We were impressed with how well these sandals performed on a hike, with great protection as well as the breathability you’d expect, and while they were a little slippy in extremely muddy conditions, they’re a valid choice for hiking with a more of a natural feel underfoot
Comfortable with arch support
Breathable and quick drying
Bungee cord adjustment
Versatile with good traction in water and on land
Allows a more natural foot movement
Eco Anti Odor
A little slippy on muddy slopes
Some loss of stability on rough ground
Bungee adjustment isn’t as precise as a lacing or strap system
Natural foot feel takes some adaptation for longer walks
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Keen Newport H2 hiking sandals: first impressions
Keen is celebrating 20 years of the Newport sandal in 2023, so you’d think it would have perfected the art of an amphibious water and land shoe – and you’d be correct. The Keen Newport H2 offers the slip-on ease and traction you want from a water shoe, but with breathability and toe protection makes for a solid hiking sandal too, especially if you hike in hot weather, marshy conditions or are just looking for a slightly more natural foot feel.
The chunky rubber outsole and protective upper are a far cry from what you might consider a classic sandal, but still provide the quick drying breathability you’d want from such a shoe.
• List price: $130 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s available
• Sizes: Men’s 7 - 17 / Women’s 5 - 11
• Weight (per shoe): 330g / 11.6 oz (women’s UK 4)
• Materials: Sole: rubber; insole: EVA; upper: polyester webbing
• Colors: Many
• Best use: Water shoes, hiking
These sandals easily pull on with a bungee cord to adjust them and are astonishingly comfortable out-of-the-box with a snug fit around the heel and midfoot and roomy toe box. That said, the flex in the sole allows for a more natural gait, which might take some getting used to if you’re walking for longer distances. These lost some traction when we tested them on muddy slopes and we felt our feet moving around a little on rough ground, but we still managed to walk miles in them.
They’re easily one of the most competitive hiking sandals out there, and priced in line with similar shoes, making them an obvious choice for anyone looking for a serious water-to-land shoe.
Keen Newport H2 hiking sandals: in the field
It’s taken me 20 years to test out these iconic sandals, with my previous experience of hiking sandals being limited to a pair of Chacos which I quickly relegated to water shoes when I realized they weren’t comfortable enough for hiking. I can’t resist the pun and telling you that I was really keen to give them a go!
Now even though I never embraced the hiking in sandals movement myself, I’m no stranger to the idea. Back in my old stomping grounds of Colorado, several of my best hiking buddies wouldn’t hike any other way, but it makes sense there, when mud on the trails in the summer is unheard of. But here in Scotland? Hiking in sandals? The idea of crossing boggy terrain, steep grassy slopes and rocky knife edge ridges seems positively mad, so naturally when I heard the Rhode Island company was celebrating two decades of the Newport, I wanted to put the idea to the test on some of my favorite cross country hikes.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
These shoes run a tad small. I am a UK size 3.5 but wear a 4 for hiking shoes to give my feet room to swell up, and I was surprised by how snug the 4 was, so I’d recommend going up a half size. As for fit, like I said they feel like a glove, really embracing my heel and midfoot, with welcome space around the toes. The roomy toe box plus stretchy uppers makes these a good candidate for wide feet.
They have a bungee cord adjustment which does pull them tighter, but mostly around the cuff and it may not be adjustable enough for everyone’s feet.
These are actually heavier than the last pair of regular hiking shoes I tested so I wouldn’t say they’re especially light, but they’re certainly on par with a lightweight hiking shoe.
Comfort and breathability
These pull on fairly easily (even with my high arches) although socks make things a little harder, pull off very easily and feel really comfortable both with and without socks. On my left foot, which is my bigger foot, the strap initially hurt my heel a little so I anticipated some rubbing but in fact there was none.
Also on the comfort front, I noticed straight away that my feet were able to flex more naturally at the joint where my feet meet my toes whilst hiking in these. This is something I’m really interested in, because I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten more into trail running the last three years, I’m losing some mobility in my feet. That said, the increased mobility meant that my feet started to fatigue and burn a little in that spot after a couple of miles on my first walk, but fortunately I had a backup pair of shoes in my backpack.
I’d expect these shoes to be breathable, since they’re sandals, and I’m pleased to report they are. Of course, my feet got more wet in them when passing through boggy sections than they might in hiking boots, but they also dry quickly too. They’re treated with an anti-odor protection, which is great if you’re planning on wearing them without socks, but speaking of socks, it did occur to me that since I’d mostly wear them with thin, wool socks in Scotland, I’d probably end up washing a lot more socks since they’ll get muddier than in shoes.
Grip and stability
Given that these are sandals, I was impressed by the grip and stability of these shoes on a hike. That said, I did notice I was slipping a little in muddy sections, and when I was walking over especially rocky ground I noticed my heel moving around more than I’d like. I’ll definitely wear them on future hikes, but mostly on well-maintained dirt paths.
Protection and durability
The protection these sandals offer against trail hazards or rocky river beds is really great and much better than I anticipated, on par with a regular hiking shoe or any water shoe. Of course, that means if you get a pebble inside them it’s not as easy to shake it loose without removing them, but this is true of many hiking sandals.
As for durability, these are a sturdy and well-designed pair of shoes and I’m not surprised that my friend Kelly has been wearing hers for over a decade.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.