Boots are an essential part of your camping kit, whether for the campsite or the hills. Gill Hook puts her best foot forward to test the latest from Keen.
A couple of years ago I spent a small fortune on new walking boots only to find they rub my heels, cramp my instep and make my feet ache after five miles on level ground.I missed my old boots, which had been like slippers. But now, I may have found a replacement in Keen’s Targhee mid-cuts, which were comfortable from the minute I slipped them on.
And it wasn’t a fluke: hubby was trying out the American firm’s Oregon walking boot and was equally impressed with their comfort factor straight out of the box.
How they look
Both pairs of boots look good too: the uppers are a mix of leather and fabric and are lined with the firm’s own brand of breathable waterproof membrane.There are contrasting laces; a reflective ‘ribbon’ threaded around the boot that is part decoration and part functional; and at the front is Keen’s trademark ‘bumper’ protective toe box.
The carbon rubber soles are stiff but with a bit of ‘give’ for comfortable walking, and underneath the 4mm multi-directional grooves give good grip. However, the laces on the Targhees are rather thin and the hooks for them at the top of the boot are small and feel flimsy, making me reluctant to tighten the laces in case either snapped.
Hubby’s concern was with the ‘ribbon’: it crosses the back of the heel and could snag on a rock or branch – and if breaks, you’re in trouble because it helps to hold the laces in place.
Time to test
We tested them initially with a light stroll around the wooded grounds of Haigh Hall near Wigan and all went well – no blisters, no leaks and no aching feet. But one walk does not a boot make, so we decided to try them around Grasmere in the Lake District where there is a better mix of terrain.
Alas, halfway around the lake, hubby discovered that one of his “seriously high tech three-season” Oregon boots leaked! This was only their second wear and the weather was damp but not monsoon.
The leak wasn’t major, but having wet feet – whether on the hills or in the campsite – is just not a good thing.
Although the comfort and styling made us initially keen on Keen, the leak has made us cautious so we’ll save them for walking in better weather.
Keen Oregon (rrp £129.99) and Targhee mid-cuts (rrp £99.99 – also available as a low cut model for £89.99).
See www.keeneurope.eu for details.
- Gillian Hook is a freelance journalist. For more information see www.gillianhook.co.uk