The Keen Newport - Ode to the Greatest Shoe I Have Ever Owned

The Keen Newport sandal.

I bought the Keen Newport at Hudson Trail Outfitters just days before setting out on my honeymoon in the summer of 2005. While spending 13 hours a day, 6 days a week in the library studying for the bar, I had planned a month-long journey to southeast Asia including hiking, scuba diving, and lots and lots and lots of walking. Why southeast Asia? Well, there were literally no seats to Europe at the end of July. None. In fact, we had to fly back to NY instead of DC because those were the last 2 seats left from Tokyo.

When I got home from the bar (it was in Roanoke, VA, 3.5 hours south of D.C.), we had a week to pack. The wife and I needed shoes that could do hot, wet, cold, dirty, salty, and muddy, while staying comfortable and putting up with the miles. We hit on Keens. And we paid full price. And I didn't like it, but I needed shoes.

A month later, I would have paid triple happily. Some reasons why:

Crossing the street on the way to Chumpon - Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh city - yes, they have a Chinatown, I was looking up at a health clinic and kicked a bag of offal. It burst and sent whatever the hell its contents were all over the street. If you've never been to a third-world city, you don't really get what modern plumbing, street cleaning, and smog reduction do for a place. Needless to say, the bag contained the diametric opposite of that. In an open sandal, I would have veered into the nearest god-knows-what-I'd-find and scrub down thoroughly for around 30 minutes to insure I didn't get an infection. Instead, we both exclaimed that it was gross, thanked the Keen gods, and went on our way.

A week and half later, we were hiking into the mountains to the Hmong village. I've blogged about this recently in regard to the game we saw played there. Everyone else on the trip packed socks and hiking boots + sandals for heading into waterfalls. We packed 1 light pair of shoes and never changed. They dry up real quick in 100 degree heat.

Then it was back to the south of Thailand for a week on the beach and in and out of boats learning to scuba. No stubbed toes against air tanks, no splinters from the deck, no problems period.

Since then, I have put about 1000 miles on these shoes heading on 5-12 mile walks to the zoo, to work, to museums. On trips, I've worn them as I got muddied up to my knees in a hike to the top of dormant volcano that is Saba and then spent the next 3 days washing them in sea water off the back of a diving boat. I've slipped them on a hundred times to head out with my daughter.

And I think this is finally it for them. I've worn nearly all the rubber off the ball and heel of the shoes. The straps have pulled at the foam footbed so often that they've created wiggle space. These shoes, in a word, have lasted much longer and held up much better in that time than any shoe I have ever owned.

So this week, their replacements are coming. A new pair of Keen Venice sandals. Here's hoping for another 6 great years. Heck, I'll take 3.

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