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about Keen

The story of Keen starts in Portland, Oregon, dreaming up designs, rolling up our sleeves and working with our hands and hearts. Keen partnered with photographer, writer and do-er James Joiner to explore the DIY spirit of American industry—traveling around America to meet the artists, innovators, craftspeople and creators who are out there sparking inspiration every day. Keen is proud to be a part of bringing footwear manufacturing back to the USA in one of America's most modern factories. They gather the finest materials from around the world and perform the final and most critical steps of assembly here in Portland. Keen is not making these products 100% from scratch in America, but it is using it current resources to focus on delivering the most innovative, high quality products it can.

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Keen Outlet - 5 steps for removing ‘forever chemicals’ from your company’s supply chain

Keen was born in 2003 from a simple question: “Can a sandal protect your toes?” But this wasn’t our only goal. As a values-led, family-owned business, we also wanted to protect wild places and minimize our impact on them. I first joined in 2011 to be part of a business that’s doing good while making goods.

But while we were investing in partnerships with organizations including The Conservation Alliance and Leave No Trace, and repurposing waste to make shoes with fewer resources, we didn’t realize that some of our shoes were leaving a forever footprint of toxic chemicals known as PFAS—or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

If you’re in the business of making things, there’s a good chance it involves at least one of these roughly 5,000 fluorinated compounds. In 2014, we discovered some of our shoes had PFAS, so we started working to remove them.

That journey was voluntary, but soon, some companies may be required to take it. Many states—including California, Colorado, Maine, New York, and Washington—have taken regulatory action on PFAS in apparel and cookware. In September 2022, California passed a law that prohibits the sale of most apparel or textile products containing PFAS in the state beginning in January 2025.

PFAS, commonly known as “forever chemicals,” never break down and remain in the environment long after the lifecycle of the product they were adhered to. CDC scientists have found PFAS in our blood, and they’ve been linked to cancer, immune system suppression, pregnancy-induced hypertension, developmental delays in children, and reduced fertility.

Yet because they can repel water, food, and stains, PFAS continue to be used in everything from women’s underwear and fast-food wrappers to cookware and outdoor gear. They’re used in so many consumer products, and are so long-lasting and persistent, that they now show up in places they absolutely shouldn’t, such as Arctic sea ice and breast milk.

We knew we didn’t want to be part of the problem. Now, we want to be part of the solution. It took us four years and over 10,000 hours to track down where PFAS were in our supply chain, eliminate them, find safer alternatives, and conduct third-party testing to ensure they haven’t come back. We’re happy to say that every Keen shoe made since 2018 is PFAS-free. We’re sharing what we learned so that other companies can follow suit—because PFAS in any supply chain affects all of us.


Because these chemicals are so persistent, it takes persistence to get rid of them. We started by consulting with experts at the Green Science Policy Institute to understand more about these forever chemicals and their pervasiveness. Then we created a “Detox Initiative” to set goals and hold ourselves accountable. Committing to a PFAS detox requires a commitment across your value chain. It can become a rallying cry for your company around a shared purpose.


Sounds pretty basic, right? We thought so, too. In footwear, PFAS are primarily found in durable water-repellent treatments on the outside of a shoe. But once we started digging into it, we found PFAS treatments added to hundreds of individual components, from shoelaces to packing receipts.

Task someone in your supply-chain organization to perform an audit of all materials and components sourced. Then, apply the precautionary principle of “using only what you need.” It’s an approach increasingly used in the fields of sustainable development, environmental protection, health, trade, and food safety.

Once you have the complete picture, you can plan your detox approach. At Keen, we eliminated 65% of our PFAS contamination simply by applying the precautionary principle. For example, we were treating water sandals with a PFAS-based water-repellent treatment. But why would we need to apply water repellency to sandals designed to get wet in rivers, lakes, and oceans? We didn’t, so we stopped.


