Hands-on Gear Review

Keen Durand Polar - Women's Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $200 List | $159.96 at Backcountry
Pros:  Precise fit, fantastic traction, waterproof, stable, snowshoe compatible, American-made
Cons:  Technical look, fits narrow or less volumnious foot best
Bottom line:  This Editors' Choice award winner will have you tackling snowy trails all winter long.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Measure Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size nine):  8.5 inches
Measured Weight (ounces, one boot, size nine):  1 lb. 6.65 ounces
Upper Material:  Leather, synthetic, faux fur
Manufacturer:   Keen Footwear

Our Verdict

Ready to tackle steep slippery trails this winter? The Keen Durand Polar is an American-made women's winter hiking boot and our Editors' Choice award winner. It crushed in its stellar performance across all metrics but style. The 400-grams of insulation keeps feet warm well into the double negative digits (manufacturer claimed -40 degrees) while the leather-synthetic outer is completely weather-proof and breathable. This boot features a faux-fur collar in addition to a fleece-lined interior that is cozy and comfortable. It's super easy to slip on but takes a little time to lace up, similar to other winter hiking boots. It fits a narrow and low-volume foot best and provides a secure and stable fit while you tackle technical trails this winter.

Of all winter boots tested, it features the most rugged outsole, doing the best in our snow-hill running tests. The lugs are massive and super grippy, though they will not keep you upright if you encounter trails inlaid with 100% ice. That said, no boot in this entire review was able to perform to that level. While this boot does incredibly well in all metrics, it's not surprising that this largely technical winter boot fell short in the area of style. Take it with you on any winter hike, but leave it at home if you plan on meeting your friends at a nice place in town.

This is our favorite winter hiking boot, earning an Editors' Choice award. It provides the most warmth and best traction of any hiker tested and offers great comfort features. Take it with you on your next snowshoeing or winter adventure.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Winter Boots of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Wednesday
February 14, 2018

Share:
This Editors' Choice winner is our favorite women's winter hiking boot. It excels in all the critical performance metrics, providing excellent protection and warmth all winter long. Fitting a narrow and low-volume foot best, it also boasts incredible arch support and stability, performing well on technical snowy surfaces. Take it with you while you snowshoe or hike your local trails.

Performance Comparison


The Durand Polar is the warmest winter hiker and our Editors Choice winner.
The Durand Polar is the warmest winter hiker and our Editors Choice winner.

Warmth


Stacked with 400-grams of KEEN warm insulation, this hiking boot is one of the warmest tested. The thick outsole insulates from the cold, while the outer is impenetrable to water and snow. The boot breathes well, which keeps feet warm when hiking through the woods to gather firewood. While we can't verify the -40 degree temperature rating as we weren't exposed to these temperatures in our testing, this boot did the best in our warmth tests.

When plunging the boot into sub-zero water, it provided the best insulation of all hiking boots tested, not allowing heat to percolate from the shaft or the sole. In fact, even with a wet sock on, we felt our feet getting warm in this boot as opposed to staying cold. Overall, it earns a nine out of ten for its great temperature performance during our cold weather tests.



Of the hiking boots tested, this is by far the warmest. While The North Face Chilkat III provides excellent field-tested warmth, it only hosts 200-grams of Heatseeker insulation, which is half the amount found in the Keens. The outer material is a waterproof suede that doesn't insulate as well as the Keen's leather-synthetic outer.

Though, the heel of The North Face Chilkat III features thicker rubber, insulating better underfoot. In comparison to both winter hikers, the Columbia Bugaboot III isn't as warm as it has less insulation (200-grams) than the Keen, a thinner sole, and a more breathable outer. If you want the warmest hiker out there, the Keen is where it's at!

Rated to -40 degrees  the Durand Polar is one of the coldest weather tested boots we had the pleasure of wearing. It is warm and comfortable for all-day wear!
Rated to -40 degrees, the Durand Polar is one of the coldest weather tested boots we had the pleasure of wearing. It is warm and comfortable for all-day wear!

That said, if you're not sold on a winter hiking boot, take a gander at the Sorel Caribous, our Top Pick for Winter Chores. This boot is the warmest of all tested in this review because of its bomber 9-mm thick removable liner and thicker leather sole underfoot. While this boot isn't as breathable nor as fitted as the Keen, it is warmer and better suited for those looking for a model to stand around in double negative temperatures all day long.

Weather Protection


Another reason the Keen Durand won our Editors' Choice award is thanks to f its performance in the sloppy stuff! As one of the most protective winter hiking boots tested, it earns an eight out of ten for weather protection. The 8.5-inch shaft doesn't protect against the tallest of snow banks, but the faux-fur collar does a great job keeping out blowing snow.

The leather-synthetic outer that wraps around the ankle of the foot is entirely water and snowproof. As an added extra, the synthetic material doesn't saturate, even after three hours of winter hiking over hard-packed trails and deep wet snow. The synthetic paneling is relatively breathable, providing great venting throughout the boot. During our puddle tests, this boot protected up about six inches, roughly where the tongue of the boot meets the body of the boot. Overall, this is one of the most protective hiking boots tested and an excellent option for super cold and nasty weather.


Similar to The North Face Chilkat III, this boot offers ideal weather protection. Both have a similar shaft height that protects from snowy conditions. The Keen Durand Polar more faux-fur fleece lining the top of the boot in comparison to the Chilkat III, thus protecting from water and snow at the top of the boot more readily. However, The North Face Chilkat III offers better water depth protection, proving to have a puddle depth of 7 inches (compared to 6.5). This is because the tongue is attached at a higher point on the boot (this point is the area of water leakage in our puddle tests). The Columbia Bugaboot III did not perform well in this metric as it saturated quickly where the outsole met the shaft material during our water tests. As a result of these similarities and slight differences, both The North Face Chilkat III and Keen Durand score an eight out of ten.

The Keen provides great weather protection against both water and snow.
The Keen provides great weather protection against both water and snow.

If you seek a boot with the best weather protection, consider a Sorel model. The Sorel Caribou offers stellar weather protection that earns a solid ten out of ten. The Sorel Joan of Arctic is our Our Top Pick for Severe Weather because it offers the highest shaft height of any boot tested and does a great job keeping out water and snow. It also has the deepest puddle depth tested! Both of these contenders are bulky, while the Sorel Tofino II is much lighter and provides exceptional water resistance.

Make sure to treat the leather yearly to ensure the longevity of the leather.

Overall, the Keen Durand provides ample weather protection if you plan on hiking on your favorite trails throughout the winter. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and enjoy bluebird winter days on the trails.

Snowshoe compatible  this boot protects well while snowshoeing  hiking  and more.
Snowshoe compatible, this boot protects well while snowshoeing, hiking, and more.

Comfort & Fit


Scoring a seven out of ten in this metric, this boot offers great comfort features that any outdoor enthusiast would enjoy. The faux-fur collar adds a little extra coziness around the calf while the fleece lined interior is soft to the touch. The shaft of the boot is flexible and supportive, making it a great hiker on the trail. The bed of the foot is firm, offering a little arch support.

That said, where it falls short is the forefoot. That area of the foot isn't as voluminous from the footbed to the top of the boot. Some of our testers mentioned that the top of the boot presses down onto the top of the foot where the front laces are located. We found this was easily countered by re-lacing the top of the laces to allow more space; but for some testers, it didn't work.


We recommend sizing up a half size to accommodate thicker hiking socks. The foot footbed is wide, allowing a little toe splay. When hiking, the heel does not slip and stays in place. The lacing system laces all the way through the ankle, providing excellent ankle support (with two additional eyelets) on all winter trails. The outsole is also fitted with stability shanks for exceptional comfort and fit on the trail. Overall, the Durand Polar is a comfortable and well-fitted boot that doesn't feel heavy (weighs 1 lb and 6 ounces).

The faux-fur collar is super cozy and comfortable.
The faux-fur collar is super cozy and comfortable.

Of all the hiking boots tested, this provides the best fit for those with a narrow or less voluminous foot. Similar to The North Face Chilkat III and Columbia Bugaboot Plus III, the forefoot is wider. That said, the Chilkat III offers more room from top to bottom than the Keen Durand, but not as much as the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III. In fact, our testers thought the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III provided the most versatile and precise fit of all hiking boots tested. This is because of its wider and more voluminous foot box and exceptional heel cup that didn't slip during our tests. The North Face Chilkat III also has the thickest shaft material, making it one of the most supportive boots tested. That said, both the Columbia Bugaboot and Keen Durand have better lacing options than the North Face.

This boot is great for all-day wear.
This boot is great for all-day wear.

When looking at the height and interior of the shaft, the Columbia Bugaboot III provides the tallest shaft height of both boots and a cozy fleece liner around the ankle of the boot. The rest of the boot is outfitted with Omni-Heat reflective insulation which makes slipping the boot on and off easy. The North Face Chilkat III features a plush, inner liner that extends all the way down to the footbed, while the Keen Durand has a faux-fur collar with fleece that extends down only half the shaft of the boot. Overall, the Columbia Bugaboot III offers the best fit, stability, and comfort features of all models tested. It's also the lightest hiking boot tested (1 lb 4.80 ounces). That said, it doesn't have the same arch support or a faux-fur collar like that found in the Keen Durand.

If you prefer a winter boot that isn't a hiker, be sure to check out shorter shaft models like the Keen Elsa, weighing in at just 1 lb and 2 ounces per boot. This boot is super lightweight and was a go-to for everyday wear. The Ugg Cecile is also a great option.

Overall, the Keen Durand Polar is a great winter hiking boot that offers a faux-fur collar, decent arch support, and a precise fit. If you have a narrow, low volume foot, this is a great winter hiking option!

Ease of Use


Like all hiking boots, putting each boot on and taking it off is a little more labor intensive then slip-on boots. While the lacing system tightens the lower section of the laces with one easy pull, there are three lacing eyelets throughout the shaft of this boot. While this ensures a precise and secure fit, this is not an easy boot to simply kick off at the end of the day. You can however quickly slip it on (without using your hands) if you need to quickly step out and take out the garbage without lacing up the eyelets. Overall, the ease of use is an inherent trade-off for a great fit.


The Columbia Bugaboot III scored a similar score in this metric because it has a similar lacing system throughout the shaft of the boot. That said, The North Face Chilkat III earned a higher score (seven out of ten) because it has fewer eyelets to lace on the shaft of the boot. The top of the boot offers a little more room that makes slipping it on and off easier than that of the of Keen Durand Polar winter boot.

This boot requires a little to lace up and down.
This boot requires a little to lace up and down.

None of these hikers compare to the ease of use offered by the Kamik Momentum, our Best Buy award winner. This traditional winter boot does not even have laces and uses a simple one pull-elastic system. That said, the fit isn't as precise, and the shaft of the boot is far less stable.

Traction


Featuring huge multi-directional lugs, we were thoroughly impressed with this boots ability to grab slippery surfaces. While taking it winter hiking, we rarely slipped when the soft snow turned into hard-packed snow, with a little bit of ice. The outsole is made of a rubber composite that sticks well to slippery rocks and roots. While Keen calls the sole "ice-gripping" this is a bit of an exaggeration. While it does well on surfaces with hard packed snow and a little bit of ice, it does not keep you upright when the sidewalks are 100% icy and slippery. In fact, no boot in this review had that level of performance, but it is compatible with YakTrax that will keep you upright, even on a skating rink. Overall, this competitor provides the best traction among women's winter hiking boots.


Of all the hiking boots, this outsole offers the best traction and is our number one go-to for winter hiking. It also works well with a pair of snowshoes, making it versatile and ready for adventures. The Columbia Bugaboot III also has an incredible outsole, but the lugs aren't as deep or varied, so it didn't do as well in our snow slope tests, though we preferred it for flat surfaces as the ride was a little smoother (lugs are smaller).

The North Face Chilkat III had the worst traction of all hiking boots, but did better than most boots in this review (simply because the temperature-sensitive lugs are relatively tiny and offer the least amount of surface area of them all). Overall, all models provide excellent traction, but the Keen Durand Polar is the best for winter hiking - another reason it's our Editors' Choice winner for women's winter hiking boots.

This outsole is super burly that bites into steep winter trails with a mix of ice and snow.
This outsole is super burly that bites into steep winter trails with a mix of ice and snow.

If you want great traction in a boot that's not a hiker, be sure to check out the Sorel Caribou and Kamik Momentum. The Sorel Caribou features round-tipped lugs that do well over soft snow, while the Kamik Momentum feature the beefiest lugs of all — similar to the Keen Durand Polar.

A look at the traction pattern from afar.
A look at the traction pattern from afar.

Style


Earning a five out of ten in this category, it's not surprising that this technical winter hiking boot did not earn top points for style. While it does feature more feminine colors and a two-toned faux fur collar (that some loved and others hated), this boot is not a great option for wearing out to dinner or around town. That said, it fits easily under a pair of hiking pants or over the top of a pair of tights.


In comparison to other hiking boots in this review, the Columbia Bugaboot III proved to achieve the best rating in this metric. It features a sleeker look that looks a little more feminine than both the Keen Durand and The North Face Chilkat III. All of our testers agreed that The North Face Chilkat III is simply down-right ugly with its bulky look and less than flattering design. That said, it does look a little better on then on the shelf. To sum it up, the Keen Durand has some cute, stylish features, but there is a clear division in our testers of who liked it and who didn't. That said, you can decide for yourself!

A look at the techy style of this winter hiking boot.
A look at the techy style of this winter hiking boot.

If you want a boot that is cute and stylish, be sure to check out our Top Pick for Style, the Ugg Cecile. This is a full-leather boot that is low cut. It's our favorite for wear around town and to work. We also liked to wear it out for casual dinner with friends.

If you prefer a cute Pac boot, don't forget about the Sorel Tofino II, the cutest pair of Sorels tested. It has a faux-fur collar and super cute color contrasts and design features that had our testers swooning.

Best Applications


Winter hiking and wear around town is this boots best application. We tested it over slush, soft snow, hard packed snow, ice, and more. In all conditions, it proved to stick. During our hill run tests, it gripped the trail the best providing some of the best traction tested. Its great fit and stability make it a snowshoeing option while its uber amounts of warmth and weather protection elements will keep you warm when it gets nasty outside. Wear it throughout the winter and get out into the backcountry!

Take a hike through the woods this winter with the super warm Keen Durand Polar boot.
Take a hike through the woods this winter with the super warm Keen Durand Polar boot.

Value


Synonymous with many of our Editors' Choice winners, this boot is the most expensive of any boot in this review. Keen manufacturers American-made products that are not put together in any other country which effectively increases the price of the boot. That said, quality is top notch. During our testing period, we noticed no durability issues. The $200 might seem steep, but this boot will last you for many winters to come. If you prefer a lower priced boot, be sure to check out the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III for just $130 (also a winter hiker). If you want the least expensive boot tested that offers great warmth and traction (but lacks stability), check out the Kamik Momentum for just $90.

Conclusion


This Editors' Choice winner if our favorite for winter hiking. It boasts cute comfort features, 400-grams of warmth, and lots of weather protection. Couple it with a pair of snowshoes to tackle deep trails or wear it on its own when the trails are packed down. Its wonderful traction and stability will have you hiking all winter!

The Keen Durand Polar is our Editors Choice for its great balance of warmth and traction for winter hiking.
The Keen Durand Polar is our Editors Choice for its great balance of warmth and traction for winter hiking.
Amber King

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 14, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...