Keen Summit County Review
Cons: Wide fit, not the easiest lacing system
Our Analysis and Test Results
Updated in 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 placed insulation, with more in the toe box, and less in the upper boot. This newer model does have a noticeably wider fit than previous models we have reviewed and will be great for those with wider feet. Low to medium volume feet would do well to pass on this boot in favor of a narrower model.
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 we found some boots that used 400 grams of insulation to be a bit warmer. What Keen has done in this iteration of the Summit County was to map the insulation so that key areas receive 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 foil-lined, and which better resists heat loss due to conduction than other models.
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. This works well and keeps water and slush from penetrating into the boots. We also tested this during an ice bath test and by testing in the snow and rain. We rated these boots slightly below the top contenders, as they have a lower flood height or less durable waterproofing finish than top performers.
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 people with low to medium volume feet will be hard pressed to get a snug fit — even with liner socks. On the other hand, people with wider feet have reason to celebrate, as there is a comfortable, warm, and waterproof option for them in this review. Beyond the width, the plush inner is soft and cushioned, and the boots are quite comfortable.
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 and lace-up than many of the other lace-up competitors we tested it against, though it is not nearly as easy to get and out of as the slip-on models. We had mixed feelings about the lacing system, as we found it difficult to tighten up the laces around the midfoot.
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 so large that it gets filled in by snow or mud.
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 winner, this boot is still a decent value, particularly for those who fit their wide mold.
If you are 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.
— Ryan Huetter