If you’re looking for a waterproof hiking boot with added foot protection and insulation from an all-leather upper, but still want some flexibility and a comfortable fit, then the Keen Venture Mid Leather Waterproof is a solid choice.
This leather version is a little a bit heavier than the mesh upper version of the boot. Thanks to some interesting design elements from Keen, it doesn’t have any of the problems endemic in many other leather uppers (stiffness, lack of breathability, weight).
In-depth review, from top to bottom
To really take this hiking boot through its paces and test its durability, comfort, waterproofing, and grip, I took it out in the mountains through some wet, rainy conditions with plenty of muddy stream crossings.
Here are my detailed experiences from top to bottom. Based on these hikes and experiences with other hiking boots, further below, you can find my thoughts on how the Keen Venture Leather competes with other boots.
The upper on the Venture is extremely comfortable. I’m usually pretty wary of all leather uppers. They don’t tend to breathe as well, are less flexible, and are more constrictive than partial leather or all mesh uppers.
Yet, the Venture’s leather upper was a pleasant surprise. Keen added what initially look like purely aesthetic angle vertical slits along the mid and forefoot of the upper that actually function as flex grooves to allow the upper to bend smoothly with the foot’s natural movements.
Where most leather uppers would crease and create uncomfortable pressure on the foot, this boot’s upper bends smoothly. The mid-length ankle protection also has impressive flexibility, never feeling constrictive or putting pressure on the Achilles tendon or malleolus.
The leather on the Venture’s upper is well insulated and perfectly waterproofed. It also feels pretty breathable in dry, warmer conditions.
I’ve used treated leather boots in the past that claim to be fully waterproof (and are fresh out of the box), but after a short period of wear, the leather starts to lose its waterproofing and gets a bit saturated in the rain.
Not so with the Venture: after miles of wear, the leather kept its waterproofing throughout long hikes in ankle-deep stream crossings with the rain coming down.
A few other details that made for a terrific upper are Keen’s choice of metal eyelets that effectively secure the boot’s laces while adding durability. Aside from that, the use of lightweight metal chording that wraps along the silhouette of the hindfoot to provide a secure lock around the heel.
The midsole of the Venture is just the right amount of cushioning. Not too much so you don’t feel like you’re squishing into a sponge while wearing a weighted pack like you do in more maximalist cushioned boots and not too little, so your feet and joints are kept comfortable over long, multi-day hikes.
The midsole’s shape works well with the flex grooves on the upper to allow a good amount of natural movement in the forefoot and encouraging a smooth heel-toe transition while hiking.
This is a welcome and uncommon achievement in a hiking boot. Boots often end up pretty stiff and cause a clunky heel-toe transition as if there’s a wooden board tied to the bottom of your feet.
My one critique on the midsole is more of a point of personal preference. The midsole is a pretty firm foam and offers little-to-no ground feel.
Some hikers like this firmer feeling where it gives the sensation of being more protective and stable. However, I personally like slightly softer, thinner midsoles where you can still feel a bit of the ground underfoot, like the more minimal midsoles on Inov-8 hiking boots like the Roclite G series (see Competition section below).
That said, this is all personal preference, so depending on your tastes, this may be a plus for the Keen, not a minus.
The outsole on the Venture is excellent. I found it was grippy on a wide range of wet and dry surfaces, and especially effective on dirt and mud; conditions that will likely make up most of the hiking trails you’ll be on.
The only situation that caused issues was wet, smooth surfaces like rain-soaked logs or water-polished rocks along streams. Choosing an outsole rubber for a boot is tricky.
There’s an inevitable tradeoff between durability from a harder rubber versus grip from a softer rubber. It seems that Keen opted for a very firm, hard outsole rubber to ensure lots of durability, even if this meant sacrificing a little bit of tacky grip on wet, smooth surfaces that could have been provided by a softer outsole rubber.
I’m perfectly fine with this decision. If I’m investing in a high-end hiking boot that I plan to do lots of rough miles in, I’m willing to spend a couple of extra seconds to find secure footing during the occasional stream crossing if it means not having to worry about the outsole wearing out prematurely.
The long-term outsole durability is apparent in the Venture: 50+ miles of rough hiking, and the outsole has shown virtually no signs of wear.
One competitor is the same Keen Venture boot but with a mesh upper. Readers might be wondering if having the added protection and insulation from a leather upper is a good idea given the tendency of all leather uppers to be more constrictive, less breathable, and heavier than partial leather or all mesh uppers.