There’s a reason PFAS chemical compounds are used. They’re very good at repelling water and dirt, and they can create a nonstick coating on surfaces, including packaging. But perhaps they’re overengineered for most consumer goods? When there is a specific need for repelling moisture and resisting stains, choose alternatives that are safe for humans and the planet, effective in the repelling qualities needed, and affordable.

While these alternatives aren’t as easy to find as those made with PFAS, development and testing of safe options have grown significantly in recent years. There are effective options made from hydrocarbon resins and plant-based compounds. They do cost a bit more, but since we were able to apply the precautionary principle and completely eliminate the use of water repellency in a big chunk of our products, that helped us absorb the cost.


Having a chemical management policy and a Restricted Substances List (RSL) makes sure everyone, including your employees and suppliers, know the rules of the game when it comes to prohibited substances and chemicals in your supply chain and products. Require new and existing suppliers to send material samples to third-party laboratories to confirm they pass your standards prior to engaging in business. Our suppliers absorb this cost. We simply don’t do business with vendors who don’t comply with our standards.

With your updated chemical management policy and RSL in place, you’ll need to have the entire company—from your component and materials suppliers to your employees and partners—follow and enforce it. Post it on your website for everyone to see and add RSL compliance to your code of conduct to underscore its importance and set the rules for doing business with you.


This is the forever work for keeping forever chemicals out. The good news is that testing of components (and the associated costs) can be the responsibility of, or the cost of doing business for, your supplier. Be sure that your supplier contracts have clauses that stipulate financial penalties for noncompliance, and that you apply these penalties if and when necessary. Trust, then verify.

You’ll want to have random finished products tested to ensure nothing was added during the assembly/manufacturing/shipping processes. (This is where we learned packing receipts were coated in PFAS to prevent ink smudge). These spot checks are your responsibility, so make sure to create a budget for third-party verified compliance. We invest about $75,000 annually for random testing, appropriate for a midsize company.

Not every company has a dedicated person or sustainability department that can take on this work. In fact, a lot of companies don’t even know what’s in their supply chain. Don’t let that be a deterrent. It could start with creating and sharing a PFAS report, setting up a task force, forwarding this article to management, or whatever makes sense for your organization.

Here’s the thing, until we all take action to remove PFAS from our shared supply chain, these toxic chemicals will continue to bioaccumulate in wildlife, and in us. So, please, take that first step, for humanity’s sake.

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Keen Boots Outlet - The 9 Best Men's Travel Shoes of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Traveling with more than a couple of pairs of shoes is difficult, so planning for a trip demands comfortable, practical footwear and a jack of all trades.

Different types of travelers will have different needs, and some folks may need to bring more than one pair, no matter how hard they look for the one perfect travel shoe. For example, business travelers often need a formal option but still bring athletic footwear to stay active away from home. To address as many types of travelers as possible, we’ve presented our top picks in a range of categories below.

Our testers took 19 shoes and boots and put them through their paces at home and while traveling to evaluate comfort, style, durability, and value. Keep reading to learn why our testers loved these top picks to find the best travel shoes for you and how you travel.

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The New KEEN x HYKE Footwear Collaboration outlet sale Is a Breath of Fresh Air

KEEN and and cult Japanese label HYKE have just presented their new footwear collaboration and it sees the duo unveil a series of breathable sandals that take inspiration from the great outdoors.

The collaboration was first spotted during HYKE’s Spring/Summer 2023 runway show and it showed a combination of HYKE’s classic styles with KEEN’s futuristic approach to footwear silhouettes. Now, HYKE is following up on its recent collaboration with Moncler with two special edition versions of the classic Rosarita II and San Juan Sandal II.

Each sandal has been crafted using eco-friendly nubuck leather and has been complemented with a footbed made from a microfiber top layer, combined with an EVA sole and midsole. Additionally, the sandals are also given increased traction through the groves that have been added to the sole.

Rounding things off, both breathable designs are made with a dual-branded footbed, while each style also includes breathable air holes on the lateral sides and around the heels.

You can take a closer look at the new KEEN x HYKE collaboration above and the sandals will be available on the official HYKE website here and the KEEN site here from March 22.

