Unusual Lightweight Cord Sandals
Keen launched the unusual UNEEK sandals last year. With a flexible two cord construction they are designed to adapt to your feet for a perfect fit. I didn’t try this first design, which is still available, but recently I have been trying the latest version, the UNEEK 02. Where the original had a sandal type open heel the 02 has a closed trainer-type heel for more support. The braided polyester cord construction is still there, with lots of give in it so it adapts to your feet. There isn’t a tongue. Instead there’s stretch fabric under the stretch laces that also runs round the side of the foot. The closed heel has a soft lining. Under the cords there’s a non-removable shaped EVA footbed and an EVA midsole. The tread is fairly shallow.
The UNEEKs aren’t designed as hillwalking footwear but more for low level walking, travel and casual use. I have tried them on some fairly rough and steep ground and found them fine however. The size 9s I have weigh 528 grams, making them light enough to carry on backpacking trips as camp shoes. I think they’re ideal for this as you can also walk in them on easier ground, making them a back-up to your other footwear.
The UNEEKs just fit my wide forefoot when worn without socks. I wouldn’t mind a little extra width. With the close fit and all those cords against my feet I thought they might rub and create sore spots and blisters. On several walks of a couple of hours my feet have felt comfortable and secure though. The only irritation I’ve had is from grit and seeds and other debris getting in and having to remove the sandal to shake it out. Cushioning is good and the sole grips okay.
UNEEKs do look strange, with a somewhat home-made appearance. You can imagine attaching some paracord to a wedge of rubber and making your own. The design does work though.