Home Technology Keen Unveils Bellows Flex Footwear Technology In Two New Hiking Offerings –...

Keen Unveils Bellows Flex Footwear Technology In Two New Hiking Offerings – Forbes

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Keen Unveils Bellows Flex Footwear Technology In Two New Hiking Offerings - Forbes

The upcoming Keen Ridge Flex features new technology, seen in yellow, that provides better flex in … [+] hiking footwear for less energy required to step and improved durability.

Keen

Keen wants you to exert less energy the next time you traverse the local mountain. The Portland-based brand designed the Keen.Bellows Flex technology to make that happen, all while improving the durability of its product.

The Keen.Bellows Flex technology won’t debut in the new Ridge Flex and Tempo Flex models until January 2021, but the brand has already unveiled the technology, a flexible TPU piece inserted into the forefoot. This accordion-style TPU gets placed near the back end of the toe box, at the base of the lacing system, one of the most heavily used flex points on a shoe. And an area known for wearing out due to repeated use. 

“As a brand that continually looks to lead the industry, we set out to make the most efficient hiking boot on the market,” says Erik Burbank, Keen chief brand officer. “When the foot is in motion the forefoot compresses and when combined with over laying materials often used in conventional boot construction, it creates flex points that not only consume energy but can lead to boots failing at this point. By adding the accordion-like Keen.Bellows Flex technology to this critical area we have created a boot that requires less energy to bend.”

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Using an independent testing laboratory that serves the footwear industry in Portland, Keen says the technology performed better than expected, requiring 60 percent less energy to flex at the forefoot than without the technology, making that next step up the trail that much easier. 

When Keen started the process, designers and engineers took inspiration from outside the footwear industry, especially the idea of accordion buses — and bellows, obviously, since this isn’t just a clever name — and how they flex. By using this TPU insert, not just overlaying material, on the shoe, it removes the weight and rigidness previously present. TPU also doesn’t wear out, so it improves the life of the shoe. 

Keen hiking shoes

The Keen Tempo Flex also includes the new Keen.Bellows Flex technology, but in a sneaker-styled … [+] silhouette designed for hiking.

Keen

Keen will release the Ridge Flex, available in both a mid ($170) and a low ($160), on Jan. 1, 2021. The mid version includes the Keen.Bellows Flex in the forefoot and again at the heel. Taking the brand’s popular Targhee hiking boot and tweaking it with the new technology, the Ridge Flex not only removes friction points, but also incorporates a double-heel construction for improved out-of-box comfort. 

In an effort to highlight the new technology, Keen will release colorways that accentuate the Keen.Bellows Flex tech and other, more conservative options, that don’t call out the new technology visually. 

The Tempo Flex, in a mid ($160) and a low ($150) and also releasing Jan. 1, 2021, offers a more sneaker-like silhouette, built on the Fast Lite Explorer model for a lighter, faster model. The Tempo Flex comes with speed lacing, rubber overlays for protection against the elements and ribbing on the heel for an easier on-off.

Both new models with Keen.Bellows Flex feature a Keen.Dry waterproofing membrane created with PFC-free water repellency. The footwear includes pesticide-free insoles for natural odor control, webbing created from recycled plastic bottles and leather sourced from tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group.

The Ridge Flex and Tempo Flex won’t be stand-alone models with Keen.Bellows Flex, as the brand plans to make this signature technology the foundation of a new franchise. Already Keen has planned a new winter boot for 2021 with Bellows. Like the technology itself, Keen expects the Bellows to flex across footwear lines and offer staying power.

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