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Outdoor Retailer: Keen Climbing Shoes

Keen Men's Broughton Direct
Keen's Broughton Direct (men's)

In a move I didn’t see coming, Keen is introducing two climbing shoes with Keen climbing sticky rubber—the velcro Broughton Direct and the lace-up CarverDirect. The rock shoes will be part of Keen’s 2008 Trailhead Collection, which also includes the Commuter, a hybrid bike/trail shoe.

Keen Women's Carver Direct
Keen's Carver Direct (women's)

Keen certainly has a lot of saturation in the outdoor sandal and shoe market. Just take a look at the thousands of feet walking the OR floor this past week. And I’ll personally attest that their footwear is extremely comfortable and well-made. But I’ve got to wonder about Keen entering the technical climbing market. It’s a really tough sell, especially for a company without a climbing rep. We’ll have to wait and see if Keen’s innovative outdoor style will extend to rock shoes. ($90, available January 2008)


Before thinking that Keen is just taking a flyer at making a climbing shoe, it may be important to do some additiional digging and research into the climbing market. You will find, that just as Keen has master planned every shoe in their line, the climbing shoes are no exception and have a very capable background.

In addition, although the Keen reps are not specific to the climbing world, the Keen agencies all have people who are passionate about the sport and specialize within their groups. Many, including several international reps, have extensive climbing resumes.


You make some good points and I actually have no doubt that Keen's climbing shoes will be as well made as their other outdoor shoes. I own quite a few pairs of Keen footwear myself and am very happy with them (and tell others the same often) and I’m sure they've put the same attention to detail and market research into this line.

I simply was honestly surprised to see Keen climbing shoes. It wasn't a direction I expected from them. The news also came just days after I read an industry article that reported that while the climbing market is healthy and stable, it’s not growing much or bringing in many new consumers.

While the climbing shoe market is considered saturated, that doesn't mean that the right company (big or small) with the right shoes won't break into it. I don't know if that's Keen or not; they have some obvious things going for them, but we'll have to wait and see what consumer reaction is.

I’m actually quite curious to see which way it goes and at this point wouldn’t wager a bet either way.

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