Gear Up! KEEN Basin Boots Rock AK Kid’s World

How appropriate  – the kind folks at Keen Footwear asked us to review their lightweight Basin WP boots  just as a cold snap arrived in southcentral Alaska; and guess what? They work just fine.

I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to warm and dry feet, especially the feet of my son, an 8 year-old outdoor fanatic who still says recess is his favorite subject at school. I read catalog descriptions with a grain of salt and a discerning eye, knowing that most footwear manufacturers don’t have children who play outside in the arctic climates of Alaska. In fact, I was fully prepared to review the Keen Basins from a purely indoor perspective, since the day the boots arrived our outdoor thermometer plummeted to a shocking -15F. Sigh.

But two things happened when AK Kid opened the box and spied the fuzzy-topped boots just waiting for his bare foot to take up residence. One, said feet stayed warm. Two, they offered a freedom of movement not often found in wintertime footwear. After a bit of detailed investigation, I found out why:

Keen has two nifty features called Keen.Warm and Keen.Dry, secret formulas to insulate and prevent any water from seeping into or around youngster’s tootsies. Skeptical about the former and not really caring too much about the latter (Alaska winters are, in fact, notoriously dry), I drove AK Kid nuts by spontaneously demanding to feel his foot on random occasions, and  – lo and behold – his feet were pretty warm. Not bad, Keen. Not bad at all.

I will admit that with this current weather frigidity, AK Kid did not spend more than one continuous hour outside. That said, he was able to run, jump, climb, and play soccer at the local park in his Keen Basin boots, and with a high degree of comfort, too. Big points with us.

What else did I like?

Design. Keen wins with their bungee lacing system, allowing my kid to put on high boots with little assistance, a huge deal during the wintertime confusion of boots, gloves, snowpants, coats, and hats. The more he can do on his own, the better. Amen. I also appreciated the tongue manufactured as part of the boot itself, so no slipping and sliding will occur underneath those great laces. Soles of Keen boots and shoes, of course, are made to grip a multitude of surfaces and were, we found, just dandy for climbing rocks at a local park. Cold weather means even better traction, Keen tells us, and we found this to be true.

Looks. Asthetically, the Basin WP’s are pretty snazzy, falling somewhere between a popular lumberjack style and those other snow boots with fuzzy tops I grew up wearing. With a sleek look and dual-color uppers and sidewalls, my son thought he was all that, indeed. The boy spent a good part of every evening planning his wardrobe for the following day, making sure whatever pants he chose fit well into the upper reaches of these boots (is that weird?). Three color schemes are available; Neutral Gray/Regal Orchid, Black/Yellow, and Slate Black/Madder Brown. The faux-sheepskin tops are standard no matter the color combo.

Durability. Look, if you’re going to shell out $80 on boots for a child who will likely grow out of them in a year, you want quality, right? Keen consistently creates a product I trust, and with Alaska kids wearing their boots day in and day out, almost year-round, it is a critical element during these tough economic times. Stitching is tight, seams are sealed, lacing eyelets are riveted, and interior material is made to last during thousands of on-off sequences. Dust and mud aside, I envision these Basin WP’s holding true to the Keen promise of quality as a four-season boot around here, given Alaska’s propensity for funky weather and AK Kid’s obvious adoration.

NOTE: When sizing up your kids piggies for these, or any Keen shoes/boots, do as we do – order a size larger than normal. This allows for the unique characteristic of slighty smaller sizing with Keen, AND buys you a few extra months of wear. We hope.


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  1. Pingback: – Featuring Kids Basin WP – December 6, 2012

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