A water-loving summer sandal, the Keen Drift Creek H2 are perfect for paddling and let your feet breathe deeply, while still providing excellent grip, and toe and sole protection.
In the warmer months, sandals are an ideal form of paddling footwear, especially for more casual canoe and kayak trips.
I know from previous experience that US brand Keen make some of the most advanced models of adventure-ready, water-suitable sandals on the market, so I couldn’t wait to slide my feet into a pair of the Drift Creek H2s and get out paddling, to see whether they would perform well enough to claim a place in our round up of the best kayaking shoes currently available.
How did they rate? Read on to find out.
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Keen Drift Creek H2 sandals: look and feel
Not everyone is a fan of the sandals look – and I get that – but then again, not everyone has tried on a pair of Keen sandals, because this brand (along with Teva, it’s fair to say) has pretty much redefined the genre, especially when it comes to sandals designed for outdoor pursuits and waterborne adventures.
Unlike myriad other sandals, which have a devastating ability to make anyone who dares to wear them instantly seem extremely uncool, Keen’s Drift Creek H2s bestow most people with a proper adventurous look; you instantly feel like you’re some sort of rafting guide on the Colorado when you put them on.
They’re comfortable too, with a highly supportive midsole that supports your foot on and off the water.
Keen Drift Creek H2 sandals: design and materials
I should start by immediately making clear that the upper of the Drift Creek H2 sandals is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
This is ace for at least two reasons: a) it’s an excellent use of a discarded non-biodegradable product, and b) the synthetic nature of the material means it won’t get sodden with water and become heavy after immersion in water.
In fact, Keen make a big deal about the Drift Creek H2 being waterproof, which always seems a strange thing to say about open sandals – but it’s the water repellency of the fabrics they are talking about.
A mesh tongue extends across the front foot (to keep debris out), and the robust uppers are tightened with a brilliant bungee-and-toggle system, which supplies a good secure fit and makes it very unlikely that you’ll lose one of the sandals, even in the rough and tumble of fast-moving water.
The Drift Creek H2s feature Keen’s signature toe bumper, which has been paired back slightly in recent years (it used to be enormously bulbous) but still supplies excellent protection for your pinkies.
The sandals boast a substantial, shaped EVA insole, which supplies good foot support, and the robust KEEN.FUSION rubber outsoles offer excellent grip on all kinds of wet and slippery surfaces.
As beautifully breezy as sandals are, we all know they have a tendency to get a bit stinky, but the Drift Creeks come infused with Eco Anti-Odor to keep this under control (and they’re washable, too).
I’ve been wearing the Keen Drift Creek H2 sandals for a variety of paddling, sea rowing, SUPing and shore-based coastal adventures over the summer, and it’s hard not to love them.
They cradle your foot brilliantly, protect your toes from stubbing injuries during put-ins and take-outs, and the outsoles deliver all the underfoot protection and traction you could ask for.
Of course, they’re not perfect. The mesh tongue keeps some sand, grit and small pebbles out, but a degree of debris can and will get into these sandals in certain conditions, which can be uncomfortable.
The open-heel design can leave the back of your feet exposed and open to rubbing on the deck of the boat (depending on your paddling position). And they’re not going to cut the mustard when it comes to keeping your feet warm during winter paddles.
But, overall, when it comes to balancing breathability, functionality, protection and style, the Drift Creek H2s are really top performers.
Supremely breathable, these comfortable but robust sandals are perfect for various paddle sports in the warmer months. Partially made from recycled plastic bottles, the Drift Creeks are lightweight and highly flexible, but still supply the terrific toe and sole protection you would expect from Keen. The lace-lock bungee system enables a seriously secure fit, and the EVA insoles have inbuilt arch support, making them comfortable to wear even if you’re on your feet paddleboarding for hours. The KEEN.FUSION rubber outsole offers excellent grip on slippery surfaces, and great levels of protection for your soles. They’re never going to provide enough warmth for winter use, but for kayaking, rafting, canoeing or SUPing in the summer, the Drift Creeks are a solid choice.