What the manufacturers say:
The Liberty Ridge hiking boot is KEEN’s tough, supportive high-performance leather boot for long trips on gnarly trails. The shock absorbing direct-attach PU midsole delivers lasting comfort, and a full-length shank adds stability. The waterproof upper and KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane combine to keep your feet dry. Designed to handle any trail surface, if you rack up serious backcountry mileage with a full pack, this is your boot. European Made with materials from around the world.
- Full length stability shank
- Direct attach PU midsole
- Dual compound rubber outsole
- Integrated PU heel cushion
- KEEN.DRY ® waterproof breathable membrane
- Leather lining
- Metal speed hook and eyelet lacing system
- Not compatible with aftermarket insoles or orthopedics
Keen Liberty Ridge on test:
Over the last few years Keen have gone about quietly building themselves a reputation for innovation and quality. From an initial offering based around sandals they really burst onto the scene in a big way with their lightweight, yet robust, Durand last year and their revolutionary Uneek sandal/shoe so when we heard of the new Liberty Ridge we had high expectations.
As with any footwear review a lot depends on whether the shoe fits your foot and in the case of Keen's Durand and Liberty Ridge they just happen to be on an almost perfect last for me. It does help that the one piece leather construction is very flexible, moulding to the foot, rather than being stiff and rigid. The downside with this is normally a reduction in support, but in the case of the Liberty Ridge a lack of support is the last accusation you can throw at it.
With the same direct injection PU mid sole as the Durand and a full length stiffened shank the ride is both well cushioned and precise. The ankle is luxuriously supported with real attention to detail where the sides overlap the tongue; a reduction in depth here allows the tongue to sit perfectly against the sides without any "ridge" to cause problems. The heel cup is less defined than on many modern boots but that's not saying heel slip is a problem, thanks to a bit of typically Keen design the heel actually sits on the PU cushioned mid sole and with the flexible upper and very efficient lacing system forward foot movement inside the boot is all but eliminated, even on a steep downhill.
Grip is always a lottery to test and to be honest we've yet to find any boot that will give perfect grip on slimy rock or sloping wet grass but the dual compound sole on the Liberty Ridge is as good as any other we tested. On trails and tarmac, however, the combination of cushioning and grip really make a difference. On rock strewn trails and uneven ground the Liberty Ridge eats up the miles, spitting stones out from the side and gripping like grit in cold weather.
Breathability is always going to be an issue with membrane lined boots, and particularly with leather uppers. With the suppleness of the upper and close fit of the ankle support we expected the Liberty Ridge to be noticeably warm and to test it to the max we subjected them to hours of wear in hot, busy, and unforgiving airports. The results were pretty impressive but we're not going to try and pretend they didn't get a bit warm inside. The key, however, was that they never became uncomfortably warm; membrane liners are always going to be a matter of personal taste but as they go the KEEN.DRY membrane is an above average performer.
Build quality is exactly as we've come to expect from Keen and the Liberty Ridge looks the part. For those who like the look of a traditional boot with the best of modern technology under the surface this is as close as you're going to get. At 700g (size 42) they're not the lightest boot but they're by no means heavy, particularly for leather, and at £150 they're very competitively priced. The "European Made" tag is a good piece of marketing but what really matters is the quality of the product and with the Liberty Ridge Keen are going to make a big impression in the biggest sector of the whole outdoor retail market.