Sitting down to write a review for kids’ shoes isn’t exactly the easiest undertaking. Obviously, I’ve never worn the shoes myself, so I can’t really report on the comfort or complain about the fit. The parent’s perspective, however, has some definite merit. When we went to Thailand (2017), we planned on going to an elephant sanctuary to walk with the gentle giants. In planning for that trip, we thought about getting the kids some sort of “water shoes,” but were either too cheap or too lazy to actually make it happen. We made do with what they had (for Penny this wasn’t a huge deal at the time as she spent the majority of her time in the Tula baby carrier), and Miles made do with his Hunter rain boots. Fast forward several months later when we were planning a trip to Cambodia (2018) where we wanted to experience a waterfall featured in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and then do some jungle trekking on the island of Koh Rong Samloem. Yup, it was time…we needed to bite the bullet.
Water shoes exist in a nebulous state with the fanny packs and those stick on “Breathe Right” nasal strips that are supposed to open up your nostrils during athletic activity. Nobody wants to admit it because they are so damn nerdy, but they are actually pretty darn useful. I’m here to tell you that if you can get over yourself and purchase your kids these extremely geeky (read: functional) shoes, you definitely won’t regret it.
Embracing our inner-nerds, in preparing for this purchase we dove HARD into the world of aquatic footwear (pun intended). There are a lot of options, but it turns out only a few of them are good. Our requirements: 1) we wanted a closed toe as we envisioned the kids using the shoes for the occasional rainy day, as well as, the impromptu tropical island hike. Unprotected toes are a no-go when a fall from standing height can lead to a 20 minute boo-boo cry session. More over many rivers have rocks laying stealthily under the water’s surface, so opting to avoid some sliced toes was also a consideration., 2) They needed to be Velcro (if you are reading this blog you most likely have children, so no further explanation is necessary), 3) They needed to dry fast as we try to pack light and shoes that could be used for both beach/water days and regular outings were a must, and 4) They had to look “cool” enough that the kids would actually keep them on their feet.
After looking at all the available options, we finally settled on the Keens, and they definitely have not disappointed. If we are not sure what the weather will be like, what exactly we will be tackling for the day, or if we are not in the mood to tie shoelaces the Keens (aka our “adventure shoes”) are what we reach for. Neither Miles or Penny complain about them…ever. They have worked equally well for both grocery store trips and the (now realized) impromptu jungle trek. From Japan to Cambodia to Vietnam (twice) to South Korea to Nepal these shoes have not let us or our kids down. The velcro still works perfectly, the tread only shows a hint of wear, and they are still just as easy for the kids to take off or put on by themselves.
Downsides? The main one is certainly the smell. I am ashamed to say that at times the kids have worn these with socks (we’re looking at you red-eye flight to Tokyo), but (thankfully) most of the time they rock them sockless. While this is certainly more convienent and fashionable, our kids’ feet STINK! Not just a little either. Despite several washings over the last year (yup, you can throw these little beauties in the washing machine!), they still have the smell of a Tanuki (Japanese racooon/dog) which has been left out in the rain for too long. I’m sure a parent much better than me has found the solution to this problem, but currently we are still suffering from the horrendous smell of these fantastic shoes. But, with this being the only complaint we will continue to have the kiddies rock them because well, …they work so damn well.
Despite this unavoidable downside, the Keen Newport H2 shoes are one of the rare products that can pull off multiple roles equally well. For that they get the nowboardingwithkids.com seal of approval (as if that was actually a thing).
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If you are interested in buying a pair for your Kids, you can get the toddler version or the kids version on Amazon. Full disclosure we act as an affiliate for several sites, so clicking through and purchasing products via our links does make us a little money and allows us to continue to put out (hopefully) useful content.