Keen Revel II Boot Review
It’s easy to judge a boot by its cover, and I’m guilty of a prejudice that thankfully stops here. When Keen’s first products like their popular water shoe came to market, I had a hard time warming up to the design from an aesthetic point of view. Me and no-one else apparently as this brand from Portland, OR has steadily grabbed more and more of the market share with new releases like the Revel II hiking boot; a solid, waterproof, insulated workhorse, the Revel II demonstrates Keen’s innovative design process as well as indicates that they have stepped in line in terms of style, just enough to lure the “slow-to-adopt” like me.
First Impressions of the Keen Revel II
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to hiking boots (to be candid, with virtually everything). I like them simple, rugged and with plenty of ankle support. The closer they look to being hand-carved from fresh buckskin, the better I say. The Keen Revel II accomplishes this feat nicely, delivering a workman-like package while hiding some useful and nifty features. The mid-ankle cut ends right where I like it, no, need it, as my ankles are overdue for a reconstruction after years of abuse. The ubiquitous Keen patented toe protection, the large black toe-piece, is readily apparent, and proved its usefulness during testing. The lug treads look formidable, and are another aspect of the boot that lends to its Swiss Army-like versatility.
Material and Fit
The Keen Revel II fit seems to be built on a medium-wide foot’s template. The Shellback heel cup is well-engineered, ever-present (even reassuring) and snug. The mid-sole and tongue wrap nicely on the contour of the foot and open up to a generous toebox. Moderately thick KEEN.DRY waterproof nubuck leather drapes the upper of the Rival II and suggests a permanence that will outlast any mud or rock scuffs you manage to apply. Boots these days borrow from high-tech running shoe engineering, and the EVA midsole provides noticeable cushioning as its done for legions of runners before. Keen doesn’t go to any great lengths to brag about the materials they use on the treads and outsole, contenting themselves with “non-marking rubber” as a description. Still, the treads are burly. Familiarize yourself with the term “siping” if you want to learn about traction. Keen uses razor siping to cut little lines in the tread that act to improve traction on wet and icy surfaces. In addition, their 4mm multi-directional lugs insure no backwards slipping and plenty of grip on the climb.
Rubber to Road: All Conditions Testing
The Keen Revel II surprised me; I wanted the boot to fit and perform well, but didn’t have high expectations. Within fifty paces however, I had a smile on my face. The Revel II was lightweight, not lunky. The couple of times I dragged my toes I felt as if I was kicking through rocks, not tripping on them. The insulation was instantly obvious, and coupled with an alpaca wool sock I felt impervious to cold. The traction of the Keen Revel II is serious for serious hikers; combined with two inches of snow was another three inches of mud that the lug sole cut through easily while finding grip on the layer below.
The Keen Revel II insulated boot sells for $160. It comes in black/yellow, coffee bean/rust, and magnet/true red color combinations. For more information, please go to the Keen website.