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October 2015 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Footwear / Sandals

Keen Open Air



Our Rating:

First impressions count and with the Open Air Footwear by Keen (known as UNEEK overseas, but changed in NZ due to a conflict over that name), it wasn’t good.

People stared and made negative comments, mostly about the colour (the reviewed pair were Black/Green Glow). But the colour was not my choice – there are seven other colour combinations – and who would have thought paracord would be such a comfortable material to make a sandal from?

In fact, the simplicity of these sandals is what makes them so great: one piece of paracord, some neoprene,a rubber sole and a PU midsole and that’s about it.

I tested them in late winter, which, due to cold, was not the ideal time to try them, but at least I could get them thoroughly wet and found them to dry quickly. The cord does not absorb water nor does it stick or irritate the skin when wet.

A three-quarter length PU midsole offers some structure to the sandal, but it is so lightweight it allows plenty of bend. The footbed is made from a soft and quick drying microfibre. The sandals themselves are light – just 622g a pair (w – 554g).

They slide on easily and the cord stretches to accommodate your foot. Pull-cord laces make tightening a breeze. The rubber outsole is designed more for slick and formed surfaces than muddy trails that might clog the tread.

Besides the cord construction, these sandals are unique for another reason: unlike most Keen sandals they don’t have a rubber toe bumper. This is possibly the only drawback – go rock hopping and walking along a trail and you’ve got nothing to protect your feet from knocks.

But if you’re looking for a something a little unique in your summer footwear, these sandals are definitely worth checking out.