If your work involves being on your feet, then you have to protect them. That’s Keen Utility’s business and the Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots series was designed to do just that.
The Tacoma was a huge launch for Keen Utility this year. It seems they put nearly every innovation they have into this launch and it showed with a 2016 Pro Tool Innovation Award. There’s a lot to talk about with this premium boot, so let’s get right down to it and take a look at why these boots are so special.
You can get the Keen Utility Tacoma in four styles to match your needs and preference. Wellington and high-cut styles have a composite toe and the mid-cut style comes with either a composite toe or soft toe. For this review, we went with the Tacoma XT CSA which is their taller composite toe model.
Editor’s Note: Check out our best work boots review article for our favorite products for all applications.
I could spend this entire review just talking about the innovations that Keen has put into the Tacoma work boot. However, rather than sounding like a Presbyterian Minister who doesn’t own a watch, I’ll give you my favorites and you can take a look at the rest of the bottom of the page.
Both hard-working guys and their spouses can appreciate Keen’s Cleansport NXT natural odor control. This is a biological innovation that we can thank hockey players for. Essentially, microbes come to life when your feet start sweating and neutralize the odor that is created. when they run out of food, they simply go dormant again until the next day when you start sweating all over again.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I work harder and longer at my day job or when I’m off the clock on a horse farm in Georgia. Regardless of where the work is being done, Keen Barnyard-proof leather protects the Tacoma from all kinds of chemicals and animal waste.
If you’re one of those strange guys that manage to get through the workday without having sweaty feet, then you can just disregard this section. For the rest of us normal human beings, KEEN.Dry Is an important innovation that keeps moisture from working its way in yet stays breathable so moisture can get out.
In addition to the innovations built into the Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots, several other features stand out as well. The seemingly bulbous toe boxes are the result of left/right specific composite safety toes and are an instantly recognizable characteristic of Keen Utility boots.
There are several ways of connecting outsoles and midsoles to the upper. Welting is among the oldest and best-constructed methods you can find. You can always tell a welted boot from the stitching around the outer portion of the lower. It’s simply a connection that will last much longer than glue (cement) and chemical bonding.
There are some unseen features that are worth noting as well. A puncture-resistant LENZI board offers lightweight protection compared to steel plates and is designed to keep sharp objects from penetrating the boot. A TPU stability shank also finds its way in there, offering stability across uneven terrain and around loose ground.
I was initially concerned about the plastic hooks for lacing up my boots. Typically, metal trumps plastic in almost every application. The issue with boots though, is that those metal hooks tend to bend a little bit, and over the course of a few months with cheap ones (or a couple years for good ones), metal fatigue finally sets in and you snap one. I banged around the hooks quite a bit and gave them some rough treatment while lacing them up and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with how durable they ended up being. From what I’ve seen so far, it sure seems like they’ll outlast the metal hooks I’m used to.
A removable dual-density EVA footbed offers additional comfort since EVA foam in the lower would break down too quickly. EVA foam is found in running shoes and does a great job of absorbing the shock of foot strikes, but typically has a lifespan of just 3 – 6 months. Since the footbed is removable, it can be easily swapped out when it’s time for a replacement.
The bottom line is that the Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots are packed with innovation and features. But they don’t mean much if the boot doesn’t fit and they’re not comfortable on long days.
Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots Additional Key Features
- 100% Non-metallic construction
- 90 degree heel
- Full-grain leather upper
- Left and right asymmetrical composite toe
- Meets CSA Z195-09 Grade 1 standards for protection
- Meets or exceeds ASTM F1677-96 Mark II non-slip testing standards
- Meets or exceeds ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH standards
- Oil and slip resistant non-marking rubber outsole
Fit has to be the number one concern when finding a good work boot. If the boot doesn’t fit correctly, everything else about the design is immediately out of whack. I ordered 14 wide (hey, I’m a big guy) and found the fit to be nearly perfect.
The large toe boxes definitely gave my toes some room to spread out. It’s a different feel from traditional work boots, but once you get used to them, you’ll never want to go back.
Performance and Comfort on the Job
I’m constantly moving around and working between the fire department, farm, and warehouse. So from cement floors at the fire station to clay arenas and horse trails in the North Georgia woods, I’ve had the Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots in a wide variety of environments.
Normally I have to be selective of when I wear boots like these because my feet get hot and start to sweat. That moisture gets locked in and can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable consequences. My feet did still sweat in these boots, but the membrane allowed the moisture to escape. On the other side of the coin, the waterproof nature kept my feet from getting soaked even when standing in a shallow creek to build a bridge.
I could tell the difference in the Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots when it comes to long days. The combination of an open-toe box and composite safety toe is a big improvement over my normal steel toe work boots. Even though the outsole and midsole itself are designed to last a long time, the insertion of an EVA footbed left my feet much more comfortable even on working on a concrete surface all day.
Those were just the things that stood out to me. There’s no telling exactly how much the other innovations and features improved the overall comfort simply because they work behind the scenes.
The Bottom Line
The Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots are the new flagship for the brand in my opinion. They’re packed with innovative features, are comfortable on long days, and have a great fit. Clearly, they’re a major step up from the mid-range boots I normally go to. I don’t know that you can ask for much more from a work boot than what I’m getting from the Tacoma.
Keen Utility Tacoma Work Boots Specifications
- Model: Keen Utility Tacoma XT CSA
- Gender: Men
- Weather: Waterproof
- Upper: Leather
- Safety Toe Style: Composite Toe
- Available Color: Cascade Brown
- Available Sizes: 7 – 12 in half sizes, 13, 14, 15
- Available Widths: Regular, Wide
- Certification: ASTM F2412-11 F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH, F1677-96 Mark II Non-slip Standards
- MSRP: $240
- Warranty: 1 year