On the job, one piece of gear stands out above all the others: the work boot. Boots do a lot more than just protect your feet and toes. They give you stability, protect your ankles, and give you the confidence and protection you need. Think about it this way: if the worst type of accident happens and you have to run, you can do that even if your hands are badly injured. If your feet are injured, though? That’s another story; and that’s one reason we’re taking a look at some great work boots in this Keen work boots review.
Your work boots have to do more than just protect you in an emergency situation, though. Sure, you need a boot that will keep your toes safe when some 70-pound weight falls on them. But 99.9% of the time on the job site, there’s nothing falling on your feet! Great work boots need to protect, but they also need to be comfortable to wear for hours; day in and day out.
What Is the Keen Work Boot?
Keen has been making great footwear since 2003, and their shoes offer such an excellent mix of comfort and durability that you can now buy their shoes all around the world.
Keen not only make great shoes: they are also good people. The company has been more than generous through the years, constantly partnering with disaster relief agencies and environmental causes to ensure much of their profit goes towards making the world a better place.
Environmental causes and disaster relief are great, but for this Keen work boots review the most important question to be answered is whether these boots are right for your working needs.
For this Keen work boots review, we’ll be specifically highlighting the Keen Utility Detroit steel-toed boots.
These boots come in either slate black or a brindle brown with tiny pops of color. These Keens are made of completely waterproof nubuck leather. This is a hiker-style boot that works for the job site but can go up the trail if you need.
Size is always dicey, but the vast majority of people find that Keen’s boots fit to size. One thing that you should know: Keen’s shoes usually give you a bit more room in the toe box than you might be used to. This is to allow your foot room to swell through a long day of work without becoming uncomfortably tight.
If you’re expecting inflexible, heavy boots at work, then you’ll just have to jettison that assumption when you put on these Keens. Usually work boots are either flexible or stable: improving one of these tends to compromise the other. Keen has come up with a way around this by designing a special interlocking system that gives you both. These feel stable even on uneven terrain; yet you can squat in them with ease.
These boots are both waterproof and breathable. The soles have great grip even in oily conditions. Only in ice do you need to worry about traction with these boots. The contoured heel lock keeps the boots firmly on your feet, and they have Keen’s Cleansport NXT that naturally helps to control odor.
Prices on shoes always vary depending on size, color, and availability at the moment. Currently, you can get these boots anywhere from $80 to $200, depending on size and color choice.
In general, you should expect to pay around $100 for a pair of really durable, comfortable, quality workbooks like the ones we’re looking at in this Keen work boots review.
How It Compares
For this Keen work boots review, we picked three other good boots to look at alongside the Utility Detroit:
- Dickies Men’s Raider Steel Toe Work Shoe
- Carhartt Men’s Composite Toe Boot
- Redwing Heritage Roughneck Lace Up Boot
Keen Utility Men’s Detroit Mid Steel Toe Work Boot
Style and Fit
We’re sick and tired of work boots that look awful and feel as if they weigh 500 pounds by the end of the day. These look just about as stylish as a truly safe and durable pair of work boots possibly can. They are also extremely lightweight.
The steel safety toe is cunningly designed, and the interlocking sole system makes this boot highly flexible while still being stable. These boots are genuinely waterproof and breathable enough to be comfortable all day. The slip resistance is nearly perfect, even on oily surfaces. Our only complaint was that the outsole is sealed to the shoe with cement, making it slightly less strong as shoes that are welded or have injection-molded soles.
This is an excellent boot. Every part of the design does what it’s supposed to, and we were frankly amazed at how a shoe as waterproof as these (even after stepping in a three-inch puddle) could also be so breathable.
Keen offers a one-year limited warranty on all their footwear. The warranty is only valid if you buy your boots from an authorized dealer.
- Very comfortable
- Breathable and waterproof
- Flexible and stable
- Sole is not as strong as boots with injected or welded soles
- Ice traction is not as good as on other surfaces
Dickies Men’s Raider Steel Toe Work Shoe
It would be tough to do this Keen work boots review without taking a look at an offering from Dickies. Dickies has a proud history of making workwear and work gear, and their boots have long been standard in the industry.
These come in three colors and are 100% leather. The price is reasonable, and the outsole is oil and slip resistant. The sole is also rated to protect you in an electrical hazard. These are solid, serviceable boots that come in at a very reasonable price.
