Keen Revel Review

November 29, 2011
Keen Revel
Keen Revel 2Keen-Revel 3Keen-Revel 4Keen-Revel-Sole

The Good

  • Very comfortable and supportive, with excellent traction on rocks, snow and ice.
  • Warm enough for just about any active winter use, and feet stay dry.
  • Very light for an insulated boot.

The Bad

  • Not the best choice for standing around in very cold temperatures, like below 15 degrees F, because the boots won’t keep feet warm if you’re inactive in frigid temps.

Light, comfortable, warm and supportive, the Revels are exceptional winter hiking boots, though they may be less appropriate for inactive use in very cold temperatures.


In late October I went to work getting the local ski area ready for the coming season and put the Revels to the test. The first thing I noticed is that the Revels are very light for insulated hiking boots, just over two and a half pounds for the pair in size nine. That’s half the weight of my Sorel Caribous and less even than my regular uninsulated hiking boots.

The uppers are nubuck with a Keen.DRY waterproof breathable membrane.  There’s a nice little gaiter hook at the end of the laces. The footbed is insulated with wool felt and the midsole is EVA. The outsole has the signature Keen protective toe bumper and the tread is siped—more on that in a bit. According to Keen, the uppers are insulated with a 200 gram charcoal bamboo material, and there are three layers of insulation in the sole that they call Heat Trapolator. During the testing there were no problems or failures with the materials or construction.

When I got them on I found the Revel to be very supportive, especially for a light boot, and the arch support in particular is excellent. The fit is fairly high volume, but like many Keen shoes they feel about a half size shorter than usual so consider sizing up, especially if your plans include wearing a thick sock.

The testing took me up and down steep rocky terrain, in cold weather on hard ground and in snow up to two feet deep, and with some heavy lifting and load carrying thrown in to keep the blood flowing. The boots always provided good support and allowed little, if any, rolling to the side. That surprised me given how light the boots are. A nice touch was the comfortable fit right out of the box—no break-in required.

The Revel’s cold weather performance is very good. The siped soles (with thin slits cut across the rubber) give outstanding traction, most notably on hardpacked snow and ice. During the testing my feet were comfortable in temperatures down to about 15 degrees F as long as I was active. I wore thin wool socks in them and my feet stayed warm and dry in deep snow. I credit the excellent insulation in the footbed and sole with playing a large part in keeping things warm. I started to feel a bit cold when I stopped hiking or working around 15 degrees so they’re probably not the first choice for loading lifts or ice fishing or similar low activity pursuits in very cold weather. When hiking and working in cold and snow these boots excel, but bring something like a pair of down booties if you’re going to wear the Revels for winter camping where the temps will drop below 20 degrees.  The Keen.DRY membrane worked well, keeping moisture from wet snow out, but letting perspiration evaporate. My feet stayed dry when working hard in warmer weather instead of getting damp from sweat.

These boots should be high on the list when you’re looking for a hiking boot for cold weather and snow. I’m not a snowshoer but these boots would have to be ideal for that. They’re great for outdoor cold weather working and they’d even be a good choice for ski town barhopping—the EVA midsole keeps things comfortable on pavement, without being squishy. I’m not easily impressed with boots but I found that I didn’t have to give the Revels a second thought when I had them on, which speaks to how good they are.


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