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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Keen Oregon PCT > Test Report by Michael Wheiler
KEEN OREGON PCT BOOT
By Michael Wheiler
SKIP TO THE INITIAL REPORT: OCTOBER 21, 2008
SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT: JANUARY 13, 2009
SKIP TO THE LONG TERM REPORT: March 10, 2009
INITIAL REPORTManufacturer's General Description:
October 21, 2008
"The Ultimate KEEN Hiker"
Product Specifications For the Oasis Per Black Diamond Unless Otherwise Noted:
KEEN offers a one year warranty on all of its products from the original date of purchase. The warranty does not apply to a product that has been damaged by misuse, accident, modification or unauthorized repair. KEEN recommends contacting the dealer where the product was purchased to have warranty issues resolved.
"Live the dream with the Oregon PCT hiker from KEEN. This waterproof wonder features a cushioning system made from natural materials for an eco-friendly take on tough performance. A supportive, interlocking stability plate gives you sure-footed assurance so the wilderness is yours to explore."
The KEEN Oregon PCT Boots arrived via UPS in perfect condition. They look exactly like the photograph on KEEN's webpage. The Oregon PCT Boots are what I would classify as a mid-cut boot. The top of the ankle cuff is slightly lower in the back (approximately 7"/18 cm) than the front (approximately 7.5"/19 cm). The exterior of the ankle cuff is made primarily of a "high abrasion synthetic material." This material has kind of a rubbery texture The tongue is a soft, padded synthetic material with some leather pieces sewn into the center. The remainder of the upper is made primarily of leather. There are pull loops made of nylon webbing located in the front and back of the ankle cuff near the top. The toe rand is made of carbon non-marking rubber and appears to be fairly sturdy. The Oregon PCT Boots come with standard removable footbed liners.
The boots have fairly aggressive, deep lugged soles also made of carbon non-marking rubber. See photo at the top of this report. While the soles appear to have good grip, only field testing will confirm whether the Oregon PCTs will provide adequate traction.
The lacing system on the Oregon PCTs is a combination of three pairs of plastic speed lace eyelets over the top of the foot, webbing loops which run through slits in the leather upper and the rubber like synthetic material on each side of the boot and around the heel, and three pairs of plastic locking hooks on the upper part of the ankle cuff. See photo at the top of this report. It appears that the webbing loop portion of the lacing system is designed to help secure the heel.
The lining of the Oregon PCTs is made of KEEN Dry which is touted by KEEN as a "breathable and supremely waterproof membrane." This lining has a smooth, almost silky texture. The lining does not come all the way up the ankle collar. From the foot bed, the lining comes up the ankle collar about 3.5"/9 cm. The rest of the interior portion of the collar and tongue is a stiffer black material.
I am impressed by the look and feel of these boots. The colors and design make a sharp looking boot. The Oregon PCTs appear to be well made. There are no loose stitches and the other materials are in place and have no abrasions, scuffs or nicks (yet). These boots are slightly lighter than my current hiking/backpacking boots. At this point, there is nothing that I dislike about these boots.
Field Testing Plans:
I truly believe Colin Fletcher was correct when he wrote: "The foundations of the house on your back are your feet and their footwear, and the cornerstone is a good pair of boots." The Complete Walker IV, page 58 (Third Printing, March 2003). For that reason, I have resisted obtaining hiking or backpacking boots by mail. I once drove almost 700 miles/1,127 km (round trip) to purchase a pair of climbing boots from the nearest dealer. I could have purchased the same boots through the mail but I was not sure how well the boots would fit my feet. As such, one of the main features of my report will be how well the KEEN Oregon PCT Boots fit my feet and how comfortable the boots are. I also plan to test how well the lacing system works and whether it provides any additional support to my heels.
I also plan to determine how waterproof and breathable the Oregon PCT Boots are and whether the lining causes my feet to sweat as much as other similar waterproof linings. I will report on how durable the boots are and how well the lug soles perform.
FIELD TEST REPORT
January 13, 2009
I firmly believe that a great fitting pair of hiking boots are the foundation of a great backpacking experience. I believe this so much that prior to being chosen to test the Oregon PCT boots, I had never ordered a pair of boots on line or through the mail. I always purchased my hiking boots in a store where I could try on the boots and walk around the store before making my purchase. I was even happier if the store had an area designed specifically for testing boots where I could walk over uneven and sharply angled surfaces and maybe even jump on or over rocks. Needless to say, my primary concern in testing KEEN's Oregon PCT boots was whether they would fit my feet well enough to provide me the comfort I demanded in hiking boots.
