Gear Review: Keen’s CNX Sandals

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Keen CNX Clearwater Sandal Review by Kam of Campfire Chic


I’ve been in the market for a ‘base camp shoe’ to bring with me on backpacking trips that isn’t heavy and will protect my feet more than a pair of Rainbow sandals. Enter the brand new CNX Clearwater Sandals from Keen Footwear!

Specs (from

  • Weight: 7.6 oz/214 g
  • Type: CNX, Bungee Styles
  • Fit Tip: We find this style runs pretty true to size
  • Lining: AEGIS microbe shield treated hydrophobic mesh
  • Upper: Washable polyester webbing
  • Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping

That’s right, these shoes are lightweight when compared to the familiar Keen Newport Sandal which comes in at 11.64 oz (according to the website) or even the Newport H2 which is 12.03 oz. The lining of the shoe has a microbe shield, so you won’t need to wear socks with your sandals (why would you??), and the shoes are easy to clean.

Here are some more (post testing) photos of the shoe so you can get an idea of what the shoes look like:

NEW CNX Clearwater Sandal by Keen Footwear - gear review by Campfire Chic

 I wasn’t sure about these shoes at first, I saw Keen promoting the new CNX line online but waiting until I was able to talk to one of my girlfriends about the shoes and try on a pair (at the time they were only secretly-available at REI but she had a pair in my size). As soon as I held the shoe, I knew I was hooked. Unlike the other Keen sandals I’ve held before, these were noticeably light and the shape is more feminine than some of the others I’ve tried on in the past. I think I said something along the lines of, “Oh hey, I don’t look like I have a club foot or belong on a boat!”. I’m lady-like like that.


I quickly ordered a pair online, and thanks to Keen’s quick shipping, I had my own pair of shoes and a sweet new wallet in no time at all.


I took the CNX Sandals out for a test for a weekend in Death Valley National Park, located in California near the Nevada border. I wanted to test the shoes on a variety of terrain in a short amount of time, and it was the perfect excuse to bring them along for our camping trip.


 Here are some action shots:

CNX Clearwater Sandals by KEEN Footwear - Great shoes for traveling, handles slick surfaces (like salt!) really well. // Gear review on

Kam's review of the new CNX Clearwater Sandals by KEEN Footwear -- Visit Campfire Chic for full gear report
I do have to say: Please don’t be dumb like me and go hiking on what is essentially baby-gravel wearing sandals. Why am I so dumb? Thankfully, the CNX sandals are easy to get on and off, so I was able to remove the tiny rocks from between my toes really easily…it’s not the shoe’s fault, it’s mine.


As you can kind of see in my photos, my pinky toe is not in an danger of escaping, which can be a problem when wearing sandals like this — or maybe I’m the only one with a rogue toe sometimes?


Also? No break-in time. I was nervous about wearing the shoes for so long and doing a lot of walking around in them, but they were so comfortable and no chaffing what-so-ever! Yes, I would venture to say that these could possibly be Disneyland-approved footwear. Yep, I went there. While I live in my TOMS, they are not so great for a trek around the Disneyland Resort…but I’m guessing these would be perfect!

These are perfect for:

  • Travelling
  • Road trips
  • Amusement parks
  • Anywhere you need some lightweight shoes and would like to wear sandals

Not-so-perfect for:

  • Gravel surfaces
  • Winter
  • Anybody worried about strange tan lines (I’ll be earning my ‘Keen Stripes’ this summer!)

You can order your own pair of CNX Clearwater Sandals by Keen Footwear via while also supporting Campfire Chic!

Have you tried the new CNX Sandals?
Do you own any Keen shoes?
What are your go-to travel shoes?

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Behind the Scenes Gear Review

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Meg K March 14, 2013, 5:58 am

    My husband get’s his Keen stripes every summer. I personally love Keen’s thong style sandels and live in them all summer. I’ve Disney World approved those. These look great and would be a great option of kayaking and other water sports where flipflops wouldn’t work. Thanks for the review!

    • Kam March 14, 2013, 7:58 am

      These are my first pair of Keen sandals, I have some hiking boots, but no stripes there :) I’ll have to try the thong-style sandals next, thanks for the suggestion!

      • Meg K March 14, 2013, 9:14 am

        My favorite part about the flip flops is that unlike reefs – they are NOT slippery when wet. They also last a long time – 5 years until they really needed replacement, but I wore them almost eveyday all summer

        • Kam March 15, 2013, 8:07 am

          Wow, thanks for the info!

          • Jeremy May 10, 2013, 7:48 pm

            I’ve about 15 pairs of Keens, but the Keen Waimea sandals are my favorite. I wear them at least once almost every day of the year. Yes, that includes winter in the snow to get the mail. I have pictures for proof, haha. ANYWAY, the Keen sandals finally broke after 8 years. It was a sad day. Like Meg, I highly recommend Keen “flip flops” as a necessity!

