KEEN NEWPORT HYDRO SHOES
TEST SERIES BY ROBB PRATT
September 11, 2018
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unicornv007 AT yahoo.com
Canton, Michigan, USA
5' 10" (1.80 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend long trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Keen, Inc
Year of manufacture: 2018
Weight as delivered: 14.9 oz (422 g) per shoe
Dimensions: Size US 11 (EU 10, EU 44.5, JP 29, CM Length 27.9)
MSRP: US $100
Product description: The Keen Newport Hydro sandal is a shoe that is designed to function in wet environments. It has quick drying liners, durable water repellent on the webbing and uses the secure-fit lace capture system instead of laces or Velcro straps which is really more of a pull-tab to hold my shoe on. It also has a multi-directional lug pattern for traction. Keen uses a lot of buzzwords such as PFC-Free, Cleansport NXT and Metatomical that honestly, confuse me, but put in more layman's terms, they avoid using materials that are considered toxic to the environment while still having a system that limits foot odor developing in the sandal. Lastly, the foot bed is designed to have great arch support and cradle the foot's contour. The picture also shows a robust toe box to keep me from damaging my toes when I inevitably stub them on rocks. They are machine washable, and they come in 6 different colors. I received the Dress Blue / Steel Grey.
|Just Out of the Box|
Though I was leaving at 6:30am the next morning on a modified camp/work trip, it didn't stop me from tearing into the package to check them out the evening I received them.
The packaging they came in was a standard shoe-box with the usual tissue paper stuffed into each shoe that I'm normally used to seeing whenever I buy new shoes. No surprises here.
The shoes themselves though, are very sharp looking. I especially like the blue running up the sides combined with the black and gray soles. I'm not much of a fashion hound, but I could wear these out in public and they'd look good. They also have a small section of white stitching on the front of each shoe that I later discovered is reflective and shows up really well in the dark when hit with light. The loops on the back are thin but sturdy and also contain the reflective stitching. These would be useful for hanging the shoes up from a pack or perhaps to dry once they are wet. The stitching overall is clean and tidy - no loose threads or poor workmanship. They appear well crafted.
|Nice Hanging Laces|
The soles - ah, the soles... These shoes really do have soul to them! Seriously though, they are thick and have a very solid arch support. After wearing them for a bit, I think I need to get new work shoes as I was reminded what shoes are like when they do have good arch support. Although technically, I could probably wear these to work as the requirement is no open-toed shoes and these have a great toe box. They are just open everywhere else.
They also have a very solid toe box which is perfect for me as I occasionally suffer from playing the role of magnet to whatever large object is nearby and typically bang my feet into things. My first offspring broke her toe just a few months ago slamming it into a couch and I caught her eyeing them already (thankfully, her foot is a few sizes too small).
|Solid Toe Box|
My last observation was the treads themselves. They have a lot of texture to them and actually reminded me of tire tracks with the right kind of patterns to help with four-directional traction.
Putting them on the first time, they were a bit stiff but I was likely being overly cautious. After taking them on and off a few times, I found them much easier to put on my feet. The laces on the front have a locking cord that can quickly make the fit more snug or loose, but as the fit is already pretty good, I don't have to tighten them down much. They also grip my ankles very well.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The shoes did not ship with any instructions, though I don't believe I really need them for footwear. The website does note care instructions that the KEEN Newport Hydro Sandals are machine washable and that I should use a small amount of detergent and wash on gentle cycle then air dry.
TRYING IT OUT
Thursday night, I took them for about a 20-minute walk on the sidewalk through our neighborhood. My feet felt pretty warm. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not but I didn't develop any blisters and my feet weren't sliding.
The following morning, I put a pair of thin wool socks on and decided to drive up to my parents' cabin wearing the shoes. I found them incredibly comfortable and continued to wear them throughout the day as I helped summer-ize the cabin and eventually setup my camp for the night (I prefer to camp outside up there as the trees are ideal for a hammock rig).