Style and Fit
These have a classic workbook look to them. Most people find that they run true to size with moderate arch support. These are definitely not as comfortable as the Keens, especially for a long day of work. Given the cheaper price, that is not entirely unexpected; but plan on having to get more comfortable insoles to put in them.
A lot of users report that the collars start coming apart quickly on these boots, and if you wear these hard every day they won’t stand up more than a year or so.
These boots do what they’re supposed to do: they robustly protect your feet. They aren’t as comfortable as other boots we’ve considered in this Keen work boots review, but they are definitely tough.
Dickies’ footwear have a six-month limited warranty. This does not cover any normal wear and tear.
- Good value
- Very sturdy
- Excellent price
- Not as durable as other boots
- Heavy shoes
- Some find them uncomfortable
Carhartt Men’s Composite Toe Boot
Carhartt is another big name in the world of work boots. This pair of boots is lightweight, made of leather, and has a great sole with excellent traction in nearly all conditions.
The boot may feel tight going on, but Carhartt’s proprietary “Rugged Flex” technology lets this boot stretch more than you’d normally expect from leather. Once they get past their break-in period, these shoes are very comfortable. Carhartt’s boots also has shock absorption that your joints will appreciate by the end of a long day.
Style and Fit
These boots aren’t going to win any major style awards, but they aren’t half bad, either. They come in brown and what is basically just a darker brown. They are reasonably light, very shock absorbing, and stable. There isn’t much in the way of arch support, though.
These are very well made. They protect the feet, keep out water, stretch, offer good traction, and have good cushioning. The cement injected outsole is not coming off any time soon: these are very durable boots.
These are highly rated for design. They are waterproof but not too uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. They will protect you from chemicals and electricity while offering stability, even if you have to get on and off ladders all the time.
Carhartt offers a one-year limited warranty under normal use conditions. It’s important to note that Carhartt doesn’t accept warranty returns directly from individual buyers. You’ll need to send your boots in for warranty repair through the seller, which is an added bother.
- Very durable
- Shock absorbing
- Flexes with your foot
- No arch support
- Clunky for non-work applications
Redwing Heritage Roughneck Lace Up Boot
The final item on our Keen work boots review list is a beautiful, and expensive, pair of work boots from Red Wing. These come in three professional colors, and the style is modeled on the original Red Wings.
Red Wing is famous for its oil-tanned leather that looks great no matter what you put it through. These also feature and toe and heel design that make it easy for you to get in and out of them quickly. It’s worth noting that while these are excellent, sturdy boots, they do not have steel toes.
Style and Fit
Read any reviews and you’ll see a lot of comments like this: “these are what workbooks should be.” The style is classic, beautiful, and comfortable. These boots are easy to put on, will support your feet for long days of work, and offer good protection for most working situations. Be aware that Red Wings’ boots tend to run about a half size small.
The quality of Red Wings is generally second-to-none. They are easy to clean up, hold together well, and offer good traction. They are easy to tie, remain tied, and come untied with just a pull: which is quite an amazing feat.
If you’re looking for a shoe that is durable, comfortable, and stylish all at the same time, this is definitely a contender. Our only issue with them is that they do not have steel toes. For some working situations, these boots will not be enough.
Red Wing offers a one-year warranty on their shoes; however the warranty does not transfer and is not valid without the original receipt of purchase from an authorized Red Wing dealer.
- Beautiful boot
- Easy to clean
- Sturdy and durable
- Good traction
- No steel toe
Our Keen work boot review has looked at some of the best boots a working person can buy. Any of these boots will protect your feet, and there’s something priced here for nearly every budget. So how should you decide, exactly?
What Can You Afford?
If you’re on a very tight budget, your best bet will be the Dickies work boots. These are very reasonably priced and will definitely do the job of protecting your feet: at least for a while.
If money is no object, the Red Wings are great boots with style. If you need something with a steel toe, though, the Carhartts and the Keen work boots are about equally matched in price, and both are cheaper than the Red Wings and more durable and comfortable than the Dickies.
Where Will You Wear Them?
If you’re in a work environment where steel toes are important, then count the Red Wings out. If you’re looking for boots you can be just as comfortable hiking up a hill with as standing around at work, the Keens and the Red Wings are both designed for that kind of flexibility.
Keen Work Boots Review
When you stack up the Keens against other work boots, they make a solid showing. They are comfortable, look good, stand up to heavy use, and are some of the lightest boots you’ll ever wear that still offer amazing protection.
For us, these boots earn a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars and a place on our Amazon wish list.