Grisport Keeper Boot Review
2 years of use – the best boot for bushcraft?
I need most of my kit to just ‘work’. If I am aware of how my footwear feels on my feet then they’re probably demanding too much of my attention.
I purchased these boots two years ago (from a local retailer), and despite my best efforts they have refused to die. They are battered and the leather has some deep creases, but they are still comfortable and waterproof. They’ve performed well in forests, rivers and mountainous terrain and still see weekly use. They’re the first pair of Grisports I’ve tried, and they’ve impressed me – so here is my long-term review.
I’ve probably bought a dozen or so ‘work’ boots in my time as an outdoor instructor, from general-use boots like these to B3 winter mountaineering boots. The ones that fit very comfortably from the start tend to be the ones that fall apart the quickest, so I didn’t expect too much from these Grisport Keepers as they felt like a pair of trainers from the start. They’re a little higher than I am used to, but with a flexibility that wasn’t restrictive. The whole boot is quite flexible along the length of the sole, and the lacing system is well-designed. Out of the box they are a dark olive colour, with decent laces and a Vibram sole with a deep tread pattern.
Real World Testing
These boots have been used for pretty much every outdoor activity that I participate in, from tramping around woodlands to scrambling up rock faces and along the strandline on the beach. Like all leather boots they need some maintenance (something which I tend to be a bit rubbish at), and I chose Altberg Leder-Gris for reproofing. This gradually changed the colour of the boots from their original olive to a deep brown after about a year or so – a clear version is also available. This also gradually softened the already supple leather – I was a little worried that this would make it more susceptible to scratches and gouges but it seems not.
The sole plate is also quite bendy, with noticeable flex just behind the toes. Around 6 months ago I noticed the leather starting to wear into deep creases here and the rubber of the rand JUST beginning to separate from the leather – but so far they remain waterproof enough to be confidently used when crossing shallow rivers.
The sole itself has kept me upright on muddy slopes and scrambling over boulders and rocks. They are definitely B0, although I have used them with MSR snowshoes on forest tracks and rolling terrain. The tread depth could be a little deeper, but I have never really felt unsure of my footing.
High-legged boots can sometimes be a little restrictive, but I have not found that to be the case with the Grisport Keepers. The heel cup keep my foot planted and give me freedom of movement, but without losing security or stability. It was easy enough to sit on the floor, tuck my feet under a canoe seat or tackle a short technical section on a mountain walk.
The best way I can demonstrate my approval for these boots is by comparing them to a pair of Meindls that I bought around a year ago and have used and abused in a similar way. The Grisports are still holding themselves together and the Meindls have begun to fall apart at the seams, as well as beginning to sag and soften at the sides, reducing their security of fit. You can see this in the video below.
There are of course a few drawbacks – being tall leather boots with a heavy sole they are a little heavy, they need regular reproofing in order to survive and they could be a little stiffer. If you want something for mountaineering it would be worth looking at something with a higher ‘B’ (stiffness) rating but the Grisport Keepers would be fine for bushcraft, hunting and general 3-season use.
I have done around 2,000 miles in these boots over the last 2 years, and I think I would get around another 1,000 miles out of them. The tread is beginning to wear away under the forefoot and the leather is showing signs of age, but I would happily put them on and head out on a multi-day walk tomorrow with them.