Keen sandle traction? Ideas?

I have and use a lot Keen sandles with the covered toes (H20?). I really like them mostly,but they don’t get good traction on wet rocks when lining. I really don’t want to buy new sandles. Ideas? Tractionising? Solvent treatment? Regrouving?, I may be dating myself if you don’t reconize these terms.


If really yet to find a pair of sandal type water shoes that get good traction on the really slippery rocks. My keens and current chacos are marginal, and my new tevas are about the same. Chaco used to make a water sole that was amazing, but they phased it out, or its special order.

Ryan L.

Feel Like Experimenting?

– Last Updated: Oct-03-12 1:01 PM EST –

I recently discovered the virtues of Shoe Goo. If you have some old shoes that are near the end of their life, try smearing some Shoe Goo on the soles and see if it helps. Maybe even sprinkle some sand on the stuff to add traction. I recently patched a gash in a road bike tire with the stuff. So far so good.

Come to think of it, I once ordered some boots through work that were supposed to prevent slipping on ice. It was nothing but regular rubber boots with something like sandy Shoe Goo smeared on the bottoms.

My merrels have siping which is many many lateral slits that allow the rubber to grip the rocks. I rarely slip if ever. Im no mountain goat but other paddlers with lesser shoes know the difference.

Astral Buoyancy Brewer
Looks terrestrial enough to use daily non-boating purposes. Five-10 makes the sole out of it’s Stealth Rubber so it’s just about stick enough to make you feel like Spider Man on slime covered rocks. Not saying I know how Spider Man would feel on slime covered rocks mind you, just a figure (albeit muzzy one) of speech.

Lower dockside style called the Porter and a taller heavier hiker boot (The Rassler) coming next year too.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I am thinking a carefully guided dremel and about 15 minutes.

similar lines …
wire wheel them ?

OK-I give up
I guess my best bet would be a new pair of sandles with a great gripping sole. I really like the covered toe open rest sandle type like my Keens.I don’t want a water sneaker type. suggestions?


Bean Explorer Sandals; traction
I compared the Bean Explorer sandals head-to-head against various Keen sandals a couple of years ago, and thought the Beans won on every count for both a land and canoeing sandal – flexibility, weight, comfort and cost.

I now have two pair and wear them year round.

As to traction, that’s an ambiguous and complex thing. The way shoe soles create traction for wet boat decks (e.g., sipes), fishing waders (e.g., felt), wet rocks, wet trails, dry trails, etc. – can all vary and not be so good for one traction scenario as another.

I like soles that are flexible enough to bend for kneel canoeing, portage short distances, dry fast, and be good as casual walking shoes. The Bean Explorers meet those tests for me, and are currently on sale until Oct. 8 for $54.

If they are mainly for water consider the felt that fly fisherman use on waders. It’s unreal and glues easily.

Thumbs up for felt
I had a pair of Dagger paddle shoes that had partial felt bottoms and they were fantastic. No slippage on rocks, ever. I never thought about buying felt and putting it on other paddle shoes. I think I’m going to try it now that you suggested it. Thanks.

Disadvantages and controversie over felt
Not all felt is the same. There is wool felt, fur felt and different ways of making felt.

Felt is very common in fishing waders, but fishers spend hours standing and walking around in water. Paddlers don’t. NRS stopped marketing their felt booties except for the felt-sole Kicker, which is still available.

Everyone agrees felt wears out quickly and is no good for walking or hiking, and is somewhat of a pain to replace frequently.

Most controversially, felt-soled shoes are now scientifically implicated in the transfer of aquatic invasive species between water bodies, and are proposed to be banned in parts of the world:

If the put in or take out is treacherous
… the amount of time spent on the rocks doesn’t matter, especially carrying a heavy boat. If I get hurt at this stuff it will probably be scuttling over slippery rocks. Felt is good insurance.

Just to explore this a little more
First of all, the topic is high traction sandals. I’m not sure there are any felt-soled sandals, but it could be a good experiment to glue felt on the bottom of some old sandals and see if it works.

I had felt-soled booties for a couple of years when I was an avid WW boater in the 80’s. They wore out fast and I didn’t replace them with another felt pair. I really never noticed any in-water traction difference.

That brings us to the treacherous put-in/take-out scenario. There are some of these if you are off the beaten path. But felt is only good (allegedly) for the wet and slimy rocks that are under the water or near the water’s edge. The treacherous part – steep inclined, rocks, roots, slippery soil, slippery scree, loose soil, muck – is usually above the water line. In those areas of treachery, my preference is the kind of sole on a good hiking boot – not felt, which I think would be an inferior material with which to lug a heavy canoe.

The soles of my NRS Attack Shoes served me very well, in the boat and in all land and water conditions, on a six-day solo paddle with 8 miles of endurance portaging this summer. My Bean Explorer sandals would have worked also. A thin soled water shoe or felt bottom would not have worked well on the portage trails or roads. I didn’t want to have to switch off using different shoes.

(Tangent: the Attack Shoe has a terrible, inflexible instep for kneeling canoeists unless you do the surgery I recommend in my comment on the NRS site.)

Fishermen/ladies have dealt with this
issue for generations. The history is the felt soles took over the market for a long long time and they do work very well and stick to slime covered rock extremely well. But as is pointed out above, in the last few years felt soles have been banned in many places (including Vermont I know) and so they are not even being manufactured anymore. What has replaced them are soles made of special “rubber” formulations that are soft and stick on rock reasonably well. Also, there are souls of this new material with studs, not unlike you see in studded snow tires. If you look around at good fly fishing stores/websites you will find various options.

Personally when Kayaking I wear the NRS Neoprene booties with rubber soles. There are pretty good. But when I am canoeing I wear Tingley rubbers - available in different heights. On trips I wear the ones that come up to just below the knee. These are cheap. They last several seasons and the grip surprisingly well. They are easy to slip on and off over sneakers or whatever you ordinarily wear. I use them at home in the winter when I go out in snow to shovel or snow blow. They work great for that too.

Just some ideas.

More info
I use my Keens for everything in warm weather including up to 4 mile carrys so felt or glue probibly won’t last. On trips with long carrys I bring only one pair of shoes to keep weight down. Thanks for the ideas.


Some day
I’ll start going on trips in warm weather again. We’ve been tripping in May and October for years to keep away from the red necked bi peds. A warm weather trip would be sooooo nice.

Keen done me wrong
I bought a pair of those sandals at a year-end clearance sale, and used them the next year. In very short order they seemed to disolve - the stitching came out of the upper and the sole de-laminated. I contacted Keen and they told me too bad, as I didn’t have my receipt.

I like the design, but since this experience (and I’ve talked to several who also had durability issues), I’ll stick with old sneakers.

As for traction on wet rock - if it is covered with vegetation/algae, it will be slippery regardless. I like a sneaker or something like a bean boot just so I can feel the shape of the rock underfoot.

I agree
I have to say, I would be afraid to wear sandals on a canoe or kayak trip. I suppose maybe I might wear them in camp - but even then I am so darn clumsy there would be a high likelihood of injured feet.

Look for Vibram

I am guessing you need traction over the dreaded northern black lichen. Its like walking on vaseline when wet.

I have Keen Newports and they are marginal on lichen. I switched to Merrell watershoes. I have older Maipos that have Vibram soles.

The same thing that allows hikers to adhere to slippery granite shelves when wet ought to work for you.

Merrell does have a Vibram soled Keen Newport style sandal.