My Thoughts After Trying Keen Work Shoes [Comp & Steel Toe]


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Over the past few months, I put my hands on 25 different low-top safety toe work shoes, including 3 different types of low-top Keen work shoes, so I could evaluate them based on weight, comfort, flexibility, and purpose. I tried Keen composite toe shoes and Keen steel toe shoes.

My conclusion was that, in general, low-top Keen work shoes offer more abrasion resistance than typical low-top work shoes, and are better equipped to handle outdoor work environments in comparison to the competition. I felt like these hiking-style shoes offered a nice combination of flexibility, comfort, and durability.

That said, if I’m working inside on a factory floor, and I’m just concerned about weight and comfort, I’m probably choosing more of an athletic work shoe, but for outdoor work (like landscaping) or for work where abrasion resistance is important, these Keen safety toe work shoes are some of the best options on the market today.

Overall, this was my favorite Keen work shoe (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). They are a great option for those of you who want a durable low-top, hiking-style option that still allows your foot to breathe a little bit in the heat.

These are the 3 Keen work shoes that I tried (weight listed below is based off one size 12 regular shoe):

In this article I want to focus on all three of these low-top Keen work shoes to discuss both their advantages and disadvantages (yes, there are some disadvantages). I will use the real photos of my shoes and give you my honest opinion on what applications I think best fit these shoes.

Disclaimer: Please understand that we reviewed these Keen work shoes to get an accurate understanding of weight, comfort, and features. We did not test the crush resistance of these shoes. Because we do not know your job, we cannot guarantee that these shoes will meet the safety demands of your job. Not all safety toes are the same. Always verify the shoe meets the safety requirements of your job prior to purchase.

keen-flint-2-comp-shoes

Keen Steel Toe Shoes

When I recently tried 10 different steel toe shoes to try and determine what the best steel toe work shoes were on the market today, I grabbed both the Keen Atlanta Cool and the Keen Lansing Low to evaluate them on weight, comfort, flexibility, and purpose.

Ultimately, I declared the Keen Atlanta Cool shoes as my favorite low-top steel toe work shoe for outdoor work. But both of these shoes make sense for outdoor jobs, so I want to discuss some of their strengths, weaknesses, and differences.

Weight of Keen Steel Toe Shoes

My size 12 men’s Keen Atlanta Cool 2 steel toe shoe weighed 1.50 pounds per shoe. My size 12 men’s Keen Lansing Low steel toe shoe weighed 1.55 pounds per shoe. Overall, the weight between these shoes was very similar, with a slight edge to the Keen Atlanta Cool 2 Shoe.

Here’s how these two Keen steel toe shoes stacked up regarding weight in comparison to the other steel toe work shoes that I tried:

ShoeWeight (lbs)Photos
Caterpillar Woodward1.09View My Photos
Reebok Zprint1.15View My Photos
Fila Memory Reckoning1.21View My Photos
Reebok Sublite1.25View My Photos
Reebok All Terrain1.29View My Photos
Skechers Cankton1.30View My Photos
New Balance 6271.50View My Photos
Keen Atlanta Cool 21.50View My Photos
Caterpillar Brode1.53View My Photos
Keen Lansing Low1.55View My Photos

As you can see, these Keen steel toe work shoes are heavier than most other types of low-top steel toe shoes on the market today. But this isn’t a bad thing. These shoes have a more durable design, and incorporate leather on the upper when most of the other shoes on this list use lightweight athletic-style designs often made with textile uppers.

If you are prioritizing weight, and need a lightweight steel toe work shoe, there are probably better options. But these Keen steel toe shoes have a more rugged build, and can take on more than those athletic-style work shoes.

Comfort of Keen Steel Toe Shoes

This was probably the biggest difference between these two Keen steel toe shoes. I found the Keen Atlanta Cool 2 shoe (left) to have more flexibility than the Keen Lansing Low. The Keen Atlanta shoe had the flexibility you’d think of in athletic and hiking shoes.

But it is important to remember that flexibility may make you more responsive, but for some jobs structure and durability can be more important. If you care about flexibility, the Keen Atlanta shoe will be the better option.

