In essence the leather version of the Venture is lightweight, flexible, 3 season boot that's ready to go straight from the box. With a list price of £140 it's competitively priced for a leather boot and if the Keen last fits your foot shape it's ready to go straight from the box. The stand out features in testing are the "KonnectFit" heel, which looks strange but is very effective, and the flexibility.
What Keen say:
Our progressive men's lightweight hiking boot—now in waterproof leather and ready to power through autumn. Featuring our KonnectFit heel-stability system for a locked-in feel to take on swift ascents.
- Speed hooks for easy lace adjustment
- 4mm multi-directional lugs for traction
- Stability shank delivers lightweight support
- konnectfit heel-capture system for a locked-in feel
- KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane
- Notch in back for achilles comfort
- High-abrasion rubber tip for added durability and protection
Keen Venture Mid Leather Waterproof Hiking Boots on test:
The first thing you notice about the Venture Mid Leather boot is the weight. In the world of three season boots there's a lot of lightweight boots around but many of these will be synthetic material boots; for a full leather boot the Venture is surprisingly light (1.16kg for size 8.5). The next thing you notice is the leather - forget the classic mid tan leather of the classic walking boot, this looks and feels more like a coat of rubber and the boot is a uniform grey.
The fit is classic modern European shape with good width and mid height ankle support. If you've been happy with the likes of the Targhee and Durant in the past the Venture will feel very familiar in this aspect. The lacing, however, is a bit different! The lower few eyes are standard "O" shape with a not unuasual "D" eye bove and 2 pairs of hooks above the ankle; all pretty convetional, except that the D ring eyes connect to the Konnect heel mechanism with a pair of wires that run around the heel to connect either side.
In practice this mechanism does an exceptional job of keeping the heel in place, a real and noticeable bonus on downhills. The obvious concern, however, is the durability of the design. On the sides of the boot the wires are permenantly taught and held in place by a plastic shell, but on the heel of the boot the wires are more exposed, both to wear and tear from scrapes to catching on a flake of rock or similar.
Toe protection is the usual arc of rubber over the front but you don't get a rand around the edge of the boot. The result, together with the fexible insole, is a boot that allows precise and flexible foot placement with more than a hint of the trail shoe feel than many boots. Adding to this feel is a quite flat sole profile with a relatively small gap between the lugs of the heel and front sections; a feature that's exxagerated by surprisingly small, 4mm, lugs.
Over a month of testing we were able to test the Venture on everything from sun baked trails to post-downpour Peak District bogs and the soles gave a good all-round performance, despite the small lug size. The waterproofing has been been seriously tested and not found wanting and the previously mentioned heel stability made it one of the most comfortable boots we've tried on wet grass slopes. On dry rock the grip was good, as it was with wet gritstone, but on wet limestone the grip was noticeably less reliable.
Ankle support was somewhere between that of a fabric boot and a lassic leather boot. The leather around the sides of the ankle are, again, very flexible and the padding continues down almost to the insole. The waterproof membane reaches to just below the ankle bone and, unusually, also covers the tongue. Rather than a single piece leather tongue Keen have opted for quite a thick and well padded tongue with stretch fabris connecting it on either side.
It helps that the Keen Venture Mid Leather Waterproof boot is a good fit for my foot shape, and the fit is always the overriding factor in choosing a boot. Given that proviso, the Venture is a very comfortable boot. It has the feel and flexibility of a trail shoe with the benefits of a leather upper and a reasonable level of ankle support. Grip is good across most surfaces and the price is very competitive for a leather, membraned, boot. With no rand, the exposed wires of the heel lock mechanism, and short lugs it will be interesting to see how durable it proves to be.
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