When buying hiking boots, you want a high-quality product from a brand that will give you the comfort, efficiency, safety, and maximum support you are looking for.
KEEN and Oboz are major hiking boots brands that guarantee you all of this and many more helpful attributes in their wide selection of hiking boots.
However, it’s not always easy to choose between different brands, which is certainly true when comparing KEEN and Oboz. They’re both high-quality so you may be feeling a bit lost as to which brand to go with if you’re looking for the best hiking boot.
In this article, we explore the similarities and differences between the two brands to help you decide which brand is better and which boots should be the next addition to your hiking gear. Keep reading to find out!
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Founded in 2003 by Rory Fuerst and Martin Keen, KEEN Footwear is a successful American footwear company based in Portland, Oregon.
As an avid sailor, Martin Keen grew weary of stubbing his toes and in 1999 developed the protective rubber toe cap found on most KEEN’s footwear products.
History of the Brand
KEEN official website
In 1999, Martin Keen developed the famous Newport Sandal in Jamestown, Rhode Island. KEEN manufactured its first sandals in 2003 with a black toe cap.
Initially, KEEN sold sailing, water, and other outdoor activities footwear before diving into other varieties, such as safety work shoes, clothing, bags, and cold-weather footwear.
KEEN has had its footwear factory in Portland, Oregon, since 2010, where it manufactures footwear with materials from all over the world.
One of KEEN’s major selling points is its dedication to environmental conservation through recycling.
When the company’s headquarters building required a major update, KEEN creatively renovated so that there was only one dumpster of waste at the end rather than the expected 20+ dumpsters.
KEEN also reacted with love and financial support in 2004 after the devastating Asian Tsunami. They redirected their $1M media advertising budget to help the survivors of the tsunami.
Over the years, KEEN has been proactive in helping out during other natural disasters with monetary contributions and shoe donations. The company estimates that it donated over 25,000 pairs of shoes in 2018 alone.
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Materials and Manufacturing
KEEN uses different materials sourced from all over the world in making its boots, shoes, and sandals. Such materials include leather, mesh linings, rubber outsoles, PFC-free materials, and a waterproof membrane.
The company also uses various technologies in making its footwear, such as KEEN.Bellows Flex, KEEN.DRY, KEEN.Polar Traction, KEEN.Regen, and KEEN.Warm Insulation.
The technology used depends on the style and purpose of the shoes. For example, KEEN.Warm Insulation is used in the making of cold-weather shoes and winter boots, while KEEN.Polar Traction is specifically for ice-walking shoes.
The KEEN.Regen technology ensures your footwear has the best cushioning possible for optimum comfort that re-energizes you with every step you take.
The KEEN.DRY technology ensures your footwear remains dry even when walking on a wet trail. The breathable membrane lets perspiration escape but doesn’t allow water into the shoes.
The KEEN.Bellows Flex technology ensures your shoes are more flexible on the top of the forefoot to reduce the cracking caused by the friction and bending of the shoe around this area.
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Our Favorite Pairs
Here are two of our favorite KEEN hiking boots that we think you might like. They’re definitely worth checking out!
KEEN TARGHEE EXP Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots
Image Source: Keenfootwear.com
The Men’s Targhee EXP is one of KEEN’s best-selling trail shoes. You can choose between various sizes from 7 to 17.
This hiking footwear features KEEN.DRY breathable waterproof membrane, leather mud shield, reinforced eyelets, EVA midsoles, and a breathable mesh upper.
KEEN Targhee II Women’s Hiking Shoe
Image Source: Keenfootwear.com
Check out KEEN Targhee II at Amazon.com (#ad)
KEEN also has the interest of women hikers at heart and has made these shoes one of the top-selling KEEN hiking shoes.
The KEEN Targhee II Women’s hiking shoe is available in various sizes between 5 and 11. It also comes in different colors so you can choose the one that suits you best.
This comfortable hiking boot features the KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane for breathability and dryness, an all-terrain rubber outsole, and an inbuilt EVA footbed to enhance all-day support and comfort.
KEEN Hiking Shoe FAQs
Let’s check out some commonly asked questions about KEEN hiking shoes.
Are KEEN Hiking Shoes True to Size?
KEEN hiking shoes are true to size. They might fit a little snugly at first, but they conform to your feet quite easily after wearing them a few times.
Are KEEN Hiking Shoes Worth the Money?
KEEN hiking shoes are worth the money, given that these waterproof boot styles feature mesh uppers, comfortable insoles, rubber outsoles, rubber toe bumpers, and many other desirable features and technologies.
Where Are KEEN Hiking Shoes Made?
