Last year I bought a pair of Teva Kayenta sandals for my trip to America. They are very pretty but turned out not to be rugged enough for the walking that we did in Yosemite and Bryce Canyon. This meant that I had to resort to packing a pair of trail shoes as well. For future trips, I wanted to find something that would be tough enough for walking but a bit less bulky and ‘technical’ looking than the Merrell Chameleons that I currently have.
Keen’s Arroyo II sandal looked like it would fit the bill perfectly, so I did a bit of research, looked at their website and went ahead and ordered a pair from Natureshop. I was rather hoping that they would be the only shoes that I would need on future trips – they are enough of a sandal to keep my feet cool and enough of a shoe to be able to wear with socks should the weather turn cold. They are also nice and light for packing, weighing in at 335g!
My first dilemma was what size to order. When I ordered, the Keen website suggested that the Arroyo II came up half a size small. They have now changed that to say that they are ‘a teeny bit big’, which I would agree with. I’m usually a UK size 5 in trainers (although my running shoes and 6.5, and I recently bought some brogues in a size 4!), so on Keen’s original advice I really wasn’t sure whether to get the 5 or the 5.5. I decided that I’d try the 5 and I was glad that I did! The shoes are definitely a little larger than you might expect, which may be because they are super wide. This is great for my feet, as they are quite broad and there is loads of room across the toes in these. Be warned that they may not be so good for people with slimmer feet! There is loads of room for a pair of socks which the adjustable laces help with. I’m finding that when I wear them without socks I end up with quite a lot of shoelace hanging down the front of the shoes, but I’ve been tucking the excess away under the laced section which works pretty well.
I was quite surprised when the Keens arrived as they are much better to look at than I was expecting and go well with both trousers and shorts. The colours are nice (brown and green) and they aren’t too chunky or technical, which makes them a bit more versatile. When the shoes first came out of the box they smelled really rubbery, but that disappeared after the first wear.
I was convinced that I would need to spend some time wearing my new shoes in to make sure I didn’t get blisters but in fact they were fantastically comfortable from the first wear, even without any socks. The inside of the shoe is made from neoprene so it’s nice and soft against your skin.
Tried and Tested
I packed my new Keens for a 10 day trip to Center Parcs and the Yorkshire Dales and wore them pretty much non-stop. They were perfect for Center Parcs, really comfortable for cycling in and great for the outdoor activities that I did.
In the Dales I did some light walking and the shoes held up pretty well. The soles are lovely and chunky and great on dry surfaces and wet grass. They don’t perform quite so well on wet rock and were a bit more slippery than I would have liked. The general comfort of the shoes is amazing, my feet didn’t hurt or feel tired at all and there were no rubs or blisters.
I did feel that the support that the shoes give your feet wasn’t as good as I would have liked. The laces don’t seem to hold your feet securely and this, together with the extra width of the shoes, meant that I felt that my feet were slipping sideways a little too much. If you swapped the laces for ones which you could tie then the problem would be greatly improved.
They were also surprisingly good in the rain. I wore them with smartwool socks and although my feet got damp, they stayed warm and dried out very quickly once the sun came out.
These shoes will never replace a sturdy pair of walking boots, but they are a great option for walks on footpaths and they cope well with uneven ground and mud. They are a fantastically versatile option for active trips away and, providing that you aren’t intending to climb any mountains or go anywhere too smart, could well be only shoes you need to pack. I love them much, much more than I thought I would!