for its snowsports products and its footwear.
Materials and Manufacture
Salomon uses different materials on their shoes depending on their specific use, and the footwear ranges in performance, from lightweight shoes for short hikes in dry weather, to waterproof boots that are comfortable for many hours of walking.
The brand relies heavily on technology to ensure performance and durability.
For example, Gore-Tex is one of these technologies which we mentioned above and we have featured it in many articles where we have discussed different brands that use this membrane in their products for its waterproofness and breathability.
When it comes to outer soles, Salomon uses the Contagrip® TD outer sole which adds traction to the shoes that are meant to be used in difficult terrain.
Next, the OrthoLite® insoles provide great cushioning along with durability and breathability, adding to the overall comfort of the boot.
Advanced Chassis™ and SensiFit™ which help improve the stability and fit, are two other important names among the several technologies and features of Salomon’s hiking shoes, along with the protective toecap and the gusseted tongue.
Some frequently asked questions about Salomon:
Is Salomon a good brand?
A brand that has been on the market for many years, inventing new products and integrating new, useful technologies in their footwear, while using sustainable means of production – yes, we think Salomon is a good brand.
Where are Salomon shoes and boots made?
Many of Salomon’s manufacturing facilities are based in Asia, in countries such as China, India, Vietnam, etc. Lately, they have also announced a new footwear factory in France.
By Salomon we have picked:
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
Check out Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Boots on Amazon.com: Men’s version – Women’s version | (#ad)
The X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is one of Salomon’s bestseller hiking boots and is available in both women’s and men’s versions.
Among its main features, we can mention: the Gore-Tex membrane to keep your feet dry, Advanced Chassis™, SensiFit™, and a Contagrip® TD outsole to give you maximum traction.
Also, the boot comes with a protective toecap and mudguard.
Are Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boots waterproof?
The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX uses the Gore-Tex membrane which is waterproof and breathable. So, yes, they are waterproof. Also, their design helps improve waterproofness.
Obviously, Gore-Tex, being a membrane with millions of micropores, has its limits just like any other fabric technology, and over time (many months to a few years) its waterproofness can decrease. Here you can learn more about Gore-Tex.
Salomon Women’s OUTline Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
Next, we have picked the OUTline Mid Gore-Tex hiking boot for women. If you are looking for a lightweight and flexible shoe, this one is a good option.
It offers the comfort of a running shoe, along with waterproofness and a good grip that makes them suitable for any trail.
Depending on the design and features of the hiking shoe, Salomon’s prices vary from around $90 up to $200.
Are Salomon’s hiking shoes and boots worth the price?
Salomon is regarded by many reviewers as one of the best brands when it comes to hiking footwear, as they provide comfort and performance. And we agree with them!
3. Which Brand is Better?
Many will say “It depends”. And, indeed, it depends on what you are looking for. But, we will also try to give you a longer answer.
Both brands offer high quality, comfortable, high-performance shoes, both are environmentally conscious and are raved about by many hiking and outdoor enthusiasts.
Prices are similar, with an average that ranges from $130 to $150 for both brands, and is in line with the other main brands of this industry.
They both have their distinctive style, with Keen that reminds you of the great forests of the Pacific Northwest and Salomon that takes you to the many European mountain trails.
When it comes to style, we like Keen’s boots more and their way of combining classic styles with elements of modern design.
On the other hand, if we were looking for technical designs for extensive hikes, we would choose Salomon, as we see them offering slightly more features in this regard.
In the end, you can’t go wrong with either of these two brands.
Also from what we have seen and from many reviews that we have read, the general consensus is that both offer a good warranty, the customer service is very good, and many of their shoes and boots last for 3 to 5 years.
KEEN-parison: Which Targhee Hiking Boot Should You Choose?
Some might say the ideal hiking boot is one you don’t think about. Just a piece of gear. A tool used to reach an overlook or summit. Here at KEEN, we think that boots are more than that. A hiking boot is your connection to the outdoors. A means of getting out there, savoring the trail, enjoying this big beautiful ball we call planet Earth.
Sure, when you’re wearing any of our men’s, women’s, or kids’ Targhee boots, you’re likely not thinking about them (they’re so comfortable, why would you?). But after you get home following a long day on the trail, your thoughts may start to drift to your boots. Why? Because looking at those well-worn, mud-splattered boots by the back door, it’s hard not to feel a tug of gratitude. And that’s what Targhee boots are all about.
