KEEN Utility Braddock AL WP Work Boot Review
KEEN Utility Braddock AL WP Work Boot Review
KEEN Braddock Mid AL WP Work Boot
Model number: 1012771
Weight: 28.6 oz
Backstory on KEENs
In February 2015, Thomas Heath wrote an article in The Washington Post about the founder of KEEN, Martin Keen. The article focused mostly on the furniture business Martin is building now but it had a couple paragraphs in the middle talking about how KEENs were originally designed to be comfortable above all else.
Keen wanted closed-toed shoes to protect his feet while sailing. His approach was methodical. He created a “library of footshapes” from various molds he made of real people’s feet, allowing him to study different shapes and sizes.
He concluded that the toe area should be wide instead of having a more-fashionable narrow taper. He didn’t care how they looked. He was making them for himself, and he demanded comfort and practicality. “I wanted a shoe that did no harm,” he said.
Even though Martin has sold out his share of company, the shoes are still designed with the same idea to be comfortable above all else.
- American Built
- Direct attach outsole for superior bonding
- KEEN.DRY ™ waterproof breathable membrane
- Left and right asymmetrical steel toes
- Lining with hydrophobic/hydrophilic 2-zone comfort technology
- Meets or exceeds ASTM F1677-96 Mark II non-slip testing standards
- Meets or exceeds ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH standards
- Oil and slip resistant non-marking rubber outsole
- Removable metatomical dual density EVA footbed
- Waterproof nubuck leather upper
Form follows function. These boots, like all Keen’s before them were designed with comfort in mind. Right off the bat they feel like a well broken-in shoe. An extremely comfortable pair of shoes, not those 5 year old floppy lawn mowing shoes you can’t seem to throw away. For these boots the comfort originates in the toe area. With the asymmetrical steel toes, the toe compartment is shaped like my foot. Not only that but it is wider up in the ball of the foot area. That’s different than boots I’ve worn in the past.
The comfort continues into the rest of the footbed. I’m not sure what metatomical means when referring to the Features above but for me it means comfort. In the past I’ve had to cut the arch area out of boots, shoes, hockey skates, etc. My feet just needed more room in that area so that they didn’t ache. The Keens offer my feet plenty of room in this area but not to the point of being sloppy.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think durable work boots is the traditional 4 or 5 piece all-leather uppers with 16-20 brass eyelets and those yellow brown laces that go to the top. Stiff boots and blisters also come in that same thought. The KEENs don’t exhibit those images while still being a very durable boot. They do have the all leather uppers but there are a few more pieces stitched together than the traditional work boot. All of these seams have double stitches though so it isn’t a concern at all. I’ve worn a number of hiking boot style boots in the past and they’ve never looked as good as the KEENs after 3 months of daily wear. So far the only thing I’ve had to do is knock the dirt off and wipe them down from time to time with a damp rag to get the dust off of them.
With work boots, the uppers usually get a lot of ink when talking about durability but the soles and the connection point between the sole and the upper is where lower quality boots can often break down. The KEEN Braddock have relief grooves in all the right places on the sole; where the toes bend up from the balls of the feet. This helps to keep the rubber from cracking in this area but also makes bending them easier like when you’re working on one knee.
And speaking of kneeling, the Keens have rubber over-mold up and over the toe box. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of work boots that I’ve blown out the toes before any other part of the boot. That doesn’t happen with the KEENs. The over-mold is probably my second favorite durability feature.
My favorite durability feature of the KEEN Braddock are the laces. On almost all boots laces are a maintenance item. They need to be replaced when they are worn out. Laces have a shorter life when they are filled with dirt and sand from stepping on them when they get untied. What makes the KEEN laces different is that they have a slight recessed twist in them giving them almost a ribbed profile. These work so awesome to keep the laces tied. Every boot needs laces like these.
I have no complaints or suggestions for the boots themselves but for the Keen Utility line. When I was looking to try Keen’s the first time I couldn’t find any local retailers that carried the Utility line. There were plenty of local outlets for the rest of their regular outdoor lines but work boots were a non-starter. It’s tough to order online an item that needs to be worn to determine proper fit. KEEN seems to have a solution for this though in the form of free shipping and free returns. I would still like to see the Utility line offered in brick and mortar stores though.
As a masonry restoration contractor I get into all kinds of sketchy places and heights that I can’t afford a boot failure. The KEEN Braddock boots have held up marvelously to a myriad of harsh conditions without flinching and they have un-bootlike comfort like I’ve never experienced. I completely expect that they’ll keep performing in this same manner through the life of the boot.
If you’re interested in either ordering the KEEN Braddock boots or want to check out some of their other offerings, head over to their website and check them out for yourself. As I mentioned before, if you don’t get the sizing right the first time around the shipping is free both ways. Keen wants to be sure you’re happy with your boots.
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