At the time of writing this piece, we are in the month of January, the harshest month here in the Northern Hemisphere.
So, hiking and long walks in the outdoors are a distant memory for many, even though for some people winter is not really a problem.
But two months can pass very quickly and to be prepared for the next warmer season, today we’ll talk about hiking shoes and boots.
And not from any brand, but from two very popular and reputable names in the outdoor industry: Keen and Salomon.
The former is American and quite new (2003), while the latter is French and with a long history (1947).
The former started as a footwear brand, while the latter as a saw blades’ shop (yes, incredible, don’t you think?).
So, which did better over the years? And which would be better for your needs now?
We will try to answer these questions below. Let’s begin!
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* Note: The availability of products on this page may change at any time. Please check the materials, features, colors, and sizes on the various shops (linked on this page) before buying, because sometimes our articles may contain errors. The product images you see here are for illustration purposes.
A Short History of the Brand
As we said in the introduction, Keen is an American brand founded in 2003 and currently based in Portland, Oregon.
One of their mottos that you can find in one of their videos and that reads “Consciously Created for a Better Planet”, says it all about this brand – they are focused on creating innovative products with a strong focus on environmental consciousness. We have added the video below.
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Keen started by offering their Newport sandal to the market, which appreciated it very much at the point of identifying the brand with this sandal.
And the market was right because the sandal, originally designed to protect the toes, not only did its job very well but soon became a symbol of outdoor life and travel.
But Keen doesn’t only produce sandals, as we will see more in detail below!
In 2010, they introduced the Utility work boots to guarantee protection for many hard workers.
And next, there are their hiking boots and shoes, much loved and raved about by enthusiasts of various types who push them to the limits on all kinds of terrains and trails in the USA and all over the world.
We have to say that we like very much their simple design and features, and of course, they will be the focus of this article.
Along with shoes, boots, and sandals, Keen also produces hats, bags, socks, and other accessories, always with responsibility and transparency as some of their main values.
Materials and Manufacture
For those who love technicalities among you, let’s move on now to Keen’s materials and manufacturing processes.
Many outdoor brands use Gore-Tex. We have talked about how it works here, take a look at that article if you are curious.
Keen uses their own fabric technology, KEEN.DRY!
The brand is from Portland, a place with a long rainy season. So, they know a thing or two about waterproof shoes.
The KEEN.DRY technology is very similar to Gore-Tex and other similar alternatives and consists of a membrane with a large number of microscopic holes that let water vapor out without letting water in.
This way you get waterproof shoes that are also breathable.
Of course, they are not 100% breathable, you have sandals for that. And they are not 100% waterproof where you stay all day immersed in water, you have rubber boots for that.
But in most cases, when hiking, you don’t stay immersed in the water this long, do you?
Suggestion: to improve waterproofness, choose the height of your shoe carefully, and use boots that have been treated with water repellent products, for example, DWR sprays.
Other Keen’s materials are hydrophobic mesh linings, leather, rubber outsoles, EVA insoles, PFC-free water repellent materials, and Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control.
Some frequently asked questions about Keen:
Is Keen a good brand?
Innovative features, good materials, a manufacturing process that strives to leave a lighter footprint on the environment, and designs that we love because they are a combination of modern and classic style.
Yes, we think Keen is a good brand to seriously consider trying if you haven’t already.
Where are Keen shoes and boots made?
Keen’s “American Built” collection is made in Portland, Oregon, USA, with materials that come from around the world. They also have factories in Thailand and Mexico, and from what we understand, in other countries too. (source)
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Let’s take a look at some of Keen’s best-sellers.
KEEN Men’s Targhee III Mid Height Hiking Boot
The Keen Targhee III is a popular boot for men with all-terrain features. It’s an upgrade of Keen’s iconic award-winning Targhee boot.
We particularly like the design, while the KEEN.DRY waterproof and breathable membrane, the leather and mesh upper, the rubber outsole for good grip, and the EVA midsole are some of the main features that get the job done.
What’s the difference between Keen Targhee II and III?
The Targhee III has a slightly sleeker outsole and the fit is more casual, meaning that it feels more like a sneaker and you will be able to feel the trail.
The Targhee II has a more traditional fit and a heel that is slightly elevated. (source)
KEEN Women’s Explore Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
For women, we have picked the Explore Waterproof Boot, which is very beautiful with a sneaker style, and lightweight.
Some of the main features include the KEEN.All-Terrain outsole, EVA midsole, mesh lining for breathability, speed hooks, and the KEEN.Dry membrane.
Keen’s hiking footwear’s prices range from around $100 up to $200, with an average price of $130 – $150.
Compared to other brands’ prices that we have seen so far, Keen is more or less in line with the other big names in the outdoor niche.
