Person gearing up to hike on a snowy mountain

KEEN.POLAR TRACTION: WinterLab-Tested Grip

Winter tires get a mountain/snowflake symbol when they are tested to meet traction standards for extreme winter driving conditions. But did you know that, in Canada, winter boots have their own extreme winter traction rating system?

And for the first time, one of our boots has earned this winter traction designation: The Revel IV Polar Mid boot, available in men's and women's sizing. (Yes, we’re doing a snow dance.)

In the land of brutal polar vortex-laden winters, Canada’s KITE Research Institute’s snowflake rating is awarded to footwear that has best-in-class design and technical features that help prevent slips and falls in the worst possible icy environments. Thanks to the ice-defying grip of our KEEN.POLAR TRACTION rubber outsole, the Revel IV winter boot was able to walk up and down a 7-degree incline on wet and dry ice without slipping to pass the test.

“It’s cool to be awarded this rating in Canada,” says Keith Denny, who leads the development of KEEN’s outside performance footwear. “They know what it takes to be comfortable during harsh winters.”

What’s WinterLab?

Those harsh Canadian winters are simulated in the “WinterLab,” a 14’ x 16’ room on top of a motion base that is temperature controlled, can mimic wind speeds up to 43 mph (70km per hour), and has a floor made entirely of ice. A part of the University of Toronto's University Health Network, Canada’s leading rehabilitation hospital, The KITE Research Institute is focused on studying the traction of winter boots to gain insight into preventing slip-and-fall accidents that can affect a person’s mobility and quality of life. Here’s a peek inside the testing at WinterLab:

How it works: Testers wear a variety of boots, and walk across ice on a horizontal plane. As the test continues, the pitch of the ice floor increases, until the tester slips. The angle from horizontal to slip-point is determined as the maximum achievable angle (MAA) at which the boot performs. To receive a snowflake rating, boots must meet an MAA of 7 degrees. Only 33% of footwear tested by the KITE Research Institute to date have passed the test to receive this accolade.

“Canada has some of the iciest terrain in the world and our ratings system is built to test the limits of these conditions and help consumers find the highest-performing footwear on the market,” says Dr. Geoff Fernie, senior scientist at UHN’s KITE Research Institute. “The KEEN Revel IV Polar boot was awarded one snowflake following rigorous testing in our WinterLab simulator using the Maximum Achievable Angle (MAA) Test. This achievement signifies a safe and effective quality boot that provides slip resistance that can help conquer Canadian winters.”

How KEEN.Polar Traction Grips Where Others Slip

Because it’s snowflake-rated, the Revel IV with KEEN.POLAR TRACTION can be worn by Canadian employees whose jobs require or recommend snowflake-rated traction, such as Canada Post. That on-the-job surefootedness is what prompted the development of KEEN.POLAR TRACTION rubber in the first place.

This innovative rubber compound debuted in our KEEN Utility work boots, for those working every day on slick jobsite surfaces. The rubber is engineered to stay flexible in cold temperatures, and it’s made with micro-glass filaments that pierce the surface of wet or oily ice. This creates a “micro-cleat” effect, which is how it’s able to walk up a 7-degree incline of ice.

A man working on an icy construction site

To Help You Revel safely

You don’t have to be a Canadian postal carrier or construction worker to want solid winter traction. Not slipping on hard, icy surfaces is definitely a plus for anyone who spends time outside. We know folks who have suffered broken bones or concussions shoveling a sidewalk or driveway. And when venturing further out and hiking in the mountains we all prefer to stay upright and on the trail (unless we're intentionally jumping into fresh powder for some snow angel action).

The Revel IV is built for these kinds of active, frigid days. We combined the agility of a hiking boot with the warmth of a waterproof puffy coat. With 200 grams of KEEN.WARM Recycled P.E.T. insulation rated to -25ºF/-32ºC, plus three layers of heat-trapping materials underfoot, we like to say that folks stay warm and stay put. (There’s also a 400g insulated option if you need warmth rated to -40ºF/-40ºC.) Feet also stay dry, thanks to a KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane.

All this “KEENovation” adds up to our warmest, driest, grippiest winter boot yet. WinterLab tested, winter reveler loved. Here's to a winter of happy Revel-ing for all.

A man and a woman playing in the snow

KITE is the research arm of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and one of the principal research enterprises at the University Health Network (UHN), Canada’s largest medical research hospital. KITE is a world leader in the field of the complex rehabilitation research, with scientists and staff dedicated to improving the lives of people living with the effects of disability, illness and aging. KITE is also home to the Rate My Treads team, which tests winter footwear for slip resistance in different winter conditions and provides results online at

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