Hands-on Gear Review

Keen Newport H2 Review

Keen Newport H2
Top Pick Award
Price:  $100 List | $69.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, good traction, doesn't hold water.
Cons:  Bungee on lacing system, hard to get on.
Bottom line:  Great at keeping debris out and solid traction, this is our top choice for water sports.
Editors' Rating:   
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Sizes:  7 to 17
Weight:  1.78 lb
Sole Material:  Non-marking rubber outsole
Manufacturer:   KEEN

Our Verdict

When Keen started pumping shoes into the market back in the mid-2000s, most of us had the same thought: "What are those things?" Since then Keen has almost cornered the market in closed-design sandals, such as the Newport.

The Newport is exemplary to Keen's mission — it is robust, supportive, fits like a charm and is clearly innovative. Features like the massive toe box with sturdy protection, bomber lacing system and aggressive sole design make this sandal a favorite for us here at OutdoorGearLab. The Women's Newport H2 also scored highly.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sandals for Men

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Tommy Penick

Last Updated:
October 31, 2013


Performance Comparison

Testing out the Newport H2 by wet-wading for trout in Montana. The Newport held less water than other closed-design shoes.
Testing out the Newport H2 by wet-wading for trout in Montana. The Newport held less water than other closed-design shoes.


The Newport feels good the second its lips on your foot for the first time — no break-in period required. The entire upper of the sandal is lined with a squishy neoprene that is soft to the touch and helps disperse the shoe's pressure. Additionally, the footbed is the best-feeling one we tested, with a nice squishy feel with good rebound, and a really nicely designed texture that helps lock your foot in place while not irritating the bottom of your foot. We really can't come up with a complaint about the comfort.

By nature, closed-design sandals have a tendency to allow in small sticks, rocks, and other debris that won't come out without removing the shoe, the Newport not excluded. However, the folks at Keen used their recognizable toe-cap to help protect any rogue rocks, sticks, stumps or roots from penetrating the front directly into your toes.

The Newport's footbed contour does a great job of holding the foot in place, which is pivotal to its comfort. Heel slop and sliding front-to-back doesn't make any shoe more comfortable, so Keen locked it down to make sure our feet were perfectly aligned with the arch support and heel cup at all times.


Keen's sole and midsole design is an amazing base for stability. With a firm sole, matched with a great tread design, there's no "wiggle" to begin with. Attached on top of that, their midsole/footbed has a nice amount of squish for dampening impact, but doesn't forgo support like some softer footbeds tend to do. However, as we work into the upper, we start to have some stability issues. Though we really like the concept behind Keen's lacing system, it's only mildly effective. Though the shoe can be cinched down quicky and easily, the bungee- based system flexes a lot when we take a missed step climbing down a rooty section of steep trail or slip on a rock. This creates a bit of an uncomfortable, fleeting feeling of falling.

Fit and Design

The Newport differs from its close relative, the Keen Arroyo, by having textile uppers rather than the heavy and thick leather counterparts of the Arroyo. We really loved this change, since it was lighter, dried faster and the leather doesn't present any clear advantages.

Also, different from its competition the Newport has an open design in the heel. We didn't feel like the Arroyo provided any extra support from the heel being enclosed, so we felt that the open air feel and the easier on-and-off of the Newport was more practical.

One of the features we liked the most about the Newport was the footbed, which feels similar to the Teva Hurricane XLT, with a little bit of squish. Unlike the Arroyo, the Newport's foam-like footbed didn't get slimy, nor did it hold water. The footbed dried quickly and the "anti-odor" lining seemed to work…well, it smelled better than most water shoes. That isn't saying much.

As mentioned above, we would have rather seen a static lace used rather than the bungee system which added too much flex, but we do like the theory behind the rest of the lacing system. The two halves of the shoe are brought together by the bungee lacing that extends most of the way down the shoe. Underneath of the lacing system is more neoprene, which lines the entire shoe. Due to this lining, the tongue can only come up so far, and it makes getting in and out of the shoe a bit difficult, especially in comparison to the Arroyo, which is a quick slip.

The iconic Keen toe cap works like expected. We loved stubbing our toe cap into rocks since we don't love stubbing our toes into rocks. That said, all of the closed-design shoes offered toe caps that were substantial enough to block any blows to our toes.


While no shoe in the fleet holds a candle to the durability of the Chaco Z/2 Classic or the Chaco z/1 Classic, the Chacos hardly have any features. For a closed design with lots of add-ons, we were pretty impressed with the Newport's durability. The large toe cap adds lots of protection not only to your foot, but also the shoe itself. While we've heard reports of stitching coming undone or peeling soles, we tried (admittedly, even with some pliers), and we couldn't replicate any of the issues we found reported on the Internet. Additionally, the sole has a pretty low profile but very effective tread pattern, which we don't anticipate having any issues with.


Out of the closed-design shoes that we were able to test, the Newport held its own. We did, however, take a few falls while crossing mossy or slimy creeks, a tough task for any shoe. Keen's proprietary rubber compound gripped well on both dry and wet conditions and seems to be tough enough to last.

Best Applications

The Keen Newport H2 is the best closed-design for any water use, since it has fewer materials that will hold water. Additionally, the Newport is well suited for most hiking endeavors, though we would like a shoe with more stability for technical approaches and hikes.


At a list price of $100 and tons of bargain options, the Keen Newport H2 is a lot of shoe for the money. While it is quite a bit more expensive than its Teva counterpart, we feel like it's still a decent value for a quality product.


Keen knocked it out of the park on this one. Despite a few issues such as the lack of stability and traction not quite as strong as its competition, we were impressed with the shoe as a whole.

Tommy Penick

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Most recent review: May 21, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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0% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 50%  (1)
Person Icon

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   May 21, 2018 - 03:14pm
fred1 · dallas
i got them for my birthday as a present end of last year, used them only lightly for a few months and the glue came off on the flap holding the shoe together. warranty case was denied. they said that the model was made in 2012 and they do not warrant that. i called them and was treated without respect in a condescending way. keen does not stand behind their products.

i recommend to buy chacos instead. i own two pairs of chacos for almost ten years and they are still holding up and they even look like new. chaco stands behind their products offering lifelong warranty.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

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