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Keen's Super Comfy Backstrap Sandals Outlet Are on Sale at Amazon

No matter what you're doing for the summer, chances are you'll be on your feet a lot. In between sightseeing on vacation, visiting local landmarks, or just walking to your grocery store, your feet deserve a little TLC. That's why investing in comfortable and supportive shoes are a must-have this summer, and one stylish pair Amazon shoppers are particularly loving are these Keen Elle Backstrap Sandals that are on sale in several colors and sizes right now.

Although Keen shoes are great for outdoor activities like hiking or camping, the brand also has some seriously cute sandals that deliver the same amount of comfort for everyday wear.

These "incredibly comfortable" strappy sandals are made with a compression ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam midsole that's lightweight and ultra flexible, allowing your foot to bend without restriction. They also deliver a ton of cushion and have a contour-like design that supports your arches and gives you stability via a semi-deep heel cup.

Sandals with straps are also super important if you're planning to walk a lot because they help secure your foot from moving too much due to your step or sweat. Plus, they also help with stability, so you're not always gripping with your toes, which can become tiresome. The stretchy band is made from recyclable materials, and shoppers confirm that it is soft and doesn't give them blisters.

 Planning a Vacation? Amazon Is Brimming With Cute Swimsuits, Dresses, and Sandals Starting at $13

And if you look at the bottom, you'll notice how deep those grooves are, making it easier to walk around without slipping on gravel, sand, or dirt. People who are impressed by the shoe say that it has a "good grip" at the bottom, while one even compares the outsole to that of a hiking boot. Impressive!

And while the shoes have all of those great foot-healthy features, they're also super fashionable. They come in 18 colors, including this fun summery yellow, which is up to 31 percent off at Amazon. And if you're loving their look, there are tons of other people who are obsessed with the whole package. People have actually worn them to theme parks, on vacations, during trail hikes, and more. It's also why 1,400 shoppers actually gave them a perfect five-star rating.

"These fit perfectly," wrote one reviewer who replaced their Chacos with them. "I bought these to wear to Disney and I walked around for 10 hours straight and my feet were not sore. They are so stylish and comfy. Buy these. Seriously, you won't regret it."

Another shopper who called the shoes a "versatile sandal" wrote that "they are immediately comfortable right out of the box," and even said that they "feel like they're cradling my foot perfectly, not too tight, not too loose." They also love their minimalistic design and that they're stylish enough to be worn dressed up or down.

Now's your chance to get the Keen Elle Backstrap Sandals while they're on sale at Amazon. Shop 'em while they're up to 31 percent off.

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Keen Boots Outlet Online - These Boots Were Made For Walking

Higher elevations can continue to bring the gift of winter precipitation and below freezing temperatures even in mid to late spring. Hiking boots were not the most popular thru-hiker choice in the very comprehensive Trek 2022 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Top Footwear Survey. (I highly recommend reading it.). But, I am starting my winter/spring months with Keen Targhee.

I wore my previous Keens without issue. I hiked in them for 800+ miles on the AT, CDT Rockies Loop, and various other hiking trails before I decided it was time to retire them for a new pair. They had been so many places with me that I didn’t want to let them go.

The Targhee II  Mid are breathable, very comfortable and have the wider toe box that I love. Keen has released Targhee III, but I’m sticking with last seasons.  They keep my feet warm without feeling overheated and offer great ankle support (which I need). The Targhee were not difficult or painful to break in, nor have I ever developed a blister or lost a toenail on 5-7 day high mileage section hiking trips in my Keens. **knocking on my wood coffee table. In the spirit of ultra lightweight (UL) gear popularity, Keens are considered heavy, and even heavier when wet. Despite being advertised as “waterproof,” I know my feet will be exposed to water, at very least repetitive moisture.

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Step into Style with the Latest Fashion Trends from Keen Footwear Outlet Store

Keen footwear is known for its comfortable and stylish shoes that are perfect for everyday wear. Whether you're looking for a pair of sneakers, boots, or sandals, Keen has something for everyone. In this article, we'll take a closer look at some of the latest fashion trends from Keen, as well as how to find the best deals on Keen shoes through outlets, sales, and online shopping.

