My Salomon X-Ultra Mids have started to leak so I needed to replace them. Instead of getting the new X-Ultra 4s, I’ve been tempted to try out some Keen Ridge Flex boots. I’ve never had Keen boots before so it was bit of a punt.
They are not a straight swap as the Keens are leather rather than fabric, but they should be a bit more robust. The flip side is they might be a bit warmer. The fit is rather different too with a broader toe box. I was concerned there might some heel lift but the heel retention system is excellent, probably the best of any boot I’ve had.
Despite being leather they are very flexible with “bellows flex” on the toe. That said, they do feel a bit more like a boot than the X-Ultras, which are more like a trainer. The stability and comfort is good, although I’ve only used them on short, easy walks so far. I don’t know how waterproof they are but being leather and having a membrane they should be pretty good until the membrane fails.
The broad front foot makes a big difference in terms of comfort especially with thicker socks. I suffer from a mild case of Morton’s neuroma and have found that allowing my toes to splay out helps alleviate it. The mid height gives good ankle mobility. I have started not using the top set of cleats which makes it even better, especially as the heel retention is so good.
The only quibbles so far is the cleats are a bit small and fiddly. Securing and locking the laces takes a bit of care. Not a deal breaker, but could be better. For choice, I’d rather have deeper and more widely spaced lugs on the sole. The sole pattern gets quite clogged with clay. Hopefully this is less on an issue in the hills.
Overall, I rather like them. I can’t make a definitive judgement until I’ve used them on a proper trip but first impressions are good. Keen also made a fabric boot, the Tempo Flex, which I might get for warmer weather. As I said, I’ve never had Keen boots before, but I’m impressed so far.
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Keen and bought these boots with my own money.