Keen Karraig Mid WP Walking Boots | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Keen Karraig Mid WP Walking Boots | Review

Keen have called it their 'most technical backpacking boot yet'. But did it pass muster with our tester?

Karraig. It sounds a bit gaelic right? It’s actually a made-up word, but it sums up what Oregon-based footwear brand Keen are going for with this walking boot. It’s made for Scotland-type conditions; those muddy, boggy, scrambly and generally rough walks we’re all very familiar with. And you can tell that just by looking at it. There’s that high ankle, the burly toe bumper, and sizeable heel brake to keep you upright when descending steep, grassy fells, and that classic look that the leather upper provides. While previous trekking boots from Keen like the Wanderer and the Targhee had a modern, perhaps American look to them, the Karraig, which is made in Europe, would certainly look right at home on a munro.

So what about its performance? It might blend in aesthetically over here, but can it walk-the-walk? I took it to the Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia to find out.

Features

Before I detail the performance, I’ll just fill you in on the Keen Karraig’s specific features.

The upper is made from a combination of leather panels and mesh placed around the ankle and laces. There’s a good bit of padding on the tongue, as well as around the ankle cuff, plus there’s a fairly hefty toe bumper.

Underneath there’s a waterproof membrane – the brand’s own Keen.Dry lining. This integrates with the tongue to prevent any leakage when you put your foot in it. It being a bog.

I’ve tried out a number of Keen boots that use this lining and I’ve never had any problems with it. It’s always done the job and seems to last well. It’s good stuff.

As for the lacing, there are a number of strong metal eyelets with two speed hooks at the top for a quick and easy lashing. The laces also thread through a cord that wraps right around the ankle to cinch it in. I’ve got something to say about this further down in this review, and it’s not too complimentary.

On to the sole unit. I’ll start from the top down. First there’s a removable EVA foam footbed (useful if you want to swap in a new one when the original has had its day), then underneath that there’s a cushioning PU midsole. Next up, a full-length shank provides a sturdy feel and protects against any sharp stuff underfoot. Then there’s a thick rubber outsole with 4mm multi-directional lugs and a heel brake – which is that straight edge on the heel platform.

The Keen Karraig’s Performance

Straight out of the box the Karraig felt very comfortable and has stayed comfortable. I had no rubbing or niggling at all during my big hike over the Carneddau which involved about 15 miles over some very steep, wet and muddy terrain.

“On sharp descents on muddy slopes I had plenty of confidence in these…”

The ankle feels supportive without limiting movement too much, and the sole unit has the kind of rigidity I want for any multi-terrain mountain walking.

To give you an idea of its flex, I’d say it sits somewhere between a kind of B1 mountaineering boot and a standard 3-season walking boot. On that note, while the Karraig does have the look of a four-season boot, it’ll only be able to take a strap-on crampon.

Related: Best Mountaineering Boots 2019

In terms of wet weather performance, it gets top marks. No issues at all. I haven’t had any overheating either but I’ve only used these on fairly cold days. For warm weather hiking, I expect it’ll definitely get hot.

The grip is good. On sharp descents on muddy slopes I had plenty of confidence – much, much more than I’ve had when walking in Keen’s slightly similar Durand boots. I did find that the sole didn’t give much grip on wet rocks but then again, there aren’t many options out there that can overcome Snowdonian stone covered in soggy lichen.

There was one disappointment I had with the Karraig though, and that was that after just one hour of use, I glanced down at my feet and noticed that the cord that integrates with the lacing and cinches around the ankle had snapped. I’m not sure how. This didn’t affect things too much, but it did mean that the lacing wasn’t as evenly distributed as I would have liked, and, as I didn’t have a knife with me, I had to walk for the rest of the day with the loose end dangling about.

For a boot that’s so robust in all other areas, it does seem strange to have one part that’s so flimsy. Other than that, the rest of it seems built to last.

NOTE: Since this review was published, I’ve been informed by Keen that the pair I received were from an early batch produced especially for press seeding. They have told me that the stitching of the interlocking cord is adapted in the next and subsequent production batches to make it stronger. I’ll be getting another pair to test this out. 

The snapped cord.

Conclusion

Keen are pushing this as a backpacking boot for challenging terrain and it does seem up to scratch for that sort of thing. If I were taking on a multi-day route that would involve a bit of scrambling mixed with some bog walking then it would fit the bill.

For any multi-day hiking that would mostly be on trails, I’d say its protection and rigidity would make it a little overqualified I’d say. You’d probably want to go for something a bit lighter, like Keen’s Feldberg or Durand models.

Overall, the Karraig is a nice boot. It’s just a shame about that flimsy cord.

Full Specifications

Leather and mesh upper / Keen.Dry lining / PU midsole / dual density EVA footbed / Cleansport NXT odour control / Keen.All-Terrain+ rubber outsole / full-length shank / 4mm multi-directional lugs / made in Europe / available in brown or grey.

 

 

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