Later in the afternoon, I took a mile walk on a gravel road to test them. I couldn't feel any of the small pebbles through the thick soles and I had good traction for the entire walk. The weather continued to worsen throughout the day and eventually it turned into a light sleet / rain mix as the temperature was just about freezing. Surprisingly, my feet with just the thin wool socks and the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes were actually comfortable. Near the end of our walk, we ended up at the lake. After a brief debate, I decided the rain wasn't really going to get any worse, nor was I going kayaking or anything else fun. I ended up water testing them the next best way - just walking out into the lake. I'm not the polar bear type, but standing there in the lake that a month ago was mostly frozen was actually pretty refreshing. The walk back to the cabin was also comfortable though the shoes and socks were wet. I never had that squishy feeling as the water drained very well off the shoes. The rubber soles obviously dried quickly. The sides, made of a polyester webbing, took significantly longer to dry (more than a few hours) but with the weather being cold and damp, I wasn't terribly surprised. I'll see if they will dry faster in warmer, sunnier weather.
They were dry by morning when I again donned them up and drove back home to cheer on my daughter in her latest soccer game. I stood out in similar weather to the day before - roughly 40F (4C) with light rain - for several hours. Although damp, I never was uncomfortable or cold.
|Strolling in the Lake|
Overall, I'm impressed with the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes. They fit well and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, not just for water sports. In the water, they function very well and I did not experience any slipping, sliding or loss of traction while wearing them. Granted, this was on a sandy beach with some small rocks. Although they are a bit heavy for backpacking camp shoe, they give me the impression they will do exceedingly well as a camp shoe.
This concludes my initial report. The field report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. The long term report will be due an additional two months after that. Please check back then for further information.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank both KEEN and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be part of this test series.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
* 2 Days / 1 Night Backpacking - 18 miles on Jordan River Pathway (Alba, MICHIGAN - USA) from May 26-27, 2018. This is a green-tunnel-like trail that is heavily forested and runs next to a river for significant portions. The ground is mostly dirt with significant sections of sand underneath and in and along the river. There are muddy sections where springs and streams flow across the trail. There are also multiple open fields and roller-coaster-like hills at times. Peak elevation is 1329 ft (405m). There are campsites situated near the halfway point where we were tent camping. While the temperature typically ranges much cooler during this time period, we had near record-setting weather at 84F (29C) that with humidity, had a real-feel temperature at 90F (32C) during daytimes. At night, the weather dropped down to 62F (17C) and we had a minor thunderstorm roll through that dropped 0.23 inches (0.6 cm) of rain. My pack weighed in at 27.6 lbs. (12.5 kg) which included all food, water and a few luxury items for my wife and me to celebrate our anniversary.
* Trip #2: 7 nights' base camping at Cole Canoe Base (Alger, Michigan USA) from June 23-30, 2018. This is a large scout base camp filled with good tree coverage. The ground is mostly dirt and the camp is very flat with few hills. I used my hammock to camp. Early in the week, it was cool enough that I needed a sweatshirt, mid-week we had some rain and the end of the week turned into a scorcher. Temperatures ranged from a nighttime low of 41F (5C) to a daytime high of 95F (35C). We had one day of rain that started in the middle of the night and came down until mid-afternoon the next day. I estimate the total precipitation around 0.25 inches (0.6 cm)
* Trip #3: 5 nights' base camping at Blackwoods Campground at Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor, Maine USA) from July 9-15, 2018. This is a large campground within a 5 minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean. It has heavy tree coverage. The ground in camp was mostly dirt with leaves and twigs, while the hiking trails and seashore were covered with both large and small granite rocks. The weather during this time ranged between 48 to 81F (9 to 27C) but felt much warmer due to the higher humidity. There was, however, no precipitation.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
For this first trip, I hesitated on strapping the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes to my pack. They were three times heavier than my normal, cheap pair of flip-flops but I wanted to try them out as a backpacking camp shoe as the former always aggravate my toes and provide poor walking stability.
|Keens Strapped to Pack|
Surprisingly, I really fell in love with these shoes. After a long, hot, steamy 8 mile (13 km) hike, I couldn't wait to strip off my trial runners and give my feet a break. In the past, I've ended up stumbling around in flip-flops, looking like a drunken sailor, watching my footing carefully. I knew I had something going right when I put these on - solid footing, great arch support and my foot was breathing much better. After setting up camp, I confidently marched down to the river over some terrain I never would have tackled in flip-flops and walked right in to knee depth. I think I stood there for at least 10 minutes which felt fantastic and really helped me cool off. Afterwards, I walked back into camp, never even feeling the squishy-slogging of wet shoes. The polyester webbing stayed wet but felt really good in the heat. In less than an hour, they felt dry, so I walked back into the river a second time before dinner. This time, I brought my camera and my wife.
