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You want a well-made shoe that offers maximum support and comfort. Is Keen one of such brands?
If you’ve been eyeing this brand and would like to give its shoes, boots, or sandals a try, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about Keen, including its biggest advantages and flaws.
Table of Contents
- 1 History of the Brand
- 2 Manufacture & Materials
- 3 Price
- 4 Top 5 Best Keen Shoes
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Are Keen Shoes Good for Wide Feet?
- 7 The Takeaway
History of the Brand
The company was established by Martin Keen, a sailing enthusiast who decided to put a stop to frequent toe injuries by designing a pair of sandals with protective toe caps made out of rubber. This led to the creation of one of the brand’s most famous and most successful products – the Newport Sandal.
In its first year, the brand designed, manufactured, and sold products related to water-based outdoor activities. Later, it started making cold-weather footwear, work shoes, bags, and various types of clothes.
The thing I like the most about this brand is the simplicity of its products. Although well-made and feature-rich, their shoes still sport a relatively straightforward design. This makes Keen one of the best options for those who don’t appreciate flashy-looking outdoor gear.
Another praiseworthy fact about Keen is that it’s a company that focuses on environmental consciousness. You can see this in one of the brand’s mottos: “Consciously Created for a Better Planet”. The company uses as many recycled materials in its manufacturing processes as possible.
The last thing worth mentioning here is that Keen has always been keen – pun intended – to help other people during catastrophic natural disasters. The best example is the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which saw the company helping the survivors with a $1M donation. In addition, Keen donates over 20,000 shoes every year.
Manufacture & Materials
To make its sandals, boots, and shoes, Keen uses various materials from all over the globe. These materials include rubber outsoles, waterproof membranes, PFC-free fabrics, mesh linings, leather uppers, and others.
And to make its footwear as high-performing as possible, the brand utilizes several in-house technologies. These include KEEN.Regen, KEEN.Warm Insulation, KEEN.Polar Traction, KEEN.Bellows Flex, KEEN.Dry, and a few others.
In my opinion, the most interesting out of all these proprietary technologies is KEEN.Dry. This is the brand’s version of the ubiquitous Gore-Tex – a membrane featuring millions of tiny holes that allow one’s feet to breathe without letting water and moisture get inside.
This tech allows keen to make shoes that are breathable and waterproof at the same time. Of course, this kind of footwear can never be fully breathable – after all, that’s why we have sandals. In the same manner, such shoes can never be totally waterproof either.
The exact proprietary technology that Keen uses for a particular pair of shoes depends on the purpose and style of those shoes. The brand equips ice-walking shoes with its in-house KEEN.Polar Traction technology. KEEN.Warm Insulation, on the other hand, will always be used for winter boots and cold-weather shoes.
Whenever they want a particular pair of shoes to be as water-resistant as possible, Keen’s designers will use KEEN.Dry technology. They will also use KEEN.Regen whenever they want shoes or boots to offer optimum comfort and the best possible cushioning.
Finally, the KEEN.Bellows Flex technology makes footwear exceptionally flexible. This can significantly reduce bending and cracking that typically takes place in the shoe’s forefoot area. Finally, for natural odor control, Keen tends to use a third-party solution called Cleansport NXT™. If you want to check out brands similar to Keen, read out Keen and Oboz comparison.
The hiking footwear designed, manufactured, and sold by this brand can cost as much as $200. However, most of the company’s products fall in the $130 – $150 range.
When I compare this to the prices of other popular brands in the same industry, I can safely conclude that Keen is pretty much in line with most of them.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll be glad to hear that Keen’s footwear goes on sale more often than not. Even when they cost $200, Keen’s shoes are worth the price. After all, this brand offers genuine innovation, high performance, and quality materials both in design and features.
Top 5 Best Keen Shoes
Keen Targhee III Mid Hiking Boots
The first Keen model I’ll be looking at is a relatively wallet-friendly footwear product that combines the comfort of hiking shoes with the traction and support of hiking boots. If you are unsure what the difference between the two is, check out our post on the difference between hiking shoes and boots.
The Targhee III Mid is comfortable right out of the box and takes little time to break in. The oiled Nubuck material ensures the shoe-like feel, making these boots far less rigid than most people expect. On the other hand, the ESS shank insert guarantees a smooth ride over rough trails.
I have only words of praise when it comes to traction. Keen’s in-house outsoles, made of a special rubber compound, effortlessly grab wet granite boulders. Targhee III can also handle a lot of wetness, but don’t expect your feet to stay completely dry during heavy downpours.
These hiking boots/shoes are a great option if you want a high-quality shoe but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for it.
- Shoe-like comfort & boot-like support
- Grippy proprietary outsoles
- Could be more breathable
Keen Targhee III Low Hiking Shoes
If you’re looking for a good all-around hiking shoe for shorter backcountry adventures and light backpacking, Keen’s popular Targhee III Low model is a phenomenal option.
Just like the boots described above – Targhee III Mid – these shoes offer a comfy fit straight out of the box. One feature I particularly liked is the presence of a traditional but incredibly secure and easy-to-use lacing system.
