Best Keen Work Boots – 2020 Buyers Guide & Reviews

What makes the KEEN Brand Stand Out?

The KEEN shoe company brand was started in Portland, Oregon, in 2003. Upon inception, the company began churning out the best Keen work boots, durable all-weather shoes for a variety of outdoor activities. Overall, the shoes are known for their large rubber toe and heel bumpers as well as their long-lasting designs. Protective sandals, hiking boots, and utility footwear are just a few of the products KEEN currently makes. They continue to be a pioneer in the thriving utilitarian footwear industry. What’s more, they strive to be one of the few brands that produce shoes that are interchangeable for both work and play.


History of the Brand

The KEEN shoe company was started by Martin Keen in Portland, Oregon, Shortly after, in 2006, Kirk Richardson took the reins as the company’s acting CEO This was a significant shift for the company for a number of reasons, including the fact that Kirk had previously served as a manager at KEEN’s competitor, Nike. The company soon expanded making room for James Curleigh to take over as CEO. Since 2017, Roy Fuerst has held the position. During KEEN’s brief but tumultuous history, they made a temporary move from Portland to Alameda, California. Today, they produce their American-made footwear in an Oregon-based factory, while much is imported from China.


What Types of Work Boots Does KEEN Produce?

KEEN has a large line of utility boots that serve an array of purposes. Currently, they make service boots and work boots for all sorts of applications. Customers can choose between several different models of steel, composite, aluminum, and soft toe footwear. However, the differences don’t stop at toe caps. There are boots for construction, industrial, farming, and water-based workplaces. Many are waterproof, slip-resistant, and can withstand heavy or forceful impacts. Meanwhile, others are well insulated to ensure your feet are protected from harsh temperatures.


Reasons to Use This Type of Boot

KEEN work boots feature extreme protection. Whether you opt for the highest level of workplace safety features or basic soft toe midrise, the industrial-strength leather and synthetic materials that go into KEEN are of the highest quality and durability.

Many of KEEN’s shoes are all-terrain, all-weather, workhorses. What’s more, they are aesthetically pleasing thanks to the clean lines, unique colorways, and fashionable details. What’s more, the distinct rubber bumpers and cushioning insoles give your feet all-day comfort.


Features and Qualities You Can Expect in KEEN Work Boots


Work boot durability comes down to quality materials and construction. A vast majority of KEEN work boots feature Nubuck leather uppers. Nubuck leather is top-grain leather that has a suede-like appearance. Keen Dry, the company’s proprietary waterproof material, is also used in strategically placed panels. Meanwhile, steel, aluminum, and composite materials are used as toe protection. Finally, rubber soles create a solid foundation for these modern work shoes.


Most of the KEEN work boots feature a combination of water-resistant materials and waterproof lining. While we don’t recommend submerging the boots in water, they’re tough enough to withstand a rainstorm.

Workplace Protection

Occupational safety standards often regulate what type of footwear employees can wear. The standards of protective footwear differ between industries. KEEN work boots boast imperative qualities, such as electrical shock protection, static protection, slip protection, toe protection, and much more. What’s more, many of the shoes meet or exceed ASTM standards.


Aside from protection, work boots should be comfortable and well-fitted. It is important that the footbeds are both long and wide enough. What’s more, the toes need room to flex and breath. Beyond that, padded foam insoles help to absorb shock and relieve some of the pressure caused by standing for long periods.

Both slip-on and lace-up shoes should be snug and help keep your feet in place. Too much movement can quickly result in blistering. Meanwhile, the rubber sole should offer support and flexibility. KEEN shoes often feature torsional foot plates that help to support the anatomical structure of the arch while still allowing the wearer to flex the padded portion of their foot.


The Best KEEN Work Boots Product Reviews

KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot

The Pittsburg steel toe work boot boasts durable Nubuck leather uppers in six different color options. Their thick textured rubber soles are capable of gripping on to nearly any surface. Meanwhile, they feature a contoured heel lock for a solid whole foot lockdown. Inside the shoe, there is a removable EVA footbed that provides all-day comfort and support. Beyond that, Dry-lex lining keeps water from creeping into the boot. Finally, a non-marking slip-resistant rubber outer sole keeps the elements at bay on the exterior.

This is a solid medium-duty work boat that resembles your typical hiking footwear. The naturally dyed uppers and two-toned laces give these KEEN boots their signature outdoor look. The boots offer partial ankle coverage but do not boast steel toes or any standard workplace protections.


EVA insoles
Natural Nubuck leather uppers
Contoured heel locks
Raised rubber soles


The soles wear through rapidly
Do not feature standard workplace protections



KEEN Utility Men’s Detroit Mid Steel Toe Work Boot

The Detroit mid steel work boots also feature waterproof Nubuck leather uppers and chunky rubber soles. They have an elongated shaft that measures 5 inches from the arch. They also have asymmetrical steel toes to protect you from workplace hazards and comply with typical uniform standards. Just below the laces, the shoes are fitted with KEEN’s breathable waterproof membranes. In addition, the boots boast torsional stability shanks for mid-foot support and supportive non-marking outsoles.

An additional safety feature is the reflective webbing that projects a wearer’s visibility. Furthermore, the shoes are lined with a dual zoned hydrophobic/hydrophilic comfort technology. Finally, a removable dual-density EVA footbed and CleanSport NXT odor control ensure that your boots are clean and smelling good at all times.


