New hillwalking boots suitable for winter

This is an unbiased review by our Gear Editor Chris Townsend, which Keen have supported with sponsorship.

Keen says it’s latest European-made boot is ‘our most technical backpacking boot yet’. The Karraig is certainly higher, heavier and stiffer than most Keen boots. It’s made from waterproof leather with performance mesh around the tongue. Inside there’s a Keen.Dry waterproof/breathable membrane and a breathable mesh lining. Outside there’s a big, rock hard toe bumper and a firm heel counter. The lacing comes further down towards the toe than usual and there are eight sets of eyelets, D-rings, loops and hooks. One set of D rings are attached to webbing that runs around the heel so this can be pulled in for a secure fit.

“Despite the stiffness the boots are fairly easy to walk in as the sole has a rocker design and rolls forward at the toes”

The rubber outsole has a deeper tread than on other Keen boots. Above it is a PU midsole for cushioning that contains a full-length shank. The removable insole is made from dual-density EVA with an extra cushioning pad under the heel. It’s shaped to give arch support.

The result is a fairly hefty boot with a semi-stiff sole. My test pair of size 9s weighs 1484 grams. The fit is wide at the forefoot but fairly narrow at the heel, which happens to be the same shape as my feet and the boots fit me well, as usual with Keen. Despite the stiffness the boots are fairly easy to walk in as the sole has a rocker design and rolls forward at the toes. Once the lacing was tightened my heels stayed in place and didn’t lift and rub as they often do in boots this stiff.

“The deep tread grips well, the cushioning is good, and I found them comfortable”

After a few short walks in muddy fields and rough woodland terrain  to get the feel of the boots I took them up into the snowy Cairngorms. Stomping up crunchy snow, kicking steps in places, they were excellent. The deep tread grips well, the cushioning is good, and I found them comfortable. I descended in the dark down a steep, rock-strewn, snow-spattered  hillside and felt confident that I wouldn’t slip and that any rock kicking wouldn’t hurt. My feet stayed warm too.

For me these are great winter hillwalking boots. I think I’d find them too hot in warm weather due to the waterproof/breathable membrane. I prefer lighter, more flexible footwear then anyway. But for cold days and snow they’re really good. Those who like big boots year-round might like them for summer. They look well-made and should last well.

£160

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