Hands-on Gear Review

Keen Summit County Review

Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Well insulated, high top ankle support, good traction
Cons:  Wide fit, not the easiest lacing system
Bottom line:  The Summit County is a winter hiking boot that will appeal most to those with wide feet.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Weight (Per Pair, size 11):  3 lbs 6.3 oz
Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft):  9.5 in
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking:  5.5 in
Manufacturer:   Keen

Our Verdict

Keen hiking boots have long been taking home top awards for their high quality and comfort. The Summit County boot is no exception and represents a well thought out model that delivers decent warmth and water resistance. This is a boot that can easily transition between sedentary winter boot needs like snow shoveling, and active winter pursuits like snowshoe hiking. What was difficult for our reviewers to deal with was the wide fit that the Summit County has. It was difficult for most of our reviewers to find a fit that was not sloppy, even with extra socks. Those with wide feet will no doubt find this boot to be the answer to their prayers, but for most, a contender such as The North Face Chilkat 400, Vasque Snowburban II Ultradry, or Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat will fit better for winter hiking uses.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots for Men of 2017


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ryan Huetter

Last Updated:
Thursday
December 21, 2017

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Newly updated for 2017, the Keen Summit County is a new take on the well-regarded Summit County III. Changes include more synthetic material in the upper, a new insulation blend that includes bamboo fibers, and strategically located insulation, with more placed in the toe box, and less in the upper boot. This new model does have a noticeably wider fit than previous models we have reviewed and will be great for those with big feet. Low to medium volume feet would do well to pass on this boot in favor of a narrower model.

Performance Comparison


The Keen.Warm insulation kept our feet warm and toasty during our walk in the fresh snow
The Keen.Warm insulation kept our feet warm and toasty during our walk in the fresh snow

Warmth


Keen is known for using proprietary textiles in its boots, preferring to develop in-house fiber blends instead of using better-known brands like Primaloft to insulate them. In the Summit County, we find a blend of bamboo and polyester fibers called Keen.WARM. This insulation performs as well as other brands, and we did not notice our feet getting overly cold when in the snow or the ice bath, though the 400 grams of insulation found in The North Face Chilkat 400 made it the warmest in our review. What Keen has done in this year's iteration of the Summit County was to map the insulation so that key areas received more. The boot features 300 grams of Keen.WARM, but the toe box area uses 450 grams. Keen has also chosen to include a thermal footbed that is silver lined, and which better resists heat loss due to conduction than other models like the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid.

The Summit County has a big toe bumper like many of the Keen models  which is roomy and is filled with additional insulation
The Summit County has a big toe bumper like many of the Keen models, which is roomy and is filled with additional insulation

Water Resistance


Much like the insulation used, Keen goes in-house for their waterproof lining, saving consumers money by not using name brands like Gore-Tex in favor of a waterproof/breathable membrane called Keen.DRY, which works well, and kept water and slush from getting into the boots. We also tested this during an ice bath test and by testing in the snow and rain. We rated these boots an 8 out of 10, as they have a lower flood height or less durable waterproofing finish than top performers in this metric such as the Sorel Caribou or Bogs Classic Ultra Mid.

The Summit County had great water resistance thanks to its internal lining
The Summit County had great water resistance thanks to its internal lining

Fit and Comfort


Since fit is largely a subjective observation, we tried to get as many people's feet into these boots as possible to reach some consensus on the Summit County's fit. The verdict is that these fit much wider than any other boot in our review. With that in mind, most with low to medium volume feet will be hard pressed to get a snug fit - even with liner socks - if they hope to have well-fitted boots for winter hiking. That said, the plush inner is soft and cushioned, and the boots are comfortable.

The wide toe box and forefoot sure felt clunky  but those with big feet will appreciate it.
The wide toe box and forefoot sure felt clunky, but those with big feet will appreciate it.

Ease of Use


Being able to unlace the Summit County down to the eyelets allows the user to easily slip into the boot, especially since it is so wide. It's an easier boot to put on than the Vasque Snowburban II, or The North Face Chilkat, though it is not nearly as easy to get and out of as the Bogs or Blundstone models. We had mixed feelings about the lacing system, as it was hard to tighten up the laces around the midfoot.

The Summit County boots were relatively easy to use with their traditional lacing system and large opening to slip a foot into.
The Summit County boots were relatively easy to use with their traditional lacing system and large opening to slip a foot into.

Traction


The dual-compound non-marking sole featured on the Summit County was one of the boot's strong suits, keeping us upright on a variety of slippery winter surfaces like snow-covered walkways and muddy trails. The lug pattern is large enough to bite into the terrain you are traveling over but not too large that it gets filled in by snow or mud and you track it indoors with you. This boot tied The North Face Chilkat with a score of 8, though was beat by a slender margin by the Kamik NationPlus.

The traction offered from the Keen sole is adequate  but the low profile lugs aren't as grippy in slippery conditions.
The traction offered from the Keen sole is adequate, but the low profile lugs aren't as grippy in slippery conditions.

Best Applications


This is the best boot in our review with those with wide feet. Sometimes difficult to find, the Summit County will give great warmth and weather protection to those who struggle to find a good fit in other models. Those with lower volume feet will find it harder to make these boots fit well, however, so should look at similar winter hiking models made by other manufacturers.

Value


With a price of $160, the Summit County represents an average price among our analysis of the top winter boots. While nearly twice the price of the Best Bang for Buck winning Kamik NationPlus, this boot is still a decent value, particularly for those who fit its large mold.

Conclusion


If you have found yourself frustrated by the standard offerings in the winter boot aisle at your outdoor store, or are constantly returning boots because they are too narrow, look to the Keen Summit County to fit your winter hiking boot needs while allowing ample room for wider foot shapes.

A leather and synthetic upper protect the outside  while the Keen.DRY membrane keeps water from seeping through and getting in.
A leather and synthetic upper protect the outside, while the Keen.DRY membrane keeps water from seeping through and getting in.
Ryan Huetter

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Most recent review: December 21, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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