Trend #1: Comfortable and Supportive Sneakers

Keen is known for its comfortable and supportive sneakers, which are perfect for everyday wear. From classic low-tops to trendy high-tops, these shoes are designed to provide ample cushioning and support for all-day comfort. The use of breathable materials like mesh and leather also helps to keep your feet cool and dry, making them a great choice for active wear.

Trend #2: Durable and Stylish Boots

Keen also has a range of durable and stylish boots that are perfect for a variety of occasions. From ankle boots to knee-high boots, these shoes are made with high-quality materials and construction to withstand daily wear and tear. Whether you're looking for a casual boot for everyday wear or a dressier option for special occasions, Keen has something for everyone.

Trend #3: Summer-Ready Sandals

When the weather starts to warm up, Keen has a great selection of summer-ready sandals that are perfect for the beach, pool, or just enjoying the sunshine. From classic flip-flops to more sophisticated slide-on sandals, these shoes are designed to be comfortable and stylish. The use of materials like neoprene and leather help to keep your feet cool and dry, while the variety of colors and designs means there's something for everyone.

Where to Find the Best Deals on Keen Footwear

If you're looking to score a deal on Keen footwear, there are a few options to consider. One option is to check out Keen outlets, which often have discounted prices on a variety of styles. You can also keep an eye out for Keen sales, which are a great opportunity to save on your favorite styles. Another option is to shop online, as many retailers offer discounts and promotions on Keen shoes.


Keen footwear has a great selection of comfortable and stylish shoes that are perfect for everyday wear. From supportive sneakers to durable boots to summer-ready sandals, there's something for everyone in their latest collection. By shopping at outlets, looking for sales, and shopping online, you can find the best deals on Keen shoes and step into style.

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Birth of the Teenager's Keen Outlet Collaboration Surfaces

A consistent stream of collaborations continues to catapult out from Keen‘s lifestyle category lately. We’ve seen the vector brand link up with Mountain Research for a unique take of the Beatnik as well as Wood Wood for a clean Classic Low team-up, and now it’s partnering with Birth of the Teenager for a new Club C 85 installment.

For context, Birth of the Teenager aka BoTT is a brand started by Tokyo-based artist Teito who has established an identity for producing quality streetwear and workwear pieces. Most of the kicks are predominantly done up with neutral tones, but playful accents are also incorporated across the base layer. A majority of the uppers are fashioned with smooth white leather while multi-colored shapes are applied to the lateral side. The Japanese imprint’s acronym replaces the traditional Keen branding on the lateral windows, and it also dresses up the lower half of the tongues and the second set of laces. Down below, the standard creamy Club C 85 outsole brings its design together.

Interested in copping? Select retailers like atmos Tokyo have these in stock now for ¥12,000 (approx. $84 USD).

For other sneaker news, the Keen Shaq Attaq “OG” is slated to make a return.

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Keen Outlet - 14 greatest sandals for girls in 2022 with consolation and magnificence

It’s that point of the season when your favourite sandals are wanting worn out and also you’re prepared for a brand new on a regular basis pair. However let’s face it, the shoe division can really feel like a reasoning and decision-making examination. Not solely are you juggling value and dimension, but in addition the type versus consolation dilemma. Do you choose the trendy pair that can reside in your closet endlessly? Or the comfy pair you gained’t be seen carrying exterior the home?

When selecting a sandal, you need one that’s each comfy and trendy. In spite of everything, no person needs to emphasize about aching ft, chafing or blisters. So we consulted with vogue consultants and podiatrists to seek out the perfect sandals for consolation and magnificence lovers alike.

Who doesn’t love this traditional double strap design? Dr. Elizabeth Daughtry, who focuses on podiatric drugs, loves the adjustable straps, cushioned suede footbed and particularly the only on this sandal. “The EVA sole is supportive and has an anatomic cork and latex footbed,” she says. “This enables for arch assist and molding to the person’s foot construction. EVA is an elastic materials that’s thought of among the finest shock-absorbing supplies in the marketplace as we speak.” The model makes a style for men too.

