As an adventurous family, getting the ideal footwear for our three year old son, Raife, has always been quite tricky, particularly in the summer.
We spend a lot of time walking, whether it’s climbing (small) mountains, wandering through the woods or crossing streams - they’re all quite tricky terrains for little feet.
Raife loves walking, but your average trainers don’t provide the support and protection he needs when we’re crossing tough rocky ground, and they’re certainly not waterproof. On the other hand, in the hot days of summer, full-on walking boots can be too big and clumpy, leaving his feet really warm and uncomfortable.
The folks over at Little Adventure Shop gave us the opportunity to try out a different option. Little Adventure Shop is an online retailer specialising in clothing, footwear and equipment for...you guessed it, little adventurers! It stocks a range of well known outdoor brands including Jack Wolfksin, Helly Hansen, Patagonia and Skogstad.
We were given a pair of the Keen Kids Newport H2 Sandals to test and review. They retail for £44.95, come in six different colours, and range from a children’s size 7 to an adults size 6.
I should point out that although Little Adventure Shop has gifted the sandals, I’m under no obligation to give a positive review.
Instead of starting with my first impressions, I’ll give you Raife’s…
“Daddy, look at my cool new sandals. They’re very nice! Can I wear them to play outside, please?”
It’s absolutely no stretch of truth to say that Raife has been obsessed with his sandals since he opened the box. He wants to wear them to school, he wants to wear them to the supermarket, he wants to wear them everywhere. Sometimes he doesn’t really want to play outside, but he asks to go outside just so he can put them on.
As for me; my first impressions were how nice the design is and how robust they look. The blue and bright green work really well together, making them bold and exciting enough for Raife without being garish. At first, I was a little worried that they might be a bit clunky on Raife’s feet, but that really isn’t an issue. In fact, one of the biggest positives is the amount of protection he gets without the clunkiness you usually get with walking boots.
I also clocked straight away that they might be a bit difficult for Raife to put on. They’re adjustable in two places - firstly the top strap and then an elasticated strap on the upper part of the foot, all designed to be more adjustable than trainers or walking boots and offer more comfort. Raife is already starting to get the hang of it, even if he needs some help. And older children shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Out in the wild
We tested the Newport H2 Sandals at one of our favourite adventure spots near our home in South Wales. It's a 6KM loop starting from a mountain-side car park and takes us over rocky paths, through a few small streams, over big logs and up steep, grassy hills and embankments (and a few goes on the tree swings!).
The trail actually starts with quite a rocky patch, so the first few groans of discomfort usually take place here. But there was nothing. I regularly checked in with Raife to see if the rocks had hurt his feet at all, and he reported a very pleased ‘no’ each time. What is really reassuring is that the soles actually extend over the top of the toes, offering protection that you normally never get with sandals.
Keeping a close eye on Raife’s feet as he navigated the different terrains and climbed over larger rocks and logs, it was really noticeable how much support there is. The soles are really robust with plenty of grip and the in-soles have a built-in foot arch support.
Unless Raife is wearing boots or wellies, we usually have to lift him over the streams. Despite his love of jumping in puddles, he also hates the feeling of wet socks. Not wearing socks with his sandals, it was really lovely to see how excited he was to be able to wade through the stream and take steps into the river.
In fact, it still seems bizarre that we’re able to go on our usual adventures with Raife wearing sandals.
It had barely rained in the run-up to our adventure so there really wasn’t much mud about. It can get quite boggy in places after some rain, so it’s really reassuring to know that the sandals are totally machine washable, even if we didn’t need to on this occasion.
How often have we taken off our sandals or our children’s sandals to find tight grip marks all over our feet? There was none of that at the end of our adventure. The Newport H2s have a polyester webbing and soft liner on the upper part of the sandals, meaning they can stay secure without the painful aftermath.
Pros and cons
I had to think really hard to come up with cons. We’ve all really fallen in love with these sandals. It’s so nice knowing that we can go on our adventures and Raife’s feet will be protected, cool and comfortable without having to wear clunky, heavy walking boots.
I totally understand that £44.95 may be a little pricey for some families, especially when younger feet grow relatively quickly. But if you spend a lot of time outdoors with your children, they really are incredible value for money.
We haven’t had them too long, and I have already recommended them to my similarly adventure-loving brother who has an eight-year old daughter.