            • Kam May 13, 2013, 7:41 am

              Cool, I haven’t seen those sandals, maybe I’ll see them more often now that it is heating up in Southern California. Thanks for the info, Jeremy!

  • cozygirl March 14, 2013, 6:39 am

    I really want a pair of these especially since the toe is shielded. My problem is my feet as so narrow and a size 10. So I’d probably have to wear socks :O) ugh. I so wish more sandals came in narrow or if there were any out there, I’d sure like to be clued in.

    • Kam March 14, 2013, 8:00 am

      Keen was started by boating-fanatics who were tired of stubbing their toes on the rigging of their boats (fun fact!) so a lot of their shoes have the gaurded toe part that is actually part of the sole of the shoe, so it’s all one piece and shouldn’t ever fall off. I really like that it’s reinforced like that but has a wayyyyy more feminine look to it than other styles. I’m not sure about the width, but maybe if you tweet @keen they can tell you?

    • Jeremy May 11, 2013, 7:20 am

      You should definitely try a pair on! The CNX line is less-bulky so maybe it will be more suitable for narrow feet. Having a bungee cord lacing system might also help!

  • Lynnette March 14, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Ha, I had to laugh at your “avoid small rocks” photo because that’s what I always wonder when I see people hiking in sandals like that. Plus wouldn’t your feet end up really dirty? I think they’d drive me crazy, haha.

    I have a pair of Keens and I ended up wearing them the last time I went to Disneyland. I was worried they’d look dorky, haha, but I figured they were probably no worse than running shoes and hey, at least my feet were comfy all day!

    • Kam March 15, 2013, 8:09 am

      The entire trail was rocks, so that was a huge mistake on my part. I probably wouldn’t normally wear these during an actual hiking experience (this was a short 1 mile hike) so I think the rocks won’t be a problem. As for getting my feet dirty, I’m OK with that. They get gross from my climbing shoes, can get equally gross from hiking boots, and I usually have some way to clean myself on trips, thankfully haha. When you’re backpacking, a little dirt doesn’t bother you as much as when you’re sitting in a cubicle, trust me, I know ;)

      All this talk of Disneyland has me dying to go!

  • Serena March 15, 2013, 5:21 am

    The shoes look great. I wish my feet weren’t so weird. That wristlet though…has my name written all over it!

    • Kam March 15, 2013, 8:19 am

      The wristlet comes with a strap so you can make it a “regular” purse, too! Pretty neat, but not what I was in the market for. I’m on week 2 of using this wirstlet at my wallet/sometimes purse and I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to a regular wallet ever.

  • Lauren March 19, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Yes! I wore my keens so much in Cambodia! They were my go to travel shoe! I can’t wait to bring them back out when it gets warm!

    • Kam May 13, 2013, 7:41 am

      Very cool, I bet they were really comfortable as you walked around in Cambodia, what an awesome experience!

  • Jen July 8, 2013, 7:23 am

    What pants are you wearing? I’ve been trying to find some leggings that are suitable for hiking. Thanks!

    • Kam August 29, 2013, 7:53 pm

      Hi Jen – not sure if I responded via email, but I am wearing the Ashley legging from prAna, you can find it here:

  • Rob Ruggenberg August 29, 2013, 3:46 am

    As Keen call them ‘Clearwater’ did anyone try these shoes in and out of the water? I want to use them for something in which they will get wet often.

    • Kam August 29, 2013, 7:55 pm

      Hi Rob, I wore them sea kayaking and while they were comfortable to wear after getting wet, it did take a little while for them to dry out. I haven’t worn shoes like this before, so I do not have anything to compare them to. The webbing feels thinner than the webbing on the classic Newports, so I’m assuming it dries faster than that.

      I’ll follow up with you after I take them on a 10 mile hike in a few weeks…I’ll be doing at least 5 water crossings in them to test them further!

  • janet August 29, 2013, 6:57 pm

    I just picked up a pair for whitewater kayaking. Yes, perfect for water and water adventures. I started working for a major whitewater rafting company on the east coast this summer – with over 100 kayak guides – Keens Clearwater CNX are their shoe both on and off the river. So I am following the pros footwear choice. (Heck, I don’t think some of the guides ever take them off all summer. lol)

    • Kam August 29, 2013, 7:56 pm

      Awesome followup, Janet! Do you have your Keen “stripes” tan from wearing them so much?

  • Rob Ruggenberg September 1, 2013, 2:43 am

    Thank you Kam and Janet – last question: any trouble with sand and small pebbles getting into the shoes?

  • Jen February 28, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Love the post! I have keen whisper sandals that I’ve been using for the past four years, (yep Disneyland a whole bunch too

  • Jen February 28, 2014, 2:48 pm

    Do you think these have good enough support to be all day/everyday shoes for long walks? I like these so much more than the whispers.


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