Alex Roddie evaluations a versatile boot for 3-season hillwalking.
KEEN boots are renowned for their comfy match, and possessing previously reviewed the 2017 revamp of the Targhee EXP Mid I had an inkling of what to anticipate from the Venture Mid Leather WP.
The original Venture Mid launched earlier this year, and KEEN have now released a new version with waterproof complete-grain uppers. It is a pretty light leather boot with an desirable style. You get metal lacing hardware, such as the ‘KonnectFit heel-stability system’ (KEEN parlance for a bit of wire that tightens the match about the heel), a KEEN.Dry waterproof/breathable lining, a sole unit that appears reasonably grippy with 4mm lugs, and a superior degree of flexibility. The integrated insoles are rather spongy but do have a slight degree of arch assistance, which is much better than you will locate in most boots.
Toe protection is decent but there is no rubber rand about the edges of the sole – these are clearly lightweight boots developed for agility and comfort, not ultimate durability. Out of the box, they felt truly comfy and accommodated my wide forefeet effectively. I felt content taking them out on the hill with no breaking-in period.
To place these boots by means of their paces I headed into the Mamores for a hillwalking round of moderate length more than Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean, two difficult peaks involving a bit of anything. My day began off squelching along a boggy path in torrential rain. Later, climbing steep switchbacks, the ground underfoot was considerably firmer but factors quickly became rocky when I hit the most important ridge. A couple of bouldery actions on the way up to Stob Ban, buffeted by wind, may just about count as scrambling – I absolutely opted to use my hands for stability as soon as or twice in the difficult circumstances.
Bog stomping, greasy rock, clambering more than ledges, balancing above precipitous drops, and ultimately a thigh-busting descent back into the glen: this stroll was a close to-perfect test for 3-season walking boots. So how did they execute?
Comfort was superior, despite the fact that not up to the typical set by the Targhee. Despite the fact that I didn’t get any blisters and my heel stayed ‘locked in’, as promised by the marketing and advertising, I had a tougher time finding a actually comfy match about the ankles. My left ankle was fine but by the finish of the day my appropriate ankle was feeling a small pinched. Loosening the laces there didn’t strengthen factors. Perhaps these boots could advantage from some breaking in right after all, but I consider the tongue style should really take a share of the blame: it is a stiffer, thicker tongue than on the Targhee EXP.
This is a single versatile boot. Just after a couple of really wet kilometres the leather seemed to unwind a small, and they felt surprisingly equivalent to trail footwear on my feet – far additional versatile than any other leather hiking boots I’ve worn. The leather uppers give practically no stiffness, and the boot can bend freely, which aids to market a all-natural-feeling gait. There is a small lateral stiffness in the sole, which aids on scrambly actions, but not considerably. If you are searching for a standard supportive leather boot with a degree of stiffness then appear elsewhere – these really feel additional like lightweight fabric boots. I like that, but it did come as a bit of a surprise.
The soles performed effectively, except on greasy rock exactly where they felt significantly less safe than I’d like (anything I also identified with the Targhee EXP). They gripped effectively on steep, soft ground. Nevertheless, the lugs are only 4mm deep and somewhat rounded at the sides right after a single hillwalking round I’ve currently observed some put on. I do not consider these soles will final lengthy prior to the lugs are worn down and a lot significantly less grippy. The lack of a protective rand will also expose the leather sides to a higher level of put on, specially in rocky terrain.
As you’d anticipate from a new boot, waterproofing was in no way in query. I wore gaiters and managed to stay clear of any moisture finding in by means of the cuff, but my feet in no way felt damp from condensation either (temperatures have been cool). Prime marks there – for now. Waterproof linings typically degrade and fail as boots are utilized, anything I absolutely identified with the Targhee EXP Mid, which began to leak badly right after significantly less than a year. So when I can confidently state that the Venture Mid Leather is waterproof now, how lengthy that’ll stay the case is anyone’s guess. I consider it’ll execute much better than the Targhee, even though: the leather is higher good quality and there are fewer seams to leak. Like any waterproof boot, I’d locate them also hot in warmer climate.
Even though KEEN say the Venture Mid Leather is equipped with ‘Eco Odor Manage and Cleansport NXT’, claimed to hold feet fresh through quickly-paced adventures, but I can not say I noticed this make any distinction whatsoever – my boots nonetheless ponged right after a day of tramping by means of bogs and more than hills!
General, the Venture Mid Leather WP is a competent lightweight leather boot, extremely versatile out of the box and with a superior general level of comfort, in spite of the slight ankle pinching I seasoned. They’re waterproof, the sole performs rather effectively when new (in spite of significantly less-than-great efficiency on greasy rock), and the cost point of £140 is desirable. Nevertheless, I have issues about lengthy-term durability. The Venture Mid Leather WP can absolutely execute on the hill but I consider it is a much better selection for basic low-level walking.