Anyone who works on their feet all day knows the value of a good pair of shoes. Comfort, support and durability are key no matter what you do for a living. Some occupations require you to go a step further, though, and add protection to the mix. I love my Keen Mt. Vernon and Milwaukee work boots, but lately the long run of 90°+ temps have had me dreaming about a cooler option. When Keen Utility offered HomeFixated the opportunity to evaluate a pair of their new Keen Omaha WP work shoes, I kicked off my boots and stepped right up.
The Keen Utility Omaha WP work shoes look more like a pair of sneakers or hiking shoes. Don’t be fooled, though, these suckers are designed to go to work. They’re waterproof, abrasion resistant, non-slip, have asymmetrical steel toes, and can help keep you from getting electrocuted. If your sneakers can do that, introduce me. Here’s the full list of specs from Keen:
– Abrasion resistant Tough-Tec leather
– Compression molded EVA midsole
– KEEN.DRY ™ waterproof breathable membrane
– Left and right asymmetrical steel toe
– Meets or exceeds ASTM F1677-96 Mark II non-slip testing standards
– Meets or exceeds ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH (Electrical Hazard) standards
– Oil and slip resistant non-marking rubber outsole
Worried about agonizing over color choices? Keen makes it easy for you: You can have your Keen Omaha shoes in any color you want, as long as you want Cascade Brown/Burnt Henna. That color combo works for me; it looks classy, but not too flashy, just like me. Well, the not too flashy part is right, anyway…If that color doesn’t do it for you, Keen offers a great variety of work shoes and boots for both men and women.
For those who may not be familiar with the Keen Utility brand, they’re based in Portland, OR. They manufacture a fair bit of their footwear at a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility there, with plans to increase operations in the future. We got an insider’s tour of their facilities last year, and were very impressed with their commitment to both producing a quality product and giving back to the community, both locally and nationally.
The Keen Omaha from Keen Utility Goes To Work In The ‘Burgh
Back when I was a young whippersnapper, I worked as a framing carpenter. That occupation offers ample opportunity to smash various body parts – including toes – and I smashed my fair share. These days, I do a little bit of everything, and since we old farts don’t heal as fast, I tend to be protective of what I’ve got left. I use hearing and eye protection when it’s called for, gloves to protect my digits, and steel-toed shoes to protect against work site clumsiness (which usually involves me).
Just because I want to protect my tootsies doesn’t mean I want to feel like my toes are jammed into a tin can. The Keen Omaha shoes were comfy from the git go; as with my Keen work boots, no break in period was needed. The shoes are very well padded, and have the Keen Metatomical footbed. That’s Keenspeak for an insole that’s designed to fit your foot’s anatomy. The asymmetrical steel toes also contribute to the shoe’s comfort. Rather than a “One size fits both” steel cap, the left and right-specific caps in the Keen Omaha shoes are designed to follow the curve of your toes.
The Keen Omaha shoes aren’t lightweight; at 24 oz. each, they’re heavier than a pair of sneakers, and a bit heavier than a pair of hiking shoes. That’s the price of protection, though, and they aren’t uncomfortably heavy. And they’re sure as hell lighter than a pair of work boots.
When I get a new pair of work shoes – or any new shoes – I like to put them on and just wear them around for a day. The true test of a good pair of shoes is that shortly after putting them on and getting on with the day, I don’t even think about them. Such was the case with the Keen Omaha shoes. I wore them around the house, out to the big box store, and for a three mile walk, and they were comfortable enough that I didn’t even think about what I was wearing.
As usual, I have several projects underway. The Keen Utility Omaha shoes kept me comfortable while installing kitchen cabinets, installing trim and baseboard, painting, doing a bit of framing, and doing some yard work, including cutting down some small (6” trunk) trees. The steel toe inserts never got put to the test while I wore the shoes, but that’s the norm; the protection is there for the random “Oh, $#!+” moments that inevitably happen when you least expect them.
Since none of those moments struck, I decided to devise my own scientific test for the steel toe inserts. I have a large stack of unsplit cherry firewood. Some of these pieces of firewood are pretty stinking heavy, so I selected one to be the test projectile, and dropped it – in a scientific fashion, naturally – on one of the Keen Omaha shoes. I removed my foot from the shoe first, just to make sure I could get a direct hit. The shoe emerged unscathed, and upon returning to my foot, felt no different than before its encounter with its attacker.
Final Musings On The Keen Omaha
As I mentioned, I have two pair of Keen Utility work boots, which I love. Both pair are the same size, 11.5. I ordered the Keen Omaha shoes in that size, and when they arrived, the fit was a bit snug. The Keen rep said the shoes were made with a different last (a mold used in making the shoes) than the boots. She seemed puzzled that this would make a difference, because their quality control is pretty tight. I swapped them for a pair of size 12 shoes, and the problem was solved. If you’re not able to try the shoes on in person, you may want to order a half-size up, although this may only be an issue with the size 11.5 version, or maybe my feet are still growing…
If you want a pair of comfortable, quality protective shoes, and don’t need the protection of a pair of boots, I recommend the Keen Omaha. They’re well-made, comfortable, and offer a great degree of protection, while keeping your dogs a bit cooler during the sweltering summer months. Keen Omaha work shoes are available from various retailers, and directly from Keen. They are sold in half sizes from 8 – 12, and full sizes through size 15, for those of you with really LARGE hot feet.
Buy from Keen Utility for around $130 a pair: