The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Keen Durand Polar - Women's Review

This warm winter hiking boot will have you tackling snowy trails all winter long.
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Price:  $200 List | $116.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Fantastic traction, waterproof, stable, snowshoe compatible, American-assembled
Cons:  Technical look, fits narrow or less voluminous foot best
Manufacturer:   Keen Footwear
By Amber King and Laurel Hunter  ⋅  Nov 5, 2018
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Warmth - 20% 9
  • Weather Protection - 20% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 6

The Skinny

Ready to tackle steep slippery trails this winter? The Keen Durand Polar is an high-performing, women's winter boot appropriate for hiking. Its 400-grams of insulation keeps your feet warm well into the double negative digits (manufacturer claimed -40 degrees), and 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, with so many hooks. This boot has a rugged outsole and did well in our traction tests. While the Durand Polar did well in many metrics, it's not surprising that this mostly technical winter boot fell short in the area of style. Take it with you on any winter hike or snowshoeing adventure, but leave it at home if you plan on meeting your friends at a nice place in town.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Keen Durand Polar is a mighty warm winter hiking boot. It excels in all the critical performance metrics, providing excellent protection and warmth all winter long. It performs well on technical snowy surfaces and held traction everywhere we wore it. Take it with you while you snowshoe or hike your local trails.

While it boasts good arch support and stability, we found that it fits a narrow and low-volume foot best. We recommend sizing up a half size to give enough wiggle room for the toes. Testers with a medium width foot felt there wasn't enough wiggle room to keep the toes warm.

Performance Comparison


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.

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 well in our warmth tests.


In our ice bath temperature test the Durand Polar lost 16.3 degrees throughout 20 minutes, making it one of the warmest boots tested. When we wore the boot into sub-zero water, it provided excellent insulation, not allowing heat to percolate from the shaft or the sole. Even with a wet sock on, we felt our feet getting warm in this boot as opposed to staying cold. Overall, it earns top marks for its excellent temperature performance during our severe weather tests.

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!

The Oboz Bridger Insulated, our Editor's choice, also offers excellent warmth. It is a little shorter in the shaft but is lined with Thinsulate and topped with a wool pile cuff that holds in heat. The roomier toe box allows for the toes to move and air to circulate, keeping our tester's toes warm on frigid days. With less insulation, only 200 grams, the Oboz lost less heat during our ice bath tests. This led us to conclude that all insulation is not created equal. That said, the Keen is taller and warms more of your leg.

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 super warm thanks to its bomber 9-mm thick removable liner and thicker leather sole underfoot. While this boot isn't as breathable or 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.

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

Weather Protection


Another reason we like the Keen Durand is its performance in the sloppy stuff! As one of the most protective winter hiking boots tested, it earns a high score 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. The synthetic material doesn't saturate, even after three hours of winter hiking over hard-packed trails and deep wet snow. It's also 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.

If you seek a boot with the best weather protection, consider a Sorel model. 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! This contender is bulky though, while the Sorel Tofino II is much lighter and provides exceptional water resistance.

Overall, the Keen Durand provides excellent 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.

Make sure to treat the leather yearly to ensure the longevity of the material and to renew its waterproof qualities.

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

Comfort & Fit


This boot is comfortable enough for any outdoor enthusiast will 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.

However, where it falls short is the fit. The forefoot is the least voluminous of all the hikers we tested, and it feels narrow from the top of the boot to the footbed. Some of our testers mentioned that the top of the boot presses down onto the top of the foot near the front laces. Without room to move them, some women suffered from cold toes, even with a thinner hiking sock. Everyone agreed that boot ran small, and we recommend sizing up a half size, even for those with a narrow foot.

The Oboz Bridger, our Editor's Choice, is the best fitting boot we tested, with a sculpted footbed, narrow heel and roomy toe box that allowed for a thicker sock and room to move our toes.


Also, the bulk of the boot made it harder to get a precision fit through the shaft. But the extra time spent lacing is a decent trade-off for the overall protection and warmth of the boot. However, the Oboz felt nearly as warm with less bulk, and we can dial in the fit much more easily. Nonetheless, the lacing system of the Keen provides excellent ankle support on all winter trails. The outsole is also fitted with stability shanks for exceptional comfort on the trail. Overall, the Durand Polar is a comfortable and well-fitted boot that doesn't feel heavy, weighing in at 1 lb and 6 ounces.

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

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

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.

Ease of Use


Like all hiking boots, putting this boot on and taking it off is a little more labor intensive than slip-on boots. While the lacing system tightens the lower section of the laces with one easy pull, there are three lacing eyelets along the shaft of this boot. While this ensures a precise and secure fit, this is not an easy boot to 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 check the mail without lacing up the eyelets. Overall, the ease of use is an inherent trade-off for a great fit.


The Columbia Bugaboot IV is equipped with closed eyelets instead of lace hooks and we found it to be the easiest hiking boot to tighten and loosen. Additionally, it opens up wide at the gusset making for super easy on and off. The North Face Chilkat III also earned a higher score because it has fewer eyelets to lace on the shaft of the 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 snow boats like the Kamik Momentum. 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


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, featuring large multi-directional lugs.

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.

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. No boot in this review had that level of performance, but it is compatible with that will keep you upright YakTrax, even on a skating rink. Overall, this competitor provides great traction among women's winter hiking boots.


Of all the boots we tested, the Columbia Bugaboot IV performed the best in our traction tests. It also did well on the trails, along with the Oboz Bridger and the Durand Polar.

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

Style


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 Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated achieved the best rating in this metric, with cuter colors and a charming wool pile cuff-topper. 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.

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

If you prefer a cute, less technical winter 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. If faux-fur is not your thing, the North Face Shellista II was a hit with its leather upper topped with knit fabric.

Best Applications


This boot is best for winter hiking and wearing around town. We tested it over slush, soft snow, hard packed snow, ice, and more. In all conditions, it provided reasonable traction. During our hikes, it gripped the trail well and provided some of the best traction. Its stability, protection, and warmth make it a perfect snowshoeing option. 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


This boot is one of the most expensive of any boot in this review. Keen manufacturers American-assembled shoes 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 want the least expensive boot tested that offers great protection and traction (but lacks stability for all day hiking), check out the Columbia Ice Maiden II for just $80.

Conclusion


The Keen Durand Polar is an excellent boot 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 Durand Polar is a warmest and comfortable winter boot.
The Durand Polar is a warmest and comfortable winter boot.


Amber King and Laurel Hunter