Never ones to be shy about their patriotism, our American friends in the outdoor industry are pushing an ever-stronger lobby that consumers over there should only buy USA-made gear. So it’s no real surprise to see some of the big brands launching Made in the USA products alongside their imported models, to cater to that market. The Durand Mid WP is one of Keen’s US manufactured flag bearers, and we’ve been putting it to the test to see if it translates to our British shores.
The Durands are chunky, comfortable rough-and-tumble type boots which feel protective and disconnect your foot from the perils of the trail. I suppose that’s a bit like American cars really. And I’ve never been much of a fan of feeling every lump and bump in the trail.
They’re comfortable from the box, with masses of foam and an enveloping feeling which is more ‘hug’ than ‘snug’. And that’s the story in a nutshell – they’re all about the comfort, and can be worn as readily to the shops as they can on a nice trail walk.
What the Durands are not is a high-tech mountaineering boot. They’re for the 95% of us who tread where others have trodden first, and for the 95% of us who accidentally tread in the same puddle as the guy in front too. And for the latter, they’re very waterproof, using Keen’s own membrane technology instead of an expensive branded one from Gore.
The effect of all that padding and waterproofing is to make the Durand quite a hot boot in use. It’s not uncomfortably sweaty or anything so bad, but it’s certainly not a boot for hot summers’ days, and mine have developed a bit of a whiff.
Styling-wise, they’re definitely on the contemporary end of the scale, with Keen’s trademark big rubber toe rand, and that chunky sole with red flash down the side. The uppers are fairly complex affairs with a lot of stitching that may put some people off. I have to say that I’ve never had a pair of Keen shoes where the stitching has started to rot or break though, and I’ve worn them in a pretty unforgiving manner over the years.
The laces are good, with leather feeds that grip them well. I haven’t had much dirt and mud collect in these nooks and crannies, so abrasion on the laces hasn’t been a problem for me. The lacing, however, is fairly wide, and it’s not the easiest boot to get very tight. In fact, I’d go so far as to state that the Durand suits a wide American/English foot well, but won’t be your cup of tea if you have a slim foot. Probably.
But I do have a wide foot, and so they suit me down to the ground, and I’ve been wearing them as both shoes (with the top laces undone) and as boots (fully laced) as my boot of choice for a while now. In fact, they’re the boots I slip in to when I’ve finished test out other boots, which says a lot I suppose.
The only time they’ve let me down in terms of performance was on some wet shiny rock, when they were lethal. But to be fair, it was wet shiny rock, and it was lethal… So maybe any shoe would have been equally useless. Otherwise, the sole has been grippy and performed well in mud so I’m not going to call that a flaw in an otherwise great bit of footwear.