Do you think a boot can be equally at home on the job site and the trail -- and more important, will your feet agree? Being an avid hiker, I was intrigued by Keen's new Flint low-cut, steel-toe work boot, which looks almost identical to the Keen Voyageur that I wear for fast day hikes. The Flint's stated purpose is to be a comfortable hiker-style, warm-weather work boot -- not a trail boot. But it's hard to find fault with a great work boot that takes to the trail on weekends. So I decided to put the Flint to an unfair test by comparing it with the Voyageur on the trail.
The Voyageur and the Flint share a roomy toe box, excellent ventilation and a wide, high-stability sticky-rubber sole. The Flint adds asymmetrical steel toes, stiffer construction, slightly larger sizing and a little more weight. I wore the Flint pair on a seven-mile hike over extremely varied terrain -- dirt, gravel, rocks, mud — with steep climbs and descents. In many ways both boots felt the same, but the Voyageur was more agile whereas the Flint seemed more protective. Both provided rock-solid traction and stability. The weight of the Flint's steel toe was noticeable but didn’t impede walking; it still felt lighter than many hiking boots — and much lighter than large, traditional work boots. Because of the roomy toe box (a signature Keen feature) and excellent ventilation, blisters were never a concern. Although the Flint is designed to be a warm-weather boot, I wouldn't hesitate to wear it in near-freezing temperatures with heavy socks. (However, keep in mind that the Flint is not waterproof.)
As you might expect, I found the Voyageur to be better for hiking than the Flint, but the Flint still performed better than many dedicated hiking boots I've owned. What's really important is that the Flint's hiking lineage makes it a more versatile work boot because it's better equipped to handle a variety of terrain and conditions. So if you're looking for a protective, comfortable and flexible work boot that can easily adapt to the trail, you won’t go wrong with the Keen Flint.
The Flint work boot combines steel-toe protection with hiker-boot comfort.
I subjected the Flint to this uneven, rocky trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.
The Keen Voyageur hiking boot (left) looks almost identical the to Flint work boot (right).
As a sidenote, if you're considering shopping for a pair of KEEN boots in the next couple of months, then I encourage you to watch for their new promotion. For every pair of shoes purchased at various KEEN Utility retailers during September and October, $5 is being donated to Homes for Our Troops, a terrific organization that builds specially adapted homes for injured veterans.