Keen Newport H2 - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy, slow to dry, hard to get on
Our Analysis and Test Results
Of the two close-toed shoes that we tested, the Newport H2 provided the most coverage. It was super comfortable, supportive, and quick to adjust (though its adjustment was not as comprehensive as other models). Although this model can appear bulky, we were happy to have it on rugged terrain and while boulder hopping.
We said it before but we will say it again: the Newport is one comfortable sandal in both its sole and its webbing straps. It accommodated multiple different foot types well without chafing. Testers felt a big difference between the footbed of the Newport vs. the KEEN Uneek. The latter doesn't have very defined arch support and felt comparatively "flat," while also collapsing under the weight of testers. In contrast, the Newport H2 has a well-defined arch and a light, responsive CMEVA footbed which gave each tester an individualized fit.
Excellent foot stability, no signs of blisters, and a secure feeling thanks to its close-toed design, the Newport earned its high scores for stability. In addition to securing the foot, the extra wide footbed and classic KEEN "foot bumper" make this shoe particularly adept for steep terrain. Its Compression Molded EVA midsole made this sandal feel more like a hiking shoe than a sandal and resulted in all day comfort. The arch of the Newport is also more pronounced and feels as though it secures the heel better than the Uneek.
We thought the traction of the Newport was good overall and much better than the Uneek but similar to the KEEN Clearwater. Despite possessing the same soles, the Newport has more aggressive tread than the Uneek. Sliding around on wet granite, our testers felt that they had good control. The bulkiness and extra coverage of the Newport H2 made testers feel more comfortable wearing this sandal out on aggressive terrain.
Although the Newport H2 was quick to adjust, it lacked adjustment in the heel and across the toe box. The bungee system worked well for the upper and midfoot, but when it came to the toes and ankle, it fell short. For this reason, the Clearwater took home a 6 out of 10 in adjustability. Despite the low score, the sandal's conforming body webbing straps made many feel that they did not require as much adjustment as they would from another product. If you have extremely narrow toes or a bumpy ankle, this might not be the shoe for you.
Once again, the Newport H2 took home a relatively high score, taking home a 7 out of 10 for adaptability. This model could handle anything nearly anything, from water sports to travel to town days. The hydrophobic webbing should mean these sandals dry quickly. However, our testers noticed that the material that the webbing rested upon retained water long after submersion, which could be a problem when facing multiple stream crossings on a long hike where chaffing is the enemy. As with most closed-toe sandals, small pebbles and debris that works its way inside the shoe are harder to remove than open-toed shoes. For a faster drying model, the Teva Tirra or Bedrock Cairn score well.
Surely the only reason that KEENs, and the Newport in particular, were given any style points was that its popularity has already resulted in its unique look becoming inadvertently socially accepted. It stands out more than the Clearwater with its cartoonishly round toe box (KEEN refers to this part of the shoe as their "foot bumper"). Fortunately, it does come in a wide array of color options, which gives it a few extra style points. Some testers admitted to having no problems wearing it out to dinner or social events, but others decided it would remain only a reliable trail or yard shoe.
If you think your desired activities put you in the market for a close-toed sandal in particular and you need added protection, then we recommend the Newport. This model works best for rugged terrain, intense water sports, and light use in town.
For $100, this on the pricey end. Although it did feel that it would last for a long time, at this price you might as well consider why exactly you want a sandal when you could spend $20 more to get a quality lightweight hiking shoe. Nevertheless, we recommend this sandal if it fits your needs.
The crux of evaluating the KEEN Newport H2 was deciding what to compare it to. Is it a hiker? Or is it a sandal? As a hiking shoe, it is light and well ventilated. As a sandal, it is bulky and slow to dry. If you want a sandal that is comfortable out of the box and will last you several seasons, this is your pick.
— Laura Lingeman & Shey Kiester