In the Venture Leather boot, none of these concerns were major issues. The grooves on the upper’s leather made it flexible, and the boot still feels fairly lightweight and breathable. I definitely felt more protected by the leather than I do hiking around in mesh.
Another set of competing boots are the numerous all leather mid-height options on the market at a slightly lower price point like the Merrell Reflex Waterproof All-Leather Midhiking boot (at $120, versus the Venture’s $190).
In my opinion, the higher price point of the Keen Venture is worth the investment. After 50+ miles of hiking, it has given almost no signs of wear and tear.
While less expensive, Merrells that I’ve used in the past were fairly durable, but soon lost their waterproofing and secure fit as the uppers wore through and stretched out.
I’ve been really impressed with the Venture’s durability and would say that if you think about the decision in terms of dollars per mile of use, the investment will almost certainly pay for itself over time.
The fit of the boot may be one major advantage that the Keen Venture has over similar competitors if you like a boot with a more accommodating forefoot. I found the Venture had a nice secure midfoot and heel but also offered a bit more room in the toe box than many other hiking boots.
I believe it will accommodate a wide range of foot shapes. By contrast, I’ve found Merrell boots tend to have a slightly snugger toe box and fit a narrower range of foot shapes.
Similarly, competitors from Salomon like the Quest 4D 3 GTX and X Ultra 3 Mid GTX also feel a bit snugger in the forefoot around the metatarsals than the Keen. So, if you have a bit wider foot or just like feeling your toes being able to splay out while hiking, the Keen may be a preferable option.
On the other hand, the outsole grip and lack of ground feel of the Keen Venture may be variables that push you to choose other boots. While overall, the outsole on the Keen Venture is excellent, I did find myself slipping on smooth, wet surfaces.
I’ve found outsoles from Inov-8 (like the Roclite G series), and Salomon like the Contagrip pattern found on most of their trail shoes and boots outperformed the Venture in terms of grip on smooth, wet surfaces.
In the midsole, I found that the Keen’s dense foam separates you completely from the ground, while Inov-8 and Salomon boots have good protection but also softer foams that give more feel for terrain underfoot. So, if traction and ground feel are critical variables, these options may be preferable.
The Keen Venture Mid Leather Waterproof is an impressive hiking boot. For an all-leather upper, it is remarkably pliable, breathable, form-fitting, and lightweight.
The outsole is excellent too and extremely durable, only lacking in grip on smooth, wet surfaces. If you’re willing to invest in a reliable and comfortable hiking boot for adventures in wet conditions, then the Venture is a solid option.
To know more about Keen Venture Mid Leather WP, visit Keen's official page!
Bottom line upfront, these are an excellent pair of boots that I believe are worthy of nearly any terrain. Keen put a premium price tag on the Venture Mids for a reason, and it’s because these boots provide anything you would need from hiking footwear.
They are durable, comfortable, breathable, stable, waterproof, and extremely lightweight. I could say nice things about them all day, but let’s get into the details.
Fit & comfort
The Venture Mids are equipped with a soft yet supportive interior that provides the right amount of snugness around the foot. Extra padding is provided at the heel to provide a cushioned step that feels great even on the bumpiest of terrains.
For running shoes, I wear extra wide, but these boots were standard width, and I always felt like my feet had plenty of room—no cramping or pinching.
The tongue is well-padded, and overall, my feet always felt comfortable and secure. Even after full-day hikes, my feet were happy and without complaints.
Stability, grip & durability
I grouped these three categories into one section because I consider them crucial features of a good hiking shoe. They constitute not only a comfortable hiking experience but also a much safer one.
Regarding stability, the Venture Mids fared well even when the terrain was uneven and jagged. The firm ankle support, combined with the fact that the boots’ leather is tough and firm on the outside, made it such that I could step with confidence even when the ground was uneven.
Whether scaling large stones on a rock scramble or changing direction on a winding path, I always felt in control and balance while wearing the Venture Mids.
As for the durability, the boots hold up extremely well. Even after miles and miles of scraping and marching through all that nature has to offer, the boots showed no early signs of breakage.
Although wear and tear eventually revealed itself on the toe area, the rubber on the bottom of the boots still looked unfazed even after miles and miles. These boots showed that they could go the distance.
With a myriad of intricate rubber treads built onto the bottom of the shoe, the Venture mids provided a great grip even on wet surfaces. Even after many hikes, this traction has not shown notable signs of deterioration, and I have been incredibly pleased about that.
Because of the thick rubber bottoms and firm leather outer of the Venture Mids, the boots provide very effective protection against rough and sharp terrains.
