Last Updated on March 12, 2021
If you are a keen hiker or backpacker, then one of the most important pieces of gear you should buy is a decent pair of hiking boots or shoes. These are essential as they give your feet and ankles the support they need to cover varied and challenging terrain during your treks. Not only should they give you comfort, but they can also protect you from injuries and strain. There are many hiking boots and shoes to choose between and these are manufactured by many different brands. Two of the most reputable brands in this sector of the outdoors market are Merrell and Keen. Here is a comparison of these two brands to help you decide which companies’ products you should buy.
Keen is an American footwear manufacturer that was founded in 2005. They specialize in producing footwear for outdoor activities, although they also sell leisurewear footwear and safety work footwear. This fast-growing business is now one of the most reputable brands in the outdoor footwear industry.
Founded in 1981, this company was originally established solely to sell high-performance hiking boots. In 1997, they became a subsidiary of Wolverine Worldwide. Since then, Merrell has manufactured both footwear and clothing. However, footwear for outdoor activities remains the primary focus of this American brand.
Keen Vs Merrell
In terms of price, both Keen and Merrell are very similar if you buy their shoes from their retail outlets. The difference in price becomes more obvious if you buy shoes from these companies online. You are more likely to get a pair of Merrell shoes for less than $100 online than the slightly more expensive Keen shoes.
The materials from which a hiking shoe is made is important for comfort, support, and durability. Both Keen and Merrell use good quality materials that make them worthwhile considering. The materials used in a typical Merrell hiking shoe may include:
- Vibram TC5+ outsoles
- EVA midsoles
- A synthetic, mesh upper with seamless overlays
- An M-Select Fresh shoe lining with breathable mesh
The materials you would expect to see in a pair of Keen hiking shoes are:
- A breathable mesh lining
- A rubber outer sole that is non-marking
- A low-density EVA midsole
- A synthetic upper with lightweight, breathable mesh
The features of Merrell shoes include M-Select Dy technology, which allows moisture from the inside to escape while preventing outside water from getting in. Similarly, Keen hiking shoes feature their Keen.Dry technology, that works in the same way. This means that both brands are both waterproof and breathable.
Weight is a common consideration amongst hikers and backpackers who prefer lightweight footwear. There is very little to compare between the two brands as both sell shoes that are between 300g and 400g. This means they are equally good in this respect.
The outsoles of these two brands are where they have the biggest difference. The outsoles of Keen hiking shoes have excellent grip and traction. The downside to these outsoles is that they will quickly wear out if you use them daily.
On the other hand, Merrell has very durable outer soles on their shoes. They use either an M-Select Grip outsole, but this is mainly on their sandals, or they use a type of sole called Vibram. The latter is considered the most rugged type of sole currently used in footwear and it is used for the boots of police officers in the United States and on many types of work boots.
If you are more interested in the comfort of a pair of hiking shoes than their grip or traction, then the footbed is of greater interest to you than the outsoles. Merrell uses their own EVA contoured footbed called the Merrell M-Select FIT. These give your foot good arch and heel support.
Keen offers a variety of footbed options to meet your needs. All the options are their own metatomical footbed, but they come in low, medium, or high arch footbeds. These are all removable and replaceable. This means you can remove the original footbed and replace it with the one best suited to your feet. Therefore, Keen shoes are more likely to give you greater comfort.
The additional features of any product can make a difference to whether you are likely to choose it over a comparable product or not. Some of the key features of a typical pair of Keen hiking shoes may include:
- A waterproof breathable membrane
- Extra support from the ESS stability shank
- Odor control
- 4mm multi-directional lugs
Typical features you are likely to find on Merrell hiking shoes may include:
- Nylon arch shanks that are molded
- Trail protect pads
- Odor control
- Merrell air cushions
- A secure fit with lace closures
Keen and Merrell are two of the leading manufacturers of outdoor footwear. Both these reputable brands produce good-quality products that are fit for purpose. They are very similar in price, so there is little to choose between the two if cost is your main concern. The two brands are also comparable in terms of quality, as they both use high-quality materials and innovative technology. Keen is the better option if comfort is the most important feature to you, while Merrell is the better option if durability and traction are your priorities.