Keen sandals

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Keen sandals

Postby redharen » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:57 am

Keen sandals are those kind you see in outdoor stores that have the big rubber toes on them. I used to think they looked dumb, but then I needed to replace my beat-up old Tevas and decided I would try them out. At the time I had some upcoming hikes and research that would involve walking across some pretty rocky and thorny areas, but would also involve following streams through ravines. I bought a pair of Keen Newport H2sandals because I figured they would be a good combination of a fast-drying/low-maintenance sandal, and a closed-toe shoe/boot that would protect my feet in the brush. They are marketed as all-terrain/watersport sandals. The ones I bought look more or less like this, but are a different color:

Image

Some people seem to really like Keens, but after having used them on and off for a year and a half, I have to say I'm not a fan. There are a few good things about them. If you're just wearing them around your yard or around town or whatever, they're comfortable and present no problems. They have bungee-style laces that can be easily tightened and loosened. The straps and soles are stout enough that you can walk in most places and not have to worry about your feet getting cut up.

In my view, though, Keen sandals in general suffer from a major design flaw. The open sides inevitably let things in -- sand, little stones, pine needles, whatever -- and then through the natural movement of your foot in the sandal, everything gets pushed forward into the closed toe. Sometimes this is just an annoyance, like when you're walking in a river and you get sand in there -- it doesn't hurt or anything, and you just have to resign yourself to the fact that whatever's in your shoe is pretty much going to stay there till you take them off. But on dry ground, if you get something sharp in there, like a thorn or a rock, you can't just kick your foot to get things out like you can with an open-toed sandal. You can try to point your toe upward and shake your foot so the rocks or whatever dump out through the heel, but if you have the bungee laces pulled tight, the sole of your foot is pressed against the bottom of the sandal, and the problem persists. So if you get something in the sandal -- and you do, a lot -- you have to stop and take it off. This is annoying if you're hiking and are actually trying to get somewhere.

The other problem with the Newports is that the upper is partially made from a woven fabric that absorbs water and takes a long time to dry out. The fabric is synthetic, so I thought the sandals would be fast-drying, which would be good when going from streambeds to dirt paths. I don't know if it's just the thickness of the material, or the way it's woven, or what, but once you get in the water, you can pretty much plan for your feet to stay wet for hours afterward, even on a hot day. The aforementioned problem with the toe box holds true with moisture, too -- once water gets in there, it doesn't really dry out unless you take the shoes off for awhile.

Seems like other people here have had good experiences with Keen sandals, but I don't plan on getting another pair. I just bought a pair of locally-made sport sandals that are similar to old-school Tevas, and I think that's the style I'm going to stick with. The Keens do protect your foot better in scrub and brush, but since it only takes one thorn in your shoe to make your life miserable, I'll go back to wearing sandals on most trails, and then switching to boots/hiking shoes when I have to.

Curious to hear whether others have had the same experience, or if there's some clever way to solve the problem, besides limiting the use of the Keens to clean grass and paved areas.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby Woodsman » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:39 pm

Not sure about keens - never owned a pair, but I have decided to further toughen up my feet by going full barefoot (other than work) now. I caught a ~1" long hawthorn thorn in the bottom of my foot the other day - just barely stuck in, pulled it out without much hassle - also a small blackberry thorn - tiny, but I could feel it! - pulled it out = okay - and so far it's been a good experience.

Washing them thoroughly is somewhat of a pain in the ass, but who cares - 10s of thousands of years of evolutionary perfection can't be wrong.

I hiked up thunder mountain (Sedona's highest mtn.) off- trail (well, did hike a lot of peccary trails) in a pair of Vibram five fingers and they worked great. I have kayaked in them as well. I run miles in them generally 2-3x a week. All day comfort in my opinion - but you need to "break in" your legs to getting used to them.

The only thing you have to watch is cacti. Cacti and thorns = not very fun for going barefoot or minimalist.

As for hiking in any sandals, I don't mess with them for the very reason you mentioned - little bits of woods get into the sandals and that sucks.

Teva eVent shoes are pretty friggin awesome for hiking I must say, but their soles can get slippery on some substances.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby vagabond » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:09 pm

Thanks for the review. I had looked at Keen when in the market for a new pair of sandals but stuck w/ my Chacos. The last ones lasted 5 years and w/ at least 2 of them being heavy travel. Not a lot super distant outdoors stuff but a few trips to Joshua Tree, the Sierras, and my local park and nary a problem other than a pebble or two that can easily be extracted.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby pmgaido » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:47 pm

River rafter types love those thing cause they keep ya from smashing the fuck out of your toes in knee deep water. Pretty much useless for anything else.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby redharen » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:04 pm

That makes sense, pmgaido -- if I were in rivers all the time and protecting my toes was the main concern, and I could pretty much expect to have my feet wet all the time anyway, then the Keens would be great. It's the "all-terrain" part that doesn't really hold true.

