By Jenn K.
The manufacturer provided this product for the purpose of this review.
The KEEN Liberty Ridge Women’s Boots arrived and I will say they are a nice looking pair of boots. What caught my eye upon a first glance are the color combinations and the smooth appearance of the leather. They appear to be made of quality materials and good workmanship. There is a tag on the tongue of the boots indicating that they are made in the U.S.A. (it is nice to see something manufactured in my country). I have always been a fan of leather boots for the appearance, durability, and ease of cleaning. Along with the leather the main boot body has some mesh material making up the tongue and the tongue attachment point. Also these boots have the KEEN signature rubber toe protection and what I believe is rubber protecting the heel (rear).
The manufacturer indicates on their website that these boots are have shock absorption and stability features with a direct attached PU midsole, a dual compound rubber outsole, a full length stability shank, and an integrated PU heel cushion. The Liberty Ridge Boot has a leather upper and KEEN.DRY; which is a waterproof breathable membrane. The lacing system is a metal speed hook and eyelet system. It is recommended by the manufacturer to clean the leather with a cleaner and conditioner specifically designed for leather.
Now on to how the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots fit:
The manufacture indicated on their website that these boots run a ½ size small. I ordered a ½ size larger than my normal size. And I am lucky that I did since there is enough room in the toe box for hiking downhill and they were not too snug in the forefoot. I tried the boots on with a mid-weight wool hiking sock, which is what I typically wear hiking. The inside of the boots felt smooth with no seems pushing on my feet. Also the boots do not feel real heavy or clunky. Initially the boots seem to fit, but the real test is out on the trail.
When putting the boots on I did notice that it was a slight challenge to place my feet inside the boots, as the upper portion was tight, even with the lacing loosened. Also there was no pull-tab for me to pull the boots. The boot material at the top of the boot in the rear is constructed with a U shape (valley). I am wondering if this is to help pull the boots on. Once my feet were inside the boots the upper portion felt fine and not too tight around my ankles and above. The laces of the boots were easily tightened and fastened through the upper two rows of metal hooks before tying. The lacing hardware looks durable and is thus far not snagging on the laces.
I wore the boots inside around my house for an initial go and they felt comfortable. My only concern is the foot bed. I have a custom-made full-length orthotics that I wear almost daily. I was considering placing a retail orthotic foot bed in these boots so my plantar fasciitis does not become aggravated. I also wore them in the evening back and forth to my car and up and down some steps. I was getting the car loaded for a hike the next day.
UPDATE December 30, 2015
I had the chance to use the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots over the past month on three hiking adventures. I had a little set back and if you read on you will see why.
Honestly I am glad that I went up a ½ size in these boots. It is correct to say that they run a ½ size smaller than my normal shoe/boot size. The only issue would be if I were to wear a heavier sock the boots might just be too tight. I typically wear a mid-weight wool or wool blend sock. These boots have a width that fits my feet well and my toes nor the sides of my feet were not cramped at any time. I noticed when walking downhill my toes were not hitting the inside toe of the boots.
After receiving the boots, right out of the box the next day I wore the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots on a 6 mile hike to the summit of Iron Mountain with a small daypack. This hike had about 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The trail was mostly dirt packed with some light dust and small stones. There were several areas that had larger rocks that involved high stepping. The temperature in the early morning was in the 60’s and it quickly rose to the mid 80’s.
I made a big mistake on this hike! On top of the current insoles inside the boots I placed a ¾ length orthotic in the boots. I was concerned since this would be my longest hike since I have been recovered from my plantar fasciitis. And I did not want to have a flare up and I always wear orthotics now except with flip-flops or sandals. Well so much for that idea. By putting the ¾ length orthotic in the boots I totally messed up the inner volume and my heels were not aligned in the boots where they should have been. So guess what. I ended up with two huge blisters that ended up opening. This was my entire fault and I will not blame it on the boot fit. Actually the boots feel great in the forefoot, the sole is sturdy and rigid that I do not feel rocks; also the boots did not promote my ankle to twist. The boots also did not make my legs or feet tired. Actually the next day my legs were not sore and I did not feel as though I hiked six miles the day before.
