KEEN Utility Detroit XT Waterproof Steel Toe Boot Review

Keen Detroit XT
PTR Review
  • Pro Review 8.9

The Keen Utility Detroit XT Waterproof Steel Toe Boots are everything that the company bills them as: comfortable, breathable, waterproof, and most importantly, safe.

Overall Score 8.9 (out of 10)

Even though I’ve traded fieldwork for shop work, I still need a solid pair of safety boots. The shop has plenty of heavy, sharp, and potentially slippery stuff. Plus, I need something sturdy for kickin’ when Kenny edits something snarky into my reviews. In any event, it’s time to retire my old pair of KEEN Davenport boots. The Davenports had a composite toe, but I’m going back to the classic steel toe with the Keen Detroit XT Waterproof Boot. Let’s see if I’m taking a step in the right direction with the KEEN Detroit XT.


  • True to size fit
  • Comfortable feel following break in period
  • Steel safety toe
  • Key-Tech provides a combination of stability and flexibility


  • Cement outsole attachment isn’t as strong as direct injection or welting

Editor’s Note: Check out our best work boots review article for our favorite products for all applications.

Keen Utility Detroit XT Boot Features

  • Left and right asymmetrical steel toes
  • Keen.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane
  • Keen.Grip oil- and slip-resistant outsoles
  • Keen.Key-Tech Flex contoured underfoot support provides structured stability and comfort
  • Contoured heel lock
  • Reflective webbing for additional safety and visibility
  • Cleansport NXT for natural odor control
Keen Detroit XT


In general, Keen Utility boots fit true to size and the Detroit XT is no different. I ordered my normal size medium width, and it’s just right from front to back. If you’re not a Keen veteran, you’ll quickly notice that they give you more room in the toe box area. It’s a nice feature that makes the boot a bit more comfortable as your feet swell throughout the day.


Like many of Keen Utility’s lineup, the Detroit XT is a hiker-style boot. You’ll get natural browns and blacks, though there is a little blue that gives them a little pop.

As a cemented (AKA glued) shoe, the boot enjoys a high level of flexibility but a weaker bond than direct injection or welting. Normally, increased flexibility comes at the cost of stability. However, Keen’s Key-Tech uses a 3-part interlocking midsole system to give you more stability and still allow for excellent flexibility. It’s the best of both worlds for Pros who work on uneven ground and still need to get down on the ground.

It also has Keen’s well-known extended toe cap that comes around to protect the front of the boot. People differ on their opinions of the look, but it definitely helps reduce the wear on the toe and extend your overall boot life.

Breaking In

It always takes a week or so for me to get used to new boots, and the Keen Detroit XT Boots were no different. They aren’t necessarily uncomfortable at the beginning, but the tough construction does mean that there’s a break-in period. Once I made it through that, I found my new Keens to be more comfortable than my previous pair. Score one for Detroit.

Keen Detroit XT

Weight a Minute

Part of the greater comfort comes down to what I thought was a lighter boot. But it turns out my Davenports weigh in at 27.6 ounces, and the Keen Detroit XT Boot specs reveal a weight of 28.8 ounces. That’s not a big difference, and the new boots have a heavier steel toe. Just don’t tell Kenny I said that – he’ll go on about how much time each ounce costs you in a marathon. I still trust the composite toe of my last boot, but I still feel more comfortable with a steel toe boot. For 1.2 ounces, I’ll take the peace of mind!

Keen Detroit XT

The Rubber Meets the Road

Although I have the relative comfort of a few rubber mats, I’m still standing for most of my workday. The Keen Detroit XT Boot keeps my feet feeling good all day long. In fact, I think this pair breathes better than the last. Still, no matter how comfortable your boots are, it’s always nice to get them off at the end of the day. These Keens simply make it easier to get to that part of the day.

The boots have excellent slip resistance. That’s important to me because I’m walking around on smooth concrete when I’m not fixing motor electronics at my workstation. It gets pretty slick if there’s a liquid spill.

Keen Detroit XT

Speaking of liquid: I work in a shop that stays predominantly dry, but that doesn’t mean that I find Keen’s waterproofing useless. After all, I still have to get to the shop. The other day, I stepped in what must have been a 3-inch puddle. The outside of my Keens got pretty well submerged, but my feet stayed dry. It is a bit remarkable that the boots breathe so well and still keep water out. Detroit scores again!

Price & Value

If shoe shopping isn’t your thing, then you’re probably not wearing work-appropriate footwear! There are enough choices to make you give up and wear sneakers. The right pair of work boots will not only keep you comfortable, they’ll keep you safer and dryer. Plus, a good pair of work boots should outlast several pairs of sneakers.

To narrow it down, there seem to be a lot of options clustered around Keen’s $150 price point. Consider other options from Keen’s deep line, like the KEEN Baltimore boots that Kenny reviewed in early 2018. Then there’s a composite toe version of the Wolverine Contractor boots in which Daniel Elms walked a mile (or two!). All of these options can get the job done safely and comfortably, but I like the Keen Detroit XT’s fit and steel toe.

Keen Detroit XT

The Bottom Line

The Keen Detroit XT Waterproof Steel Toe Boots are everything that the company bills them as: comfortable, breathable, waterproof, and most importantly, safe.

Keen Detroit XT Waterproof Steel Toe Boot Specifications

  • Style Number: 1020040
  • Meets ASTM Standards:
    • F1677-96 MARK II non-slip testing
    • F2913 SATRA non-slip testing
    • F2412-11 and F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH
  • Toe Type: Steel Toe
  • Duty: Medium
  • Materials:
    • Waterproof leather upper
    • Oil- and slip-resistant non-marking rubber outsole
    • Dual-density compression molded EVA midsole
    • Moisture-wicking textile lining
    • Removable, metatomical PU footbed
  • Weight: 28.3 oz / 800.9 g
  • Removable, metatomical PU footbed
  • Price: $159.95

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