Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Durable, waterproof
Cons: Takes some breaking in, hard to get a comfortable fit, absorb water
Manufacturer: Keen Footwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ridge Flex Waterproof is a well-padded, leather hiking shoe with a waterproof lining and unique rubber bellows across the top of the toes.
Keen is known for making shoes with a wide toe box, so if you have a wide forefoot or prefer more room, you will likely find the Keen Ridge Flex to be plenty spacious. However, those with narrow feet may have difficulty getting a good fit.
While this model is padded around the collar and has a soft tongue, we found that the top eyelets are pretty far back on the shoe, putting the laces close to the ankle. This makes it challenging to find comfort across the top of the foot while having a snug fit. A unique feature of these shoes is the rubber bellows that cover the area above the toes (dubbed the Keen.Bellows Flex technology). These are intended to make the bend in the toe easier, conserving energy and being more durable. Initially, these flexed rather sharply into the tops of toes for several hikes before finally softening up. Both of these issues were especially noticeable on steep uphill hikes.
As is typical with full leather, waterproof boots, we did find this model to be pretty warm, which may not be appropriate if you hike primarily in hot weather. There are non-waterproof options, lighter-weight fabrics, and more advanced technology, which may allow for a higher degree of breathability.
The Ridge Flex is finicky to adjust and takes a few hikes to break in, but with moderate cushioning underfoot, it is an excellent option for day hikes on cooler days.
We found the Ridge Flex to be reasonably supportive. It features a removable PU insole and a structured footbed, but the shoe can feel quite sloppy, partially because it is hard to adjust to every foot. Additionally, the sole is solid and wide, but not as supportive as other hiking shoes in our tests.
We found the Keen.All-Terrain rubber on the sole is quite sticky on most trails. Typical of softer rubber, this material did not perform well on ice or in the cold. The lugs are adequately deep and varied for shedding mud.
At 1.73 pounds per pair for a size 7, this is nearly the heaviest shoe in our test. Leather is heavy, as is the significant rubber on the toe cap. These materials are pretty protective but come with a weight penalty. The leather also absorbs water, making the shoes even heavier if hiking in the rain.
The Ridge Flex Waterproof hiking shoe gets its waterproofness from the Keen.Dry waterproof breathable membrane, which is very effective at preventing leaks. Additionally, the shoe's design, with thick padding around the opening, prevents water from splashing in. However, the pair absorbed 2.7 ounces of moisture in our bucket test. They also did not dry out very quickly. While this didn't impact the inside of the shoe, it does mean that if you hike in damp weather, you will be carrying extra weight around on your feet.
If this pair is anything, it is rugged. We have some potential concern about the longevity of the rubber bellows on the top of the shoe, being a newer design development that hasn't been on the market very long. While we didn't see any issues during our test, Keen claims to have tested them to 1 million flexes, rubber can be more prone to snagging and breaking down than leather. That said, time will tell how well these hold up as the miles go by. Overall, however, the Ridge Flex is double-stitched and burly, and we anticipate them to be quite durable over the long haul.
Should You Buy the Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof?
If you're looking for a pair of hiking shoes that are waterproof and offer a wide-toe box, the Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof is an excellent choice. We don't know that the bellows in the toe area provide a solution for a real problem, but they certainly have a unique look, and the shoes are likely to last you a long time. Falling in the middle of the price range of shoes we tested and considering their overall successful performance, we would say this shoe is a decent value for hikers who value durability.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
The Ridge Flex didn't score that well compared to the competition. Our budget-friendly choice is the Merrell Moab 2 WP - Women's, and it has a higher overall score and better performance Comfort, support, traction, and water resistance. Given that it is significantly cheaper, we think most hikers will enjoy the shoe and the savings. IF you want the best of the best or price is less of a concern, the La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's is one of the highest-ranking shoes in the review, with excellent traction and comfort to keep you comfy and upright while hiking.
— Laurel Hunter
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