Since my first hike I only had the opportunity to wear the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots two more times. Mostly because my feet were healing from the blisters. For my first hike after my painful blisters was a flat easy three-mile hike at Batiquitos Lagoon. This trail is at sea level and there really is not a change in elevation gain. I am happy to say that there were no blisters. I attempted to walk in the boots with the provided insoles, but my feet needed a more custom insole for support. So I replaced the insoles that came with the boots with my Superfeet Green insoles. This worked out perfectly! On this hike I carried a small waist pack with just some essentials and a water bottle.
I also wore the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots hiking the Aviara Trails near the Batiquitos Lagoon. I never have been hiking in this area so it was good exploration. There are some sections that have little steep climbs and also some flat sections. The trails were unpaved, but the dirt was packed. This area is varies in terrain to lagoons, golf course views, and sage scrub, to eucalyptus trees lining the trail. I totaled approximately 4.5 miles hiking in this area. I carried with me a small daypack and kept the Superfeet insoles inside the boots. Well I am happy to say no blisters!
So what I learned is that I need to use a full length orthotic with hiking boots. I always have in the past, but for some reason I wanted to try a ¾ length orthotic, which was a big mistake. I have a tendency to tie a surgeon’s knot for comfort and to prevent my heels from sliding inside my boots and a double knot at the end of the lacing. I did the same with the KEEN Liberty Ridge Boots. I am happy to say that the lace stayed tied and I had the support my feet needed below the knot.
The boots clean up nicely with a damp cloth. The leather is not scuffed, cracked, nor has become discolored from stepping in water or from sunlight. On the hike near the lagoon I stepped in some water that covered the toe portion of the boots. I am happy to say my feet stayed dry.
This weekend I have an 8-mile hike planed near San Diego and I want to explore a few areas close to my home within the next month.
Final Update February 5, 2016
This is the final update for the KEEN Liberty Ridge Women’s Hiking Boots. Time surely does fly. The weather has been crazy here in Southern California over the past month. We had torrential rains, winds, and the temperatures are beginning to warm up above normal. I wore the boots on three hikes over this last month.
The fist hike this past month was to Mount Woodson in Poway, California. I tried the boots with the original insoles, even though my plantar fasciitis may flare up as a result of this decision. The trail was packed for the first two miles and then the grade of the trail increased significantly and there were many boulders and rocks that required high stepping. I hiked just over six miles with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The first two miles the boots were comfortable on my feet, but once the trail started to pitch up that was it. My heels began to rub on the inside of the boots and yes blisters were developing. I just cannot wear these boots with any significant elevation. I wore moderately heavy hiking socks and I even adjusted the way I tied the boots to make my feet more comfortable. I could not finish the hike to the summit because I did not want severe blisters. The irritation from the boots was already affecting my footing and I did not want my skin to open on my heels. I actually placed some gauze inside the boots near the heel to alleviate some of the pressure.
Now I had to wait two weeks before using the boots again, because my feet were a complete mess and I needed them to heal fully. I then wore the boots twice on a local trail to observe some of the damage from the last storm. There was not much elevation in this area, only 500 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles of hiking. The terrain only has mild inclines and I was required to high step frequently due to trees that have fallen down. There was some standing water in areas that I purposefully walked in. No water penetrated the boots and got my feet wet. The boots also had good traction on the packed wet dirt and some mud.
Even though these boots are not fitting me, there are some great points about these boots. They are easy to lace up, the laces stay tied, they offer good stability, good traction, great looking, and comfortable except when I walk uphill. They may work for some women, but they are just not working for me. If I went a size larger that would be a full size larger than my regular size. Maybe I would have benefited from a larger size.
For more information please visit www.keenfootwear.com. The KEEN Liberty Ridge Women’s Boots retail for $200.00 and are available in one color (gargoyle/berry).