It’s been five years since I tried my first pair of Keens. And despite more than ten repeat purchases, I’ve yet to be disappointed by one of their products. I was therefore pleased to learn that they’ve apparently been pretty busy of late.
Last month they announced the release of, not just one, but five new additions to their Utility line. They range from heavy duty boots to light duty sneakers. Given the time of year, I decided to go with the latter, specifically, the Men’s Raleigh AT.
Does it meet the high standards set by its predecessors?
First off, the sneaker like design means that there’s no break in period whatsoever. They were true to fit, for me at least, and I wore them to work the day after I got them.
Another perk of these shoes is that the safety toe is barely noticeable. It’s made from aluminum and it’s cut asymmetrically (along the line of your toes). This results in a very roomy toe box and also helps to keep the weight down.
They’re not quite as light as regular sneakers but they’re as close as you’re going to get if you want toe protection. The uppers are made from a combination of textile and microfibers. This plus the low cut means that these shoes are very breathable.
Below your feet, there’s a PU midsole with a built in stability shank. PU midsoles apparently rival EVA midsoles but they last longer. There’s also a PU footbed which has been designed to match your foots shape and provide additional arch support.
I put these features to the test over a 12 hour shift and I was very happy with the results. I can see no difference between EVA and PU in terms of shock absorption. And despite hitting concrete floors all day long, I experienced zero foot fatigue or end of day aches.
Another feature worth mentioning is the optional bungee lacing system. This consists of a piece of plastic that holds the laces together and allows you to tighten/loosen them by simply pulling back or forward.
The benefit of this is that your laces will never become untied and you can slip them on or off with just the pull of the cord. Not a big deal but a nice addition to the shoe all the same.
The Men’s Raleigh are equipped with both a safety toe and electrical hazard protection. Despite the asymmetrical cut and super thin aluminum construction, it meets ASTM standards. The ridges on the outsole aren’t particularly deep but I found that they actually offer high levels of slip resistance. Finally, they have high visibility reflective tags on both the front and heel.
Waterproofing and Insulation
The uppers are made from a combination of textile and mesh. This makes for a highly breathable shoe but one that’s completely unsuitable for cold weather. No real attempt has been made at waterproofing. They will keep your feet dry in light rain but don’t expect anything more.
I’m a big fan of Keen but I’ve never considered them to be a particularly style conscious manufacturer. In that regard, the Men’s Raleigh are a major step forward for the brand.
They’re available in a choice of black or green. I went with the black version and they have an ultra modern, casual appearance that makes them ideal for doubling up as after-work/weekend wear.
The Men’s Raleigh won’t keep your feet dry in wet conditions but aside from that, it’s a tough shoe to fault. Thanks to a well designed midsole, footbed and toe box, comfort levels are up their with the best.
The low cut and textile uppers keep the weight low and air intake high. Combine this with a stylish appearance and a more than reasonable price tag and you have an easy shoe to recommend.