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Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof - Women's Review

A durable shoe with lots of great qualities that will work best for women with wider feet
Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof - Women's
Photo: Keen
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Price:  $160 List | Check Price at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, waterproof
Cons:  Takes some breaking in, hard to get a comfortable fit, absorb water
Manufacturer:   Keen Footwear
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 23, 2021
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Support - 20% 6
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof shoe features rubber bellows on top of the toes, which are intended to make an easier flex when hiking. This feature took a few hikes to break in. The model is waterproof and our socks stayed dry, though it absorbed a significant amount of water into the upper in our tests. Overall, we found it to be a capable hiking shoe that is durable but on the heavy side. While it performed well in our hiking tests, it is best for women who have a wide forefoot or who like a lot of room in the toebox. As hiking shoes evolve to be more nimble and faster and lighter, the Ridge Flex moves in an opposite direction. Not a bad thing necessarily, but a more niche appeal.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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70
Star Rating
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Pros Durable, waterproofSuperb traction, supportive, waterproof, comfortFeels fast, lightweight, waterproof, great tractionComfortable, stable, great traction, durableComfortable, waterproof, excellent traction
Cons Takes some breaking in, hard to get a comfortable fit, absorb waterMay be less durable, expensiveAverage durability, not as protective underfootUpper absorbs water (but doesn't leak), a little heavyNeeds breaking in, runs short
Bottom Line A durable shoe with lots of great qualities that will work best for women with wider feetA high-tech hiking shoe that delivers in every category, outperforming the best shoes we've ever testedThis high-performing shoe is impressively lightweight and suited for hard-charging missions across versatile terrainThis beefy shoe features rugged durability and excels at day hikes, longer adventures, and tricky terrainGood at most things and great at some, this solid hiker meets most needs at a surprisingly low price
Rating Categories Keen Ridge Flex Wat... La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Oboz Sawtooth II Lo... Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Support (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
6.0
8.0
4.0
5.0
Water Resistance (15%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Keen Ridge Flex Wat... La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Oboz Sawtooth II Lo... Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Weight per Pair (Size 7) 1.73 lbs 1.61 lbs 1.37 lbs 1.83 lbs 1.69 lbs
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular, Wide
Upper Leather/mesh Abrasion-resistant mesh Synthetic/textile Leather/textile Suede leather, mesh
Midsole EVA EVA EVA Dual density EVA EVA
Lining KEEN.DRY Gore-Tex Surround Gore-Tex B-Dry Mesh
Outsole KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN Vibram XS Trek Contagrip Sawtooth Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ridge Flex Waterproof is a well-padded, leather hiking shoe that features a waterproof lining and unique rubber bellows across the top of the toes.

Performance Comparison


A solid day hiking option for women with a wider forefoot.
A solid day hiking option for women with a wider forefoot.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Comfort


Keen is known for making shoes that have a wide toe box, so if you have a wide forefoot or just prefer more room, you will likely find the Keen Ridge Flex to be plenty spacious. Those with a narrow foot may have a difficult time getting a good fit, however.

While this model is padded all around the collar and has a soft tongue, we found that the top eyelets are fairly 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 are 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, as well as be 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.

The rubber bellows are designed to make bending the toe easier. They...
The rubber bellows are designed to make bending the toe easier. They took a few hikes to break in.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

As is common with full leather, waterproof boots, we did find this model to be fairly warm, which may not be appropriate if you hike primarily in hot weather. There are non-waterproof options, as well as 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 a great option for day hikes on cooler days.

A highly padded collar was comfy but the placement of the highest...
A highly padded collar was comfy but the placement of the highest eyelet made lacing somewhat finicky.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Support


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 the shoe is hard to adjust to every foot. Additionally, the sole is solid and wide, but not as supportive as other models in our test.

Different footbeds offer different amounts of support and cushion.
Different footbeds offer different amounts of support and cushion.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Traction


We found the Keen.All-Terrain rubber on the sole to be quite sticky on most trails. Typical of softer rubber, this material did not perform as well on ice or in the cold. The lugs are adequately deep and varied for shedding mud.

The proprietary rubber sole offers solid traction in most conditions.
The proprietary rubber sole offers solid traction in most conditions.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Weight


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 quite protective but come with a weight penalty. The leather also absorbs water, making the shoes even heavier if you are hiking in the rain.

Water Resistance


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 design of the shoe, 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.

The padded collar prevented water from coming in over the top of the...
The padded collar prevented water from coming in over the top of the shoe, but the leather did absorb significant water.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Durability


If this pair is anything, it is rugged. We do 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, and 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.

Rubber and leather are heavy but they make for a durable shoe that...
Rubber and leather are heavy but they make for a durable shoe that should last.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Value


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.

Sticky rubber when you need it.
Sticky rubber when you need it.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Conclusion


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 are offering a solution to a real problem, but they certainly have a unique look, and the shoes are likely to last you a long time.

Laurel Hunter

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