I found these Keen steel toe work shoes to be very comfortable. The insoles provided nice cushioning under all parts of my foot, and the design (despite being more durable) didn’t feel like a brick on my foot.

That said, if you are working indoors on a factory floor, and just care about weight and comfort, there will be better options (I’d try Reebok or Skechers). These Keen work shoes weigh more than most other low-top work shoes that I tried, and won’t always have as much flexibility.

Durability of Keen Steel Toe Shoes

One thing I really like about Keen steel toe shoes in comparison to other types of low-top work shoes is their toe overlay. Yes, most low-top work shoes have toe overlays, but very few wrap a thick rubber overlay across the toe the way Keen does.

This is great for those of you who need that extra bang protection. Not only does it add a little extra protection to the shoe, it also just helps the material on the front of the shoe hold up longer.

Compare this to, for example, a Reebok steel toe shoe that has more of an athletic-design. As you can see below, the Reebok shoe has a much weaker toe overlay and therefore has much less abrasion resistance:

reebok-all-terrain-toe

Another thing that stands out about the durability of Keen steel toe work shoes is they will incorporate leather into the upper when most other low-top steel toe shoes use textile uppers.

Of course, one drawback to this is weight – the leather on the upper makes Keen steel toe shoes heavier than other low-top steel toe shoes on the market. But it also increases the durability and longevity of the shoe. Here’s a look at the material of these Keen Steel Toe Shoe:

Yes, these Keen steel toe shoes also incorporate some textile into the upper to help reduce weight and add breathability. But most types of low-top steel toe shoes use full textile uppers, and won’t have the durability that these Keen work shoes have.

Best Application for Keen Steel Toe Shoes

My conclusion for Keen steel toe shoes is this: these shoes are great for light-duty outdoor work. They also make sense indoors for those of you who needs something a little more durable than a low-top athletic-style work shoe.

Overall, I found the Keen Atlanta Cool 2 shoes to be the more flexible and comfortable option between the two. I actually named the Keen Atlanta Cool 2 shoe as my favorite low-top steel toe shoe for outdoor work.

But please understand that low-top shoes, even these Keen shoes, are best used for light-duty work. These types of shoes can’t hold up long term like premium work boots. And although Keen uses water-resistant leather, these shoes are not waterproof and won’t make sense for wet climates.

By using leather in the upper and adding rubber toe overlays to the front of the shoe, Keen separates itself from most other low-top work shoes on the market today by being a more durable option. These are a hiking-style shoe, whereas much of the competition for low-top work shoes builds more of a running-style shoe.

These Keen steel toe shoes weigh more than other low-top steel toe shoes, but they have more toughness. And in the case of the Keen Atlanta Cool 2, I found the flexibility and comfort to still be very good. I ordered my normal sizing for both shoes.

Keen Composite Toe Shoes

When I recently tried 14 different composite toe shoes to determine what the best composite toe work shoes were on the market today, I grabbed the Keen Flint 2 low-top shoe to evaluate it on weight, comfort, flexibility, and purpose.

Ultimately, I declared the Keen Flint 2 shoes as my favorite low-top composite toe work shoe for outdoor work. Just like we discussed at length in the steel toe sections above, these Keen Flint 2 composite toe shoes proved to have a more durable build than the competition. But there are some drawbacks too. Let’s discuss.

Weight of Keen Composite Toe Shoes

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-weight

My size 12 men’s Keen Atlanta Cool 2 steel toe shoe weighed 1.38 pounds per shoe. Overall, this was one of the heaviest shoes out of all the low-top composite toe shoes that I tried.

Here’s how the weight of these Keen composite toe shoes compared to the other shoes I tried:

Shoe NameWeight (lbs)Photos
Reebok Sublite Cushion0.94view my photos
Rockport Truflex0.94view my photos
Reebok Astroride Strike0.99view my photos
Reebok Fusion Flexweave1.01view my photos
Timberland PRO Drivetrain1.03view my photos
Danner Run Time1.15view my photos
Kodiak Ramble1.25view my photos
Caterpillar Streamline1.26view my photos
Carhartt Force Nano1.28view my photos
New Balance 5891.32view my photos
KEEN Utility Flint 2 Low1.38view my photos
Skechers Greetah1.60view my photos
Caterpillar Argon1.62view my photos
Kodiak Quest Low1.69view my photos

Yes, if you are prioritizing weight, and need a lightweight low top composite toe work shoe, there are better options (I’d recommend Reebok composite toe shoes for lightweight). But these Keen composite toe shoes have a more rugged build, and can take on more than those athletic-style work shoes.

