Keen Summit County winter boot - GearReview.com
By Matt Smith
Winter boots are a difficult thing. If you are like me, one pair isn't enough. I need a pair for when I am out in the backcounty for several days camping with the Scouts, I need another pair to slip on to take the trash or get the mail, and another pair for snowshoeing, because my feet warm up pretty fast if I'm moving. I don't think there is a way around this winter dichotomy. You need something that is warm, but can slip on and off easy, and you need something else that is really warm, and waterproof. The Summit County is a bit of both, with the focus being on the former.
Two things about the Summit County impressed me right off the bat. First, although it has some resemblance to an 80's "moon boot", the fit is cushioned, comfortable, and roomy. The fit is reasonably generous so if you leave the laces loose, slipping them on for a quick trudge to take the trash out works fine. However, the lacing is also well thought out enough that I could pull them tight, lace it up properly, and spend an entire day playing in the snow with my kids. I used the boot as my base boot at the resorts, as a casual boot on those nasty slushy days around town, and even to toss in the back of the truck for days when I'm not sure if I'll need them.
For me, the 450 gram (toe) and 300 gram (ankle) KEEN.WARM insulation is a little warm for snowshoeing, and the cut of the boot too tall for a comfortable snowshoe stride. I would opt for something mid-height and only lightly insulated. However, it is perfect for general purpose kick-around-in-the-snow use and as a front country base camp boot. It is difficult to isolate how much of a benefit the Thermal Heat Shield footbed had relative to a typical insole. Testing with both the supplied insole and with a generic insole, my feet never got cold enough to bother me, or really even notice a difference. I suspect that if standing still for long periods, the Thermal Heat Shield would better insulate you from the ground and help your feet stay warmer. But if I'm not moving, I'd just as soon be in my sleeping bag sleeping! The KEEN.DRY waterbroof breathable membrane did a great job of keeping my foot dry, except for that one, deep, slush puddle the plow sluff hid.
KEEN Summit County
In my opinion, the most notable feature of the Summit County is that the boot is very comfortable. There were times I actually had to THINK if I wanted to wear the Summit County, or change into my down booties. Any boot that can cause that reaction is worth a look. Traction was good on packed powder, fresh snow, and melty slush. However, as temperatures drop as the slush or wet snow is on the verge of turning to ice I noticed a dramatic decrease in grip. After temperatures continued to fall to 15 degrees or so, the ice got hard enough the sole was able to recover some grip.
Summary: The KEEN Summit County is a comfortable, all around winter boot. With the leather upper, and quality construction you can expect this boot to last for many years. Retail price is $140, but if you watch the online sales, you can get it for about $110.
For more information contact:
926 NW 13th Avenue, Suite 210
Portland, OR 97209
Matt Smith Is a contributing editor at Gearreview.com and abuses himself exploring the dark, nether regions of the Colorado Plateau. Check out his blog with his latest trip reports and product test updates.