Posted by: davepidgeon | March 26, 2009

Breezy boots and new sandals

Jungles, rivers and beaches don’t accept casual footwear well. In Costa Rica, I’m not bringing sneakers or dress shoes, so if there’s a formal dinner planned during our honeymoon, I hope they like Keens.

Vasque Breeze

The Vasque Breeze GTX combines rugged sturdiness with lightweight comfort.

The Vasque Breeze GTX combines rugged sturdiness with lightweight comfort.

 

Where rigid and sturdy expedition boots meet the featherweight comfort of trail shoes is where you find the Vasque Breeze. I gave a pair a test drive during a recent 10-mile, 2,000-foot day hike in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and they lived up to their moniker in more ways than one. 

While the TPU plate inside the sole had stiffness just slightly below the toughness of a Montrail Torre boot, the surrounding mesh/leather panels feel more like a light hiking shoe. That translates into adequate support for you feet’s joints, muscles and ligaments and a comfort zone you simply don’t get with an all-leather boot. The Breezes have Gore-Tex GTX lining (the thinnest allowable by Gore-Tex), but with the majority of the upper boot composed of Airmesh fabric, my feet didn’t sweat for one moment climbing up either Mount Minsi or Mount Tammany.

One drawback is the boot didn’t have a small metal piece at the bottom lace to hook a gaiter. Means the lace will breakdown faster if you like wearing gaiters, and I do.

Keen Newport H2

I love me some Keens.

I love me some Keens.

 

I’m a little biased here. Keen sandals and shoes provided a saving grace while I was recovering from plantar fasciitis, a tearing of a key ligament connecting toe to heal. Their arch design provided enough support, and their shoes have lasted for years.

The Newport H2 is kinda the flagship sandal for Keen, and if you have a wide toe base like I do, this is your sandal. The Newport H2 is rugged enough for a friend of mine to climb from the base of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, across alpine territory and up to the summit, but casual enough to wear at your next beach party. They continue churning out product with their patented sole which covers the toe, meaning no more stubs on the little pinky that went to market.

Beat ’em up, wash ’em in a river, whatever, Keen’s wear more like a shoe than a sandal. That’s because the sole is so thick and the leather support straps cover most of the feet, but not all. So if you’re looking for more foot support for your summer shoes, go in Keen’s direction.

One drawback – Keen Newport H2s don’t breathe as well as other sandals. That’s understandable given their design. When you cover most of the foot, it’s going to sweat, so be forewarned! But I’ve never had a problem with blistering or wearing out the feet because of it, although the stench can be a little putrid when you take your foot out of the sandal.

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