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KEEN Newport H2 Sandal Review – All Conditions Hiking

At the pricier end of the water shoe spectrum, the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal didn't let us down during our comprehensive water shoe testing research. They definitely over-delivered relative to their cost.

Profile of KEEN H2 Newport Water Sandal

Extreme comfort on or off the trail defines the KEEN Newport H2 sandal. A strong synthetic fabric derived upper wicks moisture surprisingly well. The sandal design also provides plenty of air flow to keep your feet cool. This shoe ticks every box we have for hikers looking for a very durable water shoe with a solid outsole and a high quality upper. This shoe has solid protection and support for your feet, as well as the stability necessary to compete with both expensive hiking boots and pure water shoes when on a trek.

Initial Thoughts on Unboxing

When we unboxed the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal, the colors jumped out at us immediately. One of the options we ordered had a tie dye pattern that jumped out at us. Seriously, if you want something colorful that will jump out on the trail, the colors really popped. Second, we immediately noticed the padding all around, giving us the impression that these would not cut into our feet or create uncomfortable hot spots while hiking.

Surprising us with their overall structure, these sandals feel more like shoes when you pick them up. More rigid than anticipated, the straps across the top of the foot provide real support. This structure does come with a cost in terms of weight. At well over two pounds, the Newport H2 weighs more than most other water shoes we tested. The thick outsoles add the most to the weight, while the synthetic uppers come in more inline with the light weight design typical of water shoes.

Putting Them Through Their Paces

We spent a lot of time testing the KEEN Newport H2 Sandals in the elements at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Read on for our tests and the performance of these hiking sandals.

  • An ocean test: sugar sand, waves, and hard packed sand.
  • Next, a river test: rocky creek beds, sandy shorelines, and flowing water.
  • Finally, a hiking test: over pine needles, sand, puddles, and standard trail surfaces.

Here is how they fared.

The Ocean Test

With their synthetic upper, the KEEN sandals fared very well when we transitioned from submerged in water to out of the water. They did great traction-wise when walking through hard shells, before getting into the ocean. As you might expect, their weight and sandal design made them difficult to use in deeper ocean water, and in sugar sand. These are a hiking sandal, and really not designed for swimming around or beach sand.

The River Test

These water shoes performed exceptionally well in the river test. We experienced zero slippage when traversing wet river stones, and minimal pushback when wading upstream through water. Impressive traction from the KEEN outsole provided some of the strongest grip of all the water shoes we tested.

The Hiking Test

Much like our experience with the Merrell Choprock Sieve, these water shoes performed well when we put them through their paces on a wet and muddy part of the Little Talbot trail. We have no doubt they could have handled many more miles or rougher terrain quite comfortably.

Details of the vibram sole and the synthetic upper on the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

Advantages and Disadvantages

While the KEEN Newport H2 Hiking Sandal's performance impressed, and it's extensive features included quick-pull lacing, a fast-wicking synthetic upper, built-in odor control, and an extremely comfortable fit, amongst others, it still had advantages and disadvantages.

Below we present some of the advantages and disadvantages we noticed with the KEEN Newport H2 during our testing. We always manage to find some flaws in a shoe, no matter how good it is, and Newport was no exception.

Advantages of the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

  • The KEEN Newport H2 Sandal has impressive grip and a very thick outsole. As such, expect this shoe to stick like glue to slippery trails and rocky river beds.
  • Of all the water shoes we tested, this KEEN sandal came closest to an actual hiking boot in terms of function and appearance. Perhaps the Merrell Choprock challenged it in that category, but this is a true hiker's water shoe. The rigid structure and stability provide necessary support for when you're exerting yourself on tough trails.
  • With the rigid and strong stability comes the strongest arch support we experienced in our water shoe testing. This makes it the ideal option for those with flat feet or with foot-related problems.
  • These shoes have one thing no other water shoes in our tests had: built in odor control. KEEN refers to this as Cleansport NXT. We gave them a sniff after drying them out from our full testing, and compared with other shoes we tested, and there actually was a noticeable difference! We were a bit surprised since normally this kind of marketing gimmick is, well, a marketing gimmick.

Disadvantages of the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

  • As we stated already, the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal weighs more than any other water shoe we tested in our research. Coming in at over 2.3 pounds for the pair, don't expect these to be a lightweight option for packing and swimming.
  • We read a few reviews stating these shoes became very tight when worn with socks. Our testing affirmed this, so if you plan to wear your sandals with socks, you might want to go a half-size larger here.

Our Final Thoughts on the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

The KEEN Newport H2 Hiking Sandal is a rock solid water shoe. We expected this from KEEN, a brand we respect from extensive testing of shoes across a range of categories, and the Newport H2's quality and features proved consistent with our previous experiences with KEEN. With the feature set you expect from a high-end hiking boot, this water shoe is perfect for:

  • Those with foot problems looking for a sandal or water shoe that provides plenty of foot and arch support.
  • People trying to get the most out of hikes featuring water obstacles or walking longer distances.
  • A long day on the boat or at the beach or anywhere you want something that won't leave your feet languishing in water-soaked shoes all day.

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