Toe stubbing and heel soreness on downhills are usual suspects on long hikes. Still, I felt that these boots effectively safeguarded me from all of these common threats better than any hiking footwear I had ever worn previously.
In short, my feet always felt safe from harm during my hikes.
Lightness & swiftness
Despite all the above praise, I have already given these boots; I think what truly takes them to the next level is how light and nimble they are. At just around 2 pounds, these pair of boots felt like feathers in comparison to any others that I have worn.
When combined with the good traction, stability, and protection, this lightness allowed me to comfortably clear hikes at really fast paces. In fact, on some trails, I flat out ran while earing these boots and felt great.
I also felt that the rounded heel design allowed me to stride more naturally and fluidly, further contributing to the quickness I experienced in the Venture Mids. I was and am truly in love with how light and sleek these hiking boots are.
Furthermore, in the past, I’ve tested hiking boots that were specifically designed to be minimalist and lightweight. While they did end up being very light, they never provided the protection or padding to perform at a reliable standard during real hikes.
That has not been the case with the Venture Mids. They are sturdy and light.
Whether you’re stepping in slippery mud, crossing shallow streams, or stepping through puddles, the technology built into these boots will keep your feet totally dry.
The Venture Mids are the best pair of hiking boots I have ever worn. They are sleek and were designed for day hikes, and in my opinion, are worthy of even prolonged hiking trips in various conditions.
In the heat, they will keep your feet breathable, and in the cold, they are capable of keeping your feet warm (provided a good pair of hiking socks).
Because they are so light and provide such great traction, I felt I could move quickly in them all day without feeling tired or clumsy.
Transitioning to the Venture Mids after wearing my previous, heavier hiking boots felt like switching from driving an old car to driving a new sports car. A cheesy analogy, but one that I feel does the boots justice.
I would seriously recommend this pair to anyone serious about hiking. They are on the pricier end, but when it comes to hiking, footwear is one of the most important (if not the single most important) piece of equipment to keep in mind.
These boots are comfortable, but beyond that, they are also designed to keep wearers safe. The only reason I did not give the boots a perfect score is that the laces are a bit difficult to tie and tighten because they are so thick and round.
I also have to double-knot them, or else they will quickly become untied. Otherwise, the Venture Mids is a superb, lightweight pair of high-quality hiking boots that delivers in every crucial category.
To know more about Keen Venture Mid Leather WP, visit Keen's official page!
Previous experience with hiking boots for me was a pair of fairly agricultural and robust shoes. Those are not the most comfortable and memories of lacing up seemingly hundreds of eyelets before I could get walking.
Imagine my joy to get my hands on these comparatively light, midrange hiking boots made from leather and with only two eyelets.
After opening the box, my immediate feeling was one of pleasant surprise at their weight because they have a lightness, which belies their sturdy appearance.
Giving the Keen Venture a once over, they felt solid, flexible and looked relatively sleek for a hiking boot. The outsole felt rigid and firm, giving the whole shoe strength.
Upon lacing up and a first stroll around, the lightness of the shoes, on my feet at least, was confirmed. The shoes were comfortable quickly and took a little wearing in.
The only adjustment required was to the tongue, which was large and a little intrusive but doesn’t bother me now.
There is plenty of room in the toe box, and my feet were comfortable the whole time. I would say they are true to size, which is rare particularly with slightly wider than normal feet like mine.
I wore two pairs of socks to combat the cooler temperatures, and the lacing allowed this with no problems. The design of the shoe seemed well-considered with foot and ankle support but not intrusively so.
Getting to grips
Living with the boots was straightforward. With two eyelets on each side, they were a doddle to lace up, which is nice and quick compared to some boots I’ve had. Regardless, it still enables a comfortable, firm fit.
To give them a good test, I spent a whole week in the boots, outside in them all day and had no complaints at all. They were comfortable, warm while being light, supportive and grippy.
Despite the sturdy base, they felt light and pliable. My week took me through puddles, flowing water, and wet grass.
So, I did put their waterproofing ability to the test, but my feet remained dry. I never had the feeling of dampness in the shoe.
For me, what stood out was the excellent traction these boots provided. My week away was a strenuous working holiday.
I walked through muddy fields, and more challengingly, I was working for periods on steep loose slopes of gravel, pine needles, and soil.
I negotiated river banks and rooted forests, and through it all, the grip was superb. In particular, on steep, loose slopes, which I traversed numerous times, the rugged outsole provided superb grip. I had full confidence they would be fine.
I can’t say more on the durability of the sole, I’ve read some reviews questioning the durability of the lugs, but that isn’t something I’ve experienced as yet.