|Standing in a Sandy, Muddy River|
The river bottom was a combination of sand and mud. Both got mixed in-between the sandal and my foot. They easily cleaned up and never felt like I was walking on grit. The mud portion also was very deep and had that sucking sensation that based on past experience with flip-flops, would have forced me to remove my foot and hand dig the sandal out of the muck.
That night, I spent most of my time in the sandals. They were easy to slip off for bed and back on for a quick bathroom run when rolling thunder woke me up. No, that isn't a nickname for my wife in our small tent; there was a thunderstorm moving in. In the dark of stumbling around (my light source was not working), I was also able to move quickly and confidently to finish my call to nature before the rain struck. The following morning, we packed up the campsite and I stayed in the sandals until we were ready to leave. I changed back into my trail runners for day 2 of the hike. I had planned on putting these back on near the end of the hike to see how they worked while I carried my pack but it was just too hot and we wanted to get off the trail. When we did get to the car though, I popped them right on to help with arch support and get some breathable relief while packing up and driving to a nearby Bed & Breakfast we had reserved. I spent the rest of the weekend wearing the shoes. I'm going to have some tough decisions in the future as these are really great camp shoes, though a bit heavy.
Several weeks after my first trip, I went on a week-long base camp trip in northern Michigan. For this adventure, I was able to do a lot of testing with the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes. I pretty much lived in them except on the one cold, rainy day. I'll try to summarize their use:
* Canoeing: We took a two to three hours trip down the Rifle River with a couple of Boy Scouts and some other adults. Putting the canoe into the water, I didn't worry about getting wet, but instead just walked into the river. I had several "opportunities" as I call them to test out whether the shoes stayed connected to my feet as our canoe was flipped once by malevolent forces (another adult was jealous of our awesome canoeing skills after they had flipped their own canoe though we needed a dunk) and some of the scouts also flipped their canoe. Both times required me to walk through the mud and sand as well as stand in water up to my waist while we righted, emptied and reloaded the canoes. The shoes stayed connected to my feet every time. Occasionally, I had to take one off and shake it out from some particularly stubborn sand or grit, but overall, they felt great.
* Tubing: We took two different tubing runs down the Rifle River, each about an hour long. The Scout Camp requirements are closed-toe shoes. The Keen Newport Hydro Shoes counted and worked very well. I was able to walk through the river at times, chasing scouts and of course my tube as it occasionally sauntered down the river without me. The numerous rocks were easy to walk on and never hurt my feet or toes.
* Bathroom Runs: I kept them handy at night so was able to just slip them on and walk a few minutes to the vault toilets. They protected my feet at least twice when I would have absolutely crushed my toes on some tree roots that I didn't see in the dark.
* Hot Days: We had two days that were blistering hot. I ended up using the shoes as a way to keep cool. I'd occasionally walk into the river, lake or even just turn a water spigot on the shoes to wet down the straps. That worked to help keep me cooler throughout the day. I also ended up walking miles in them throughout each day, going to the shooting ranges, back to base-camp and to the lakefront. As the road was a heavily pebbled road, I was very pleased to have firm soles and strong arch support. I never slipped or slid around and could barely feel the stones.
Perhaps the only thing that went wrong with the shoes was user caused. Early in the week, I left them overnight on the mat outside my hammock. I slipped them on in the morning and walked off. In my caffeine-deprived state, the strange, sticky squishing never quite registered until about a half-hour later when it dawned on me that it wasn't moisture I was feeling but a large slug that had crawled into the shoe. Yuck. For the rest of the week, I made sure at night they were properly kept off the ground to prevent a repeat.
From a blister standpoint, I never got any blisters but I did have some rough callous edges build up on the outsides of my heels.
