We’ve just got a sneak peak from our friends at Motor Boat and Yachting about a review they have done on the Keen Newport H2’s. It’s coming out in next month’s magazine but Dave Marsh their technical editor has kindly sent us across an advance copy.
As a boater, I normally hate sandals. They often feel flimsy and unsupportive, and their soles rarely grip well. Most crucially of all, exposed toes are a liability on a boat. A single clumsy contact with a deck cleat can render you immobile for ages. Designed by an American sailor, Martin Keen, specifically for boating, I bought these Newport H2 sandals from Webtogs for one reason only; because the toe protection looked so sturdy. In practice, they’ve excelled in every area.
The sturdy toe caps are great, you won’t suffer even if you slam into a sharp metal object. They are ridiculously comfortable, at least on my feet . From new, I wore them for two days without a break, with and without socks. These broad H2’s would obviously suit wide feet, yet thanks to the soft stretchy lining (Keen call it ‘hydrophobic mesh’, I’d call it neoprene) and the bungee-like laces, they feel uncommonly supportive on my standard issue perambulators too. Despite this good support and the snug ankle strap, they are very easy to flick off. All told, I’ve never owned sandals as comfortable.
Good grip is paramount on a boat. I tested these on a teak laid deck, and a diamond pattern glassfibre deck, in the dry and the wet. Keen’s non-marking sole (it deserves this description) is much harder than on any deck shoe I’ve encountered. Most noticeable was that its wet weather grip generally seemed almost as good as its grip in the dry. On the teak, in the wet, it was possible to force the H2s to slide along the grain. But across the grain and the rubber sealant strips, with my weight pressing down, the H2s wouldn’t budge at all. Their lateral grip was excellent too, as was their resistance to twisting. On the wooden pontoons, and on surfaces ashore like concrete, tarmac, carpet and flagstones, my H2s were as grippy as anything I’ve ever worn.
Other useful features: H2s can be machine washed, they seem very sturdily constructed, replacement laces are available, they come in half sizes and three different colours, there’s a no quibble 60 day return policy, and the people at webtogs could not be more helpful. One thing to note. The open pattern on the H2’s soles tends to pick up and hold small stones, between 1mm/5mm diameter. So if you’re returning from the beach, check your soles before you hop back onboard. They dry out quicker than thick leather deck shoes, but unsurprisingly, nowhere as fast as all-plastic Crocs.
Mine are only two months old, so I can’t comment on their longevity yet. You might struggle to get into the Royal Yacht Squadron wearing sandals, but otherwise I can’t recommend these too highly. For day-to-day boating, I’d take these in preference to most deck shoes.