KEEN claim not to have ‘customers’ - they have ‘fans’. And it’s clear to see why. The American brand has always created footwear that is robust, well made, and exceptionally comfortable from the first step to the last. For those reasons, and their admirable commitment to environmental causes, we’ve always been ‘fans’ of KEEN.
Now they are venturing into new territory. Like us, wearers have always loved the comfort and protection KEEN boots offer, but their feedback has shown that many would appreciate something more technical to take them from the gentle trails which have been the brand’s traditional stomping grounds, to more challenging approaches and longer trips into the hills.
The Karraig shows KEEN have been listening. With a Gaelic-esque name that evokes thoughts of Scottish villages, Munro peaks and remote bothies (it’s not been taken from any of those and is entirely made up), the Karraig has been “created and designed in salute of the rousing spirit of the iconic mountains and challenging passes found throughout the British Isles”.
Although the Karraig has been designed in Montebelluna, Italy - the global capital of premium footwear manufacturing, no less - its target use is bang-on for the British hills. Occupying as the flagship model position of KEEN’s European Made hiking collection, the Karraig has been specifically built for technical ascents and backpacking trips on demanding terrain - and that sure sounds like an average day’s hillwalking in the UK hills to us; it’ll even take a pair of light strap-on crampons!
Waterproof leather and performance mesh upper
Pu midsole delivers resilient cushioning
Integrated dynamic ankle support
Keen.dry waterproof, breathable membrane
High-abrasion rubber tip for added durability and protection
Keen.all-terrain+ rubber outsole for maximum grip
4mm multi-directional lugs for traction
Full-length stability shank for added support
Contoured heel lock for a more secure fit
Speed hooks for easy lace adjustment
Breathable mesh lining
Removable, dual-density eva footbed with arch support for all-day comfort
Cleansport nxt™ for natural odor control*
European Made: Assembled with pride in Europe
*a trademark of the stewart group
The upper is mostly premium leather with mesh around the lacing area. A good fit is guaranteed by the asymmetrical lacing, lace-locking eyelets, contoured heel-lock webbing and a supportive ankle cuff. Inside the Karraig is the proprietary KEEN Dry waterproof membrane and ‘planet friendly’ Cleansport NXT odour control, while the rubber toe protection that’s synonymous with KEEN footwear is present and exactly where it should be.
So far, so KEEN. But where things get even more interesting is the sole. The rubber lugs are deep and well-spaced, looking like they’ll provide superb traction on wet or muddy ground. In the past, this would be as much as you could expect from most of KEEN’s products, but the Karraig has something that’s far rarer on boots from the other side of the pond: a heel breast. This defined step in the sole is something that we’re used to in the UK and have come to expect on proper hill walking footwear; it adds extra traction on loose ground and important additional braking force on descents. In their ambition to conquer the hills and mountains of Great Britain, KEEN have taken notice of our demands and equipped the Karraig with this seemingly small but functionally important design tweak. And we approve whole heartedly.
The Karraig has all the makings of a comfortable 2-3 season boot. We’ve not had the chance to give it a proper test as yet - the current conditions are a bit beyond its remit. But when the winter is out of the way and Spring starts creeping towards Summer, we’re looking forward to giving the Karraigs a good walk-out in the British hills - we’ll let you know how we get on. Watch this space!