Gear Review: KEEN Clearwater Sandals

I am sitting here wearing a brand new pair of KEEN Clearwater sandals while I write this review. Which should raise the question of how I can write a review of a sandal designed for outdoor adventure if I am wearing them as a pair of bedroom slippers. More on that later.

I don’t consider my kayaking footwear clothing but another piece of paddling equipment just like my paddle and PFD so there are a few things I need in my sandals. Most importantly, they need to protect my feet. When I am scrambling over rocks carrying my boat to the water’s edge I can’t always see where I am placing my feet. I need a sole that is rugged enough to protect the bottom of my foot when I step on a sharp rock. And I need toe protection when I slam my toes into a rock.

I also need a sole that is grippy. Wet rocks and seaweed can be slippery and I need to have confidence that I’m not going to end up on my butt with a loaded kayak on top of me.

I want footwear that is light and low profile. There is not a ton of foot-room inside a kayak so big, bulky sandals aren’t going to cut it.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 11.31.50 AMProbably like most paddlers, most of my kayaking footwear doesn’t come anywhere near the house. The funky smell of shoes that have spent most of the time wet isn’t pleasant to say the least so washable sandals and maybe even treated sandals would be a bonus.

Like all footwear, whether it’s for the office or the beach, they need to be comfortable and look good. When we’re enjoying a post paddle beer in the pub it’s nice to be wearing a stylish pair of sandals.

The KEEN Clearwater sandals meet all my requirements. These sandals are lightweight while still providing the protection I want. The toe cap is smaller than one some of KEEN’s older styles, giving a nicer profile while still saving my toes from those bumps on the rocks. This smaller toe cap also lets me wear them inside my sea kayak. This might not seem important until I have to come ashore with some following surf and I’m scrambling to climb out of my boat in a hurry onto a rocky beach.

Like the toe cap, the soles are low profile so I can wear them in my boat. They do protect the bottoms of my feet. They do have some grip but really, I have yet to wear anything that can take a hold on slippery seaweed.

These sandals are factory treated with microbial protection and are washable so I really hope to avoid that horrible smell and bring them in from the back deck.

And yes, they look good. Mine are midnight navy with golden yellow piping.

So, how can I endorse them when I haven’t worn them out of the house yet? Simple, this is my second pair. I lost my first pair when I flipped over in my white water boat and went for a swim. I had the sandals behind the seat and they didn’t survive the dunking. I liked the first pair so much I bought another pair on the way home.

To purchase the KEEN Clearwater Sandals, click here. For more information on KEEN Footwear, visit



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