"Look down. In case you didn’t know, you’re standing on two of the most eager tour guides this side of anywhere. Take ‘em up on it.", says on the KEEN Footwear website.KEEN Footwear is very keen on taking you to an adventure. Give one of their pairs a chance. I did when I accepted the offer — notwithstanding doubt — of KEEN Footwear Philippines to test the Venice H2, a model I chose myself, on the road.
Truth be told it was the first time I heard of such brand, hence, the slight shadow of doubt. But you know that feeling when you fall for a pair of shoes upon the first fitting? Yep, my Venice H2 swept me off my feet (thank goodness not literally). Now did it hold up to an adventure junkie's expectations? It unexpectedly flew beyond. Let me count the ways.
Venice H2's Specs and Traits (as stated on website)
Weight: 10.55 oz/299.087 g
Type: Bungee Styles, Sandals
Fit Tip: We find this style runs about a 1/2 size small
Lining: Hydrophobic mesh
Upper: Washable polyester webbing
Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping
On this side of the planet, $100 is half (sometimes a third) of the amount of monthly apartment rent in the CBD. It's a huge chunk of one's salary, even for a member of the white-collar brigade. So if we're gonna spend that much on shoes, they might as well serve a multitude of purposes. My Venice H2 sashayed on boardwalks and hotel lobbies, scrambled on a sandy beach and on boulders, trampled pebbles and asphalt. The pair did the tasks well.
An essential trait of an outdoor shoe is having an outsole that has great traction on various terrain. My Venice H2 weaved through slippery rice terraces and climbed a trike to "topload" in Ifugao, negotiated slimy boulders in one of Sydney's national parks, descended a cemented mountain trail while carrying my three-year old daughter, and walked on newly mopped tiles in Kuala Lumpur's airport. I did not slip once.
For a backpacking mum like me who often times does hikes while carrying a toddler, comfort is everything. And my Venice H2 provides that even during aggressive hikes. And when I say "aggressive hikes", I mean steep slopes that I trudge with a toddler on my shoulders.
KEEN's metatomical footbed design provides excellent support (it should with such fancy term), and its patented toe protection (the outsole extends up and over the toes) makes descents easily bearable. Read: No dead nails and blisters to deal with after the hike. Venice H2 also has an "open strapping system" which gives room for ventilation, but unfortunately allows teensy pebbles to get in the sandals that you couldn't simply shake off. Probably the only con of this model that I can think of.
They're so comfortable that there's no break-in time needed.
Now this is something you won't normally find on a gear review, but I just couldn't help myself including it because my sandals are such eye candies! If I remember correctly, the Venice H2 comes in ten colors. Mine's Barberry/Neutral Grey. It looks uber chic, and can be worn in a casual affair as well as for the long walk to the train station after.
If you're the type who makes a fuss about dirt spots, KEEN sandals can be tossed in the washing machine with a little amount of detergent. Easy, breezy.
Durability And Water Resistance
I've been using my pair for three months. I'd say I have not uhm, abused them enough to conclude that they're very durable. But like I said, they have been tested on mixed terrain and still look kinda new. Also, they have not done a river crossing nor have they hiked under heavy rain so I cannot tell you if they're indeed waterproof. They did get a little wet a couple of occasions though, and they air-dried pretty quick.
So, you ask me this question, "Will you buy another pair?". You bet your calloused heels and soles I would *snap, pout*! But only when my current pair dies of natural causes. And that could be a long time from now.