I’ve been experimenting with two different KEEN hiking boots over the summer here in Canada’s Northwest Territories with pleasant, albeit, different results.
First up is the KEEN Oregon PCT boots. These big bruisers are the epitome of what you might stereotypically expect a hiking boot to look like. They’re rugged, solid, muscular – and did I mention big – boots that appear as if they were designed for some serious outback trekking, or maybe some lumberjacking.
Needless to say, I liked them immediately just on looks alone.
To my surprise, though, the boots didn’t fit like I’ve come to expect a KEEN too. Instead of roomy, the Oregons felt narrow and tight, although that quickly disappeared as I wore them. I figured they just needed some breaking in, but the sensation has remained every time I put them on.
The boots always adjust quickly, for a good, no-problem fit, so it’s not a big issue. It’s just different.
KEEN lists these boots as being suitable for multi-day trekking, and I’d have to agree. The grip is sensational, the comfort amazing, and the support awesome.
The only places I’ve detected any grip slippage is on a wet boardwalk, and interestingly, the wet clay found everywhere on roads in the northern Northwest Territories. That clay is something else altogether, so I don’t begrudge the minimal amount of slippage there.
I’ve worn the boots from sidewalk to muskeg without any significant problem or complaint, and the waterproofing is phenomenal.
A while back, I was walking with a group of people along a very wet portion of the Trans-Canada Trail here, and where the others deked their way around the puddles, I simply stomped through.
“You’re just going to walk through that,” one person asked incredulously.
“Yeah, they’re waterproof,” I answered with a smile.
“So are mine,” she shot back, “and I wouldn’t try that.”
Nevertheless, I emerged from the puddle with dry feet, albeit pleasantly cooled off from the contact with the cold standing water.
I’ve used these boots so often in wet weather that they’ve taken the place of rubber boots for me. The only hint of dampness I’ve had from them has been while berry-picking in muskeg on a rainy day, and I was uncertain of whether my feet were just warm or the water was starting to soak through.
They also dry incredibly quickly, even on the go.
The Oregons are also quite suitable for cold-weather use. I’ve had them on in the first snowfalls of the season here the last few days with nary a complaint about either cold feet or grip.
That means they are at least a three-season boot. Further south, I have no doubt you could use them all four seasons.
They’re much more like a running or walking shoe than a hiking boot, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
After considerable use, my opinion is still mixed on them only because of one thing. They seem to lack the support I was expecting.
The feather-lightness is a nice touch, and the waterproofing is as awesome as with the Oregons. In July, I stood in the Arctic Ocean off Tuktoyaktuk wearing these wee beasties in complete comfort.
The grip is also more than adequate, and they’re functioning fine in cool to cold weather.
I’m also impressed with the bright blue and yellow color scheme, which certainly jazzes up those standard brown or black shades.
I just can’t shake the sensation, though, especially on pavement, that there’s not enough support to them.
That’s the only thing holding me back from a two-thumbs up endorsement of the boots.