KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot Review
KEEN Utility Dover Six-Inch Waterproof Work Boot
KEEN Utility has come out with some new work boots this year and I’ve been trying out the KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot six-inch waterproof model.
By Ralph Morz
KEEN First Impression
The bottom line: This was my first KEEN Utilty work boot; I expected to like it because of all the raves KEEN Utility boots have gotten, but I didn’t expect to be as impressed as I am. I knew KEEN as a casual and hiking shoe/boot manufacturer and had always been happy with their products in those areas, but now I know way so many people are enthusiastic about KEEN Utility as a work boot vendor. Since the hiking market is a technical driver of footwear, it’s no surprise that KEEN has incorporated advanced technology into its work boots. (Keen, by the way, is the last name of one of the company’s founders.)
Medium Duty – Means MOST Of Us
KEEN Utility promotes the Dover as a medium-duty boot. Now, don’t be put off by the phrase “medium duty” — KEEN doesn’t use that word as a marketing-speak for “light duty”. They really do mean medium duty, as in the kind of work most of us do most of the time. You wouldn’t load up your shop’s cabinet saw and take it to the jobsite; you’d use a jobsite table saw there because it’s the right tool for the job. Same deal with shoes: use the right tool for the job. Really, unless you’re spending your days walking around, over, and on something like re-bar in slab forms, a medium-duty boot it what will probably serve you best. They’re supportive for the tasks you’ll be doing, they’re not so heavy that walking becomes a chore, and they protect your feet from the hazards you’ll likely encounter.
KEEN Utility DOVER Specifications
The KEEN Dover Work Boot is a six-inch boot with a waterproof interior membrane and waterproof leather uppers. The insoles can be removed to accept orthodics. This American-built boot features a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shank, carbon-fiber safety toes, KEEN’s signature wide asymmetrical toes, an antimicrobial liner,and a polyurethane (PU) mid-sole.
The PU mid-sole is a big deal to me. PU mid-soles have been used for some time in high-end European hiking boots, and it is every bit as comfortable as the softer materials that are more often used, but it’s more stable and lasts a whole lot longer. I won’t buy hiking boots without PU mid-soles anymore, and it’s good to see them now used in high-quality work boots like the Dover.
Non-Marking and Non-Slip Lug Sole
The non-marking lugged rubber out-sole is oil- and slip-resistant. If you need to know (or just care), the specs it meets are: ASTM F1677-96 MARK II, ASTM F2412-17 and F2913-17 F I/75 C/75 EH, and ASTM F2913-17 SATRA non-slip standards.
Full Support – Open Toe Feel
To achieve all this the KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot isn’t a light-weight boot, but it’s hardly a heavy boot either. (The weight of the Dover is 28 ounces for a size 9 boot.) I can wear them all day and (and this is about the highest compliment I could pay to their comfort), I don’t even notice that they’re on my feet, although I do feel that my feet and ankles are supported.
Asymmetrical Toe Box
If you haven’t worn KEEN Utility boots or shoes before, when you first put them on you’ll notice that your toes feel free. This is because the boots’ wide asymmetrical toes don’t box in your feet’s toes the way most shoes do. Of course, nature intended your toes to be able to spread out, so this is a good thing for your feet.
Konnectfit Heel-Capture System
On the heel end of the boot KEEN’s new Konnectfit heel-capture system is not a marketing gimmick. It really works to pull your heel back into the boot and it does, as advertised, lock your heel in. The Dover is very secure on your foot as a result (I have slightly narrow heels and in most boots and shoes my heels slip a bit — not so with the Dover).
Top Lacing Points
The Dover’s top two lacing points are hooks that are well designed. They are shaped so as to be unlikely to catch on something, so the main drawback of hooks is eliminated. KEEN’s signature “bumper” at the toe front is a nice anti-stub feature. The outsole is what’s called “direct attach”, which is kind of like over-molding. It’s not glued on — which is usually a weak system, nor is it welted on — so the Dover can’t be re-soled. In my experience once a boot’s sole is gone so is the rest of it anyway, so that’s not a big deal, but the direct attachment helps with waterproofing (which isa big deal to me, and I assume almost everyone).
Performance: No Break-in Period Needed
I wore the KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot every day all day for a couple weeks. There was no break-in period required. It was extremely comfortable in every kind of environment. In the early mornings I walked a couple miles on local paved roads taking the dog for walks, and the “air-infused” PU mid-sole made the Dover very comfortable on that hard surface. Days I worked mostly in somewhat rocky soil on residential projects. Between the TPU shank and the wide toes, the Dover was very stable on the uneven surface, seeming to always bring my foot back to neutral when a rock wanted to twist my foot outwards (I have a weak ankle from twisting it too many times while running on forest trails, so I’m sensitive to this issue).
The boot never chafed my ankle nor developed any hot spots; it didn’t pinch or rub anywhere. As I said: I forgot it was there. I wanted to try it out on a more unstable surface, so one Saturday my wife and I took the dog out for a couple miles on a very rocky trail; still every time I stepped on a rock that wanted to twist my foot, the Dover kept me stable.
KEEN sent along a pair of their Pittsburgh crew-height medium-weight work socks — I mention them because they also impressed me! The pair has right and left socks, so obviously some thought has been put in to the shape. What I really liked was they fit nice and snug with no drooping, but were easy to take off and put on — socks that droop or are difficult to get on/off are one of those little things that bug me. The Pittsburghs are made of wool and Dyneema. Twenty years of wearing work socks has taught me that wool is probably the best fiber, regardless of the weather. And Dyneema is one of the materials that bullet-resistant vests are made of! I expect these will last a long time.
KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot: Overall Impression
You can tell that I am very impressed with KEEN’s Dover. No one pays me to write these reviews, and I have no connection to the KEEN company. Is there any fault I can find with the Dover? Well, it’s not a fault, but there is one limitation. The lugged sole does what it was designed to do — it grabs into dirt and mud. So if you have to go in and out of an occupied house or commercial building, you’ll track mud into it. For those jobs you’ll probably want a boot with a smooth sole. Otherwise, I believe the Dover is a great down-the-middle boot for most trades people.
You can find the KEEN Dover workbook online here: KEEN Utility Dover Work Boot