Take all the things nice in regards to the Santa Barbaras, however make them vegan! Whether or not you observe a vegan life-style or not, these slides are trendy, comfy and supportive. Daughtry recommends them for journey as a result of they’re gentle and simply packable.

As if the fashionable futuristic type isn’t sufficient, the American Podiatric Medical Affiliation (APMA) truly gave this sandal their very own Seal of Acceptance. “Apart from a cushiony sole, the underside of the sandal is formed like the underside of a ship,” Dr. Sophia Solomon says. “This enables your foot to rock from heel to toe in a single clean movement and minimizes shock on the knees and ankles.”

While you consider comfy-cute sandals, Birkenstocks in all probability instantly come to thoughts. However do you know they’re additionally good to your ft? In response to Solomon, “Birkenstocks are nonetheless among the finest choices on the market due to a couple attributes. The deep heel cup and arch assist stabilizes the heel, prevents extra pronation and distributes your weight throughout a bigger floor space. The metatarsal pad helps alleviate forefoot ache, or metatarsalgia, by shifting the load additional again in your foot.”

Ah, how we’ve cherished the return of the Croc! Jane Francis, a multidisciplinary designer with 35 years of expertise within the vogue business, vouches for them too. “The combination of excessive and low is all the time a profitable method in vogue,” she says. “I really like how wearers of all ages and genders can personalize their Crocs.” In case you want inspiration, Jane has her Crocs decked out with chains, crystals and designer logos.

These Oofos sandals have caught round for good purpose: For these with heel ache (and people with out), the froth cushion supplies assist and reduces shock. Plus, the Ooriginal thong type, which is an Underscored editor’s favourite, is made with a nonslip footbed making them appropriate for moist circumstances. Rain or shine, you don’t want to fret about sliding round.

Should you stroll rather a lot and don’t wish to commerce type for consolation, try these Cole Haan sandals. Strolling lengthy distances on New York Metropolis pavement is what led Carolina Obregón, a lecturer on the Parsons College of Design, to hunt out these gems.

We’ve got yet one more Birkenstock suggestion, this time for the securely-fitting Milano mannequin, which is available in loads of solids and patterns. Stone Hubbard, footwear and equipment design technologist on the Style Institute of Expertise, loves the suede cork base. “I just like the Milano Birkenstock as a result of they’re trendy just like the traditional Arizona mannequin and have an orthopedic cork and jute footbed,” he says. “They supply nice arch assist and match securely with the again heel strap.”

Have you ever heard the time period ‘gorpcorp’? It is a pattern that focuses on utility and performance. For vogue, leather-based and textile skilled Tjacob Hooker, who holds an MFA from the Style Institute of Expertise, Chacos are the best way to go. “I gravitate in the direction of extra ‘gorpcorp’ manufacturers due to their respect for the human physique,” he says. “Their design ethos is dedicated to ergonomics and continuous use.” Different manufacturers he recommends embody Birkenstock and Merrell.

How may one thing so trendy be comfy? These part-espadrille, part-wedge sandals are the carry it is advisable to elevate any look. Obregón describes them as elegant sufficient for any event, however you may nonetheless stroll for miles and miles.

Should you’re in search of a sandal that may be simply dressed up, you’re going to wish to try the Naot Kayla type. It does have a small heel, however your ft gained’t be aching. The cork and latex footbed conforms to your foot whereas the deep heel cup provides stability. In response to Dr. Timothy Oldani, a foot and ankle specialist, stability is basically necessary when contemplating a sandal. “The extra steady, the much less motion, which suggests much less ache and alternative for blisters,” he says.

That is thought of a climbing shoe, but it surely’s simply as trendy off the path. Hooker loves the unibody type of this sturdy slip-on. For an environmentally aware alternative, there’s the vegan-friendly model known as Hydro Moc with Bloom.