The outsoles of these hiking shoes, on the other hand, perform well enough on dry and wet trails. And when it comes to the water resistance, you can expect your feet to stay completely dry even if you wade through streams and puddles while wearing these shoes.
Finally, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Targhee III Low is a very durable hiking shoe. Its heavy-duty toe cap and the Nubuck leather construction will protect your feet from rough terrain. The last thing I’ll mention is the stylish look – these shoes look great, even though most of Keen’s footwear sports a very traditional and somewhat plain design.
- Durable & highly water-resistant
- A very secure lacing system
- Stylish look
- Not the best arch support
Keen Targhee II Hiking Shoes
While it’s true that Targhee III is the latest and the best entry in this lineup, many hiking enthusiasts still swear by Targhee II – it’s a favorite among backcountry explorers for a couple of good reasons.
These shoes provide their wearer with a genuinely supportive and comfortable ride. The model has a spacious toe box, a balanced footbed, and a well-padded tongue – it doesn’t get much comfier than this.
Targhee II also offers excellent support thanks to its dual-density midsole and a Torsion Stability ESS shank combo. Its lug pattern, on the other hand, effortlessly handles both dry and wet granite slabs. With these shoes, you’ll never have to worry about slippage.
I think these shoes became so popular mostly due to their durability and protectiveness. While they’re not the most water-resistant hiking shoes out there, they’ve stood the test of time when it comes to handling general wear and tear. Targhee II can take a serious beating and is bound to last you for the years to come.
- Comfortable, supportive, and grippy
- Outstanding durability
- Classic design
- Not for wading in water
Keen Venture Mid Hiking Boots
An excellent option for overnight trips and day hiking, Keen’s Venture Mid hiking boots provide comfort and support for trails of all types. Moreover, they’re not as cumbersome as your typical trekking boots – a pair weighs less than 2 pounds.
Venture Mid feels unrestrictive mostly due to its spacious fit. This boot is also very stable – it’s one of those rare footwear products that aid in mobility when you’re carrying a heavier load on your back.
Using the brand’s proprietary KEEN.All Terrain+ outsoles, these boots are quite sticky and provide a solid grip when used on rough terrain. The KEEN.Dry technology, on the other hand, allows one to slosh through shallow puddles with no worries.
While certainly not among the cheaper Keen boots, Venture Mid features some advanced footwear technologies and is worth its price. It’s ideal for folks looking for extra support and low weight.
- Good traction & water resistance
- Very supportive
- Not the most durable upper
Keen Newport H2 Hiking Sandals
No roundup of the best Keen footwear products is complete without the world-famous Newport H2 sandal – this was the product that launched the brand into orbit. This is probably the best model you can get on today’s market if you need a closed-toe sandal for water sports.
The thing that makes this sandal so comfortable is its supportive midsole material and the neoprene-backed fabric used in its upper. The sandal’s stiff rubber outsole, on the other hand, is designed with water sports in mind and easily transitions from dry to wet surfaces.
This sandal is also very adjustable – to find the correct fit, you only have to use its elastic loop with a cord lock. The toe box deserves special praise, as it provides superb protection and prevents outdoor enthusiasts from stubbing their toes in a rocky river.
Offering more breathability than most hiking shoes and providing more protection and coverage than most sandals, Keen’s Newport H2 sandals strike a unique balance and stand as a worthwhile purchase for anyone interested in water-based activities.
- Comfortable, stable, and adjustable
- Excellent wet traction
- Protective toe box
- A bit expensive
Are Keen Shoes Good for Wide Feet?
Yes, Keen shoes are an excellent choice for those who have wide feet. Most Keen footwear products run true to size, so you won’t have a problem finding the perfect pair for you. But you will still need to break them in: Keen shoes provide a somewhat snug fit at first, they quickly conform to one’s feet, you need to keep using them for a few days.
Are Keen Shoes Good for Hiking?
Keen shoes are ideal for hiking. This brand is a particularly good choice for day hikers with wide feet. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider Keen’s products for purchase if your feet are narrow or you’re a thru-hiker. You’ll just have to find the right shoe/boot/sandal for your needs in the brand’s massive catalog of high-quality footwear.
Are This Brand’s Products Worth Their Price?
Keen’s sandals, boots, and shoes are worth the money. After all, the brand’s footwear products feature many desirable technologies and features, including protective toe bumpers, grippy outsoles, comfortable insoles, and breathable mesh uppers.
Where Are This Brand’s Shoes Made?
Using materials from all over the planet, Keen manufactures shoes on its home turf – in Oregon, USA – and in countries such as Thailand and Mexico. In addition, the company collaborates with some factories based in Europe and Asia.
As it combines classic styles with modern features and technologies, Keen undoubtedly deserves its place among the world’s most popular footwear brands.
This company’s shoes and boots are waterproof, durable, supportive, and very grippy. Its sandals, on the other hand, are breathable, flexible, and highly adjustable. The brand’s footwear products take little time to break in – they will adjust to your feet fairly quickly.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.