In this Keen vs Oboz comparison, I’ll be taking a closer look at the backgrounds, manufacturing processes, and popular products made by Keen and Oboz, with the ultimate goal of helping you make the right choice.
The short version is that Keen won this comparison, but not by much. Read on to find out why. If your search for the perfect outdoor footwear has boiled down to the shoes made by Keen and Oboz, you’re in the right place.
|Keen Targhee III
|Waterproof Nubuck leather
|Oiled Nubuck leather
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Reasons to Pick Keen Hiking Shoes
Here are ten potential reasons to choose Keen hiking shoes:
- Durability: Keen hiking shoes are known for their durability and ability to withstand the rigors of the trail.
- Support: Many Keen hiking shoes offer excellent support and stability, which can be important for those who need extra support on the trail.
- Traction: Keen hiking shoes often have aggressive tread patterns that provide good traction on a variety of surfaces.
- Waterproofing: Many Keen hiking shoes are waterproof, which can be helpful in wet or muddy conditions.
- Breathability: Some Keen hiking shoes are designed with breathable materials that help keep feet dry and comfortable.
- Comfort: Many hikers find Keen hiking shoes to be comfortable, with ample cushioning and support for long days on the trail.
- Wide size range: Keen offers a wide range of sizes, including wide width options, which can be helpful for those with hard-to-fit feet.
- Responsible sourcing: Keen is known for using sustainable materials and ethical practices in the production of their shoes.
- Stylish designs: Keen hiking shoes come in various styles, so you can choose a pair that matches your style.
- Good reputation: Keen has a good reputation among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, with many people finding their shoes to be reliable and durable.
Keen Background and History
Keen was founded almost two decades ago – in 2003 – by Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst. Although it has roots in other U.S. states, the company is now based in Portland, Oregon, and is one of America’s most successful footwear brands.
As a sailing enthusiast, Mr. Keen got sick of stubbing his toes during boat rides and decided to do something about it. In 1999, he came up with a protective toe cap made out of rubber, which can now be found on many of the company’s best-selling boots and shoes.
Two decades ago, in Jamestown, Rhode Island, Martin Keen came up with the now world-famous Newport Sandal.
Initially, the company sold footwear for water-based activities only – such as sailing – before trying its hand at things such as cold-weather footwear, work shoes, bags, and all sorts of clothes.
Keen relocated its headquarters from California to Portland, Oregon in 2006. Four years later, the company opened a footwear factory in the same city, only a few miles away from its headquarters in downtown Portland.
While it uses materials sourced from all over the world, Keen is genuinely dedicated to recycling, i.e. environmental conservation. For example, when its HQ building required an important upgrade, the company did the renovation in such a creative way that the result of this whole affair was a single dumpster of waste – not the twenty expected ones.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that Keen reacted with major financial support after the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The company spent a large amount of money they would otherwise use for advertising to help the tsunami survivors.
Keen is generally one of the most proactive footwear companies when it comes to helping survivors of natural disasters with shoe donations and monetary contributions. In 2018 alone, the brand donated about 25,000 pairs of shoes.
As I mentioned above, Keen uses all kinds of globally-sourced materials to manufacture its sandals, shoes, and boots. Some of these include leather, waterproof membranes, rubber outsoles, mesh linings, as well as all sorts of PVC-free materials.
The brand is also well-known for a number of proprietary technologies it uses in the manufacture of its footwear. These are Keen.Warm Insulation, Keen.Regen, Keen.Polar Traction, Keen.Dry, Keen.Bellows Flex, and many others.
The technology used depends on the purpose and style of a particular footwear product. For example, the company uses the Keen.Polar Traction technology specifically for its ice-walking footwear, while they utilize the Keen.Warm Insulation in a variety of winter and cold-weather boots and shoes.
The purpose of the Keen.Dry technology, on the other hand, is to keep the boots and shoes dry even on wet trails. The Keen.Dry breathable membrane keeps the water at bay while at the same time allowing perspiration to escape.
Another of the brand’s well-known proprietary technologies is Keen.Regen. Its job is to re-energize wearers with each step they take by ensuring optimum comfort and the best possible cushioning.
Finally, the purpose of the Keen.Bellows Flex technology is to reduce the cracking at the top of the forefoot, making this area of the shoe more flexible and not-so-susceptible to bending and friction. All of these proprietary features make Keen good hiking shoes.
Keen – Popular Products
Keen Ridge Flex Mid Boots
- Weight: 1.15 lbs
- Dimensions: 14.45” x 10.2” x 5.47”
- Colors Available: 5
The best thing about these shoes is that they’re comfortable right out of the box and incredibly easy to walk in.
They sport phenomenal waterproofing and are a great choice if you’re planning on doing some rigorous hiking.
- Comfortable & easy to walk in
- Superb waterproofing
- Very roomy
- Average traction
Keen Targhee III Mid Boots
- Weight: 1.14 lbs
- Colors Available: 9
Although a wallet-friendly model, the Keen Targhee III is a boot that successfully combines the comfort of hiking shoes with the traction and support of hiking boots.
For an average trekker looking for a quality boot that provides an excellent value for the money, this is a great choice.
- Very comfortable and soft
- High-quality insole
- Could be more breathable
Reasons to Pick Oboz Hiking Shoes
Here are ten reasons to choose Oboz hiking shoes:
- Traction: Oboz hiking shoes are known for their good traction on a variety of surfaces, thanks to their aggressive tread patterns.
