|What do you want from a walking boot? Comfort? Warmth? Breathability? Dry tootsies?
The truth is that once you tick the boxes you’re looking for there’s very little else to say about boots and, at the end of the day, who doesn’t want all of the above?
After that it’s pretty much all down to personal taste – or lack thereof – when it comes to colours and style so anything else I can say over and above the four checkpoints above is all just superfluous waffle that you can take or leave.
Take these Keen Men’s Feldberg Waterproof numbers – how do they fare? Well, I’ve been wearing a pair of these every day for the past couple of months, tramping through the woods with the dog twice-a-day, chainsawing wood, being generally out and about and traipsing up the garden for firewood with my laces trailing… and here’s what I’ve found.
Bearing in mind that I rarely, if ever, wear proper walking socks with my boots, I haven’t had a single complaint. The integrated heel cushion and ‘Metanomical’ footbed (designed to give maximum support to the foot) work very well together along with the firm rubber sole and I have literally had no problems. I can’t even make one up.
Again I have nothing bad to say. It’s not like these are faux-fur-lined with fluffy ankle cuffs or anything, but they don’t need it. Again, I normally just wear thin (but incredibly fashionable) striped socks with my boots, which means I should be more susceptible to the winter frost and occasional snow, but not once have I been tempted to microwave my feet after getting back home.
That’s not to say that the Feldberg boots get particularly toasty either. In much the same way that I haven’t had frostbite I haven’t suffered from poached or broiled plates of meat either. So no matter how long I’ve had them on I haven’t had cause to wring the sweat out of my socks – or even come close to it, for that matter – and although I always pop in a pair of Odour Eaters just to be on the safe side I haven’t had to evacuate the house upon their removal, either.
That’ll be the KEEN.DRY breathable waterproof membrane tech, then.
Call me a victim of corporate marketing, but I’m always slightly suspicious of anything that isn’t Gore-Tex. Surely anything less is just a wannabe? Well, apparently not. Whereas my previous leather Keens – which needed dubbing regularly, not that such detail troubles my memory – were about as waterproof as a teabag after a year of misuse, the Feldbergs, with their minimal effort care regime* – haven’t put a foot wrong, They quite literally haven’t spilled a drop despite stumbling through sizeable muddy puddles with the dog almost every night.
So that’s all of my boxes ticked without a single problem, leaving the rest of it down to personal taste which is mine and mine alone – and they appeal to my taste.
The muted colours whisper softly to my quiet side and there are no garish swoops or flares or design elements to distract from that. The toe and heel bumpers are huge but more than adequate and perfectly-suited to a boot of this type, and the nubuck leather is soft-but-strong yet nice to look at.
But I don’t want to leave it at that. No niggles? That can’t be right…
And it’s not. I’ve got a niggle.
My aforementioned leather Keens had an issue with the top two lace hooks; they were easy to knock and relatively weak, meaning they would squash in and be useless. But at the same time, the round laces engaged nicely when they were functioning normally, leaving them nice and secure.
The flat laces on the Feldbergs are a little less confidence-inspiring because you can’t always tell if they’re in the hooks properly or not – especially when tying them in the dark, which has led to a couple of failures in the lacing department over the months.
It’s not enough to dent my Keenness (yes, I said it), however, so it’s a big thumbs up from me!
* Groom with a soft brush now and then, and sing to them softly at night.