Torsional stability shank
Removable EVA footbed
Odor protection
Anatomical steel toes


Some wetness leaks through
Inferior eyelet materials



KEEN Utility Men’s San Antonio Industrial Shoe

The San Antonia industrial shoes are a turn away from the commonly seen hiking boots KEEN produces. This boot features synthetic textile uppers in black/silver and gargoyle/blue opal colorways. The grippy rubber soles help users maintain their footing, yet resemble that of a raised sneaker. Much to our surprise, the lining is made from a breathable leather material. Meanwhile, the shoes boast a multi-direction lugged outsole.

These are excellent midrise work shoes for light to medium duties. They are made from an impressive combination of durable materials. Meanwhile, they even boast Cleansport NXT odor protection to keep sweaty, stinky feet under control.


Synthetic uppers in minimalist colorways
Comfort control EVA soles
Grippy rubber tread
Sneaker-like design


Super long laces



KEEN Utility Men’s Flint Mid Work Boot

The Flint mid work boots feature toe to ankle support thanks to the durable leather uppers and contoured rubber sole. Not only that, but these work boots feature steel toes as well as padded tongues and collars. The leather uppers feature cutouts with mesh panels for increased breathability. In addition, the footbed is fully removable.


Naturally tanned leather uppers with breathable mesh panels
Steel toes
Padded tongue and collar
Slate black and burnt henna colorway


Weak connection between outsole and upper



KEEN Utility – Men’s Braddock Mid (Steel Toe) Waterproof Work Boot

The Braddock steel toe midrise work boots are great for hard labor and outdoor use. These boots are completely waterproof thanks to the breathable membrane that lets moisture and air out but not in. What’s more, the boots have anatomical steel toes as well as patented outsole toe protection. The boots boast a roomy fit thanks to the composite toe boxes. What’s more, the rubber soles are slip-resistant and meets ASTM International standards. It is also important to note that these are domestically-made work boots.


Made in Oregon
Feature anatomical steel toes
Oil and slip resistant
Comfort-enhanced toe box


Inferior lace eyes
Minimal water penetration in wet conditions



KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Soft Toe Work Boot

The KEEN Pittsburg work boots feature durable leather uppers as well as slip-resistant rubber soles. The boots have Dry-lex footwear lining that helps keep moisture out. What’s more, the Pittsburg soft toe work boots also feature a dual-zone comfort technology that helps keep your feet extra comfortable through long shifts. This boot is also a model example of KEEN’s interlocking torsion plate that embraces a foot’s natural movement while still providing arch support. It is also important to note that this is a soft toe shoe that is suitable for light to moderate wear only.


Cascade brown and Bombay brown colorway
90-degree heel
Oil and slip-resistant non-marking rubber sole
Removable anatomical dual density EVA footbed


Can be difficult to refit the movable footbed



KEEN Utility – Men’s Braddock All Leather Mid Waterproof (Steel Toe) Work Boots

These steel-toed midrise work boots are completely waterproof and meet most ASTM standards. The steel toes are asymmetrical (left and right) and designed to create a roomy toe pocket. In this model, the outsoles wrap over the toes for added protection from impacts. Additional perks include a non-marking outsole, removable heel cushions, and torsional stability shanks. These boots are suitable for long, tough workdays. It is also important to note that they are one of the few shoes that are domestically produced in Portland, Oregon.


Gargoyle and forest colorway
Combination of durable leather and breathable synthetic textiles
Asymmetrical steel safety toe that meets ASTM standards
Made in the United States





KEEN Utility Men’s Dallas Wellington Steel Toe Work Boot

The KEEN Dallas Wellington boots feature all leather uppers with subtle cowboy flair. They are excellent workhorses for both the factory and farm. These country-style boots also have nonslip gridded rubber soles and high-rise fitted ankle sleeves with interior pull tabs. What’s more, these work boots feature asymmetrical steel toes as well as a noteworthy Goodyear Welt construction. As if that were not enough, they also feature puncture-resistant materials and insulation. However, the best part is that they slip on (so there is no need to fuss with finicky laces before an early morning shift).


Dark brown leather uppers
Nonslip rubber soles
Asymmetrical alloy toes
Keen Dry breathable membranes


Poor glue connection between the insole and outsole



KEEN Utility Men’s Detroit Slip-on Work Boot

The Keen Detroit workbooks are a midrise slip-on work boot with a smooth leather exterior. Made of the highest quality Nubuck leather, these boots are extremely durable and weather-resistant. These boots also feature asymmetrical steel toe covers and non-marking rubber soles. Meanwhile, the EVA footbeds feature torsional stability shanks. These work boots offer great workplace protection.


Removable metatomical dual-intensity footbeds
Nubuck leather uppers
Slip-on midrise boots with stretchy cutouts


May need regluing at some point



KEEN Utility Men’s Mt. Vernon 8″ Waterproof

The Mt. Vernon utility boots feature super high-cut leather uppers (8 inches). They feature durable leather panels with padded toe, heel, and ankle overlays. These boots fully conform to waterproof standards too. So, they are an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor use. They also feature strategically placed Keen Dry membranes to help wick sweat and other moisture buildups.


Durable Cascade brown leather uppers
Made in the U.S.A.
Removable EVA foam footbed
Asymmetrical steel toes


Weak eyelets



Final Thoughts

KEEN work boots are some of the most durable utility shoes on the market. We hope you enjoyed our reviews and buying guide. When selecting a pair of work boots, it is always a good idea to focus on the specific application they will be used for. A solid pair of work boots should improve a wearers safety as well as their comfort.