For designer Alla Eizenberg, the gold commonplace sandal comes from Celine. She loves the Sorel Kinetic Wedge Sandals for his or her neat look, affordable value and prime quality. “I wore them on my current trip to Italy and South France,” she says. “I walked round extensively they usually endured the medieval cobblestone streets with grace.” The neon accent colours and chunky platform type make a outstanding staff. Her different suggestion? You guessed it: a Birkenstock in any type.

You may’t go flawed with this Nike staple. “The Jordan model efficiently straddles the road between vogue and performance, cherished by each athletes and the on a regular basis client,” says Angela Finochio, a Style Institute of Expertise classroom assistant. You’ll wish to put on these sporty, light-weight sandals all over the place — in case you aren’t already. “The rise of athleisure vogue elevated the recognition of the slide silhouette, an informal type now discovered in lots of excessive vogue collections,” she says. “Sporting them with socks is totally acceptable and creates a possibility to type one’s look relying on the sock shade, sample and size alternative.”

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Keen Outlet Online - The 10 Best Hiking Sandals, According to Outdoor Experts

This time of year, hiking sandals are our go-to hiking footwear because they’re lightweight and breathable, yet offer the traction of a good pair of boots. After all, in the heat of the summer, it’s much more enjoyable to strap on some sandals instead of trapping your feet in a pair of sweaty hiking boots. And, on an even more practical level, when the trail takes you through a creek, they let you splash right in without worrying about your shoes and socks.

Although these sandals are generally marketed for hiking, they’re suitable for outdoor adventures ranging from day hiking to kayaking to rafting to simply long days spent outside. Some designs are specifically for trail use, while others focus on waterproof materials for water sports. In other words, the best hiking sandal for you will depend on how you plan to use it.

What Should You Look For in a Hiking Sandal?

Like any other technical shoe, not all hiking sandals are created equal. Here are a few considerations when you’re shopping for the best hiking sandals from retailers like Backcountry, REI, and Amazon:

Open vs. Closed Toe Design

First off, you’ll have to choose between two main types of sandals: open-toe sandals or closed-toe sandals.

Open-toe sandals, like Chacos and Tevas, are the more breathable option, but they expose your feet to the elements. They’re particularly suitable for experienced hikers who are used to hiking in rocky terrain as well as people looking for a versatile adventure sandal that they can wear on casual day hikes and around town.

Closed-toe shoes, like the Keen Newport H2, are a safer option for most hikers, as they can better protect your feet from rocks and debris. Just keep in mind that their design limits breathability, so they hold onto moisture for longer.

Outsole Tread Pattern

Rugged, capable soles are what set hiking sandals apart from standard sandals because great traction is a must-have—especially on harder hikes. If you plan to venture into steeper terrain or onto slippery rocks, look for a pair of sandals made with sticky rubber (Vibram soles are a high-quality feature, for example) and a deep lug pattern along the sole to enhance your traction in various trail conditions.

However, if you plan to use your sandals around town, on flat trails, or during water activities, you may not need to prioritize a durable, grippy outsole.

Strap Design

The strap system on your sandals will play a key role in helping you feel comfortable and agile on the trail. If you can’t achieve a secure fit, you’ll feel unsteady on uneven terrain and risk blisters due to your foot sliding around in the footbed. “I would never buy a hiking sandal without very adjustable straps,” says Mariah Arianna, an adventure elopement photographer based in Austria who frequently hikes difficult terrain with up to 20 pounds of gear on her back for work.

Beyond adjustability, you should consider what strap style will feel best on your foot. Some sandals come with criss-crossing straps, like Chacos, while others, like Bedrocks, have a flip-flop style. Most have minimally padded straps so they dry quickly, but some options, like the Adidas or ECCO sandals, have more padded horizontal straps to eliminate pressure points on the top and side of your foot.


Chances are you’ll be taking your hiking sandals into water, whether you head to the beach, use them for rafting, or need to cross a stream. So, it’s a good idea to look for quick-drying materials like a waterproof PU footbed and polyester straps. Arianna always looks for hiking sandals that “are waterproof and have completely rubber soles that are easy to scrub with soap and water when they need to be cleaned.”