FOR FANS OF INSTANT COMFORT
Back in 2005, when the very first Targhee boot jumped off the drawing board and onto the trail, fans and their feet took notice. Out-of-the-box comfort, paired with some serious durability and trail performance. How could something so comfortable be so rugged? It’s not every day that a boot comes along that’s agile enough to make steep terrain more manageable yet rugged enough to stand up to miles of loose, sharp shale. But for new and experienced hikers alike, Targhee boots encourage people to push their limits, explore like they never imagined, and in some cases create music on mountain tops.
It could be the iconic Targhee fit with a supportive EVA midsole and roomy toe box. Or it could be the durable outsole built with soft and sticky multi-directional lugs for rugged traction. Our hunch, however, is that it’s more than just one awesome feature alone. Each Targhee boot has its own set of unique ingredients, a recipe designed to create boots and shoes perfectly suited for specific purposes and terrain. This is the Targhee boot secret.
MEET THE WHOLE TARGHEE BOOT FAMILY
Targhee II: The Fan Favorite
Perfect weather, surprise storm, or washed-out trail. The Targhee II boots for men and women can handle it. Grippy lugs add traction when you need it (which is pretty much always, right?) and the KEEN.DRY waterproof-breathable design keeps your socks nice and dry so that you don’t even need to pack a backup pair.
Fit tip: The Targhee II boot comes in our standard iconic Targhee fit and a wide version for those feet that need a little more room. No matter which pair you go with, the contoured heel lock system lets you adjust the heel so you can find that perfect level of stability and control as you descend the steeps.
Targhee III: The Rugged Pathfinder
Our men’s and women’s Targhee III boots have all the trail-hugging traction and KEEN.DRY waterproof goodness of our Targhee II boot, but with a slightly sleeker outsole and a more casual fit. What does that mean for your feet? It means it fits more like a sneaker, with a KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole that lets you feel the trail. No need to drive to the trailhead in different shoes, you’ll be able to feel the pedals no problem!
KEEN Targhee III hiking boots
Fit tip: If you’re looking for a more traditional fit, you may prefer the Targhee II. Compared to the Targhee III, it has a slightly elevated heel more like a classic hiker.
Targhee Vent: The Heat Seeker
Some like it hot and some like it just a bit warmer than we typically see here in the Pacific Northwest. Regardless of if you’re hiking through the Grand Canyon or spending a late summer day exploring the Columbia River Gorge, a little extra ventilation can go a long way. That’s why we made the Targhee Vent boot for men and women. With the same easy-going fit and rugged KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole as the Targhee III boot, this version adds mesh vents to the upper creating a breathable design that keeps the air flowing.
Fresh fact: Worried that those warm temps could result in stinky feet? Don’t sweat it! Targhee Vent boots are made with a breathable mesh lining and infused with pesticide-free Eco Anti-Odor that uses probiotic technology to naturally control odor.
Targhee EXP: The Sleek Explorer
Trail-ready no matter the conditions. The Targhee EXP boot for men brings a more modern look to the Targhee franchise with all the same Targhee grit. No matter how big or small the adventure, these boots are primed for it. The KEEN.DRY waterproof construction and the synthetic upper (paired with a durable leather mud shield for splat-proof protection) makes them the obvious choice for weather extremes and follow-wherever-the-compass-leads adventure.
Fit tip: This style has a more narrow fit than a traditional KEEN shoe but fits true to size.
Targhee High Lace: The Ready-for-All-Conditions Adventurer
Backpacking, trail building, snowshoeing, or even accidental post-holing (you’ve got to get to that connector trail somehow!), the Men’s Targhee High Lace boot can’t get enough. Built on a KEEN.FREEZE rubber outsole designed for cold-weather conditions, this rugged high-top boot keeps your toes toasty and dry with lightweight KEEN.WARM insulation and a waterproof, breathable KEEN.DRY membrane. One of our favorite things about the Targhee High Boot? They are like the chameleon of footwear. They fit right in on the trail or strolling the winter light show.
Feel-good fact: This good-looking leather boot also helps preserve and protect our water. We source 100% of our leather from environmentally preferred, Leather Working Group-certified tanneries because traditional leather tanning can be a dirty process. LWG-certified tanneries are making it much cleaner with solutions that reduce chemicals, energy use, and water pollution.
WHERE WILL YOUR TARGHEE BOOTS TAKE YOU?
Whether you’re planning the trip of a lifetime to Norway’s Loføten Islands or just hoping to get the whole family out into nature this weekend, our Targhee boot collection gives you the support, durability, and comfortable fit you’ll need.
Here are some of our favorite Targhee adventures you’ve shared with us over the years: