Keen Ridge Flex Hiking Boots | Deep Dive - Outdoors Magic

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Keen Ridge Flex Hiking Boots | Deep Dive

The new hiking boot from Keen that works like a bendy bus... and to great effect

We might as well cut right to the chase here and address the obvious; the fact that this walking boot has unusual accordion-style rubber bellows built into it. Bizarre as it might sound, this design does actually makes a lot of sense. It works. 

Most boots will tend to wear out at the bottom of the tongue where the whole boot creases with each step. First the waterproof membrane nicks or wears thin and then the upper follows suit. This new Bellows Flex system is a direct effort by Keen to address that issue and in turn, to extend the overall mileage you’ll get from these. 

The Keen Ridge Flex is available in either a boot (pictured) or shoe cut. Photo: Will Renwick

Not only is the Bellows Flex located at that ridge above the toes but you’ll also find it around the back of the heel. Both working together, this system not only improves the lifespan of the boot but it also lowers the resistance to the natural roll of your foot, thus saving you energy with each step. Of course, it’ll make a minuscule difference on small hikes but on any big days out or multi-dayers, where minor details often really count, it could well come in handy. 

Keen Ridge Flex Features

Setting aside the TPU flex system, the upper of the Keen Ridge Flex is very similar to the one found on Keen’s Targhee, one of the brand’s most popular hiking boots and a mainstay in their collection for over 15 years now.

It combines a mix of leather, synthetic mesh and foam padding around the ankle. Underneath all that, there’s Keen’s proprietary waterproof membrane (Keen.Dry) and there’s a quick-dry lining on the inside to help wick away any moisture. 

The lacing system is pretty straightforward here. You’ve got webbing loops at the base leading up to a thicker strap that links with the heel and sole unit to provide that side to side torsional stability you want from a hiking boot. Then there are metal hooks up top.

Immediately underfoot there’s a removable insole, then there’s a compression moulded foam midsole and a lightweight shank which brings a nice bit of protection from sharp stuff underfoot while also aiding stability. There’s still plenty of flex to the sole unit though – enough for that long-distance comfort.

Keen say that the Bellows Flex system has been tested over 1 million steps. Photo: Will Renwick

The outsole is the same design that’s featured on the latest version of the Keen Targhee. Called Keen All-Terrain, it has a soft, sticky-feeling rubber compound for good, reliable grip on harder surfaces. The 5mm lugs then provide a nice bit of bite onto the more squidgy stuff.


If you’ve worn Keen’s Targhee, Durand or Revel boots before, expect the fit to be pretty much identical. In the classic Keen style, there’s loads of room at the toes to let them sit naturally and comfortably and there’s a cupped heel to hold the foot in place, particularly while you’re contouring. As for the volume, I’d say it’s quite narrow around the mid-foot, but the lacing system does give you a lot of adaptability. 

By the way, if you’re looking for something without ankle support, bear in mind that there’s also a shoe version of the Ridge Flex. That’ll be a good option for those easier hikes, particularly in warmer and drier weather.


We talk about perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) a lot here at Outdoors Magic. These are highly persistent chemicals that are commonly found in durable water repellent (DWR) treatments that many footwear brands use to make their products more water resistant. And they’re bad. In the last few years conclusive evidence has shown that these chemicals are highly toxic and are contaminating the world’s water supplies.

Fortunately, Keen have recently announced that they’ve managed to completely eradicate these PFCs from their supply chain and have adopted an alternative DWR that’s much eco-friendlier They’re also now challenging all other footwear brands to make the same commitment to remove PFCs from their own products.

So that’s one eco-friendly aspect of the Keen Ridge Flex. You can also rest assured that all the leather used here is from a Leather Working Group-approved tannery, meaning it conforms to a very strict code of conduct regarding environmental and ethical practices.

The focus on making these boots tougher and longer lasting is arguably a big step in the right direction in terms of sustainability as well. As we always say at Outdoors Magic, the most important thing a brand can do to lower the footprint of their products is to look to make them last longer. 

Keen Ridge Flex In The Field

Over the last few months, OM Editor Will has been putting these boots through a vigorous long term test to assess the difference that the Bellows Flex makes, particularly in regards to the overall durability and longevity you can expect. Here’s an early report from him: 

“I’ve always been impressed by the out-of-the-box comfort of Keen’s boots and with this new release they certainly haven’t dropped the ball on that front. It’s a supremely comfortable boot that hasn’t caused me any discomfort whatsoever. 

Testing the Keen Ridge Flex on a hike up Cadair Idris via the steep and rocky Minfordd Path. Photo: Will Renwick

“I really like what Keen are going for with that bellows-like system. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s managed to prevent the leather from creasing where it would normally, and I’ve genuinely felt that lack of resistance at the top of the foot when stepping. It’s positioned in the place where I always wear boots out, so if this is still working in a few months time, I’m going to be very, very impressed.”

We’ll be publishing Will’s full review on our website very soon – there’ll be a link for it here when it’s live. 

Get the latest price at:

Outdoors Magic x Keen


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