Keen Kona Flip II Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: 100% recyclable, comfortable, light, machine washable
Cons: Poor traction and durability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Keen Kona flip flops are simple and comfortable but have some traction issues on hard surfaces. Overall we like them and have to admit that keeping the environment in mind by making them recyclable is highly appealing. Typically flip flops don't last nearly as long as lace-up shoes and thus create an unimaginable amount of waste. Keep in mind most flip flops are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which isn't recyclable and releases compounds that are toxic to humans and animals alike when they do slowly break down.
While kicking the sustainability bar up a notch, the Konas retain a high level of comfort. The compression-molded EVA midsole felt like it was molded to our foot right out of the box. Upon initial viewing, the Kona appears to have excessive curvature and an odd amount of rise in the toe box. But, when you put the flip flops on, the curvature makes total sense. As you walk, the flip flop rolls with your step, which takes out a significant amount of audible flopping when compared to other flatter designs.
The Konas are made to tackle the variable terrain of Island life, but they adapted pretty well to desert life too. The water-friendly non-absorbent materials dry extremely fast after fording across creeks, and they didn't seem to create any noxious odors over time. The recyclable and lightweight EVA and rubber translate to good packability for backpacking. Unfortunately, the materials are also a bit slippery on hard surfaces like granite slabs or wood floors, which detracts from overall versatility.
Throughout our testing period, we attempted to put ourselves in the mindset of the designers of the Kona. Working with recycled materials and making a flip flop that is completely recyclable relegated them to using certain types of rubber and foam. The result is a reasonably durable flip flop that does break down faster than some of its heavy-duty competition.
The airy rubber that comprises the outsole of this flip was visibly damaged by the end of our testing. Little knicks and chunks were taken out, but the overall shoe was still entirely usable with lots of life remaining. It is important to know that you may not get the same life out of these as other similar flip flops. On the upside, and it's a big upside, when you have worn through this flip, they are entirely recyclable, which trumps the extra few months you will get from another pair.
The Kona is best suited for action, not for impressing. That's not to say it isn't a good looking flip flop, just that it looks more at home on the beach or hiking through the rainforest than it does as casual footwear around town. The nylon strapping gives it a "Chaco"-esqe look, which will surely gain some notoriety within certain crowds.
One of our biggest gripes with the Kona is its lack of traction relative to the more environmentally destructive brands of flip flops. The materials result in a lightweight/less dense rubber sole, which doesn't feel as tacky on a variety of surfaces. Traction on trails and sand is great, but smooth surfaces such as granite slabs, hardwood floors, or tile can be treacherous when wet.
The Kona isn't super cheap, and several aspects leave a bit to be desired. That said, if you factor in the environmental component, this is probably the best value of any flip flop available as it is the only one to be completely recyclable. If we ignore the environmental factor, as many of us find it so easy to do, the price isn't as justified solely by the performance of the flip flops.
If you care about the environment and have realized, as we have, that flip flops are dumped into landfills by the billions each year, the Kona is a great solution. While they might not be the best performing flip flop on the market, purchasing something recyclable will send a message to corporations that we are thinking about sustainability and that recyclable flip flops are a positive step.
— Brian Martin