KEEN UNEEK (pictured above)
These are the newest of the new — officially released today, KEEN’s UNEEK sandals aim to take breezy, beachy comfort to an entirely new level. Literally designed from “two cords and a sole,” the uppers of the UNEEK are comprised of twin, pull-through cords running through a free-moving junction. A quick tug on the bungee lace cinches the entire upper around your tootsie for a custom-feel fit (including the heel strap). Sure, they also feature a comfortable and lightweight PU midsole, anatomical footbed, rubber pods in high-wear areas and they weigh only 240 grams — but the look and fit of these “unique” sandals are what truly set them apart. Keep in mind: while they’re snug enough to offer top-notch support, without full-toe bumpers, the UNEEKs are best kept to easy-going terrain (like a beach or a gentle trail).
Pro: KEEN’s most comfortable sandal.
Need to Know: Everybody will be looking at your feet.
Teva Original Universal
I live in flip-flops over the summer; however, sometimes that “flipping” and “flopping” gets annoying, yet I still want to keep the open-toe, open-air feel. Teva solved my problem with a trip down memory lane. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of their classic sport sandal, they’ve re-issued the Teva Original Universal. Open-toe design means no “squishing” in pooled-up water, simple webbing uppers are easy-and-breezy, the rubber outsole is aggressive enough for light trail-duty and modern zinc-based anti-microbial treatment in the cushy EVA footbed keeps them from smelling the same as the 1984 versions tended to. Simple and tough, I think the new originals may just be kicking around until 2044. (Men’s and women’s available.)
Pro: Cheap, tough and subtle, these sandals are easy to love.
Need to Know: Don’t expect the same level of comfort/support as a high-end sport sandal.
KEEN Class 5
With its soft, wrap-around microfiber upper, you could be excused for assuming the Class 5 is an après shoe — best left for around the fire or kicking around camp. And they are good for that, owing much of their comfort also to a polyurethane midsole and EVA footbed. However, thanks to a thick toe bumper, secure bungee fit, aggressive tread and the fact that they float, the Class 5 sandals can tackle a portage or a light trail hike with ease. (The microfiber dries faster than you’d think; they’re good paddling kicks.) They weigh in at only 214 grams — more svelte than the already-light Class 6 or the above UNEEK. A Velcro heel-strap locks in the fit; an antimicrobial treatment keeps away the stink. Plus, these shoes are made from 80 per cent recycled material and are 100 per cent recyclable. (Men’s and women’s available.)
Pro: One of KEEN’s more versatile offerings; fit for urban settings as well as the backcountry.
Need to Know: The styling suits a more mature buyer.