The first time I walked around on a jobsite without good quality work boots I lifted up my foot only to find a small piece of nail-embedded wood attached. Fortunately, the nail had penetrated the sole only to the point of touching my foot. It didn’t break the skin—but it got my attention. Wearing work boots isn’t just the law on the jobsite—it makes practical sense. The protection afforded by composite and steel-toed footwear and the electrical safety some afford delivers a serious investment. It’s one of the most important you’ll make with respect to your daily attire. We received the latest Keen Utility Braddock Work Boots to try out for a few weeks. I have to say—protection is just the beginning of what impressed thing about these work boots.
Editor’s Note: Check out our best work boots review article for our favorite products for all applications.
Keen Utility Braddock Boots Features
The thing about Keen Utility Braddock Boots is that they offer a variety of features. We got an up-close and personal look at them during our Keen manufacturing tour and factory tour. KEEN uses a “direct attach” construction method. This fuses the sole to the fibers of the upper to make a waterproof seal. The midsole material is literally injected into the mold, bonding the outsole and upper together. This method also gives Keen more room and options to add additional or better cushions into their boots. That makes them more comfortable.
Keen Utility boots use a modified Goodyear Welt (called the KEEN Welt). This builds upon a tried and true method of shoe construction that’s been around since 1869. It was invented by Charles Goodyear, Jr. The welt is the strip of rubberizing material that runs along the perimeter of the KEEN Braddock and attaches to the outsole.
For both of the key stitching points, Keen uses a lockstitch. It won’t unravel if it breaks down at any particular point in the shoe. The Keen Welt is a non-continuous Goodyear welt reinforced by the toe bumper. Combined with the outsole, it’s molded as one solid piece of rubber. This prevents toe delamination under extreme work conditions.
KEEN’s Asymmetrical Design
The Keen Braddock Boot features a steel safety toe. KEEN uses an asymmetrical design, however, that’s contoured to the shape of the toes and feet. It not only feels more comfortable, but it also reduces weight. Composite toe boots provide a lighter-weight alternative. They do add more bulk, though, as they tend to be thicker in the material. Keen opted for the smaller steel toe option.
As far as puncture resistance is concerned (and for me that’s a big concern—possibly even more than the steel toe), the Keen Braddock isn’t certified to ASTM F2892-11 PR standards, but I found it to have a thick sole that’s unlikely to allow easy penetration. You won’t want to jump down on top of any firmly-positioned 16D nails, but you get the idea. For a truly puncture-resistant boot, the similar-looking Keen Tucson Mid PR boot is your ticket.
I did a lot of walking on concrete with oil, dusty surfaces, and loose gravel. In all cases, the Keen Utility Braddock boots offered a firm grip. Their slip-resistance rating made them sufficient for use on oily surfaces—even when you were coming in from a stiff Florida rain. The fact that they’re also waterproof was a decidedly important bonus as I prefer dry feet when I’m working—drying out shoes takes far longer than for a shirt or pair of pants.
Non-Conductive EH Rating
The Keen Utility Braddock boots also have a non-conductive “EH” rating. This insulation aids in grounding electricity from accidental contact with live circuits or electrical equipment. As I tend to do a lot of electrical work, this is a huge deal for me. You may wonder about the steel toes. Fully enclosed by non-conductive materials, there’s no impact on electrical safety.
Testing and Use
The big win with the Keen Utility Braddock Boots is that they’re comfortable. Lacing them up is simple—though not as simple as the BOA system available on the Red Wing Waterproof boots we tested a couple of years ago. I liked the use of the top metal hooks, and the attention paid to the laces and their design was a nice touch. From the time I slipped my foot into the Keen Braddock boots until the time I took them out, my feet were comfortable, safe, and dry. The rear loop on the boots is a handy way to pull them on (and I used that loop every time—it still hasn’t failed), and the lacing stayed consistent with no tearing or issues.
As a breathable, waterproof shoe, the Keen Braddock’s did really well in the Florida summer. Between the rain and heat, I’m not sure which was the bigger test. These boots passed with flying colors. I found these Keen work boots to be more comfortable than many other brands I’ve had on of late—and they’re my go-to boots when I’m looking at a long day of testing tools, rebuilding a front porch, or otherwise doing some work on a friend’s home (why not put these tools to good use while we’re testing them, right?).
The only thing some may take issue with has to do with the Keen design. I’ve had some comments that these boots look a bit “bulbous”. This is actually due to the asymmetrical design of the rubber toe. The internal asymmetrical steel toe design carries over to the front toe outer sole design, and it lends itself to a different sort of look than the typical symmetrical styles found elsewhere. Once you get used to it, it grows on you.
With a street price of around $160, these boots are a good value and even better performers. Go find a pair, and stick your feet inside and walk around. I’ve had several different people outfitted with Keen Braddock boots now, and the general consensus is that these are some of the most comfortable boots we’ve ever worn. If you’re on your feet all day at the jobsite that’s a great reason to invest in Keen.