For this adventure, the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes got quite a workout. They survived the blasted mist of Niagara Falls on our way Acadia National Park. I also used them as my travel wear during the daytime to give my feet some breathability while driving. In Acadia, I used them as my main shoe for playing in the tide pools of the Atlantic Ocean on several days as well as being blasted by mist at Thunder Hole one evening a few hours before high tide. I also used them at Sand Beach for wading and one three-hour sea kayaking adventure.
In all cases, they got extremely soaked, but my feet felt very comfortable in the shoes. I sometimes rinsed them in fresh water after being in the salty ocean, but I know I missed doing that at least once.
From a grip standpoint, they did a decent but not great job on wet granite rocks that were very slippery, but on the other hand, I don't know any shoe that would have provided solid footing in that situation. In all other environments, the grip was solid. They did a spectacular job of protecting my feet from the barnacles and mussels that latched onto the rocks. In those situations, I had great stability and never felt the sharp edges through the soles.
From a comfort standpoint, I ended up using them instead of my tennis shoes for traveling to the local town (Bar Harbor, Maine) and doing our souvenir shopping. I typically wore them with a light pair of merino socks during these jaunts for added comfort. I still rate the arch support as superb and much better than my tennis shoes. The support is similar to my hiking boots but I never wanted to wear those while walking around town or traveling in the car. The breathability was the deciding factor.
From a robustness standpoint, they still look great. I cannot find any signs of degradation or wear on the treads, toebox or polyester straps. That is actually quite amazing considering the pebbled roads, barnacles and salt water that I put them through over a few weeks.
I am not sure how else to say it, but the Keen Newport Hydro Shoes are awesome. Hail Hydro! As I thought after my first backpacking trip, I have some tough decisions to make in the future. I wish they were lighter, but it is really hard to complain about them for anything else. They do a great job as a camp shoe that can be worn right into the water and still be functional from the minute I step out. They also are good enough to make for every day usage.
For backpacking, their weight is going to have me looking carefully to see the conditions of the terrain. As my base packweight without food or water runs around 18 pounds (8.2 kg), I may be deciding to make this closer to 20 pounds (9.1 kg) to bring these along occasionally.
1. Arch support is fantastic
2. Easy on and easy off
3. Quick drying on the soles makes them comfortable both in and out of water
4. Slower drying on the straps makes them comfortable in hot weather as a way to keep cool
5. Solid grip to rocks, dirt and rough terrain
1. Weight is a bit heavy for backpacking
This concludes my Field Report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest.org and KEEN for allowing me to test the Newport Hydro Shoes. The Long-Term Report should be completed within 2 months. Please check back then for further information.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Summary: Over the last two months I have used the Keen's Newport Hydro Shoe extensively as a camp shoe, a water shoe and a normal run-out-to-the-store sandal. I have used it as slide-on footwear for late night bathroom runs and even to wear while shimming around rocks and swimming.
* 5 Days / 4 Night Backpacking - 23 miles (37 km) at Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, MICHIGAN - USA) from August 1-5, 2018. This is a scenic backpacking trail running next to Lake Superior. The trail is mostly under forest coverage and runs atop cliffs or along a beach. The terrain is sand with a heavy amount of sandstone and other rocks. We did a small section where we put in at Little Bear Lake Campground and hiked between multiple group sites (Lowney, Coves and Mosquito) and ended at Miner's Castle. Temperature for the week ranged between 49-64F (9-18C) at night to 57-80F (14-27C) during the day. It rained three times during the trip - the first while we were hiking on day 1, then early in the morning while were sleeping on day 2 and lastly after breakfast while we were in basecamp of Day 4. As this was for supporting a Boy Scout troop trip, my pack weight came in at a hefty 41-45 lb. (19-20 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I hammock camped every night.
* 3 Days / 2 Night Backpacking - 18 miles on Jordan River Pathway (Alba, MICHIGAN - USA) from August 11-13, 2018. This is a green tunnel-like trail that is heavily forested and runs next to a river. The ground is mostly dirt with significant sections of sand underneath and in/along the river. There are also small mud sections where springs and streams flow across the trail and multiple open fields and roller-coaster-like hills at times. Peak elevation is 1329 ft (405m). Campsites are situated near the halfway point where we were tent camping. In the past, I have hiked this trail as an overnight trek, but we extended the trip an extra night by taking a full day in camp to relax and play games. Temperature ranged from mildly chilly nights (55F / 13C) to hot days (85F / 29C). There was no rain during this time. My pack weighed near 25 lb. (11 kg) including all food, water, camping gear and games. I hammock camped every night.
