By Lynn Seldon
June 2, 2004
Upside: All-season water sandals that work well on the water, on the road, and practically anywhere in between.
Downside: Not cheap
Rating: ^^^^ (4 out of 5 peaks)
Ideal User: Anyone involved with watersports who wants a hybrid sandal that will also work well at a restaurant after a day on the water.
The folks from Keen claim to have created the "world's first hybrid sandal." I don't know about that, but I do know they've created a line of hybrid sandals that seems targeted just for me. How did they know?
For years, I've craved a pair of functional watersports sandals that could work equally well when I went out to a bar or restaurant later and didn't want to look like a river guide just off the Colorado. The standard strap sandals just didn't cut it for me once I left the water.
Martin Keen, a lifelong sailor and veteran footwear designer for the likes of K Swiss and Saucony, saw my need and filled it! He created a technical sandal that performs--and, sort of, looks--like a shoe.
The technical part includes: hand-sculpted lasts that you won't find in any other sandals; anatomic footbeds that are the most comfortable I've experienced in a sandal ; waterproof leather; anti-odor linings and footbed (yeah!); super-traction soles; and a really cool patented toecap that's reduced my previously frequent sandal toe stubs to zero.
I went for a model called the Jamestown ($85) because I thought they would function great (and be comfortable) in all of my watery pursuits, but would also work well with pants and socks in the evening. In fact, on a recent trip to Bermuda, I wore them paddling during the day and out to dinner (with socks) at night--and my wife said I made quite the fashion statement. My wife now has a pair of Jamestowns on her birthday/Christmas list (same price, so I'm saving up)--there's also a Jamestown slide for women ($80), but we both like the full sandal better.
I'm now looking at the new Newport H2, in that they're a little more water-oriented and I know they'll be comfortable during long days on the water. So many people have agreed with me that Keen's 2004 line also includes the Hood River (water leaning, for men and women), Providence (fashion leaning, for men and women), and Seattle (fashion leaning, for women). If you want to get really funky, check out their Yogui slides!
The bottom-line is that I've been wearing my Jamestowns virtually every day since the spring and I've never found a more functional shoe--and I mean shoe, rather than just a sandal!
Check out www.keenfootwear.com.
Editor's Note: Check out Lynn's site at www.lynnseldon.com.