- Support: Many Oboz hiking shoes offer excellent support and stability, which can be important for those who need extra support on the trail.
- Waterproofing: Many Oboz hiking shoes are waterproof, which can be helpful in wet or muddy conditions.
- Breathability: Some Oboz hiking shoes are designed with breathable materials that help keep feet dry and comfortable.
- Comfort: Many hikers find Oboz hiking shoes to be comfortable, with ample cushioning and support for long days on the trail.
- Wide size range: Oboz offers a wide range of sizes, including wide-width options, which can be helpful for those with hard-to-fit feet.
- Responsible sourcing: Oboz uses sustainable materials and ethical practices to produce its shoes.
- Stylish designs: Oboz hiking shoes come in a range of styles, so you can choose a pair that matches your personal style.
- Good reputation: Oboz has a good reputation among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, with many people finding their shoes to be reliable and durable.
- Made in the USA: Oboz is based in Bozeman, Montana, and many of its shoes are made in the USA, which may be necessary to some consumers.
Some Background and History of Oboz
When you combine the words “outside” and “Bozeman”, you get “Oboz”. The name of this footwear company clearly states that its founder – John Connelly – is in love with the backcountry around his hometown of Bozeman, Montana.
It is exactly this location that set up Oboz for a huge success. Situated at an elevation of 4,820 feet, Bozeman is surrounded by a mountainous wilderness – what better place to test your newly-invented hiking shoes?
What is more, the workforce of Oboz includes anglers, cyclists, trekkers, runners, and other outdoor-loving folks who give their best to create boots and shoes they would like to wear themselves.
As I mentioned above, the brand was founded by John Connely, who, in 2007, decided to quit his day job and try his hand at making quality footwear. The next year, his newly-established company – Oboz – launched its very first hiking shoes.
A decade later, the brand was bought by a New Zealand-based sports company called Kathmandu Holdings. Fortunately, this event did not affect the brand’s headquarters.
The company’s HQ is still situated at the corner of Olive Street and Wallace Avenue in Bozeman, Montana. However, most of the trekking footwear is manufactured in two Vietnam-based factories and then distributed from a warehouse in California.
The most outstanding aspect of this popular brand is undoubtedly its love for the outdoors. And that is precisely why Oboz supports various nature conservancy initiatives, one of which is Trees for the Future.
By planting a tree for every pair of boots and shoes it sells, the company strives to make our planet a more habitable place. Through its initiatives, Oboz has planted close to five million trees to date.
One of the brand’s most famous proprietary technologies is the O Fit insole. The insoles made with the help of this technology provide wearers with the best possible ankle and foot stability and support.
Every O Fit insole features the so-called Deep Heel Cup, whose purpose is to ensure optimal support to the heel while still providing a suitable amount of cushioning.
What is more, these insoles also sport Eva-Sculpted arches – they’re made out of a special high-density material and ensure a neutral foot placement. They also have heel and forefoot pods for additional support, extra cushioning, as well as shock absorption.
Depending on their style, a pair of Oboz boots can be made from a variety of materials. For example, the company’s uppers often use full-grain leather or open spacer mesh – the choice of material is decided by the boots’ purpose and style.
The outsoles promote the best grip, durability, and traction for various kinds of terrains. The midsoles, on the other hand, provide the best possible stability and protection while still staying quite lightweight hiking shoes.
According to the brand’s website, the highest quality and finesse are ensured by the fact that each Oboz boot or shoe passes through the hands of 140 experienced employees.
Oboz – Popular Products
Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots
- Weight: 1 lb
- Material: Waterproof Nubuck leather
- Colors Available: 5
Although somewhat heavy and slow when compared to more modern (and more expensive) competitors, the Bridger Mid B-Dry boots are very sturdy and supportive for the price they come at.
This boot’s best feature is undoubtedly the O Fit insole – it is exceptionally supportive, nicely sculpted, and made out of high-quality materials.
- High-quality O Fit insole
- Keeps the moisture out
- Sturdy & supportive
- Slow & heavy
Oboz Sawtooth II Low Shoes
- Weight: 2.47 lbs
- Dimensions: 4” x 10” x 4”
- Colors Available: 2
One of the most popular hiking shoes on the market, Sawtooth II Low is a great choice for demanding hikes in warm and dry climates.
The combination of a light, airy feel, superb support, and outstanding breathability makes these shoes a good option if you need something basic and budget-friendly but still versatile and well-made.
If you are interested in products similar to Oboz, read our Salomon vs Oboz shoe comparison as well.
- Supportive EVA outsole
- Very comfortable
- Not genuinely waterproof
Keen vs Oboz – The Verdict
Deciding between two premium-quality brands is rarely easy. Both Oboz and Keen produce phenomenal footwear, and all of their products provide fantastic value for the money.
But still, I think that Keen is a better choice when it comes to hiking shoes. This is because they take very little time to adjust to one’s feet and are generally more flexible than the ones offered by Oboz.
On the other hand, the shoes and boots made by Oboz are a bit more rigid. Go with this brand if you’re looking for footwear that was made to last, even when used exclusively on rocky terrain. For more similar products, check out our Salomon vs North Face hiking shoe comparison. And if you need more help picking out the best footwear for your adventures, read our guide on choosing walking boots.
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.