KEEN Rose Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like its siblings, the Keen Rose is one of the few close-toed models in our review. This provides more protection against roots and rocks on trails, but the lack of adjustment points and the general clunkiness of this sandal make it tough to love.
The Keen Rose is comfortable right out of the box and doesn't require any time to break in. With a squishy footbed and materials that (mostly) feel good against the skin, the Rose is a comfy option for hanging out around the house or campsite. The one exception is the ankle strap — this is the only point of adjustment on the sandal, but it sits high on the top of the foot and tends to dig into the skin when tightened with any real tension.
Like most of the Keen models in our review, the Rose doesn't have an adjustable toe box, so the width of your foot will determine how comfortable you feel in this sandal. This model does run wide, but those with exceptionally wide feet may find the full-coverage, non-adjustable straps constricting.
The Rose is an average scorer in this category. The rubber outsole features funky multidirectional lugs that look like they might offer serious grip, but, unfortunately, the lugs are too shallow. The sole material is a bit too slick to really deliver on this promise. The footbed also gets very slippery when wet. The Rose offers much better traction than a smooth-bottomed fashion sandal, but it can't compete with technical models in this review.
Are you sick of fiddling with a bunch of straps to get your sandal to fit just so? Then the Rose might be the model for you! It has a single adjustable velcro ankle strap, and that's it. On the upside, this makes adjustment very easy, and this sandal can be tightened or loosened one-handed in seconds. On the downside, the non-adjustable toe box means that narrow-footed wearers will be sloshing around in this sandal, while the very wide-footed may get their feet pinched.
The Rose has a thick sole that's fairly flexible, so it accommodates lumps and bumps in the trail while still feeling stable. However, because it is wide and largely non-adjustable, there's a lot of side-to-side play, especially for those with narrow feet. This is exacerbated when these sandals are worn with a heavy pack, which increases weight and instability.
Provided it fits your foot shape, the Rose is a fine option for nature walks, casual bike rides, and hanging out around town. Given that it's not adjustable and doesn't perform well in very technical terrain, we wouldn't recommend this as a primary hiking sandal or a backpacking option. That said, it's more stylish and pared-down than its Keen siblings, so wearers are more likely to comfortably transition this model from an easy trail walk to a restaurant patio.
Here's the bottom line: we feel like dorks wearing these. They're just a little too bulky and a bit too cartoonish (looking at you, toe bumpers) to really go with anything, and the friends and family we surveyed generally agreed. We include style in our reviews because it impacts whether or not you'll actually wear a pair of sandals, and the look of this model made us pass it by often during testing. But hey! Use the photos in this review to judge for yourself, and if you like what you see, go for it. They are certainly more streamlined and feminine than many other Keen models.
Should You Buy the Keen Rose?
While it's comfortable enough to wear right out of the box and is suitable for light-duty outdoor activities, this sandal doesn't perform well enough in the traction, stability, adjustability, or style categories to stand up to most of the other models in our review. The Keen Rose, by any other name, would still be mediocre. The Rose is not a technical performer. Given that it costs almost as much as models that blow it out of the water in terms of performance, comfort, and looks, we don't think the Rose is a good value.
What Other Sandal Should You Consider?
While we get that the Rose is a cute style for some, it isn't as good as the KEEN Clearwater CNX for foot protection or performance in most of our test metrics. The Clearwater offers better traction and stability than the Rose, and we think whatever you sacrifice in choosing the bulky style over the Rose, we think you'll be more than pleased with the performance on adventures. You'll be glad you chose functionality over a pretty face.
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