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Last Updated on July 2, 2022
How can such a thin shoe be so comfortable?
I know that I have asked myself this question many times when handling Keds. Their sneakers feel so light and thin that it is truly a head-scratcher!
What is even more wondrous is how they always manage to feel just like new. It’s as if every time you put them on, they are right off the box. True magic!
Of course, this cannot be so simple. So, today I am channeling my inner Sherlock and digging in deep to find out what’s behind Keds comfort technology. Terms like “Dream Foam” and “Ortholite” seem to pop up a lot, but, what are they?
The brand is a little secretive when it comes to their tech, but worry not, we got all the juicy details!
The top technologies
OrthoLite® is the big boss manufacturer and supplier of open-cell foam insole technologies for leading brands of footwear around the world. They work with most of the big famous brands to create and produce custom insoles that provide outstanding comfort and performance for sneakers and shoes.
This type of foam contains 5% recycled rubber, which makes it eco-friendly, and unlike other traditional foams, it compresses less than 5% over its lifetime, which is key to guarantee ongoing cushioning that never changes.
The open-cell PU material is 95-100% breathable and its structure also favors moisture management moving moisture away and providing a cooler, drier environment. They are super lightweight and airy as well as machine washable.
Some of the brands that work with this technology are Adidas, Carhartt, CAT, Columbia, DC, Dr. Martens, Hush Puppies, Keds, Lacoste, Levi’s, Merrell, Nike, Puma, Reebok, The North Face, Timberland, Vans, and Wilson, among others.
Of course, it is impossible to know how each of these brands has customized their own insoles since the exact formulations, densities, colors, and mold designs are proprietary. But without a doubt, they all comply with the brand’s advertised top qualities and offer outmost comfort and performance.
Read: Keds Women’s Camp Boot: A Complete User Review
Dream Foam footbed
It was a lot harder to find what Dream Foam actually is than it was to figure out the Ortholite insoles.
It turns out that the original Dream Foam brand was created by Brooklyn Bedding for bedding and mattresses. This might seem tricky, but the technology used by Keds under the name Dream Foam in their new Comfort Collection does not appear to be one and the same.
Despite the confusion generated by using the same name, there is no proof anywhere that the material is in fact the same (or coming from this manufacturer either).
In Keds’ own words (sometime around 2019), Dream Foam is ‘the dreamiest footbed ever’. It offers 24/7 long-lasting support that guarantees everyday comfort, soft cushioning that won’t thin out for the perfect right-out-of-the-box experience, and is made out of breathable, cool material.
Despite having found several links in their page that use the Dream Foam term, they all lead back to the Comfort Collection of Women’s walking shoes, which appears to have dropped the use of that name for their memory foam.
The same material (a similar one, or even an improved version) is still advertised and present in most shoes, though, apparently under the new Softerra™ name.
Read: Keds Cali Slip-On Review: An Innovative Shoe with a Sleek Personality
Which model is most comfortable?
So, out of all the shoes that use these two technologies, how do they compare to one another? Are there more proprietary materials and technologies that affect the level of comfort they provide? Let’s find out.
My Comfort Rating: 9/10
The Center 2 shoe is part of the Comfort Collection. It is a lace-up canvas sneaker made of 100% cotton which feels soft on your feet all-around. It does not have a toe cap like Converse low tops, featuring a lace-to-toe upper that works wonders to adjust the width around your feet.
Its inside lining is very soft and breathable so that even when you walk on them a lot on a sunny day, they still manage to feel airy. The insole is made of Softerra memory foam. I kid you not, every time I wear them they feel like new and totally cushioned! This model features a padded collar for extra ankle support (haven’t had any problem with chaffing whatsoever!).
It also offers wide sizing, which as you might already know, is of paramount importance for me. I confess, I really like to be able to wiggle my toes! (Also, it tends to feel too tight around my pinky and has occasionally caused a blister or two).
The rubber outsole is all that you could expect from a Keds shoe: flexible but with good support.
This model is not machine washable, only spot wash and air dry. A total bummer (I love a good washable shoe, makes it easier to have them looking pristine after a lot of use)! But, it comes in a ton of colors.
Women’s Courty II Stripey Jersey
My Comfort Rating: 7/10
Despite appearing to be similar, this model differs a lot in its general feel mainly due to the different materials being used. Their biggest and most important difference though is the fact that the Center 2 has a lace-to-top upper and the Courty is a regular lace-up sneaker.
This translates into a less than perfect grip, particularly for thin feet like mine, meaning that the shoe slides or moves around a bit. They do feel better with socks, so keep that in mind.
Its upper is made of heathered jersey (85% cotton and 15% polyester) which makes it more resistant to soiling and stains in general, while also providing more cover from the wind and making these sneakers a bit warmer. For the same reason, they are also less airy.
Despite this, they do have soft and breathable jersey lining. In my experience, they feel more toasty which makes them ideal for in-between seasons or colder weather.
They share a padded collar with the Center 2 model, a Softerra™ footbed, and memory foam insoles. They are also flexible, light, supportive, and have a rubber outsole with outstanding grip. Meaning, they comply with all the best Keds qualities!
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So, the winner is…
Of course, since both of these models are already the most comfortable sneakers of the Comfort Collection, I am nitpicking here, but I do prefer the Center 2. I would rather wear Keds during summer and warmer stuff during winter, so I want my low tops to be as airy and breathable as possible.
Since both of them have Ortholite insoles and memory foam, they are very cushioned and over the time I have had them, they still feel as good as new. (This is also true for other Rifle and Co Keds sneakers that I own, which is one of the qualities I love the most about the brand!).
To summarize: If you have to pick one, go for the Center 2. You won’t regret it. It will easily turn out to be your new favorite light shoe! Chances are that if this is your first Keds sneakers, you will be back to shop for more!
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