KEEN Aphlex Waterproof Boot | Review
Distinctive looks from the plasticky reinforced uppers, but KEEN's Aphlex is is a comfortable, cushioned, waterproof, lightweight hiking boot.
- By Jon -
'Odd looks from the kings of quirk, but the Aphlex is a comfortable, cushioned lightweight hiker for those who like a softer feel underfoot.'
Outdoors Magic: Light, comfortable, cushioned, waterproof, plenty of reinforcement for uppers.
Outdoors Tragic: Won't suit lovers of traditional stiff soles, waterproof liner ends below ankle. Lightly treaded sole.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Aphlex looks like nothing else out there thanks to the plastic exoskeleton overlying the fabric upper, but get beyond that and it's a super comfortable, cushioned and flexible lightweight hiker with a medium broad forefoot fit. That might disappoint those who love the original super high volume US forefoot fit, but makes them suitable for more people overall. The boot's waterproof, but the liner stops below ankle bone level, so mind those streams, plus the lightly treaded outsole is happiest on firm to medium ground. Not one for traditionalists, but great if you like light and flexible.
Lightweight walking and hiking boot / fabric mesh upper with reinforced overlay and exoskeletal heel holding thing / KEEN.DRY waterproof liner / Dual density compression-molded EVA midsole / Cleansport NXT™ odour control / Molded TPU heel and toe protection
Full Review Below
KEEN Aphlex Waterproof Boot | Performance
The distinctive Aphlex doesn't look much like a traditional KEEN boot, but then again it doesn't look much like anything else either.
The plastic overlay reinforcement on the fabric uppers has an interesting sci-fi sort of vibe going on, very inter-galactic star fighter, but has a functional role to play too: along with the heel and toe caps, it adds durability to the soft, fabric mesh uppers.
You still get reasonable support though and good heel hold thanks to the exo-skeletal band linking heel and lace hooks. Reminiscent of an earlier generation of Salomon hiking boots in fact, though you'll need a long memory to recall those.
Light And Cushioned
The boot's decently light too, a smidgeon under 1100g for a pair of size 43s, and that pays off on longer days when it feels properly nimble on the foot.
What it isn't is a traditional, stiff-soled mountain boot. There's reasonable support underfoot and the EVA mid-sole gives good cushioning on hard surfaces, but if you favour a more platformed sole feel for standing on lumps of rubble or toting a big pack for long distances, you'll want to look elsewhere - KEEN's classic Durand is still flexible, but a better option if you like KEEN's fit and feel.
Speaking of which, the fit is less voluminous than original, first generation KEEN hikers, more medium volume forefoot than humungously wide, so you'll need to look elsewhere in the brand's range if you have feet like a giant duck.
The boot gets a KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane which is good as far as it goes, which is precisely as high as the fourth lace-hook down, or around ankle bone level. Step in a puddle or stream deeper than that and the water floods over the tongue and into the boot.
And finally, while the rubber sole compound grips well on hard surfaces, the light tread can struggle on sloppy, soft stuff making it best for spring though to autumn use in wetter areas.
KEEN Aphlex Waterproof Boot | Verdict
Get beyond the space-ship cladding-style overlay and the Aphlex is simply a very comfortable, cushioned, medium broad, lightweight hiking boot that's best used in the drier months thanks to that lightly treaded outsole and the truncated waterproof liner.
As ever, some walkers will prefer a more traditional, stiffer feel underfoot, but we like the nimble, light style of the KEEN boot and were happy using it on any terrain short of technical scrambling where the soft sole tends to fold too easily.
We have no complaints about the fit, lacing system or that exo-skeletal heel thing either and the judicious use of reinforcement on the upper should keep things reasonably durable provided you steer clear of scree fields and other abrasive terrain.
All in, a really nice, flexible, comfortable, lightweight hiking boot.