The Keen Utility Kansas City Work Boot Successfully Blends Comfort And Durability
Over the years, my feet have touched a lot of soles…insoles, that is. Work boot technology has come a long way over the years, however, they haven’t always been known for their exceptional comfort level. The Keen Utility Kansas City work boot blends traditional work boot durability with a lightweight wedge profile and a slightly different design approach to be more comfortable. I tried them out to see if they are.
- Extremely flexible toe
- Cushioned footbed for extended wear time
- Aggressive tread for loose terrain
- Somewhat bulky
Editor’s Note: Check out our best work boots review article for our favorite products for all applications
Wearing the Keen Utility Kansas City Work Boot
Typically, I wear between a size 10.5 and 11.5 depending on the brand. I ordered an 11, and the sizing and width are right on the money. That said, if you’re unsure about which to order, Keen includes a comprehensive sizing guide based on other boots you’ve worn (including from other brands).
My first interaction with Keen’s bellows system was with the Utility Troy Work Boots, and let me tell you, that was eye-opening. Personally, I’m a die-hard Red Wing boot fan but one big advantage of the bellows design is its integrated flex point. The main advantage is an easier flex for your toes. Secondarily, it removes leather in a spot that other boots might crack or weaken over time.
The built-in multidirectional flex point reduces pressure felt by the top of your foot by allowing the toe box to fold while kneeling. This design works with the rest of the construction to all but eliminates any sort of break-in period like some leather boots and proved comfortable right out of the box. It did take a couple of days to loosen them up, but nothing like traditional work boots.
Keen’s removable polyurethane insoles provide a soft, but supportive, base for this boot. There’s a decent amount of arch support throughout the midsole which lends itself to comfortable all-day wear for most people. It’s removable, so if you’re not “most people”, it’s easy enough to swap the insole out for one that fits your needs better.
KonnectFit technology securely locks your heel in place and helps prevent you from stepping out of your boot. This is important if you work in muddy or softer terrain as these can cause excessive fatigue, especially if you don’t want to lose a shoe!
Keen strays from a traditional leather upper with the Kansas City’s design. Instead, they go with a synthetic mesh material. It’s highly breathable and hiding underneath is a breathable waterproof membrane.
Outsole and Tread
The boot has a wedge design outsole that disperses your weight out over a wider area and helps with the comfort level. Its tread pattern is somewhat aggressive and similar to a hiking boot while offering the oil and slip-resistant qualities work boots require.
Building up from there, you get a soft KEEN.ReGEN midsole, composed of lightweight, compression-resistant material that claims to return 50% more energy than standard EVA foam. It connects to the outsole with a cement (glue) connection.
This boot has a very soft feel, especially when compared to that of traditional work boots. While it’s not quite as cushy as Keen’s LuftCell midsoles, it can save your legs and knees a lot of fatigue and soreness.
Inside, Keen’s asymmetrical carbon fiber safety toes meet current ASTM safety standards and offer your toes protection with 15% less weight than steel alternatives. This design also offers a little extra protection from side impact on the outer edge to keep your toes safe.
- KEEN.Dry waterproofing
- Moisture-wicking liner
- Removable metatomical PU footbed
- Nylon midfoot shank
- EH/ESR rating
- Sythetic/textile upper
Keen Utility Kansas City Work Boot Price
You can snag a pair of these boots online or at your local Keen dealer or online for $180. That’s in the middle ground between Keen’s light-duty shoes and more expensive heavy-duty models. It’s a little on the higher side for a cement construction boot, but not surprising considering its non-traditional design.
The Bottom Line
The Keen Utility Kansas City work boot’s wedge sole design is great for working on hard surfaces for extended periods of time. Its aggressive tread pattern and secure lace capture system make it great for working in loose terrain where traction is essential. These qualities come together to give you a versatile boot that is well suited for a variety of tradesmen and challenging environments.
Keen Utility Kansas City Work Boot Specifications
- Height: 7 in.
- Color: Black/Gun Metal
- Sizes: 7 – 15 (half sizes through 12)
- Widths: Regular or wide
- Safety Toe: Carbon fiber
- Safety Rating: ASTM F1677-96 MARK II and ASTM F2913-19 SATRA (non-slip), ASTM F2412-18 and F2413-18 M I/75 C/75 (electrical hazard)
- Duty Rating: Madium duty
- Weight: 26 ounces (size 11)
- Price: $180
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