After a very brief (around the block) break in, I took the boots on our first excursion into the mountains. On October 30, 2008 I did some day hiking in the Hawley Creek area near Leadore, Idaho (6,600 ft/2,012 m elevation). The day time temperature was 31 F/-0.55 C. This was a 6 mile/10 km round trip. I was wearing a pair of mid-weight wool hiking socks combined with a pair of very light polypropylene liner socks. I starting hiking in the pitch dark with the aid of a headlamp. I was carrying a day pack weighing about 18 lb/8 kg. The initial portion of the hike consisted of fairly easy rolling sage brush covered hills but eventually worked into a full scale scramble to the top of an unnamed peak (7,800 ft/2,377 m) with a fairly steep approach. As my head lamp illuminated the path ahead of me in the dark, I became aware that portions of my boots were shinning back at me. I believe this was the first time I was aware that the Oregon PCT boots had a webbing material from the toe up the tongue and around the ankle to about the heel. See photograph below. This was a nice touch. It allowed me to see my feet even though the light wasn't shinning directly on the boots.
On this hike I encountered hard packed dirt, some boulder hopping, and loose scree. The boots provided excellent traction in all of these trail conditions. While the toe rand experienced some scuff marks, overall, the Oregon PCT boots handled the workout with very little noticeable wear or tear.
For having given these boots a next to nothing break-in period, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were and how much support they provided. I felt no hot spots while climbing to the top of the mountain. While at the summit, I removed the boots to check on my feet. My socks were damp from sweat so I allowed them to air dry for a few minutes while I ate my lunch. I found no red spots or other areas of concern with my feet. On the trip off the summit, I began to notice that my ankles were rubbing a little on the collars of the boots causing a bit of soreness. I also became more keenly aware of the fact that I had to be very careful to make sure the tongues on the boots fit properly between the laces, the collar, and my ankle/leg. If I wasn't careful, due to the design of the tongue, simply tightening the laces would result in the top of the tongue being off center or wrinkled which lead to some undesired rubbing. By carefully pulling the laces tight while holding the top of the tongue centered and making sure the edges of the tongue were evenly tucked under the collar on both sides, I was able to avoid any problems.
On The Lower Palisades Lake Trail
I next used the KEEN Oregon PCT boots on November 15, 2008 during a fast paced day hike into Lower Palisades Lake (6,131 ft/1,869 m) near Swan Valley, Idaho. This was an 8 mile/13 km round trip. I was carrying about a 10 lb/4.5 kg day pack. Again I used a pair of mid-weight wool hiking socks with light polypro liners. The daytime temperature was 26 F/-3.32 C. I was hiking over a mostly frozen trail until afternoon when the sun began to defrost the walk way leaving us with some fairly muddy, wet and slick spots in which to test the boots. While the boots became a little muddy, no moisture got into the boots from the exterior. Again, the boots provided me with very good traction. As with my first outing, the boots proved to be very comfortable producing no blisters and not even a single hot spot. On this trip, I did not notice any trouble with my ankles rubbing on the collars. Despite a couple of missteps that could have resulted in a rolled ankle, the boots provided the necessary ankle support to prevent an injury. Except for waiting for the mud to dry and wiping it off, I provided no other maintenance to the boots.
Trail Head Sign And Trail Conditions
I then used the boots on an overnight backpack trip on November 22-23, 2008. My destination was Aldous Lake (8,300 ft/2,530 m elevation) near Kilgore, Idaho. This was a 3 mile/5 km round trip hike with 900 ft/274 m of elevation gain from the trail head to the lake. There was 4+ inches/102+ cm of snow on the ground. In some places the snow was hard packed and in other places it was soft powder. Although I came prepared to use snowshoes, the snow conditions did not justify using them so I left the snowshoes in the pickup truck. I was carrying a 40.5 lb/18 kg pack. On this trip, I used a heavy wool blend hiking sock with light polypro liners. I also used hiking sticks for additional support and balance.
Even with the additional weight, the KEEN Oregon PCT boots provided excellent support and comfort. Additionally, even on icy sections of the trail I was able to maintain adequate traction between the boots' lug and the trail. I also did not experience cold feet despite the fact that I was hiking in or on snow the entire trip.
In conclusion, at this juncture in my testing, I am pleasantly surprised by the "out-of-the-box" comfort of these fairly light weight hiking boots. The KEEN Oregon PCT boots fit my feet well and I have experienced no blisters or hot spots during this initial field testing period. The boots have also provided me with good support even while carrying a fairly heavy load. The boots' lug sole has provided excellent traction in various types of terrain and conditions. In spite of some fairly demanding work, the KEEN Oregon PCT boots look almost like new. There are a few scuffs on the rubber toes, a couple of light scrapes in spots on the leather, and some dried mud remnants here and there, but really no significant signs of wear. No exterior moisture has gotten into the boots. However, like all the waterproof boots I own, my feet tend to sweat a bit more in waterproof type boots even though the liner is purportedly breathable. Additionally, I'm not completely thrilled with the fully sewn-in tongue. Each time I lace up the boots, I have to make sure of the tongue placement before tightening the laces. This has become easier with time and is only a very minor issue for me. So far I really like these boots. I have yet to put them into my snowshoe bindings but hope to do so soon and will report on how well they handle that type of workout.