* 3 Days / 2 Night Base Camping - at Private Grounds (Farmington Hills, MICHIGAN - USA) from August 31st to September 2nd, 2018. This area is moderately covered with trees. The ground is dirt with a heavy mix of tree roots. Daytime temperatures were near 90F (32C) while nighttime cooled off to 70F (21C). We had a nice thunderstorm during the daytime and gentle rain throughout the second night. I estimated the water accumulation at 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) and the wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kmh). I hammock camped both nights.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
For the Pictured Rock trip, the Boy Scouts insisted that all scouts take a closed-toe camp shoe as backup footwear. While I already had a massive pack load (and the Keen Newport Hydro Shoe is a bit heavy), I am glad I took them along and loved how they enhanced my trip. After we arrived in camp, I quickly grew into the habit of kicking off my hiking shoes and put on the Keens to walk around. As several of us took on the task of filtering water for 22 people, I would walk right out into Lake Superior with the Keens on, fill up the water bags and walk back into camp. They performed perfectly and I never had to worry about slipping or sliding on the rocks or getting my normal shoes wet. In each instance, the Keens were dry by morning when they were reloaded into my pack. They also slid on and off very easily, making late night bathroom jaunts fast. As an additional bonus, at one of the campsites a group of us went climbing along the edges of the rocks and jumping off into Lake Superior and swimming back to the rocks. The Keens gave me a confident grip on the rocks and never came off my feet when I was trying to swim.
|PICTURE OF ROCKY TERRAIN|
|PICTURE OF SHOES ON TERRAIN|
For the Jordan River Pathway trip, this was a return adventure from the spring trip I took with my wife. This time it was with several college buddies and we hung out in camp for a day as well. The shoes were great for walking into the river and just wearing throughout the day. I did have very dirty feet though as it was exceedingly dry. The dust kicked up along the sandals and got in between my toes. A simple wash down at the river though cleaned this up easily. As a side note on the weather, I found I used the trick of walking into the water to cool off quite often. My buddies were quite jealous of how well it worked as one of them had flip-flops (which gave him poor stability) and the other did not have a camp shoe at all.
For a day shoe, I tend to slip them on and use them going out to the pool as well as general errands. I do find that they are more comfortable with a pair of socks but only marginally. It might be the mental dad in me wanting to walk around in sandals and socks to horrify my offspring.
From a washing standpoint, I waited until the perfect time to try cleaning the shoes in my washing machine. I waited until my wife was out of the house on a camping trip. No. Wait. That's not right. I waited until I had built up a significant amount of dirt, grime and dust after multiple camping trips. I also needed the washer empty. It had nothing to do with my wife not being home. That was purely coincidental. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. After all, I am an adult and should be able to use the washing machine whenever I need to.
I set the washer on extra small load and hand wash cycle with cold water. I used a small amount of powdered detergent and fired it up. Roughly ten minutes later when the cycle had completed, I pulled the shoes out and they looked fantastic. All of the dust and dirt from the trail that had been imbedded into the straps had vanished. The toe box, treads and sole looked pristine. Only a few spots of minor scuffing remained. I verified fit and function the next day and thankfully, there is no noticeable difference. On a side note, the washing machine is perfectly fine as well.
Durability - With all the walking around I've done with these, I would expect to see some wear by now. The straps still look clean with no signs of damage, the front toe box has some minor signs of use but otherwise, no chunks of rubber missing or long scrapes. The bottom treads still look great. The only real but incredibly minor observation is the inside sticker that has the size listed on it is falling off of one of the shoes.
Overall, I love the Keen Newport Hydro Shoe. It's a fantastic addition to my camping gear and I look forward to using them for a long time in the future. My only concern is their weight is heavy for backpacking trips where light weight and longer distance is the goal. Even then, I may still take them on those trips if there is excessive water and of course, they are incredibly comfortable to use after a long day of hiking.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long Term Field Report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest.org and KEEN for allowing me to test the Newport Hydro Shoe. I had a great time testing these!
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