Best for durability
At a glance
Plusses: Wide and stable, durable.
Minuses: Could be slightly stiffer, large fit.
Features: The uppers are formed from a combination of waterproofed leather and synthetic components. There is a novel ‘Bellows Flex’ rubber insert designed to relieve pressure on the top of the foot and provide more long-term durable dynamic flex than leather. Keen’s own waterproof lining is used, along with a gusseted tongue and a lacing system that tensions a webbing strap that helps hold the heel in place. Interestingly, the heel cup also has a textured ‘pillow’, which contributes to a firm heel lock. It’s a feature I hadn’t seen before.
Fit: Keen footwear is known for its broad sole and roomy toe box, which tends to suit average-to-wide feet well. I’m normally a UK8, sometimes a UK8.5 but these were a too roomy fit at UK8. You may need to buy a half-size down.
Comfort: The Ridge Flex has a less sock-like fit compared to some other boots. It’s not uncomfortable, more that the boot would benefit from at least a couple of break-in walks before heading away on a longer trip. While the midfoot flex is good for both casual walks and longer tramps, they’re torsionally stiff and the uppers are sturdy, hence the break-in time.
In use: I particularly liked the traditional Keen-style rubber toe cap, which serves to both protect toes and prevents scuffs. It helps keep this rubber connected to the boot too. The sole has an aggressive tread, and the boot’s width makes it very stable – ideal for ‘ankle rollers’. The uppers are supportive but I would prefer a slightly stiffer sole which would give more confidence on longer trips over rough tracks. I think, ideally, the boot is best suited to day or weekend tramps in typical on-track NZ conditions with a moderate load. The Bellows Flex feature works well, but it’s also a contributor to the overall flex of the boot: desirable for some people, less so for others.
Value: Compared with other boots of similar specifications, the Ridge Flex is excellent value.
Verdict: Overall, a practical, comfortable boot that’s at home in a variety of conditions and comes at a competitive price point.