There’s perhaps no more important tool for those in the construction field than a good pair of boots. Walking, crouching, climbing, and lifting for a full day can certainly take a toll on your body, causing achy feet, a sore back, and other ailments.
Having said that, it’s important to know that not all boots are right for each individual person. Finding the correct boot depends on the type of work you do most often. Do you work in wet conditions, mostly interior, in rough terrain, or in the cold? All these factors should play a role in selecting the right boot.
KEEN Utility is relatively new to the work boot scene, having been founded in 2005 and later selling their first work boot in 2009, but they have already made quite the name for themselves in the hiking world and construction industry. The KEEN Utility Work Boot line is known for their instant comfort and signature asymmetrical toe caps, but we’ve recently gotten our hands on two of KEEN’s newest styles that have a whole new look: the San Joses and Reddings.
The San Jose’s first caught my eye at the World of Concrete in January of 2018. We weren’t allowed to share any pictures until their official release a few months later, but I instantly knew they’d be a big hit. The overall design, as mentioned above, strays away from KEEN’s signature toe cap, but is replaced with a very classic wedge toe in full grain leather.
To help reduce some of the weight traditional work boots have, KEEN has introduced what they call “KEEN LUFTcell,” which adds around 100,000 air bubbles to the midsole. The safety toe is made of aluminum to save 30% to 50% percent of the weight of a steel toe. It’s also available in a soft toe for those not interested in the extra protection.
While the boot is not fully waterproof, the leather upper is treated with a waterproofing formula. The San Jose is available in 3 different colors: Gingerbread (pictured above), black, and falcon (a cool way to say grayish-brown). You can also choose between Regular width or wide from sizes 7-15.
The San Jose meets 5 ASTM standards: F1677-96 MARK II and F2913 SATRA non-slip testing standards, ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH standards, and ASTM D471-06 903# oil and isooctane chemical resistance standards.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed wearing the San Jose’s in the couple of months that I’ve had them. They truly are lightweight, I think they look fantastic, and they’re immediately comfortable with little to no break-in period. These are rated as a medium duty boot and not waterproof, so you should keep that in mind if you are especially hard on your boots typically or work a lot outdoors. The only mark I can place against the boot is an easily fixable one: the laces. They’re already showing wearing, so you should expect to replace them with a higher quality lace soon after purchase. KEEN has been made aware of the issue and they are actively working on a solution.
Another new boot design for KEEN comes in the form of the Redding sneaker shoe. Inspired by skateboard culture, the Reddings are available in both mid and low top variety with a lightweight aluminum safety toe. Again straying away from their typical look, KEEN is undoubtedly looking to attract the newest generation of tradesmen with this shoe.
Also designed to be lightweight, these sneakers are even lighter than the San Joses above, but still have that all day comfort and no break-in period that I’ve come to expect. The Reddings are not waterproof, either, but the upper leather is also prepared waterproofing treatment.
The Redding meets 4 ASTM standards: F1677-96 MARK II and F2913 SATRA non-slip testing standards, as well as ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH standards. It’s available in sizes 7-15 in both regular and wide width in the Slate/Black color pictured above.
This boot is designed to be lightweight and is rated for light duty work, so I would recommend this mostly interior work on jobsites that you still need the added safety of slip protection and a protective toe. This is a boot that I’ve honestly forgotten was a safety shoe when I’ve worn them for long periods of time, because they’re so comfortable, light, and don’t have the typical bulk of a work boot.
Price: $135 (mid) or $130 (low top)