A couple of years ago Tools of the Trade asked Keen to send me some boots to review and I was pleased with how they performed. So when the Mid Top Flints they gave me finally wore out ToTT got them to send me their new Aurora, Destin, and Braddock work boots.
Keen Aurora Mid
This steel-toe waterproof boot is the lightest work boot the company makes. Keen describes it as a medium duty boot. Like other safety toe boots from Keen, the toe caps (steel, composition, or aluminum) are asymmetric. Using different shapes in the lefts and rights is supposed to make for a roomier more comfortable fit at the toes. And it does; wearing the Auroras I couldn’t feel the edges of the steel toes like I have in some other boots. The rubber comes up over the toe cap and keeps it from wearing through, as sometimes happens with steel toe boots. The upper is abrasion-resistant ripstop nylon.
The boots arrived right before I went east for a couple of weeks of volunteer work. I took them with me even though they weren’t broken in. It wasn’t a problem; I wore them every day for two weeks and they were very comfortable—even though the jobsite had concrete floors. Using the pedometer app on my phone, I found I was averaging 7 miles of walking per day—without any blisters or sore spots.
The Aurora looks like a hiking boot and I occasionally forget it has a steel toe. I like them a lot and sometimes wear them on weekend hiking trips. These boots are made in China and sell for about $160.
The Destin Mid is styled like a skateboarding shoe and looks even less like a work boot than the Aurora. But it is a work boot; it has steel toes—though it is designed for lighter duty work than the Aurora and some other boots from Keen.
I used to wear skate shoes in the summer because they are light and grip well on roofs. These boots are more comfortable to work in than skate shoes and are equally grippy on the roof. The toes are very comfortable but I don’t like wearing these boots for long periods of time on a ladder. The midsole isn’t stiff enough for that application and the rungs made my feet sore. The same thing happened when I wore skate shoes.
For me, this would be a warm weather shoe. It isn’t waterproof, though I do wear it in winter when I get on the roof. The Destin Mid is made in China and goes for about $120.
Braddock Mid WP
The Braddock is a heavier, more heavy-duty boot than the Aurora. It’s mostly leather, with asymmetrical steel toes, a breathable waterproof lining, and very grippy sole. The toes are covered with rubber to keep the caps from wearing through. According to its maker, the Braddock Mid has a proprietary polyurethane injected midsole that does not compact over time—like the EVA midsoles used in lower price boots. As the midsole compacts the boot loses some of its springy-ness and becomes less comfortable to wear. If what Keen says is true, then these boots should remain comfortable for a long period of time.
The lugs grip well in rocky soil and the waterproofing did the job when we were standing in puddles setting up foundations. I wore these boots while framing and liked how they performed: they were grippy on the roof, I could confidently walk walls in them, and they were comfortable when standing for long periods of time on the rungs of a ladder. If you are hard on boots or your site is more rugged, pick these over the Aurora.
The Braddock Mid is assembled at Keen’s plant in Portland, Oregon and goes for about $180. Tools of the Trade’s editor visited the plant and saw them being assembled. You can see for yourself in A Trip to the Work Boot Factory.