A broad-fitting, beefy-looking day hiker, the Circadia is a classic KEEN boot that offers good protection, cushioning and durability for a mid-cut boot, while still feeling comfortable and flexible. The wide fit means they’re particularly great for hikers with broad feet. The trade-off is that they’re not the most nimble or precise.
Wide fit won’t suit everyone
Not very nimble or precise
Not the lightest
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Meet the reviewer
Matt's main stomping grounds are valleys, hills and mountains of Wales and he's based in the spectacular Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park. He's been testing kit here for nearly a decade and what he doesn't know about hiking footwear isn't worth knowing. Among his favorite adventures was a long-distance thru-hike on the Cambrian Way, taking him 298 miles across the country from Cardiff to Conwy.
KEEN Circadia Waterproof Boot: first impressions
The KEEN Circadia Waterproof Boot is from a US brand renowned for producing well-priced and practical outdoor footwear, from its perennially popular trail sandals to its wide range of hiking boots. Here at Advnture.com, we’ve been particularly impressed with the superlight, summer-ready Terradora II mid boot (designed specifically for women), as well as the budget-friendly Explore Mid trainer-hiker and their more rugged trekking and backpacking-focused Karraig boot. But do these new Circadias join the ranks of the best hiking boots?
• List price: $145 (US) / £115 (UK)
• Gender availability: Male / female versions
• Weight (per boot, size UK 12 / US 13): 707g / 25oz
• Materials: Leather upper, KEEN.DRY waterproof & breathable membrane, KEEN LuftCore lightweight foam midsole, rubber outsole
• Colors: Men’s: Black & Steel Gray / Dark Olive & Potter’s Clay / Steel Gray & Legion Blue / Bison & Brindle; Women’s: Steel Gray & Cloud Blue / Toasted Coconut & North Atlantic / Syrup & Boysenberry
• Compatibility: Day walking, hiking and trekking on non-technical trails
The Circadia Mids lie somewhere between the Explore and the Karraig models. I found that they were flexible and instantly comfortable, just like most trainer-hikers, but with a burlier construction that offered me a bit more durability and all-round protection out on the trail. They’re fairly big and chunky boots with a broad, high-volume fit that will best suit those with wider feet.
In terms of build, they feature KEEN’s trademark oversized toe bumpers, and thick heel counters with robust double-stitched leather uppers. However, a generously padded mesh ankle cuff and tongue along with mesh panel inlays ensure they feel plush and comfortable yet also flexible, without the stiffness and break-in time associated with traditional all-leather boots.
They score high for sustainability too, since the nubuck leather is sourced from a tannery certified by the Leather Working Group. And they’re finished with a water-repellent treatment that is free from harmful PFC chemicals.
Underfoot, I discovered that the dual density “LuftCore” EVA-based midsole provides good cushioning. The sole is still very bendy though, which made for an easy walking action. Traction comes from a tread pattern of 5mm multi-directional chevron-shaped cleats. While these aren’t the most aggressive lugs, the boot’s chunky design still puts plenty of rubber in contact with the ground.
KEEN Circadia Waterproof Boot: in the field
I put these boots to the test on the hills and mountains of my native Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park in Wales, to see how they coped with challenging weather and technical terrain.
They proved instantly comfortable straight out of the box, with an accommodating fit that is great for broad or high-volume feet. And though I thought they initially looked and felt a bit ungainly, KEEN’s heel capture system pulls everything in tight, despite the relatively simple lacing system and single set of lace hooks.
The big and beefy look does mean these boots don’t always feel the most nimble or precise – but then, they’re not designed for rock-hopping across technical terrain. Instead, the Circadia is a boot that is most at home on well-trodden trails. KEEN calls them an, “everyday hiking boot”, which sums them up well – the focus here is on easy walking comfort and flexibility, but with plenty of added protection too. What this means is that if you trip over a tree root or accidentally kick the odd rock, you’ll hardly feel it.
On test, I liked their “planted” feel, especially when tackling dry, dusty trails. However, they’re equally at home in the wet too. Waterproofing comes from KEEN’s own membrane rather than a branded Gore-Tex liner, but it did its job on test. My feet stayed dry even when sloshing through muddy puddles. Grip was generally good, though I stuck to safer ground rather than testing these boots beyond their limits. That’s because, as mentioned, they lack the stiffness and precision to tackle more technical terrain.
Our only other negatives are that, inevitably, the mostly leather construction of these boots means they feel a little heavier and warmer than fabric alternatives, especially in high summer. There are undoubtedly lighter mid-cut boots around, though few that feel as reassuringly protective as the Circadia.
All in all, if your priorities are comfort, cushioning and protection, these are a great choice – and though they’re not as light as some of the more streamlined hybrid trainer-hikers, they should prove more durable, thanks to those leather uppers and the robust toecap. They’re also extremely well-priced, with a roomy, generous fit that could be a good option if you’ve struggled to fit comfortable footwear in the past.
Best women’s hiking boots: for local trails and wilderness adventures
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.