The Keen Newport H2 continues to set the benchmark for closed-toe sandals, once again earning our Top Pick Award for its impressive performance. With a supportive yet lightweight design that can handle almost any condition, the large protective toe box, quick-drying materials, and impressively grippy outsole make it a favorite of watersports fanatics as well as folks looking for a more protective hiking sandal. With more coverage and protection than other top sandals and more breathability than most top hiking shoes, the Newport strikes a unique footwear balance that is at home both in the woods and on the water, and anywhere in between.Editor's Note: This Keen review received an update to provide more insight into our favorite sandals and why we love them. This update occurred on March 25, 2022.
Keen Newport H2 Review
Cons: Lack of adjustability, doesn't slip on
Compare to Similar Products
Keen Newport H2
$77.89 at REI
|$115 List||$135 List|
$134.95 at Amazon
$64.95 at Amazon
$79.95 at REI
|Pros||Great wet traction, comfortable and stable, quick-drying||Lightweight, versatile, excellent traction||Very comfortable, good support, grippy outsole||Very affordable, light, comfortable||Minimalist, flexible, featherweight, eco-friendly|
|Cons||Lack of adjustability, doesn't slip on||Not best for high arches||Pricey, dad-style design||Less supportive than others, loses some traction when wet||Thin, lack of support, durability|
|Bottom Line||With solid coverage and water friendly materials, this is our favorite closed-toe sandal for water sports||This lightweight sandal is comfortable, durable, and capable of handling anything out on the trail||Classic three-strap sport sandals that provide high-end comfort and solid all-around performance||Impressive comfort and solid all-around performance in a lightweight and affordable package||An amazingly lightweight sandal with superb comfort, flexibility, and a compact design|
|Rating Categories||Keen Newport H2||Bedrock Cairn Adven...||ECCO Yucatan||Teva Katavi 2||Xero Z-Trail EV|
|Specs||Keen Newport H2||Bedrock Cairn Adven...||ECCO Yucatan||Teva Katavi 2||Xero Z-Trail EV|
|Weight (per Pair)||2.01 lbs (size 12)||1.10 lbs (size 10)||1.51 lbs (size 43 EU)||1.36 lbs (size 9)||0.76 lbs (size 10)|
|Footbed Material||EVA||Granite Grip rubber||Dual-density EVA||Contoured EVA||BareFoam|
|Midsole Material||Compression molded EVA||Rubber||PU||EVA||TrailFoam|
|Sole Material||Rubber||Vibram XS Trek Regolith||Rubber||Durabrasion rubber||FeelLite rubber|
|Upper Material||Washable polyester webbing||Premium webbing||Nubuck leather||Suede||Polyester|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Although closed-toe sandals aren't what we typically think of when we picture a sporty and high-performing piece of footwear, there is no denying their utility and performance in the right conditions. With its waterproof materials, protective toe box, and excellent wet traction, the Keen Newport H2 stands out as perhaps the premier watersports sandal on the market today. With excellent wet performance and solid scores in most of our rating metrics, it again takes home our Top Pick Award for a closed-toe sandal.
This model scores well with its protective toe box and firm, supportive midsole material when it comes to overall comfort. Even our testers who aren't keen on the closed-toe design found their feet happy in these. The toe box and instep material of the Newport offer far greater protection from stubbing your toe in a rocky river or getting jabbed while bushwacking. The upper material is neoprene-backed webbing so that every point of contact with the foot is water-resistant and cushioned to resist chafing.
Not only does the neoprene make for a more comfortable ride, but it also dries much quicker than nylon and provides better performance when wet. The rest of the shoe is designed with watersports in mind as well. There is plenty of negative space within the upper material, which is majorly helpful to let water exit the footbed and dry out wet feet. The footbed consists of a dense, closed-cell foam that is resilient in water and very comfortable and supportive — even for high arches.
One notable downside of the closed-toe design is that any sand and silt that gets inside the shoe gets trapped and has a hard time leaving. Hiking through a rocky and sandy creek bed, we had to stop several times to dump the sand out of these kicks.
While it doesn't have the same all-terrain grip as some of the top-performing sandals in our lineup with Vibram outsoles, the Newport H2 does have a similar stiff rubber outsole optimized for wet performance. With a sporty tread design that bites into dry surfaces and small sipes reminiscent of those found on winter vehicle tires, our testers were pleased by how well this shoe grips in wet conditions and how quickly the sole can transition from wet to dry surfaces.
