Review by Arnie P
Keen Men’s Liberty Ridge boots
Keen provided the Liberty Ridge men’s boots for review purposes.
Since I grew up in an era of all leather boots and shoes, I have been partial to leather products. I am looking forward to reviewing the Keen Men’s Liberty Ridge boots.
I received size 9 boots in the color of Black/Gargoyle. The web site says the boots are Keen’s tough, supportive high performance leather boot for long trips on gnarly trails. The shock absorbing direct-attach PU mid-sole delivers lasting comfort, and a full-length shank adds stability. The waterproof upper and KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane combine to keep your feet dry. Designed to handle any trail surface, if you rack up serious back country mileage with a full pack, this is your boot. American Built with materials from around the world.
Web site specifications
Weight per shoe: 24.0 oz/680.4 g
Weight per shoe 23.8 oz/674.7 g
Features: American Built, Hiking, Waterproof
Weather: Wet – waterproof
Features from web site
– American Built with materials from around the world.
– Direct attach PU mid-sole
– Dual compound rubber out-sole
– Full length stability shank
– Integrated PU heel cushion
– KEEN.DRY ™ waterproof breathable membrane
– Leather lining
– Metal speed hook and eyelet lacing system
Product care from web site
Care for Waterproof Leather
We’ve carefully selected leather uppers designed to last. Then again, if you’re wearing your KEENS daily, they won’t always be scuff and dirt-free. To treat day to day wear and tear, especially on lighter color leathers, we recommend using a leather cleaner and conditioner, found at most footwear dealers and/or shoe repair shops.
The web site states the sizes for this shoe are running about ½ size small. They suggest ordering a ½ size larger than your normal size. My normal size is a bit larger than 8.5. I decided to go with the size 9 because my experience with water-proof breathable shoes is that they tend to be a bit warmer and need a thinner sock. I will get more into this when I try them out.
The lacing system consists of 7 pairs of metal eyelets. The bottom 5 pair are closed. The top 2 pair are open at one end for quick lacing and unlacing. The top pair of the closed eyelets is set back from the others. This pair is different from the other closed eyelets in that the laces pass through a metal barrel which attaches to the shoe with a nylon strap. This pair of eyelets are more flexible than the rest. The other eyelets are less flexible but usually become a little looser with use. It has been my experience that the eyelets adjust to the kind of use they experience.
Trying them on
When I first looked at the inside of the boots I did notice they looked a little smaller than the other size 9 boots I have. Part of this difference is a shoe that has little wear will increase in size with use.
A few of my friends at the gym who follow my reviews have asked me questions and when I responded they suggested I incorporate my answers to their questions in my review. The general questions is what do I do when I put on a boot for the first time. The procedure I use is as follows. First I check and make sure all my toenails are not too long. I then put a small amount of talcum powder on my feet if they are not dry. I loosen the shoe and insert my naked foot and stand in them. If the fit is reasonable, I then take the boots off and put on a pair of socks that I feel will give me the best comfort. If my guess is wrong then I change the socks for a thicker or thinner pair depending on how they felt the first time.
Having prepared my feet by trimming my nails and picking a pair of medium weight socks, I tied the boots but not too tight. I noticed there was just enough lace to tie the boots. When I start tying them tighter there will be more lace available, Another feature I miss is a pull tab at the heel to assist in putting on the boot. There is a cutout in that part of the boot so it was not as difficult as I first thought it would be. The pull tab, although nice at times, is not all that useful when wearing gloves.
I went on a 2 mile walk to a local lake. For an initial walk I was comfortable and did not have any problems.
Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the Keen Liberty Ridge boots.
I wish to thank Keen and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test the Liberty Ridge boots.
I have been wearing the Keen Liberty Ridge boots several times a week for the past month. I mention the weather because it has been unusual. A mix of temperatures and no snow. Some nights down to 20 F and some daytime temperatures in the 60’s. Since I rise before 5 am, I am on the ground when it is still frozen. Then, as the temperature rises, the ground surfaces tend to be slippery. These are the conditions I encountered while using the Liberty Ridge boots. More on the results later. I think the short break-in period, was a result of my hiking in warmer temperatures.
I mentioned the lack of a pull tab in my first report. After the short break-in period, I completely forgot about the need for a pull tab. The top of the boot is lower at the back and I point my toes straight down and my foot slides in without a problem. After the break-in, the laces were a little longer when using all the lugs. If I tightened the laces, I had enough available lace. My preference is to not use the top pair of lugs. Doing this, I had enough lace to tie my boots. As I age my fingers are not so nimble and I need more lace when I tie my boots. I did find that on a typical hike the laces did need retying 1 or 2 times during a 2-hour hike. Once I realized this I made a minor change when I tie these boots. On making the first knot I loop the lace a second time. This adds enough friction to hold the laces better. With use, the laces may become more secure. My not tying the laces tight may be the cause of this problem. The fit of the boot is perfect. I got little or no trail debris in my shoes during any of my hikes.
