Sandals for jungle trekking

September 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel Tips

If you don’t like how sneakers make your feet feel damp and constricted, try wearing sandals the next time you go for a hike in the jungle. And don’t worry if you have to cross a river,

insidepix2IF I could have it my way, I’d choose strappy sandals to go jungle and river trekking. Their simple, elastic outsoles are light and flexible while the crossed straps provide good ventilation especially in a hot, humid condition. They are also easy to put on and take off – no laces and you don’t even have to wear socks. In fact, when it comes to river crossing, I just walk in and out of the water without worrying about getting my shoes wet. Of course they will be wet but sandals dry much faster than sneakers.

However, on many outings, the guides on duty or my trekking buddies have frowned on my strappy sandals. They say that not only do my sandals look a tad frail for the unpredictable rainforest trail, but their exposed upper part can pose some harm too. Jungle trekking – whether it’s an easy or hard course – is no walk in the park. There are sharp roots and branches, prickly thorns, razor-sharp rocks and poisonous insects and small animals. Exposing any flesh on the feet can mean getting it injured by any of the above. And I am rather clumsy, so my open-toe sandals often causes me to tumble even over a tiny rock or protruding root. And I always fear the worst when I trek downhill! If only there are sandals that protect the toes and a large part of the feet. Happiness then, when a friend from Waterfall Survivor, a social group found on Facebook, tells me about Keen Newport, a hybrid sandal brand from the United States. Though it’s been in the US market for over 20 years, the brand has only reached the Malaysian market a few years ago. Keen Shoes are also the official footwear for Waterfall Survivor’s Save Our Waterfalls campaign held this year.
Toes Protected
I put the Keen Newport sandals to the test. I kick hard on the edge of my table and I get a friend to step on my ingrown toenail but I don’t really feel a thing. Though the sandals are not really femininely cute, they certainly do protect my toes from these self-inflicted acts. The thick and rounded shield at the front comes in either black or grey, depending on the colours of the sandals’ upper. At a glance, the shield looks almost similar to those safety shoes with metal toe protection. On closer inspection, you’d see that the shield is actually the extended outsoles – pulled up to fully wrap the toes. Ugly as it looks, I still love it.
Strap No More
My weather-beaten feet are well covered by the bright polyester uppers that wrap them like a sock. With ordinary strappy sandals, my feet are almost “naked” but the Keen Newport sandals have just enough “openings” for an airy feeling. Best of all, the polyester webbing is not only quick-drying but it’s washable too. The upper is said to be treated with a special odour-reducing technology that controls growth of bacteria and fungi that cause odours, stains and product deterioration. In fact, according to its official website, Keen Newport water sandals, including those leather uppers, are machine washable and advises using “a small amount of detergent and wash on gentle cycle and air dry.”
Looks Are Deceiving
The thick, hard outsoles are no indication how comfortable and flexible the sandals are. The foot-bed is designed to conform to the shape of the foot for personalised comfort. And you can say the same about the hardy rubber outsole that’s decked with multi-directional lug pattern that will expose razor sipping when the soles are bent. Understandably, these features give the soles the right traction over wet and dry surfaces.


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