Keen walking boots always deliver great comfort and performance, but after spending the last few months testing out the new Tempo Flex that feature Keen Bellows Flex technology, these could be a contender for their comfiest walking boots yet. Read on for the full review.
What are they?
- 4mm multi-directional lugs for traction
- Stability shank delivers lightweight support
- Speed-lace webbing system with top collar hooks for comfortably snug fit
- KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane
- KEEN.BELLOWS FLEX in the upper for more bend and less wear
- Recycled PET plastic
- Eco Anti-Odour for natural odour control
- PFC-free, durable water repellent
- High-abrasion rubber tip for added durability and protection
- Padded tongue and collar for comfort
Bellows Flex Technology
One of the big innovations in the Tempo Flex boot is the use of Bellows Flex technology. A few new season boots in the Keen range now feature Bellows Flex, which provides a more contoured fit and requires less energy to bend, making each step feel easier, allowing the boots to bend where other boots might crack and weaken over time.
Right from the very first walk, these boots were a dream to wear and like all Keen boots I’ve owned, required no tedious wearing-in period.
Initially, apart from feeling ridiculously comfortable, I didn’t really notice what the Bellows Flex tech was doing. Once I started doing some more serious and longer hill walks though, the difference really shone.
Coming downhill in particular, I really noticed how the toe box area seemed to gently move inwards to grip my forefoot, keeping my feet stable and supported during steep ascents and descents.
I’ve had issues in the past with some walking boots allowing my foot to slip forwards and failing to provide cushioning on the front of the toes, leading to very sore toes after a mountain descent.
With these however, the concertina, bellow section felt like it moved in and gently hugged my foot, keeping it in the right position and preventing my foot from slipping forwards and pushing my toes into the end of the boots.
Fit & Styling
Some reviews of the Tempo Flex have complained about the boots being narrow but this is something I’d disagree with. I have standard width feet and find the size 6 (my usual size) provides me with the perfect fit.
If you do have wide feet, you might want to try these on first or go for one of Keen’s wider fitting styles instead.
I love the lacing system and found it fast and easy to cinch the laces and secure them and don’t get me started on the colour! If you’re not keen on the violet colour of mine, there are a couple of other nice options to choose from.
I’m always cautious with walking boots that are styled like trainers or claim to be trainers, but actually, you shouldn’t let the fact that the Tempo Flex are referred to as trainer boots, put you off.
They are regarded as providing trainer-like comfort with some similar performance elements, primarily flexibility and low-weight, but they perform almost as well as a more traditional hiking boot, they are just far lighter, much more flexible and easy to wear.
On a very steep ascent on loose slate, the boots were really put to the test and I found they provided good traction in dry conditions as well as good levels of ankle support and waterproofing… which I learned after gracelessly slipping into a stream I was crossing at the bottom of Bowscale Fell during a recent Lake District walking weekend.
Although so far I’ve only clocked up about 40 miles in these boots, I’ve worn them on loads of different walks and in plenty of different conditions. I’ve walked through streams, I’ve done short scrambles and tackled steep ascents and descents and I’ve plodded through mud on low-level lakeside and woodland walks.
On the whole, in most conditions, I’ve found that the boots have delivered great performance and exceptional comfort.
The outsole features 4mm deep lugs that provide good traction and stability in most conditions. The only time I have struggled was when climbing muddy hills. I did find myself slipping a little and the same can be said when I crossed a stream a slipped straight off the submerged rock I’d stepped on.
For this reason, although capable in the wet thanks to good levels of waterproofing, I’d regard these more as a 2-3 season hiking boot, rather than something I’d use to walk up a mountain in snowy or icy conditions.
Overall Rating (4.5 / 5)
I have found the Keen Tempo Flex extremely easy and comfortable to wear, capable without being too cumbersome. Do bear in mind that they are a mid-height boot though. For me, they provide enough ankle support for my needs, though some may prefer a higher profile and stiffer ankle support.
Despite the outsole not performing brilliantly in the mud, on the whole, in most conditions, I’ve found that the boots have delivered solid performance and exceptional comfort.
As always, after a year, I’ll update this review and will include photos and the verdict from my long-term test, but for now, the Keen Tempo Flex are my go-to boot when I want all-day hiking comfort and whilst I’ll always love my Terradora II hiking boots, for me at least the Tempo Flex boots pip them to the post in terms of comfort, but the Terradora has slightly better grip.
Thank you to KEEN for supplying the featured product. We have not been paid to do this review.