Keen Ridge Flex Walking Boots | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Walking Boots

Keen Ridge Flex Walking Boots | Review

Taking inspiration from bendy buses and flexi-straws, Keen have applied a bold new concept to their big launch for 2021

Why We Chose It: Innovative, Ethically-made, comfortable

If there’s one brand that likes to think a bit outside the box when it comes to shoe design it’s Keen. If you’ve come across the Keen Uneek sandal you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about here. 

The ‘out there’ aspect with this particular boot, the Keen Ridge Flex, should be pretty plain to see. Called ‘Bellows Flex’, this little TPU plate is designed to work like an accordion or bellows, the idea being that it creates less resistance when you flex your foot with each step. The other thinking behind it is that it makes the boots last longer, tackling the issue of boots wearing out where the materials would usually crease.

Photo: Chris Johnson

Who Is The Keen Ridge Flex For?

The Keen Ridge Flex would be best suited to walking in milder temperatures from spring through to autumn. It’s probably warm enough to suit winter walking too, but only when there’s no snow on the ground. 

In terms of the type of hiking you could take on in these, we’d say it’s best suited to walks on worn trails. They have quite a relaxed fit and the outsole sole isn’t particularly aggressive so you wouldn’t want to take on anything too technical in them. Country walks, summer hill walks, long distance walks along national trails; the Keen Ridge Flex would suit all of that kind of stuff.


Setting aside the TPU flex system, the upper of the Keen Ridge Flex is very similar to the one found on Keen’s Targhee which is 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 synthetic mesh, ethically sourced and produced leather, and then there’s a foam padding around the ankle. 

“I really like what Keen have set out to do here with the Bellows Flex system.”

There’s also a Keen.Dry waterproof membrane and a quick-dry lining on the inside to help wick away any moisture. This waterproof system, by the way, uses a water resistant coating that’s completely free from environmentally hazardous PFCs.

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.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

The midsole features a compression moulded foam 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. 

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 on the more squidgy stuff.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

“You’ll see in the above video the issues that I’ve had in the past with boots wearing out at the edge of the toe box and that’s why I really like what Keen have set out to do here with the Bellows Flex system.

“Does it work though? I’d say yes. I’ve actually been really impressed with it. Not only does it give a very smooth ‘ride’, if that’s the appropriate word for it, but from what I can see it does prevent the materials of the upper from creasing too much. 

“I said in the video above that I can see the flex system making the boots last longer, and with a few more months and miles under my belt since that was recorded, I can confirm that it still seems to be working as you’d want it to.

Photo: Chris Johnson

“I’ve always found Keen boots comfortable around the toes and nicely cushioned and that’s certainly the case still with the Keen Ridge Flex. That said, it does feel just a little tight at the front of the ankle at the top of the lacing, a problem that I also had with the Durand that they released a number of years ago.

“The grip is fairly modest. It’s fair to say you’re not getting a particularly aggressive outsole here. Still. I’ve found it offers enough grip for most trail walking, with the limitations exposed only really exposed on exceptionally steep, slippy and muddy descents.

“This is a good boot for summer long-distance walks and for country walking in winter. All in all, I like the Keen Ridge Flex and I’m impressed with the steps the U.S. brand have taken towards improving the overall durability and lifespan of their boots.”

Photo: Chris Johnson

Keen Ridge Flex


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