KEEN makes its hiking footwear in Portland, Oregon, and in Mexico or Thailand, using materials imported from various parts of the world. They also collaborate with other factories in Asia and Europe. (source)
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The Oboz name was coined from the words “outside” and “Bozeman”, reflecting the founders’ love for the outdoors in their hometown of Bozeman, Montana.
The company’s location set it up for massive success. The local environment with its mountains provided an excellent place to test their hiking boots.
Moreover, the company’s workforce includes runners, hikers, bikers, anglers, and other outdoors people who are truly dedicated to making footwear they love to wear themselves.
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History of the Brand
Oboz official website
The Oboz footwear company was founded by John Connelly and produced its first hiking shoes in 2008. These were styles such as Gallatin, Hyalite, and Mendenhall.
In March 2018, after a decade of success, Oboz was bought by Kathmandu, a New Zealand-based outdoor products retailer. (You might also like: Kathmandu vs The North Face: A Comparison)
However, the sale didn’t affect the Oboz employees or headquarters. The company remains headquartered at the corner of Wallace Avenue and Olive Street in Bozeman, Montana.
The company makes its hiking footwear in two factories based in Vietnam and distributes them from a California warehouse.
One outstanding aspect of Oboz is its love for the outdoors, which prompted the company to support various forestry initiatives like Trees for the Future.
Oboz strives to make the world a more habitable place by planting a tree for each pair of Oboz shoes sold through their “One More Tree” initiative. They have planted more than four million trees to date, according to the company’s website.
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Materials and Manufacturing
One of Oboz’s celebrated technologies is the O Fit Insole™. Each insole offers maximum foot and ankle support and stability.
Each insole comes with a Deep Heel Cup that offers natural cushioning and provides optimum support to the heel. The insoles also feature a high-density Eva Sculpted arch for neutral foot placement.
Each insole features a forefoot pod and heel pod for shock absorption, extra cushioning, and more support.
Oboz boots feature various production materials, depending on the style. For example, the uppers use open spacer mesh or full-grain leather designed to fit a given shoe design with a fitting construction.
The midsoles are lightweight and provide the highest possible protection and stability, while the outsoles promote the best traction, durability, and grip for various terrains.
According to Oboz, each shoe passes through the hands of 140 dedicated employees to ensure the highest quality and finesse.
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Our Favorite Pairs
With Oboz boots, you have the liberty to choose between various designs, sizes, and colors depending on your needs and preferences. These are two of our personal favorites.
Oboz Men’s Firebrand II Low Waterproof Shoe
Image Source: Obozfootwear.com
The Oboz Men’s Firebrand II Low Waterproof shoes are among the most popular Oboz designs for good reasons. The shoes feature Oboz’s B-DRY waterproofing and a leather upper.
The upper also features an abrasion-resistant mesh and a molded rubber toe cap to protect the toes.
Oboz Women’s Sapphire Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The Oboz Women’s Sapphire Mid B-DRY hiking boots are ideal for women looking to explore various nature trails in comfortable, waterproof hiking boots.
The boots feature a water-resistant nubuck leather upper for durability and optimal foot protection.
Check out Oboz Sapphire Mid Boot at Amazon.com (#ad)
Oboz Hiking Shoe FAQs
Here are some commonly asked questions about Oboz hiking shoes.
Do Oboz Hiking Shoes Fit True To Size?
Oboz acknowledges that their shoes fit true to size and advises customers to visit their local Oboz dealer to ensure they get the best fit.
Most customers agree that although Oboz hiking shoes are stiff at first, they easily accommodate the feet and adjust accordingly after a short while. However, they retain their specific size.
Are Oboz Hiking Shoes Worth the Money?
Given their characteristic B-DRY waterproofing and O Fit Insole technology, we think that each Oboz hiking shoe is worth every penny you spend on it. The shoes last a long time, even over rough terrains.
Where Are Oboz Hiking Shoes Made?
Oboz currently makes its shoes in two factories based in Vietnam. They are then distributed from a California warehouse, while the Bozeman, MT, headquarters take care of office-related business aspects.
3. Which Brand is Better?
So, which is better in the battle of KEEN vs Oboz hiking boots? It’s never easy to decide between two high-quality brands. Both KEEN and Oboz produce high-quality hiking boots and each brand assures you of great value for your money.
On the one hand, if you’re looking for the best hiking shoe, you might want to go with KEEN because its shoes are more flexible and take a shorter time to break in and adjust fully to your feet.
KEEN also makes shoes for children, women, and men, meaning you have more options to choose from, especially if you like to go hiking as a family.
On the other hand, Oboz might be your choice, given that their shoes are more rigid, meaning they last a long time, even on rocky terrain.
Oboz typically makes footwear for men and women and is more specialized in that they only make outdoor shoes. You can trust that Oboz has perfected the art and science of making various outdoor footwear options, whether you’re looking for a winter hiking boot or a more breathable trail shoe.
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