If you regularly hike on wet trails or do frequent stream crossings, you'll recognize the value of water shoes like the Keen Venice H2: You get all the airiness and quick-dry nature of a sandal, plus great traction on just about any surface -- wet or dry -- and the protection of a sturdy, closed rubber toe.
What I Like
I originally grabbed the Venice H2 to wear on jungle hikes in Costa Rica. Although such footwear goes contrary to the usual (and very good) advice to wear boots as protection against snakes, they were perfect for navigating wet beach landings, stream crossings and tropical downpours; the big gaps in the sides let water run out quickly and the shoes dry fast.
They also provide great traction on a variety of surfaces, both wet and dry.
The same qualities make these excellent summer "shoes" in Alaska: Shedding water and drying quickly after stream crossings, rinsing out easily if I step in the mud, but still protecting my toes as I stub them against tree roots. And hey, if your shoes somehow make it to the water without you, they will float there patiently until you arrive.
Notes on Fit
I have very wide feet and super-high arches -- so wide and high, in fact, that they won't fit into the openings for some water shoes. I had to go up about half a size in the Venice H2 in order to get my feet into them, but don't mind the extra room.
But wait, you say -- shouldn't all hikers wear heavy-duty boots to support their feet and protect their ankles? That's not always the best choice. Ultimately, it depends on your feet, the terrain, and what makes you most comfortable.
Room for Improvement?
The Keen Venice H2 has quicklace closures that hold firmly, but the laces themselves are stretchy enough that I can never get the shoes quite as snug as I'd like.
They stay on my feet well though, even when I get stuck up to my ankles in sucking mud; and the soles are plenty thick and sturdy enough for tromping over sharp rocks or press tent stakes into firm ground.
Are they appropriate in every circumstance? No. They won't keep your feet warm in winter, and in some stream crossings you might still want to wear boots as protection against moving rocks. But the versatile Keen Venice H2 does a great job of addressing the potential downsides of wearing waterproof boots in wet or muddy terrain.
Keen Venice H2 Specs
- Weight: 10.9 ounces
- Sole: Non-marking rubber with multidirectional lugs and razor siping
- Midsole/Footbed: EVA midsole, footbed
- Upper: Polyester webbing uppers and hydrophobic mesh lining.
The Keen Venice H2 water shoes offer great traction and sturdy soles, hold up well to prolonged abuse (although I think I might replace the quicklaces with something less stretchy), provide great traction in varied terrain, and shed both water and mud quickly. In short, they're everything you can expect from a great water shoe, whether you're hiking on the beach or strolling the Alaska tundra.