She recommends you avoid buying hiking sandals with delicate materials like suede or leather: “They stain and collect dirt and sweat too easily.” Plus, they don’t dry as well.


The footbed or insole is the interior part of the shoe where your foot rests—and its shape contributes to the overall comfort and support of the sandal. Gaby Pilson, an outdoor education and backpacking guide, explains that “most people find that they prefer a footbed that’s constructed to provide arch support as you walk, though some folks out there opt for more minimalist designs.” Shoes like the Chaco Z/1 and ECCO Yucatans are designed with arch support built into the footbed and midsole, while minimalist shoes like the Bedrock Cairn and XERO Genesis sacrifice arch support to offer a more barefoot feel. The preference between these styles varies from hiker to hiker, but if you aren’t sure what level of support you need, or if you have any foot issues, consult a podiatrist to find the right fit for you.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, check out our experts’ top picks for the best hiking sandals from brands like Chaco, Teva, and Bedrock.

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How Keen Outlet Online Made Coco Gauff’s Signature Sneaker

Nobody expected a shut-down sports bar to be the setting to produce the first signature sneaker for 18-year-old tennis star Coco Gauff. But in 2020, as coronavirus quarantine upended traditional workspaces, the expected became increasingly uncommon.

Keen, the sneaker brand partner Gauff has worked with since she was 14, took over Paradise Sports Lounge, a bar owned by her father in Delray Beach, Florida, using it as an impromptu design space for a day while it was closed for business. It was a necessity—virtual gatherings lack the candor needed to make good product. Behind the lounge’s tinted windows, employees from the brand traded ideas with Gauff in a first effort to distill her personality into a sneaker.

“They literally built out boards that I was able to print out and pin up,” says Evan Zeder, head of global tennis sports marketing at Keen. “And it was: Who are you? What’s your vision? And we got her mom, her, her aunt, her best friend, we threw some music on.”

The long session would be followed by more rounds of feedback, and proper sneaker design with more traditional tools back at Keen’s headquarters outside of Boston, but Gauff cites that vision meeting as the genesis of her signature shoe.

“We spent about five hours creating mood boards and talking with various designers on the Keen team about what I liked, didn’t like, what I hoped for the design,” says Gauff, who is currently ranked no. 12 in the world at singles and no. 1 in the world at doubles, “and performance of the shoe and various other things to make sure they had a great starting point to be able to start to design the shoe.” 

That shoe, the Coco CG1, is making its commercial debut two years later, arriving on Friday in a neon-accented launch colorway at $170. She will wear her sneaker at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time next week, lacing up a pair at the US Open.

The model is dressed in touches personal to Gauff, from her name scrawled on its tongue to a mantra from her father (“You can change the world with a racket”) inscribed at the tip of the toe. It’s an unconventional tennis sneaker, cut higher than the average with a silhouette that resembles something you’re more likely to see on a basketball court.

“I took inspiration from basketball shoes and a mid cut isn’t really done in tennis so I wanted it to be unique in that way,” says Gauff. “I also wanted the shoe to be looked at like something you could wear on or off the court and I really like the street-style feel to a mid cut.”

Like Gauff, Keen is keen on making the shoe viable for performance and lifestyle wear. One gets the sense there are likely collaboration pairs coming—although the Keen team that worked on her shoe won’t give up any info in this regard other than cracking a smile and displaying some visible restraint.

The colors of the Coco CG1, a bold and bright couple of combos so far, are part of this effort. The shoe in this way evokes the flashy ‘90s models from Nike’s Air Tech Challenge line of tennis shoes that Andre Agassi played in.

The ‘90s and its pastel shades were an important design reference point for Gauff, despite her being born in 2004. The group who worked on her shoe ascribes her cultural awareness of a decade that preceded her time on this planet to her being an old soul. It shows in her interviews, where she displays a poise beyond her age. It shows, too, in the culture she consumes, according to Keen designer Cordell Jordan.