Are Keen’s hiking shoes and boots worth the price?
Keen offers quality materials, performance, and innovation both in features and design. Also, their shoes go on sale often. Their footwear is definitely worth the price if you ask us.
A Short History of the Brand
Salomon is older than Keen, it has been founded in 1947 in Annecy, France.
The brand started out as a small shop specializing in saw blades. This specialization in metalworking and the proximity to the French Alps created the perfect combination for the brand to enter the skiing industry.
Why so? What’s common between skiing and metalworking?
Well, they were able to make skis, for example. And not only were they good at making metal edges for skis, but they also brought some innovation to the industry.
For example, they invented a new ski binding type that was different from the traditional leather binding straps of the time.
But we are not here to talk about skiing, are we? Ok, ok, let’s move on to their shoes.
Salomon launched their first hiking shoes in 1992, many years after the company’s foundation. After that, they launched trail running shoes, winter apparel, softshell jackets, along with many custom technologies.
Today the brand has an expanded product range, but it is mainly renowned among outdoor enthusiasts for its snowsports products and its footwear.
Materials and Manufacture
Salomon uses different materials on their shoes depending on their specific use, and the footwear ranges in performance, from lightweight shoes for short hikes in dry weather, to waterproof boots that are comfortable for many hours of walking.
The brand relies heavily on technology to ensure performance and durability.
For example, Gore-Tex is one of these technologies which we mentioned above and we have featured it in many articles where we have discussed different brands that use this membrane in their products for its waterproofness and breathability.
When it comes to outer soles, Salomon uses the Contagrip® TD outer sole which adds traction to the shoes that are meant to be used in difficult terrain.
Next, the OrthoLite® insoles provide great cushioning along with durability and breathability, adding to the overall comfort of the boot.
Advanced Chassis™ and SensiFit™ which help improve the stability and fit, are two other important names among the several technologies and features of Salomon’s hiking shoes, along with the protective toecap and the gusseted tongue.
Some frequently asked questions about Salomon:
Is Salomon a good brand?
A brand that has been on the market for many years, inventing new products and integrating new, useful technologies in their footwear, while using sustainable means of production – yes, we think Salomon is a good brand.
Where are Salomon shoes and boots made?
Many of Salomon’s manufacturing facilities are based in Asia, in countries such as China, India, Vietnam, etc. Lately, they have also announced a new footwear factory in France.
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Read next: Salomon vs La Sportiva Shoes: A Comparison
By Salomon we have picked:
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
The X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is one of Salomon’s bestseller hiking boots and is available in both women’s and men’s versions.
Among its main features, we can mention: the Gore-Tex membrane to keep your feet dry, Advanced Chassis™, SensiFit™, and a Contagrip® TD outsole to give you maximum traction.
Also, the boot comes with a protective toecap and mudguard.
Are Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boots waterproof?
The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX uses the Gore-Tex membrane which is waterproof and breathable. So, yes, they are waterproof. Also, their design helps improve waterproofness.
Obviously, Gore-Tex, being a membrane with millions of micropores, has its limits just like any other fabric technology, and over time (many months to a few years) its waterproofness can decrease. Here you can learn more about Gore-Tex.
Salomon Women’s OUTline Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
Next, we have picked the OUTline Mid Gore-Tex hiking boot for women. If you are looking for a lightweight and flexible shoe, this one is a good option.
It offers the comfort of a running shoe, along with waterproofness and a good grip that makes them suitable for any trail.
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Depending on the design and features of the hiking shoe, Salomon’s prices vary from around $90 up to $200.
Are Salomon’s hiking shoes and boots worth the price?
Salomon is regarded by many reviewers as one of the best brands when it comes to hiking footwear, as they provide comfort and performance. And we agree with them!
3. Which Brand is Better?
Many will say “It depends”. And, indeed, it depends on what you are looking for. But, we will also try to give you a longer answer.
Both brands offer high quality, comfortable, high-performance shoes, both are environmentally conscious and are raved about by many hiking and outdoor enthusiasts.
Prices are similar, with an average that ranges from $130 to $150 for both brands, and is in line with the other main brands of this industry.
They both have their distinctive style, with Keen that reminds you of the great forests of the Pacific Northwest and Salomon that takes you to the many European mountain trails.
When it comes to style, we like Keen’s boots more and their way of combining classic styles with elements of modern design.
On the other hand, if we were looking for technical designs for extensive hikes, we would choose Salomon, as we see them offering slightly more features in this regard.
In the end, you can’t go wrong with either of these two brands.
Also from what we have seen and from many reviews that we have read, the general consensus is that both offer a good warranty, the customer service is very good, and many of their shoes and boots last for 3 to 5 years.
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Read next: Salomon vs Lowa Hiking Shoes: A Comparison