LONG TERM REPORT
March 10, 2009
I was able to use the Oregon PCT boots on five additional hikes. During all of my outings with the Keen Oregon PCT boots during this test period, I wore a wool or wool blend outer sock with a polypropylene liner. In January, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Arizona visiting my sister and her family. Two days were spent engaged in some serious off-trail hiking in the Arizona desert. On one of those days, my nephew, brother-in-law, and I did some off trail bush whacking in the mountains near Payson at an elevation of approximately 5,000 ft/1,524 m. The weather was beautiful especially compared to what it was like back in Idaho. I think the temperatures were in the low 70s F/21-22 C. We covered approximately 4 miles/6 km over some pretty harsh, very steep country. This was my first experience hiking off trail in the Arizona desert and it seemed like everything was trying to stick, poke or jab me. The boots took a serious pounding by the numerous cacti I encountered but they protected my feet perfectly. I felt no hot spots and had no issues with rubbing or other fit problems. Despite the warm temperatures, my feet did not overheat. I had no difficulty maintaining traction even in some loose, rocky ground on fairly steep terrain. I carried a day pack weighing in at approximately 18 pounds/8 kg.
Near The Trail Head Look Toward The Wind Cave
A few days later, we took a more civilized hike up to the Wind Cave in Usery Mountain Park. Again, the weather was spectacular. Temperatures were in the mid 70s F/23-24 C. The trail head starts at an elevation of about 2,030 ft/619 m and the Wind Cave is located at about 2,800 ft/853 m. The first 1/2 mile/0.8 km of the trail is nice and gradual but the remainder is steep. It is all hard packed with very little loose rock. Round trip to the Wind Cave was about 3.2 miles/5 km but we also started to climb to the summit which is about 0.8 mile/1.3 km further. However, the rest of the group was anxious to get back down to the campground for lunch so we didn't complete the summit attempt. I had absolutely no issues with the Oregon PCT boots during this hike. On this hike, I carried only a camera, some water, and snacks.
After being forced to return to the winter weather of my home state, in early February, I took a 3 mile/5 km round trip hike along the Snake River near Hagerman, Idaho (elevation 2,959 ft/902 m). The weather was cold and windy. The temperature was 36 F/2 C but with the wind chill, it sure felt colder. The trail followed the river and was mostly level with very little change in elevation. However, this was the boots first introduction to mud, loose sand, and water. I had no traction problems in the sandy or muddy portions of the trail. The boots also handled the water well without allowing any moisture inside the boots. The boots did get pretty muddy after having to cross through some sizable mud holes on the trail. After the boots dried at home, I was able to brush most all of the dried mud off and the boots look great.
Finally, in late February, I was able to escape the office and head up to the Kelley Canyon Ski area to take advantage of the snowshoe trails (elevation 6,177 ft/1,883 m). Kelley Canyon is located northeast of Idaho Falls. The temperature was 23 F/-5 C. It was overcast and windy. The snow pack, typical for late February, was hard and icy. I was using my Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes. The snowshoes are very adjustable and I had no trouble fitting the Oregon PCT boots into the bindings. The trail I chose was fairly flat at first but then climbed steeply toward the ridge line. I was carrying a day pack with a light load (approximately 10 lbs/4.5 kg). According to my GPS, I hiked 2 miles (3.2 km) before turning around and heading back to my vehicle. As long as I kept moving, the boots were fine but without any insulation, if I stopped for any length of time, my feet started to get cold. This, of course, is not a flaw in the boots as they were not designed for cold weather use. I did like the lighter weight combination of the Oregon PCT boots and my snowshoes. Usually, I'm wearing heavier insulated boots and I found it was much less demanding to hike in this combination.
After completing all of these hikes, plus some around town kicking around, the Keen Oregon PCT boots show very little sign of wear. Oh, there are some scrapes and scratches and I still occasionally find a stray cactus needle embedded in the leather, but overall the boots look pretty dang good for all the abusive treatment they've received. More impressive to me was how comfortable the boots were almost right out of the box. I gave them very little break in time and yet, with the exception of some ankle rubbing early on, I have had no fit problems with these boots. They have been immersed in water and kept my feet dry. Even in the warm temperatures of the Arizona desert, my feet did not overheat and I generally have found that water proof boots tend to cause my feet to sweat. Not so with the Oregon PCT boots. That tells me that the boots are breathing well. They were also fairly easy to clean even after I caked them in mud. The only testing that I still need to do with these boots is a long backpack trip with a heavy load. Given the timing of the test period, I wasn't able to do that but, that will happen this summer and I will report by way of addendum on how the boots handle that type of trip. That said, for day hiking and even short backpack trips with a fairly heavy load, I am very impressed with the Keen Oregon PCT boots and I will continue to use them.
This concludes my Report on the KEEN Oregon PCT Boots. I wish to thank KEEN and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test these wonderful boots.
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