Vagabond, I've never worn Chacos, but I'll admit that it's only because the last couple of times I needed sandals, Chacos seemed to be what everyone else had, so I didn't get them. But they also seem kind of heavy and I do like the lightness of Tevas. People who have Chacos seem to really love them, though.

Woodsman, based partly on your posts last year about the Vibram five-fingers, and on the experiences of some other people I've known, I've experimented a bit too with going minimal. I spent some time last summer running on tracks and on grass barefoot, and by the end of the fall my feet were pretty tough and I found that even when wearing shoes, my feet just seemed stronger and didn't get sore at all after long days of walking on pavement.

Last Friday I ran a half-marathon and decided to go with an old pair of Asics racing flats for 13.1 miles on pavement, which I never would have dreamed of doing before, but the barefoot running seems to teach you how to stride and place your feet differently. Compared to most of the other people out there in bouncy shoes, I looked like a minimalist and some people looked at me like I was nuts. But then, about a quarter of the way through the race, I caught up with this dude who was running it in the five-fingers. I told him good job and good luck, but I never saw if he finished.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby flipflop » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:10 pm

Sandals make your kebs sweat and stink like fuck, whether they're cheapo or trustafarian friendly.

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Re: Keen sandals

Postby gnaruki » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:32 pm

Keens look ok. I can ship some to you for USD-MSRP plus shipping. (can be done via ebay)

The good and cheap shit is in SE Asia. I bought some sandals for around three USD there a few years ago and they are still going strong.

I don't like toeboxes for sweat or water shoes and big toe loops can cut off circulation and birkenstocks take years to break in. Toeboxes cause fungus and athletes foot to develop. Haven't bothered trying a pair of Keens either.

It is easy to make shoes out of trash in a dumpster and a local hardware store if that is all you got.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby Kurt » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:43 am

I got a pair of keen sneakers that are alright.

Tough soles at least but asside from that I hardly notice how great or how bad they are. So I guess they work fine.

Sandals....I hate them. I got a ratty pair I use as slippers around the apartment and I would use them on a beach or swimming pool but I do not think they are superior to shoes for any reason.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby vagabond » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:58 am

Kurt wrote:I got a pair of keen sneakers that are alright.

Tough soles at least but asside from that I hardly notice how great or how bad they are. So I guess they work fine.

Sandals....I hate them. I got a ratty pair I use as slippers around the apartment and I would use them on a beach or swimming pool but I do not think they are superior to shoes for any reason.


If you want some comfortable old man slippers, I've enjoyed using some SmartWool slippers I bought off backcountry last year. Just took a look and the design is a little fancier than the ones I have but they're warm and easy to clean.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby ktrout » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:40 am

The toe protection looks like a good thing, but I wear Chacos everywhere. They can be rewebbed/resoled, sometimes under warranty. I don't like anything that uses velcro. That stuff stops working after a while.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby vagabond » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:17 pm

ktrout wrote:The toe protection looks like a good thing, but I wear Chacos everywhere. They can be rewebbed/resoled, sometimes under warranty. I don't like anything that uses velcro. That stuff stops working after a while.


The velcro was my main issue w/ the Tevas. Other than wearing out after some time I just hate the sound of it, especially if sneaking about quietly. Chacos I just slip on and cinch up and get out.

Toe protection I could see as being useful but I wonder how you could do it so that it isn't aggravating if water/rocks/etc get stuck up there. I could see crossing a creek and having detritus build up in the toe.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby Mikethehack » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:05 pm

You can't go wrong with a pair of Ho Chi Minh 1000-milers.

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Re: Keen sandals

Postby vagabond » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:48 pm

Mikethehack wrote:You can't go wrong with a pair of Ho Chi Minh 1000-milers.

Image


Is that the pair you got off that dead hooker?
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby Mikethehack » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:55 pm

It's a pair that the lovely Hanoi Jane gave to me.
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Re: Keen sandals

Postby JITW » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:31 am

sandals are for fucking fag hippies - fuck looking at your feet in Siam Paragon


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