The weather for my time in the boots was pretty chilly, so I can’t comment on the breathability of the boots in warmer conditions.
Despite being waterproof and wearing two pairs of socks, I didn’t have an issue with clamminess or overheating.
The only slight on the boots is that the heel felt like it could do with a little more cushioning. After spending all day wearing it, I noticed it felt quite hard, but it is a fairly minor point. It wasn’t uncomfortable—merely a property I noticed from time to time on harder surfaces.
In terms of price, I can appreciate the selling point is high. But, from my experience with the Keen Venture, you are getting a quality product.
If they do turn out to have durability issues, then that view would change. But for now, I would give these shoes a positive recommendation to interested parties.
To know more about Keen Venture Mid Leather WP, visit Keen's official page!
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Keen Venture Mid Leather WP. When the opportunity to try out a hiking shoe arose, I jumped at the opportunity.
As a runner who has been seeking out cross-training activities to balance pounding the pavements, hiking is something I’ve begun to integrate into my training. But, I’ve always used trail shoes, and typically those on the more minimal end of the spectrum.
When I was offered the higher cut Venture Mid instead of the lower-slung Explore model (which was out of stock), I was still keen to hit the trails but hesitant with the higher-and-heavier cut.
It has a very simple, very classic styling—a solid-looking, black, mid-cut hiking boot with a silver contrast on the eyelets and lacing system.
Initial step-in comfort underfoot was good. I was pleasantly surprised to find ample space in the toe box. As someone with slightly wider feet, this is always something I look for.
Fit around the ankle with the mid-cut was where my concerns lay: lacing up securely was no problem thanks to the lace locks, but the feeling of a lot of boot around the high ankle/low shin area was very apparent.
First use, 2mi, city walking in heavy rain (approximately 0.23cm/hour)
Grim weather conditions didn’t stop me, and it was ideal conditions to test the waterproofing of the boot. Plenty of large puddles had formed thanks to the constant rain, and despite purposefully splashing through as many as possible, my feet stayed nice and dry.
The mid-cut that I was so wary of must have paid dividends in this case by making it hard for puddle water to spill into the boot. And, despite not wearing waterproof trousers, no significant amount of water managed to get in through the top of the boot.
The waterproofing held up fantastically during this first walk but city streets are a far cry from a hiking boot’s natural habitat. Despite that, I felt confident walking on a mixture of pavement and road sections.
The 4mm lugs on the outsole are there to offer grip and security on versatile terrain, but they remain flat and wide enough to feel stable on harder, artificial surfaces.
The only caveat is that I paid a bit more attention to my footing on very smooth, polished paving slabs. I didn’t feel quite as confident in the traction there. I was looking forward to getting them into some more varied terrain.
On the whole, this was a positive first impression, and the fit was less troublesome than I envisaged. The bulk around the ankle was very apparent – particularly for a runner who has worn Vivobarefoot, inov8 and Altra trail footwear – but it didn’t actively cause any pain or discomfort.
Second use: 4mi, city walking with some community trail paths
There were totally dry conditions this time and solid, sure-footed grip. Better conditions encouraged a brisker walking pace on a range of mildly undulating road and trail.
For hard surfaces, my feelings are unchanged from the first use impressions, and I’ll note that I felt confident about the mild ascents and descents.
For the first time hitting the hard-pack trail and muddy paths, I could feel the lugs biting into the trail surface nicely. The softer muddy stretches did feel a bit sketchy though. The lugs seemed to dig in, but I felt like I was still moving slightly on the surface.
My foot was certainly locked down well inside the shoe thanks to the lacing system, but that sensation of moving on top of the mud didn’t fill me with huge confidence.
For any runners who have run in an overly soft shoe and feel like you’re sinking or ‘bottoming out’, that is the closest way I can describe it (though I don’t think it's down to the boot using an overly soft cushioning foam).
For the remainder of the walk, the fit felt pretty good, and the top-heavy design didn’t hinder too much. Important to note that my left shin was feeling a little uncomfortable post-walk.
It would be unfair at this point to point the finger solely at the boot, but I suspect that my relative unfamiliarity with the mid-cut was a contributor.
The shins are typically not a problem area for me even during higher mileage, so this could be a result of a different stimulus from the boot.
Third use: 2.5mi, walk to spectate half marathon
I took the tough decision to sit out a goal race due to flu-like symptoms of heavy chest and sapped energy but was keen to get out and support on the course. This was again mostly city walking, and there are three main takeaways:
- The boots feel like they’re starting to break-in, and the rigidity of the mid-cut—although still not my favourite thing—is beginning to feel more hold and support instead of inflexible and restrictive.
