Keen Durrand and Teva Forge Pro Boot Reviews

18th Nov 2014

We've had 2 superb pairs of lightweight walking boots on test recently from Teva and Keen.  At first glance Teva and Keen are very different manufacturers but they actually both started out from a similar background making water sports sandals.  
I bought my first pair of Teva sandals many years ago on a trip to the USA.  Solid grippy rubber soles were bonded to chunky criss crossing tape straps that fastened with Velcro.  They were really adjustable, very comfortable and of bombproof construction.  The perfect easy draining sandal for many water activities and general wear.
Keen came into the market offering something a bit different.  Their sandals were also comfortable and durable but they offered a solution to the problem of toe protection by offering a scooped toe box (which has now become a distinctive feature of all their footwear).  It was a great way to protect a vulnerable part of the foot.
Since those early days both brands have gone from strength to strength and offered an increasingly broad range of footwear.  I've tried Teva cycling footwear and many pairs of Keen approach shoes, but this was my first dip into both manufacturers walking boot options.

Keen Durrand Boots

We were delighted to recently provide a hill skills training event for winners of a competition Keen were running on the Outdoors Magic website.  The competition was promoting some new boots from Keen and the winners were supplied with a pair as part of their prize.  From a test perspective this was very useful because, as well as being able to say what I thought of them myself, we actually had a testing panel who could all share their experience.
My boots arrived sometime before the event but I didn't get chance to use them beforehand apart from having a look at them and ensuring they fitted. They were actually still in the box when I turned up to deliver the course which, although I know isn't best practice, at least meant I could assess their 'out of the box' comfort.
This also meant I didn't have much previous knowledge about the background to this new design.  Fortunately, Outdoors Magic editor Jon Doran was joining us for the Hill Skills event and he shared a lot of information about them.  Jon highlighted how the Durrand is part of a Keen design shift focussed on both performance and durability.  Spy the Durrand's on your retailer shelf and you will certainly notice their distinctive appearance and Keen's trademark toe box - but there's actually a lot more to this innovative design.
Firstly, Keen are manufacturing the Durrand at a new facility in their home city of Portland.  In a world where so many products are manufactured in the Far East this is a significant decision that allows Keen to keep a focus on quality.
The Durrand is also focussed on durability.  Keen have developed a new 'million steps' campaign and the Durrand is certainly built for plenty of use.  As part of this Keen have chosen to use a PU midsole block which, over time, compresses far less that the normally used EVA.  The disadvantage to using this material could be more rigidity, but again some innovative design comes into play as Keen have added a softer block in the heel to ensure satisfactory impact absorption and comfort.
The general construction of the Durrand also screams durability.  A combination of substantial leather and fabric, an Event liner, a chunky sole unit and impeccable construction all suggest these boots will easily cope with a million steps....and then some!
In Use
So our Hill Skills group had plenty of time to put the Durrand to the test over our weekend in the Peak District.  It was a generally dry few days but a trog across the boggy Kinder plateau plus plenty of mooching around in the dew filled grass of our overnight camp gave the waterproofness a reasonable test. My feet were perfectly dry all the time and all the group reported the same.  
We were also developing our skills over a variety of terrain so we had chance to try the boots on ground ranging from slippy mud paths on the descent from Hollins Cross to rocky scrambles up Grindsbrook Clough.  The boots excelled in the muddy descent and all the group commented on how secure they felt.  They also performed really well on the rocky ground we encountered.  They aren't a scrambling boot so the sole, by design, isn't as rigid or supportive at the edges as a dedicated scrambling boot but, for a general purpose hillwalking boot suitable for a wide range of terrain, they were great.
There is a big move nowadays for manufacturers to make boots that are comfortable straight away.      If a consumer tries a boot in a shop and they feel good there is every chance that will be the pair they choose.  For our hill skills event we'd asked the winners to bring some alternative boots in case the Keens became uncomfortable, but we really needn't have worried.  The Keens were comfortable straight from the box and stayed that way.  In my case I don't remember wearing a more comfortable boot.
The question of long term durability is one I can't comment on yet.  The Durrand's look like they'll stand up to plenty of use and the construction quality is top notch.  Time will tell if they do.
In today's market the Durrand, at £140, isn't a bargain priced product.  However, if your budget can stretch that far you are certainly getting a great package.  They are a well made, innovatively designed and high performance product from an ethically sound and well respected manufacturer.  If you are considering a new pair of general purpose trekking boots please check the Keen Durrand's out. 

Teva Forge Pro Winter Boot

This was my first dip into using Teva boots and I was offered a pair to test by Outdoor Look, an online equipment retailer.  The boots arrived at our office on a day when there were a few people there and I ended up opening them in from of them.  The group universally loved the look of these boots.  Stealthy black with stitched detailing, a gaiter style heel cuff and a blocky sole.
They are certainly a smart looking boot which looks like a cross between a walking boot and winter mountain biking boot.  They look like they will serve you well on the trail but their look also has a hint of urban chic about them
The boot upper is made from synthetic leather and mesh with a 'T.I.D.E Seal' membrane to keep them waterproof and Teva's 'Shoc Bloc' heel unit which helps provide sufficient cushioning.  The Forge Pros have a chunky sole unit combining Teva's 'Spider 365' outsole with innovative 'fibreglass' infused pods which are said to increase traction on snow and ice - they are marketed as a winter boot after all.
In Use
So far my testing has included some mountain biking and general hillwalking/crag approaches, but I haven't yet had the chance to use them on snow or ice.
The boots were comfortable straight out of the box and offered a surprising amount of ankle support for a mid height boot.  I think the elasticated ankle gaiter helps the boot wrap around the heel and gives a secure fit.  Infact, I think this design feature is a work of genius.  It also helps stop any debris getting in the boot and I expect it will do a good job with snow too.  Well done Teva designers!
The fit of the boot suits my fairly broad feet really well and they have proved comfortable with every  use I've put them too.  The sole is fairly stiff and they have been great for simple bike rides on my bike with pedals and toe clips.  The lacing system is a traditional loop closure with quick fasten hook at the top. The loops are durable and they look like they will last really well.
The sole has a fairly deep tread which worked well on a variety of terrain - I've taken them boulder hopping on the Peak Districts gritstone edges and trotting the peat bogs of Kinder Scout. I felt the tread was less confidence inspiring on wet grass but that may just be a case of getting used to them.  The fibreglass pods are a really interesting idea and I'm looking forward to seeing how they work in the snow and ice this winter.  I have read a few online reviews are ver complimentary about the traction they offer.
The Pro's have a protective rand around the front part of the boot and they are standing up to wear and tear well so far.  I usually find a fair bit of use on coarse gritstone sorts the boots that can stand up to the abuse and the Teva's are certainly delivering so far - there is actually very little sign of rand wear at all.
I love these boots. Teva have given a lot of thought to the design and have produced a product that looks great and performs really well too.  Infact, they have become my recent boot of choice when the activity allows.  They are also, given the technical features and construction quality, extremely good value.  I understand Teva are changing their boot range and the Forge Pro may be one they discontinue but there still seem to be plenty of people with them in stock.  You might even be able to grab a bargain and a great product in one hit.  
Posted by Paul