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Keen Kona Flip II Review

A great choice for eco minded individuals who appreciate a comfortable pair of flip flops
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Price:  $55 List
Pros:  100% recyclable, comfortable, light, machine washable
Cons:  Poor traction and durability
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 20, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Support and Stability - 20% 5
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Style - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Everyone has experienced the guilt of tossing out a well-loved pair of flip flops knowing the material is headed for a landfill where it will probably remain until the end of time or perhaps the eruption of the Yellowstone supermassive volcano. The Keen Kona Flip II, however, are not only comfortable, but they also help soothe the inevitable guilt when it comes time to ditch your flops. Made from 80% recycled material and being 100% recyclable themselves, the Kona's help close the loop. On top of being friendly to Johnny polar bear, they are comfortable and perform well in the wet. The drawbacks of the recycled materials are the lack of traction on smooth surfaces such as tile or hardwood flooring and how fragile the flip flops are when walking on sharp rock

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kona II is simple and comfortable, but they 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.

Performance Comparison


An overall comfortable pair of flip flops that are Johnny polar bear approved.
An overall comfortable pair of flip flops that are Johnny polar bear approved.

Comfort


While kicking the sustainability bar up a notch, the Kona retains 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 them 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 molded footbed and solid arch support make the Kona as comfortable as it is friendly to the environment.
The molded footbed and solid arch support make the Kona as comfortable as it is friendly to the environment.

Support and Stability


The Kona has an extremely supportive and ergonomic footbed. Right out of the box it fit the form of our foot quite well, which was fortunate because the material is quite durable and firm. Even after a few months of use, there was little sign of breaking in or molding to our foot. Some testers found an issue with the almost banana-esque curve upwards from heel to toe, but these testers also had previously known they fit better with low arches and flatter footbeds.

The rounded sides and relatively thick soles did prove to be a bit less stable than the low profile wide flip flops that ranked at the top of this category. That being said, the Kona is decently stable but really makes up for any foibles with the excellent ergonomic support.

The recycled material  while friendly to the environment  isn't as grippy or stable as dense rubber soles. The footbed  on the other hand  is excellently formed with a high arch and supportive cupped heel.
The recycled material, while friendly to the environment, isn't as grippy or stable as dense rubber soles. The footbed, on the other hand, is excellently formed with a high arch and supportive cupped heel.

Traction


One of our biggest gripes with the Kona is its lack of traction relative to the more environmentally destructive 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 solid grey portion of the sole on the Kona is the culprit for our traction gripes. If the slippery grey foam was replaced with the grippier ribbed black rubber they may inspire more confidence underfoot.
The solid grey portion of the sole on the Kona is the culprit for our traction gripes. If the slippery grey foam was replaced with the grippier ribbed black rubber they may inspire more confidence underfoot.

Versatility


The Kona is made to tackle the variable terrain of island life, but they adapt 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.

Pine boughs and leafy trails are a bit slippery in the Kona.
Pine boughs and leafy trails are a bit slippery in the Kona.

Durability


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.

Apart from the relatively vulnerable foam material  the Konas are well made and didn't show any sign of delamination or flaws in construction.
Apart from the relatively vulnerable foam material, the Konas are well made and didn't show any sign of delamination or flaws in construction.

Style


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 give it a "Chaco"-esqe look, which will surely gain some notoriety within certain crowds.

The distinct outdoor styling of the Kona looks good. Not only did we like the appearance of the curvy lines  but they also follow a very functional molded foot contour.
The distinct outdoor styling of the Kona looks good. Not only did we like the appearance of the curvy lines, but they also follow a very functional molded foot contour.

Value


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 based solely on performance.

Conclusion


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 Keen Kona Flip II 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.

As the only environmentally conscious offering we tested  the Kona did pretty dang good throughout the various challenges we threw at it.
As the only environmentally conscious offering we tested, the Kona did pretty dang good throughout the various challenges we threw at it.

Brian Martin