“I’m a ‘90s baby and she almost knew more about the ‘90s than I did,” Jordan says. “She had certain inspirations from music—Aaliyah, TLC—certain graphics. Even one thing she talked about was the way the shoe should be paneled.”

Instead of hot melts and no-sew sections, the panels on the Coco CG1 are held together with more traditional stitching, as was more commonplace in shoe making decades ago. The neons of the launch colorway double as a connection back to the sizzling colors of her home state.

“I just love vibrant colors and in the ‘90s the fashion was so much fun,” says Gauff. “Also being from Florida it was a little nod to the Miami Vice, Art Deco, sunset vibe of Miami Beach.”

The second colorway of the sneaker, also releasing on Friday, is the one Gauff will wear next week in Queens. There, at the US Open, the model will have its proper on-court debut at the highest level of professional play.

Her sneaker was actually ready in time for Wimbledon earlier this summer, and originally planned as a March launch before that, but Keen didn’t want Gauff to rush into playing in the Coco CG1 by switching up her footwear for that tournament at the last minute. Right after Wimbledon (where she advanced in singles play to the third round before losing to Amanda Anisimova) she made the change, putting her shoes on for exhibitions and matches leading up to the latest Grand Slam.

Her CG1 “DigiCoco” designed for the US Open is darker than the first colorway, with a rich red and blue upper that features a yellow outsole. This version of the sneaker is inspired by video games in reference to how Gauff’s talents are “almost video game-like,” per Keen. Its colors are arranged with attention to the tones of the courts she’ll be playing on.

“You don’t want to have too much blue in the actual shoe itself—at least touching the ground,” Jordan says. “For certain colors you want to add more pop, more pizzazz, to give it a higher contrast.”

More important than colorways used are the actual tech aspects of the Coco CG1. Keen says the sneaker uses the best materials the brand has available for performance shoes, which in this case means FuelCell cushioning and a Fit Weave Lite upper. Its sole uses Energy Arc, Keen’s version of the foam-embedded carbon plate system that’s been popular in footwear for years now.

“It’s always been used in running, but to switch over into tennis obviously is a bit of a different challenge,” says Josh Wilder, a tennis footwear product manager at Keen who worked on Gauff’s shoe. “Running is very straightforward, whether it’s on a track or whether it’s on long-distance running. When you’re playing tennis, you’re making lateral cuts all around the court.”

The carbon plate is designed to propel the wearer forward. Wilder says this has resulted in Gauff feeling like she’s better equipped to hit overhands and jump with a real feeling of bounce. The carbon fiber is embedded in a soft foam and then wrapped in rubber and a harder foam to add the kind of lateral stability needed for an athlete who’s moving horizontally so much.

The length of the plate changed while the shoe was being developed—at first, Keen gave Gauff a sneaker with a full-length plate. They shortened it to cut down on stiffness, but the tech inside the Coco CG1 didn’t change drastically during the design otherwise. The upper didn’t shift much. For Gauff, the main goal was cutting precious ounces from her signature silhouette.

“One of the biggest things that changed over the course of the two years was the weight of the shoe,” she says. “When it comes to performance on court you want a light shoe, and the Keen team was able to use different materials and a carbon fiber plate to make it as light as possible while still making it ideal for wearing and optimizing my performance.”

The brand tweaked the sneaker up through fall 2021 before settling on its design. Now that it’s out in the world, it’s a somewhat nerve-wracking period for the designers, who are finally seeing her live in the product after all their work.

And now that Gauff is actually wearing it in real competition, Keen is already soliciting feedback from her. In all likelihood, Gauff’s first signature sneaker with Keen won’t be her last.

“With the footwear industry being on such long lead times, we’re already even asking questions about what would she want to be improved, or what does she want to be changed,” says Wilder. “We’re going to give it a little bit of a buffer, a couple months I would say, but then, of course, you’re already starting to look ahead to the future and say, ‘What’s next?’”

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