Gear Box: Keen Cimarron Water Shoes

When heading to Australia, I knew that I would be spending a lot of time in and around water. The Queensland coastline was one of our primary destinations, and sailing off the Great Barrier Reef promised plenty of opportunities to get wet too. With that in mind, I knew I wanted to take a new pair of water shoes along for those extended periods on the beach and I ended up adding a pair of Keen Cimarrons to my pack just for that purpose.

Keen has always made great shoes, and their water sandals are extremely popular for a good reason. They’re comfortable, wear well, and are prefect for sloshing around in anything from a puddle on the trail to hip deep in the ocean. The Cimarron water shoes are a bit different however, as they are closer to a an actual shoe, covering more of the foot, albeit with a mesh like fabric woven inside a solid, rigid sole. This coverage offers more protection for your feet, but with a very different feel from the sandals.

The Cimarrons actually resemble a light hiker in some senses, and while they’ll never replace your real hiking shoes, they can definitely serve double duty in a pinch, going from the trail, straight into the water. They are very comfortable, and the inner lining hugs your feet snugly, both in and out of the water. But make no mistake, these shoes are designed for use in and around the water, and for that task, they are very well suited. I had the chance to test them on several beaches, hiking through a rainforest, and walking ankle deep in mud in the middle of a mangrove patch. No matter where I took them, they performed well, giving me sure footing on slick conditions, and going from dry land to the Pacific Ocean without missing a beat.

I can honestly say that these shoes performed well enough that I can recommend them with just a few caveats. First, these shoes don’t drain as well as if you were wearing sandals, as you probably would expect considering they are much more closed in. Conversely, they do keep more stuff out, but if sand or a pebble or two get inside the shoes, they don’t tend to work their way out like they would in a sandal. On several occasions I was walking with a tiny rock rubbing against the side of my foot that I know wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

The other thing I was a bit surprised about was how long these shoes took to dry. Now, granted I was in a bit of a humid, tropical environment, which contributed to the problem, but a day after I first used the shoes, I slipped my foot inside to find that the lining was still a bit damp, which can make things a bit uncomfortable. Even keeping them inside my room at the hostel, in air conditioning, required a bit more time to completely dry them out.

While those are two rather important issues to point out, I have to say that while they were on my feet, and I was playing in the water, they were very comfortable and versatile. These would make excellent shoes for kayaking in particular, especially in areas that are very rocky or require portages. For the casual beach goer, I’d still recommend the Keen line of sandals, but for someone looking for something a bit more versatile and rugged, the Cimarrons are the way to go.

Kraig Becker

4 thoughts on “Gear Box: Keen Cimarron Water Shoes”

  1. Slow drying time is why Keen's are mediocre water sandals. Not surprised the shoes have the same design flaw.

  2. It's really a shame, because they are such great shoes otherwise.

    But, to be fair, a friend's Teva's were still damp the next day as well. We both had the same complaint, so I'm sure the Australian weather didn't help matters. But it's not a great thing to have in a water shoe.

  3. Water shoes are made of mesh and have a hard sole used to prevent cuts when walking in wet, rocky environments.

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