Comfort of Keen Composite Toe Shoes

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-flexibility

Most of the composite toe work shoes I tried had an athletic design. These Keen Flint composite toe work shoes have more of a hiking design. Despite that, I found the overall flexibility of these Keen work shoes to be very similar to the flexibility of the athletic-style composite toe shoes that I tried.

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-gusset

These shoes have a bootie-type collar that helps keep small rocks and debris out. Overall, these shoes have a comfortable design that did not irritate my foot.

keen-flint-2-comp-shoes

Durability of Keen Composite Toe Shoes

As I mentioned earlier in the article, one thing I really like about Keen work shoes in comparison to other types of low-top work shoes is their toe overlay. Yes, most low-top work shoes have toe overlays, but very few wrap a thick rubber overlay across the toe the way Keen work shoes do.

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-toe

This is great for those of you who need that extra bang protection. Not only does it add a little extra protection to the shoe, it also just helps the material on the front of the shoe hold up longer.

Compare this to, for example, a more athletic, running-style composite toe shoe that I tried. As you can see below, the athletic shoe has a much weaker toe overlay and therefore has much less abrasion resistance in comparison to a Keen work shoe:

reebok-toe-overlay

Another thing that stands out about the durability of Keen work shoes is they will incorporate leather into the upper when most other low-top work shoes use textile-only uppers. Now, to be fair, this Keen Flint composite toe shoe does not use as much leather as the Keen steel toe shoes we discussed earlier.

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-eyelets

Still, there is actual leather present (wrapped around toe and heel) on these shoes when many low-top composite toe shoes use only textile. But these Keen shoes do use textile as well to help reduce weight and add breathability.

Best Application for Keen Composite Toe Shoes

My conclusion for Keen composite toe shoes is very similar to my conclusion for Keen steel toe shoes. These Keen Flint composite toe shoes are great for light-duty outdoor work like landscaping. They also make sense indoors for those of you who needs something a little more durable than a low-top athletic-style work shoe.

Overall, I found these Keen Flint 2 shoes to be very flexible even though they have a more durable design than the athletic-style low-top composite toe shoes on the market today. But with this more durable design does come extra weight.

Please understand that low-top shoes, even these Keen work shoes, are best used for light-duty work. These types of shoes can’t hold up long term like premium work boots. And although Keen uses water-resistant leather, these shoes are not waterproof and won’t make sense for wet climates.

By using leather in the upper and adding rubber toe overlays to the front of the shoe, Keen separates itself from most other low-top work shoes on the market today by being a more durable option. These are a hiking-style shoe, whereas much of the competition for low-top work shoes builds more of a running-style shoe.

Conclusion for Keen Work Shoes

When I Would Use Keen Work Shoes

I think these Keen shoes find that nice middle ground where they provide more comfort than a heavy work boot, but more toughness than a low-top athletic work shoe. That said, even though these have a more durable build than an athletic-style work shoe, these Keen work shoes still can’t take on heavy-duty work like a premium work boot.

They are great for light-duty outdoor work like landscaping. They also make sense indoors for those of you who need something a little more durable than a low-top athletic-style work shoe. These are sort of casual style work shoes that stand out a bit when compared to traditional boots.

When I Wouldn’t Use Keen Work Shoes

If you are working indoors on a factory floor, and just care about weight and comfort, there will be better options (I’d try Reebok). These Keen work shoes weigh more than most other low-top work shoes that I tried, and won’t always have as much flexibility.

That said, there are certain types of indoor jobs where these shoes make perfect sense. If you work in an indoor environment where you still need reasonable abrasion resistance, these shoes will be a much better option than a lightweight, athletic style work shoe.

My Favorite – Overall, this was my favorite Keen work shoe (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). They are a great option for those of you who want a durable low-top, hiking-style option that still allows your foot to breathe a little bit in the heat.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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