Keen Uneek: Unique Open-Air Designed Cord + Sole Sandals

Topload with a Keen Uneek overlooking Bontoc

I got a bit bummed when my Keen Newport H2 gave up on me after getting at least two years of beating. Yep it has gone through miles of hikes both on mountain trails, beaches and pavements that I feel had fairly utilized the sandals. I planned to buy another one as replacement but local stocks seemed to have ran out early this year and I had to settle for something similar from another brand. Then I saw the full spread ad of Keen Uneek in an issue of Outside Magazine. I thought it was a cool looking sandals. Innovative in fact, making use of the highly popular paracord accesories often as bracelets doubling as survival tools. Although this left me wondering how comfortable it is. Glad the local distributor, Primer finally brought the Keen Uneek to the Philippine shores last quarter of 2015. I’ve been using the Keen Uneek for at least a couple of months now and let me share how it fared in real-world use.

Innovative cord + sole sandal design
Innovative cord + sole sandal design

Unique Keen Uneek

I really laud companies that try to innovate. Rory Fuerst Jr, the lead designer at Keen Footwear, was not afraid of a “love it or hate it” kind of shoe. He remembers people’s sentiment when he introduced the ugly-looking toe-protection on his initial Keens like the Newport H2 but they turned out to be best sellers. Personally though, the Keen Uneek looks appealing to me, I had the Black/Blue Danube shoe variant which is one of the whopping 14 designs available. With the many polyester cord designs available, I’m sure there are a lot more cord and sole combinations possible.

Coming from a relatively weighty Keen Newport H2, the Keen Uneek is extremely light at a little over 300 g. The lightness come from the flexible microfiber footbed. The two 3mm cords are water repellent and braided in a way that it would shape to the contours of your feet. A secure lace system is available for that added tightness and hold. The cord also has a nylon core for added strength. The none-marking rubber outsole has razor zipping for better traction.

Non-marking sole with rubber zipping for traction
Non-marking sole with rubber zipping for traction

Comfort and Fit

Like my previous Keen, I had the size which is 1/2 larger than my original size. Initially when I was using the Keen while exploring Bataan, it was little tight on the ankles since it was still new and being broken in. But what is noticeable was it was so comfortable on the feet, so airy, the footbed was soft but firm and it was a pleasure walking on the paved streets of Bataan wearing it. There were occasions though that we had to repeatedly slip our sandals on and off when we visited the houses, it was still an effort to put it back.

Recently though I took the Keen Uneek up the mountains of Bontoc just to see how the traction would be on the trail. I definitely had no problems with is on damp rice paddy pavements and the muddy dirt trails too. Because it was so light on the feet it was easy to hop around. The Keen Uneek performed well while climbing Mt Fato, which took about at least 4 hours and back. I did miss the toe-protection bump but I would take their foot-breathing comfort any day. There were occasion small pebbles would go inside but it was easy to shake them out unlike my old Keen. I thought there would be problem with abrasions with the cord but there were none. It actually contours to the arc of my feet. It has gone on water and mud but thankfully the Keen Uneek dries a lot faster and doesn’t have the funky smell too.

At the summit of Mt Fato wearing the Keen Uneek
At the summit of Mt Fato wearing the Keen Uneek

Summary

The Keen Uneek is a breath of fresh air in footwear design. It is literally airy and cool on the feet. Tough yet really flexible. Sometimes it just becomes a part of you that it seems I’m not wearing a sandal at all. Yes its that good! I liked that Keen Footwear addressed some of the “what to improve on” from my previous Keen Newport H2. YEs I do miss the toe-protection but the other Keens would still be there on the side offerings along with this new category of “Open-Air” footwear. Personally the sandals is a looker and I got asked many times what my sandals was. I do hope that the bring in the other designs locally as I wouldn’t mind having a different pair with my black/blue Danube.

What I liked

  • Unique cord braided design with multiple color options
  • Non-abrasive cord
  • Airy and cool on the feet
  • Comfortable anatomical footbed
  • Flexible contour arch
  • Good traction on the sole
  • Extremely light
  • Dries fast

What to Improve On

  • It can be a little hard to wash dirt off it but that’s a minor thing
  • More color combinations would be welcome
Secure fit lace capture system to tighten the cord hold
Secure fit lace capture system to tighten the cord hold

The Keen Uneek sandals has a store retail price of Php 4,990.00 in the Philippines. Keen Footwear is available at R.O.X. and Eddie Bauer stores. For more info and updates check out the Keen Footwear PH Facebook Page.

Keen together. Current color variant available in the Philippines
Keen together. Current color variant available in the Philippines

What ya think?