Inspired by world class sailor Martin Keen, Keen was founded in 2003 with a design challenge to create a sandal that couple protect the toes during outdoor activities. They built the Keen Newport and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today nearly every outdoor manufacturer produces walking sandals, or as Keen calls them ‘hybrid shoes’ – a half shoe/half sandal that’s perfect for walking and water sports.
So what sets Keen apart from Hi-Tec, Brasher, Merrell, Salomon and our other favourite walking footwear brands?
In terms of brand image, Keen are much like Patagonia, with an eco-friendly philosophy of giving something back to their customers and environment as well as getting involved with a wide range of charity projects from summer fundraising events to Red Cross relief efforts.
But for walkers like you and I who are interested in the technical features, fit and performance of our walking shoes, Keen has to offer something more than an environmentally friendly fairytale. Not that being environmentally aware is a bad philosophy or anything you understand.
So while Hi-Tec offers great value, Merrell are best loved for the comfort of their shoes and Salomon are the top dogs of technical innovation, what can Keen offer?
Patented toe protection. It’s not ground breaking, but it’s something that they do incredibly well. All Keen sandals feature a protective toe and that’s what helped to launch them as a brand in the first place. Otherwise, Keen provide a happy medium between Hi-Tec and Merrell, offering a huge range that equals their competitor brands while offering sensible value.
The look of their Keen footwear is very distinctive however and they’re certainly not shy about the technical features of their products. As a result, Keen seem to have a strong cult following and their products can always be readily found in any high street outdoors shop.
Keen shoes are designed to be colourful and comfortable with a number of protective features from protective toe bumpers to eVent waterproofing. The chunky trail grips of both their sandals, shoes and walking boots are great for all types of terrain as well.
So if you’ve had your eye on Keen footwear for a while now, they’re certainly worth trying. As a young brand, Keen has become the middle man, filling the gaps between the existing outdoor brands while offering a unique combination of comfort, style, performance and protection.
The Targhee II Mid looks like a solid walking boot to tick all the boxes, and for walking during the hot summer months Keen Newport sandals could certainly rise to the challenge of the most demanding outdoor activities.
For a selection of the best selling Keen products, we recommend Fitness Footwear who offer free UK delivery and a speedy dispatch.