Last year was the first year in my 53 years living here that I had to get on a ladder to remove snow from my roof. Thus, I tested these boots on a ladder in preparation for the upcoming snow season and found I could spend a lot of time on my ladder and not feel any discomfort. The soles on these boots are sturdy and can withstand this kind of condition. I raked leaves which seem like an endless job when most of the leaves come from other yards. I have found that if I can walk the stairs in my house with ease, this is a good sign of how well my boots handle in the forest. I took my daughter’s dog for walks, walked to my local shopping center and walked to a few different coffee shops I use on a regular basis. Walking on pavement is not much different than walking on a granite ledge. I have found that walking on pavement is hard on my feet. I did not have this kind of feeling in the Liberty Ridge boots. A heavier boot is a small price to pay for comfort. I walked to Silver Lake a few times and walked on the sandy beach where my foot sinks into the soft sand. With some shoes, this can cause muscle strain which I did not experience. I have also worn the Liberty Ridge boots to seminars and doctor’s appointments. My feet did not get overheated inside buildings wearing the boots with wool socks.
Hiking in Harold Parker and more
I hike weekly in Harold Parker forest with a group of hikers. We take a different trail each time. These trails have a lot of rocks and because of high usage, there are a lot of exposed roots. At the beginning of this test period, there were a lot of leaves covering these rocks. I had excellent traction at all times. There are a few steep areas on the trail with a combination of loose rocks, roots, and gravel. The traction was excellent. On colder nights the ground freezes because of the preceding cold night but begins to thaw making for slippery conditions in places. I have been stable for the duration of my hikes. I have hiked in a local pine forest near my house where the ground has a thick covering of pine needles which makes for a bouncy walk in places. My boots adapted well to the changing conditions.
The Keen Liberty Ridge boot is providing me with many hours of pleasant pain-free comfort second to none. In my next report, I am hoping to do some hiking on some steep ledges and also something I have not tried before in hiking boots. I wish to thank 4alloutdoors.org and Keen for the opportunity to review the Liberty Ridge boot. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say.
A Last Look 1-28-2016
The temperatures in this period have been in the 0 F to 40 F range with a lot of cloudy overcast weather and a few minor snow falls. The boots have performed well in these conditions. Let’s get on with it.
Because the tongue, to provide waterproofing, attaches to the boot almost to the ankle, I find it difficult to get my foot into the boot. Once my foot is in the boot the fit is perfect. I would not want a larger boot as my foot would have space to slide. My shoe size is a bit over 8.5 so 9 is usually the best size for me. The website does recommend ordering half size larger than normal. I think over time there will be some stretching. I am not sure why I did not notice this earlier but I think since I have been doing a lot more hiking that my feet may be swollen. I now use a shoe horn when I feel it is a problem. There was a time when I used a shoe horn all the time.
The Website Description
I found the description the Keen website to be true. I hike on a lot of “gnarly” trails. To me, this is a trail with a lot of rocks where the surface is uneven. The Liberty boot has a stiff sole which means when only part of my boot lands on a rock there is little or no bending of the sole. When my ankle brushes against a rock or other hard surface I am protected because leather covers my ankle.
At The Gym
I was not going to take these boots to the gym, but returning from my Wednesday hike, I forgot to bring a pair of shoes to wear at the gym. I used the Liberty Ridge boots at the gym that day. I tried the leg press with 405 lbs with excellent results. This exercise simulates coming down a mountain and landing on my feet. This is a jolt that can be stressful depending on the boot I am wearing. I also tried the Liberty boot on the treadmill. I recently increased my speed from 3.8 mph to 4 mph. I started with 4 mph but had to drop to 3.8mph. This is a speed I will never reach on the trail with a pack. I am satisfied with the performance on the treadmill. The last thing I tried in the gym was to try the step platform. I see how close to the edge I can place my foot and raise myself on the platform without falling off. The stiffer the sole the easier this is and the closer to the edge I can get. When I hike Artist Bluff in New Hampshire which is at least twice a year there is a place on the trail where I rely on a narrow edge of a rock to climb straight up for about 8-10 feet. This again is easier with a stiffer sole. I was again pleased with the performance I experienced on the step platform.
I mentioned not using the top lugs on my boots. I had a question on this and started paying attention to the footwear that people are wearing. I tend to see a lot of high school students at Starbucks on my trips there in the afternoon. It is common to see 20-30 high school during my visits. It surprised me to see most were wearing hiking shoes/boots. About half were wearing ankle height and many of them did not have the top 1-3 pair of lugs in use. I have a picture of how I wear my boots.
I continue my walks with the dog, walking to the shopping center for groceries, walks to the coffee shops and walks in the neighborhood forest. There is also a steep off trail hill I climb to stay in shape. The pitch is about the same as the roof of my house of about 60 degrees. I was able to climb the hill with a slow steady climb and I felt in control at all times. I am asked about how many miles I put on my boots. Most of the hiking trails are single file with many hills. Most trail guides do list mileage but also list trail time which is a better gauge of the difficulty of the hike. My aim on a hike is enjoyment so going off trail is common for me and running out of time and turning back is also common. The end result is I know more about the time I spend in my boots than the actual mileage.
Stability on a Bosu Ball
I am not recommending anyone to try this. The trainers were not happy about my doing this at the gym, so I ordered a ball for myself to use at home. It takes balance and soles with a good grip, especially when tipping the Bosu ball. The boots provide that good grip. The benefit of using ball is that I have found my stability on the trail has improved since I started doing this a few times a week.
When something works as well as the Keen Liberty Ridge boots there is less to say. Other than my being swollen at times and having to retie my boots a few times there were no other issues. I have been dry, stable, and comfortable. I wish to thank 4alloutdoors.org and Keen for the opportunity to test the Liberty Ridge boots. I look forward to many years of wearing these boots.