If you spend most of the day on your feet, you know the value of a good pair of shoes. So do the folks at Keen Footwear, who have a reputation for making durable, comfortable, sporty looking shoes, for both work and leisure. Last fall, we got an insider’s look at the state-of-the-art Keen Footwear manufacturing facility in Portland, Oregon. We also got a chance to try out a pair of their American-built Mt. Vernon work boots. The Mt. Vernons I tried have steel-toe protection, and although they’re super comfortable, not everyone needs – or wants – the protection of a steel-toed boot. If you’re looking for comfortable and rugged work boots, but prefer not to be a man (or woman) of steel, the Keen work boots lineup offers several choices, including the recently introduced soft-toe version of the Keen Mt. Vernon. Ever eager to expand my horizons, though, I decided to try something from further north in Keen’s lineup of industrial-city-inspired work boots – a pair of Keen Milwaukee work boots.
Right out of the box, it’s obvious the Keen Milwaukee work boots are quality stompers. Even though these aren’t steel-toed boots, there is a beefy toe cap to keep those tootsies secure. That’s a great feature for tile setters, flooring installers, or anyone who has to spend time working on their hands and knees, where the toe is often scuffed to the point of wearing through. The stitching on the entire boot is tight and even, and around the back of the shoe, there’s extra reinforcement to protect the back of your foot.
The non-marking rubber outsoles on the Keen Milwaukee boots are oil and slip resistant. They’re also Electrical Hazard rated (they meet or exceed ASTM F2892-11 EH Standards), but it’s still a good idea to get off the scaffold during a thunderstorm…The soles are solidly attached, with a good aggressive tread pattern. Water resistant full-grain leather uppers will keep your feet dry from the outside, and the moisture-wicking textile used in the lining helps do the same from the inside.
Walk A Mile In My Keen Milwaukee Boots
When I slid the boots on and laced them up, they were very comfy right off the bat. The Keen Milwaukee boots come with a removable Metatomical insert – that’s Keenspeak for an internal support mechanism that’s anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support, and cradle the natural contours of the foot. The boots open wide at the top, making them very easy to get on and off. The locking metal hooks they use on the top let you get the boots laced and unlaced quickly, but are snug enough not to let the laces drop out.
I ordered the Keen Milwaukee boots in the same size as the Mt. Vernons, and the fit was perfect. Consistency is a beautiful thing, and so is the ability to get the footwear in half sizes. That allows you to dial in the fit ‘til it’s just right, rather than making do with a size that’s “pretty close.”
Right after putting the Keen Milwaukee boots on, I went out and took a brisk(ish) 40 minute walk. Most work boots I’ve bought over the years are pretty stiff for the first several days of use; not so the Milwaukees. They felt like a nicely broken-in pair of hiking boots, with no chafing or other “new boot” issues.
I wore the boots the remainder of the day. During various tasks throughout the day, I stood, crouched, knelt, and climbed in and out of the truck. The highest praise I can offer is the fact that after putting them on, I didn’t even think about them. They were comfortable, with great support, and throughout the first day, and beyond, it was like wearing a pair of boots I’d had for months.
Honoring The Milwaukee Namesake
Usually at the end of the workday, the first thing I want to do is kick off my boots. Since the Keen website says the Keen Milwaukee is “ready for hard work and a beer after it,” I decided to verify their claim. Turns out their claim is totally accurate, and that ended up being my favorite part of the trial – go figure! After getting the tools put away, I didn’t even mind leaving the boots on a while longer, while I munched on some crackers and Wisconsin cheese, and sipped a frosty beer. Cheers!
If you spend a lot of time on YOUR feet, the Keen Milwaukee would likely be a great choice for you. If it’s not quite your style, Keen offers a huge line of work shoes and boots. They’re available with and without steel toes, for both men and women, and several models are built right here in the US of A. You’ll pay more than you would for a cheapo pair from the discount shoe store, but I came to the conclusion long ago that you’ll seldom go wrong investing in quality goods, whether it be tools, clothing, or beer and cheese. All Keen products are backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects. Keen Milwaukee work boots are available at various retailers, or directly from Keen.