Keen Venice H2 (for women)

By Louise Southerden 1 April 2014
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Keep your footing sound and toes shielded from stubs.

“I see things better with my feet” – so said British adventurer James Holman (1786-1857). Holman went blind in his late 20s, but, undaunted, travelled the world alone, using a form of echolocation – listening to the sounds made by his feet or his horse’s hooves – for clues about his environment. Reading about Holman recently inspired me to pay more attention to how my feet see the world. My new Keens – the Venice H2 for women – are the perfect vehicles for this. The Keen philosophy is, after all, to create “hybrid products that allow consumers to connect with the outdoors in its entirety”.

At first, Keens feel like shoes with ventilation: you feel the breeze on the sides of your feet, and pebbles and sand find their way between your toes. Then they feel like sandals with bumper-bars. With “patented toe protection”, they’re the steel-capped boots of the outdoor world, offering serious defence against stubbed toes.

I’ve worn my Keens rock-hopping, sailing and kayaking. I’ve worn them with socks – don’t laugh, they make excellent camp slippers. They’re super comfortable, fit snugly and require no adjustment once on. They grip like no other shoes or sports sandals I’ve ever owned – thanks to the razor “siping” (thin slits) in the sole.

I love the elastic cord and toggle that makes them easy to take on and off. I love the arch support and the Aegis microbe shield, technology that helps prevent smelly feet and shoes. My feet do sweat more in the Keens than in open-toed sports sandals, but this is the price you pay for toe protection. They are machine washable.

The Keens’ only drawback is that, although they are great in the water, they take a while to dry, because the upper is made of leather and neoprene as well as webbing. I went reef walking on a tropical holiday and even after being rinsed in freshwater, they were soggy for at least 24 hours. And wearing wet Keens isn’t pleasant.

Overall, though, these are my all-time favourites for all purposes and places. They’re as tough as shoes, as breezy and lightweight as sandals, and grip well wet or dry.

RRP $149

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