Keen Utility Detroit XT Work Boots

KEEN Utility Detroit XT Work Boots – Built for Comfort and Safety

The very first day I wore my new KEEN Utility Detroit XT work boots to work, I had two different workmen stop me and ask me about my boots. I  never knew I was a trend or fashion setter! In addition, they took out their smartphones, took pictures of the KEEN boots and asked where they could buy them. I directed them to the Keen website:

I have never had that experience before with any footwear or work clothes. Anyway, I spent the next few minutes telling them about the reasons I liked these work boots and why I considered them one of the right tools for my job. This review will cover those same reasons.

KEEN Utility Detroit XT Steel Toe Work Boot Features


  • Left and right asymmetrical steel toes
  • DRY waterproof, breathable membrane
  • KEY-TECH FLEX: contoured underfoot support provides structured stability and comfort
  • Contoured heel lock
  • Reflective webbing for additional safety and visibility
  • Detroit XT Meets ASTM F1677-96 MARK II non-slip testing standards
  • Boots Meet ASTM F2913 SATRA non-slip testing standards
  • Meets ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH standards
  • Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control

All Day Comfort Is Critical In the Office & On the Jobsite

My job as a construction project executive takes me into very different environments during the course of the workday. For one minute, I am in the construction site office. The next I may be on the job site looking at site-specific issues and problems. I do not want to or have time to change footwear when I am needed somewhere else. What I am looking for is a work boot that serves me well under changing conditions. Also, I want one that is comfortable enough to wear all day long.

I’ve gone back and forth between traditional work boots and hiking boots, trying to find the right balance between comfort and safety. For my wide foot, more traditional work boots, especially with steel toes,  were always stiff and uncomfortable. They cramped up my toes. While much more comfortable and form fitting, the hiking boots just were not durable. Hiking boots are not safe enough for the construction environment. However, after wearing the KEEN Utility Detroit XT boots for the last month, I think I have finally found that balance. The Detroit XT boots are a comfortable, professional grade, work boot that combines comfort and safety features into a construction-ready work boot. My foot comfort and safety makes these boots as critical a tool for me as any of the others I use every day.

Not My First Pair of KEENs

I have owned other KEEN footwear – most notably my blue sandal “Rock Hoppers” as my kids call them. These sandals have the characteristic rounded and over-scaled toe protection. They remind me of the shoes Elmer Fudd wears in the Looney Tunes cartoons.

This feature was the invention of Martin Keen, an avid sailor who preferred to wear sandals on deck. He came up with the idea in 1999 after growing sick of stubbing his toes while boating. The rubberized, rounded toe protection became a key design concept for the company he founded and for many future KEEN products.

Safety – Without Giving up Comfort

Safety is critical part of my everyday responsibilities. When I talk to workers about the importance of proper safety gear, the subject of toe protection is often one of our topics. Often, they choose to have comfortable feet over having protected feet. Many steel-toed work boots are simply uncomfortable to wear.

KEEN Utility Detroit XT boots provide both comfort and safety. They have asymmetrical left and right steel toes that provide a large protective shell and allow for toe movements. I have a EE wide foot and my toes have ample room to move in the Detroit XT boots. No cramped or pinched toes here. The KEEN work boots are so comfortable I don’t even know they are work boots even though I know they have a safety toe!

All day comfort is largely derived from this KEEN.KEY-TECH FLEX technology, which offers contoured TPU torsion stability from the heel to the forefoot. A three-part interlocking midsole system give the foot stability while helping to reduce foot fatigue on uneven surfaces like, say, walking over gravel in job sites. Additionally, the system offers increased flexibility at crucial flex zones in the forefoot for easier, more comfortable knee-down work.

In addition to the toe protection, these boots also feature reflective webbing for additional safety and visibility and an oil- and slip-resistant, non-marking, EH-rated rubber outsole that meets Mark II and SATRA non-slip testing standards for traction in wet or dry environments.

Comfort – Without Giving up Safety

Ultimately, these boots feel better because they use lots of great technology in the work boots. To keep your foot dry, KEEN developed KEEN.DRY.  As a result, this waterproof and breathable membrane allows water vapors to escape from the boot interior while keeping external moisture out of this water-proof boot.

I can attest to having submersed these boots numerous times and I did not wet my socks or see any sign of water infusion. These boots also feature footbed that provides excellent arch support that cradles the natural contours of the wearer’s foot.

I cannot attest to the impact of the footbed design feature because I have very high arches. However, one of the other more-flat-footed TBB crewmembers told me that the KEEN boots he uses daily make a big difference in his foot fatigue.

A Surprise Feature

I never thought I would fall in love with this KEEN feature – the laces! I have never seen laces that are wrinkled/ribbed like these. This feature makes all the difference in keeping these boots tied up. What makes the KEEN laces different is that they have a slight recessed twist in them giving them a ribbed profile. The ribs work incredibly well. They fit into the friction catches at the top of the boot and they do not come free. Tying the laces may be an extra step as the lace ribs are already captured. In my experience, the laces stay tight for the whole day. Every boot needs laces and catches like these KEEN boots have.

The Decision Is Easy

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to buy great quality tools that help me be more productive, safer, and more profitable. Buying boots should be no different especially when you consider the amount of time you spend in them. As a result, once you try on a pair of KEEN Detroit XT Work Boots the decision to buy them will be very easy.

Which Boot Is Right For You? …. The Boot Finder!

It is worth mentioning that KEEN makes the decision as to which of their boots will meet your needs and preferences. For your convenience, KEEN provides an online Boot Finder application, Logging onto this easy-to-use application will get you to the KEEN boot that fit you best.

After wearing these boots on and off the job for the last month, I can tell you they are the most comfortable work boots I may have ever worn. Check them out on the KEEN web site.



About the author

Stan Durlacher

Stan has been involved with Design and Construction in the commercial industry since 1975. He is currently the President of Design and Construction for a major St Petersburg, FL developer. Before that, he was a Project Executive for a prominent Boston Construction Manager, building high-rise apartment and office buildings. One of the hallmarks of his career has been innovative problem-solving. As Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stan was instrumental in bringing the hydro mill slurry wall machinery and technology to Boston in the 1990s for use on the Central Artery Third Harbor Tunnel Project. Stan has been an avid woodworker since college and brings an innovative point of view to this field. Before Florida, he owned an 1886 farmhouse near Concord, Mass, and his skills and time were never idle for long. His barn and attached spaces serve as his ever-expanding workshop. Stan is a self-avowed tool hound. In 2013, Stan decided to design and build his own CNC router. This machine has become a centerpiece of his woodworking and craft focus. Stan will share many of the ways that this innovative technology has solved many current problems and how CNC will begin to impact the woodworking and home renovation businesses.

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