Inside the outdoor industry

FIELD TEST: Keen Karraig boot

A waterproof backpacking boot aimed at the British trekking fraternity


It’s safe to say that Portland-based footwear specialist Keen knows a thing or two when it comes to clever innovation and comfort. The company made its name over 16 years ago with an adventure sandal, the ‘Newport,’ with the protective rubber toe cap becoming synonymous with the brand across its entire portfolio.

New to the range is the ‘Karraig,’ a waterproof backpacking boot aimed at the British trekking fraternity (hence the Gaelic-influenced moniker) which continues Keen’s reputation for dependable comfort and performance.

Straight out of the box, the Karraig oozes quality. It’s a robust-looking boot, with a hefty rubber sole and aggressive lug pattern designed to tackle muddy, slippery terrain climbing hills, and a solid heel brake for the way down, plus it boasts an abrasion resistant protective toe cap. The full-length upper boot is made from leather and features Keen’s signature Dry waterproof and breathable membrane, along with a mesh tongue that sits perfectly within the boot when laced tightly and offers superb ankle support when out hiking.

The Karraig also features a heel lock lacing system similar to those found on running shoes, with the heel lock creating extra friction between the laces to keep the ankle and heel area tight and supported. It’s a neat feature and one that works superbly well – bravo to the design department for the idea and implementation.

Speed hooks are fitted for easy lace adjustment, along with a removable, dual density EVA insole with arch support that can be replaced as and when needed. The ‘metatomical’ footbed by Keen places emphasis on the first metatarsal joint, again adding to the overall comfort of the boot.

Another key aspect of the Karraig is the toebox, which is wide and designed to allow the feet to swell as they would naturally during a long day’s hike. We found that this worked extremely well, with the pair being tested initially on a 10-mile trip out in very cold January conditions with a light sprinkling of snow on the ground. During the hike the boots performed brilliantly with no foot fatigue or blisters, and keeping the feet warm and dry with no moisture build-up at all.

The Karraig is manufactured in Europe in a bid to reduce the environmental impact and retain consistent quality across the product, again a thoughtful touch that will appeal to the more green conscious consumer. The pair we tested were bungee cord/green gables, drawing admiring glances from other hikers – they’re certainly a good-looking boot. For those consumers who’d like a different colour option, a light brown described as ‘earth/raven’ is also available.

The Karraig is a well-made backpacking boot that delivers on style and comfort, as well as performance. With a plethora of great features, the Karraig looks set to dominate the mid to high range mountain boot market.

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