In 2013 Keen introduced a line of steel and composite toe work boots. Tim Uhler tested several models and we posted his review of them last summer. Several weeks back a reader commented on that story and asked a question we think is worth answering.
On 8/27/14 Gabe Keway wrote:
A guy that I work with tried a pair of Keen work boots about a year ago. Apparently they were comfortable but quickly began falling apart (within a couple of weeks). I told him I was surprised because Keen is supposed to be a good quality USA made company. He had never heard of Keen before purchasing the boots but commented back to me that the Keen boots he owned were not made in USA. I would be curious to know where the Keen brand boots TOTT tried were made and how they hold up after a little longer period of use.
Keen is headquartered in Portland, Oregon but produces footwear in multiple countries. Most of their products are made overseas but some are assembled at a plant in North Portland. The company refers to this footwear as American Built for the same reasons DeWalt refers to some of its tools as Built in the USA—a portion of the work is done here but not enough for the product to qualify for a Made in the USA label. Keen’s Industrial Collection currently includes 50 models—all with steel or composite toes. Of those 50 models, 7 carry the American Built label.
The boots Tim Uhler tested in 2013 were made overseas; here’s what he has to say about their durability:
“I'm tough on boots apparently. I usually get 2-3 seasons out of boots and Kyle (my co-worker) can get 4-5. We've both had Danners and they lasted and were great (what I currently wear) and the last 3 seasons he has had Keen. None of them wore out more quickly than the Danners he had that were $100 plus. My Danners currently are about the same price as the Keen boots all the guys around here are wearing.
The local work wear store said they sell a ton of Keen. I have had two pair of Redwing boots there were $230 each and I like the Keens way better. I feel they are a great value and last. Even if I had to buy a pair each season (fall-spring) I wouldn't care because they are comfy
None of the shoes wore out too quickly. We found that the "Albany" and "Lexington" we wore in the summer and after one summer were holding up just fine. I wore the mid top "Flint" all spring and summer this year and loved them. They ventilated well and were very grippy on the roof. I did, however, wear them out finally sheathing a 10-12 roof for a couple of weeks in the heat with minimal toe boards, so I stretched them out. I was very happy with them and if I had just been framing, they'd still be going strong.
The "Detroit" boots held up very well too throughout last winter. Between us and a few guys we know, I would say that in the 8 or so pairs of boots that have been worn, no one had any quality problems. There are 3 guys we regularly do volunteer work with and they all love their Keens and plan on buying them again when they wear out.”