I have a confession to make: I wear socks with sandals.
That’s not so bad in itself — I live in Germany, where otherwise-rational men wear socks, sandals and fanny packs all at the same time, and women still talk to them.
The kicker is that I started this habit when I lived in Spain. The reason? Keen’s amazing outdoor Clearwater CNX sandals.
Problem: Your feet get hot and sweaty in the summer, yet you still want shoes that protect them on hikes and bike trips.
Solution: Pretty much anything by Keen.
I bought the Clearwater CNX sandals last year when they were a new line at Keen. I wanted something for cycling long tours and for summer hiking trips. It seemed pretty dumb to wear leather sneakers all day long while riding over the high desert around Zaragoza, but I needed a sandal with a sole stiff enough that I couldn’t feel the pedals.
I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker with an 11-speed Shimano Alfine internally geared hub and aluminum BMX pedals for comfort. Keen makes some SPD sandals for folks who like to clip their feet to the pedals, but I’ve not been a fan since I broke a leg playing bike polo while wearing foot straps. I like to be able to jump off the bike in emergencies.
The Clearwater CNX sandals fit the bill perfectly. Not only are they stiff and dead-comfy on the bike, they’re also great for hiking. They don’t offer ankle support, but the toe box curls up and around so you can kick and climb rocks without worrying (trim your toenails, though, or they’ll catch on the inside). The neoprene and webbing arrangement stops any slipping, and the quick-adjust cord adjusts the fit with a quick yank. I’ve also taken the CNXs kayaking — they’re made for water sports after all — and they are just as good wet as dry.
And the socks? On the bike, the airflow isn’t great. I figure it’s because the feet don’t move much inside the shoes. Merino wool and synthetic socks both wick moisture, and wool doesn’t smell even after days on the road. Wearing socks with sandals looks a little dorky, but maybe I can convince you to try it: Imagine the feeling of walking around in a brand new pair of merino wool socks. Now imagine doing that outside, anywhere you like. It’s so damn comfortable, who cares what you look like, right?
|Clearwater CNX by Keen ($100 list)|
The good: Lightweight, protective, water-friendly and as comfortable as a pair of slippers.
The bad: You can get sweaty soles unless you’re walking around.
The verdict: If you need outdoor protection but don’t like hot and heavy boots, the Clearwater CNX is perfect.
Buy from Keen