While the Newport did have occasional falters on extremely slick surfaces like steep sandstone or slimy river rocks that you would expect from any piece of footwear, it still provides some of the best wet-condition traction compared to thebest sandal competition. Despite not having Vibram sole material, the rubber outsole material of the Newport feels and performs much like the high-end name-brand. However, it lacks the super angular and aggressive tread patterns characteristic of trail shoes and doesn't perform as well as others in mud or through loose, gravelly materials. Overall, however, we were impressed with the Newport's traction, especially considering how relatively light and spongy the sole feels.
Resembling a shoe more than a sandal, it would appear that closed-toe models may typically have the upper hand in the realm of overall stability. The Newport has a stout sole material that is impressively stiff and resilient for how relatively light it is. Add to that a rubber reinforced toe box and full coverage around the foot, and you've got a trail-ready multi-purpose sandal that can stand up to miles of abuse. While there are stiffer, more bomber sole materials out there, the combination of the sole material, toe box, and upper material makes this one of the most stable models we've tested.
One potential shortcoming concerning the stability of the Newport H2 is that some users may find it challenging to get a genuinely snug and supportive fit. The elastic 'laces' that pull the upper webbing material tight over the top of the foot are comfortable and easy to use but might not allow you to crank things down tightly if you have narrow or lower volume feet. For users who cannot get a comfortably snug fit, this could translate to some foot slippage inside the shoe on more extreme downhill or sidehill terrain.
Unlike having straps and buckles like most other sandals, the Newport uses a loop of elastic with a cord lock that achieves a similar snug closure as regular shoelaces. This adjustment system is elementary and easy to grasp, but the single tightening mechanism doesn't provide the ability for a truly custom fit.
This metric presents one of the lowest scores for the Newport, but it is up against some worthy competition. Many other models are highly adjustable with two or three adjustment points to give the user a more customizable fit, although they can sometimes be tricky to get acquainted with. That's what we like about the adjustment system on the Newport, simplicity. Sometimes the no-frills, straightforward approach is favorable. We wish, though, that it had even one extra point of adjustment so that users with smaller feet could still get a snug enough fit for more challenging conditions.
Although it's truly at home in the water, the Newport still performed well in every field test we put it through — even sandal-unfriendly activities like biking and skateboarding. Our testers seemed to agree that the toe box and greater coverage gave them top-of-foot protection and the confidence to treat this sandal like a bonafide hiking shoe. But the amphibious nature of the Newport is undeniable; it is reliable both in and out of the water.
While the Newport can take you through all kinds of conditions and terrain, the closed nature of this sandal again makes it challenging to remove sand and small pebbles once they've snuck inside. Because of this, it's probably not ideal for wearing at the beach or anywhere that you'll be traveling through small, loose material. Overall, the Newport H2 is highly adaptable in the various scenarios we presented. Worn with socks and pants, you'd even believe that you're wearing a street shoe and not a Sport Utility Sandal.
Should You Buy the Keen Newport H2?
The gray area between shoe and sandal doesn't have to be unapproachable. The Keen Newport H2 sets the bar for closed-toe sandals and is a comfortable, capable, and trustworthy option for many types of users. It may not be the first thing you think of when sandals come to mind, but it's worth checking out, especially if you're looking for amphibious adventure footwear. The Newport H2 price point is on par with what we'd expect from a high-quality product from a major footwear manufacturer. While certainly not cheap, we think that this price is fair for the quality of materials and construction found in this sandal and for the top-of-the-line performance that it provides. It also gets you a one-year warranty should Keen's craftsmanship fail.
What Other Sandals Should You Consider?
The Keen excels at stability and foot protection, but it is heavier and doesn't offer the best traction or adjustability. If you are looking for something lightweight with more versatility and better traction, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure is the one for your shortlist. It has impressive traction and better adjustability for almost any foot size. It is versatile and comfortable compared to the competition, with a lower price than the Keen. If you want something more substantial than the Cairn but not as shoe-like as the Keen, the ECCO Yucatan is a good middle-of-the-road option that provides good stability and comfort with an open toe but better protection overall than the thong-style design of the Cairn.
— Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth
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