Recommended Price: £160
Weight: 830g per boot (UK size 11)
I’ve worn several types of Keen footwear for quite a few years. I’ve always found Targhee’s to be supremely comfortable, and Keen’s last which is generally wide in the forefoot and narrower at the heel is a great fit for my feet. If there were downsides, it’s that they were on the warm side for use in high summer, and that the flexibility meant that they didn’t always last as long as I’d hope (perhaps a small price for the comfort level).
This new model, the Karraig, feels like it addresses that latter problem. Keen is a US firm, but the Karraigs have been designed specifically for the European market (they are made in Romania). They are heavier than previous Keen models, with a full shank making them less flexible, and a higher ankle cuff. The uppers are largely leather, though with a complex design characteristic of the brand, and have a waterproof membrane. The footbeds are removable, and the soles are Keen’s own; the tread looks a little less deep than on some other similarly chunky boots, though I’ve had no problems with grip in use.
My first worry was whether that Keen comfort level might have been sacrificed? The answer, for me, is no – from the get-go they fit as perfectly and feel as comfortable as my Targhee’s ever did. Out of the box they seem quite rigid, but they’ve soon developed a fair degree of flex after use in the hills – though they are remain more substantial boots than other Keen models. Whilst they are not rated for crampon use, I’ve found them fine for wearing with flexible walking crampons, though you wouldn’t want to wear them if tackling steeper terrain and front-pointing.
There’s a very high rubber rand around the toe end, and the robust build points to the Karraig’s being much more durable than lighter Keens.
Choosing footwear is always about striking a balance of what is best suited for the mix of conditions where you are going to use them. The price of increased durability and robustness is the extra weight on your feet, and the fact that they are going to feel warmer on hot summer days.
For the average hillwalker in Scotland looking to use just one pair of boots, I think the balance that these Karraig’s strike between weight, comfort and durability will prove to be a very popular one.