- Standing in the boot for a longer period was comfortable, standing roadside for just over an hour presented no problems.
- The grip on smooth, slick paving slabs is a weakness of the boot (but to reiterate that these are not the conditions it was designed for). To be more specific, it's less so when you plant your foot but more when you toe-off. My forefoot feels like it slips off the ground really excessively.
Continued use: Pen y- Fan, and impressions after 50 miles
After a range of city and trail use, I was excited to test the Venture on proper mountain terrain. Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales at 873m. The mixture of steep stone steps and scrambling ascents made it an ideal testing ground.
I felt sure-footed whilst hiking up the rocky paths, even on loose rocks and small boulders. The lugs gripped well, and I felt secure within the boot.
There are some sections higher up where you need to scramble up and over. Although it isn’t super technical terrain, the boots felt nimble and secure enough to navigate with confidence.
Coming down the mountain is always more difficult, but the performance of the Venture held up. I was concerned that the high fit might compromise my ability to feel the ground.
I was expecting to have to really slow down and focus on my footing to avoid rolling an ankle, but there was no cause for concern. You don’t get the same response and connection to the ground as a trail shoe. But, you don’t need it to that degree if you’re walking or hiking.
The fit and comfort of the Venture Mid that I touched on in previous sections are still applicable. My foot is locked down without sliding around. Space at the front of the boot has remained ample, and I haven’t had any discomfort or pinching.
There isn’t any excessive wear on the shoe, and the components all seem to be well made and durable. Waterproofing has also been great, and my feet have remained dry whatever the weather.
I haven’t seen anything so far to suggest any concerns on durability. And the shin discomfort I had earlier didn’t become an ongoing issue.
Overall I’m pleasantly surprised with how the Venture has performed. I went in, expecting the boot to feel heavy, sluggish, and uncomfortable.
It hasn’t convinced me to throw away my trail shoes and switch over to higher cut footwear, but I’ll be lacing up the Venture Mid whenever I’m day hiking and need solid grip and dry feet.
- Sturdy, durable and supportive
- Excellent waterproofing
- Comfortable for long periods on feet
- It will always feel heavier if you’re coming from a trail shoe or low-cut hiker
- Better grip on smoother surfaces would give versatility for everyday wear
- Despite great build, you can find alternative options at a more affordable price
To know more about Keen Venture Mid Leather WP, visit Keen's official page!
Good to know
-The Venture Mid Leather WP, the boot-style brother of the low-top Venture WP, is engineered with lightness and optimal hiking performance in mind. It can keep moisture locked out thanks to its proprietary waterproofing system.
-Its sole unit, which is made up of a sturdy midsole and a brand-exclusive outsole, comes built with a generous toe rocker. This feature delivers enhanced walking comfort on flat or level terrain.
KEEN’s Venture Mid Leather WP is an over-the-ankle hiker designed specifically for men. Its overall fit may be customized for a secure lockdown by means of the boot’s lace-up closure. KEEN engineers armed the shoe with Konnectfit, a company-owned technology that promises to lock the heel in place.
The Venture Mid Leather WP enables adventures to remain surefooted over slippery terrain with its durable rubber outsole, called KEEN.All-Terrain. It is capable of producing and maintaining enough surface traction on soft-soiled surfaces, thanks to its 4-mm thick multi-faceted lugs. The shoemakers over at KEEN gave it a moderate heel brake to help owners take on descents with a bit more control. They also made its front end extra protective with KEEN.Protect.
Where the terrain turns for the rugged and uneven, trail enthusiasts can rely on the Venture Mid Leather WP’s cushy yet resilient midsole. This long-wearing component, which is made of EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), is designed to stabilize the foot with as much comfort and shock absorption as possible. Its ability to support the user’s arch is enhanced by the lightweight shank built into its medial zone.
Placed right on top of this stout layer is the hiking boot’s supportive footbed. Its entirety is made of PU or polyurethane, making it an adequately tough yet springy component. Since it is infused with eco-friendly anti-odor technology, it can last many hikes without getting stinky.
The mid-top main shell of the KEEN Venture Mid Leather WP is made mostly of waterproof leather. It is crafted with a mesh liner to make its interior sufficiently breathable. Its comfy bootie is built with KEEN.Dry, making virtually every inch of the shoe watertight. The Konnectfit heel-capture system engineered around the heel zone of the upper adds to the overall supportiveness of the boot.
Making up the hiker’s fit management system are combination eyelets and a synthetic lace. This particular lockdown system encourages quicker lace-ups thanks to the open design of its uppermost eyelets.