- Water sandal with stretchy lining and signature closed rubber toe
- Ghillie lacing with quick-adjust bungee cord
- AEGIS microbe shield hydrophobic mesh lining
- Anti-odor anatomic footbed
- Dual pull-on loops
- Non-marking outsole with razor siping
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I wanted a new pair of sandals to be all purpose sandals for travelling, and so I did want some for use in the water, but my main purpose is going to be for hiking or walking. After trying these, I find the Whisper is much better suited for my needs. The Whisper can be worn in the water as well but aren't specifically geared towards water as the main purpose. Here are the differences:
The sole of the Clearwater is thinner and flatter (less support) than the Whisper. It also fits more snugly. This all makes sense as a water shoe, however I prefer the chunkier, grippier, more cushiony sole of the Whisper for hiking and walking all day.
This review is based off finding a fit and buying two pairs of CNX Clearwater in two different sizes for two individuals:
I am a male with a narrow fitting heel and an average or narrower forefoot (toes). My bone structure is slight and I am very thin and I have no “meat” on my feet or ankles (or anywhere for that matter). I have a difficult time finding clothes that fit my frame and finding shoes that are long enough for my foot without being loose and sloppy in the width especially the heel.
I owned a pair of Keen Men’s Newport (original from the first model year not H2) size 10.5 and found them to be rugged for working outdoor and great for slip on ease and airport travel. When the Keen Company was just getting off the ground they focused on ruggedness and roominess. The Newports were just too heavy, roomy in the width and clunky for my slight foot and I could not stand to wear them for any great length of time. Also I had to cinch the heck out of the bungee fastener to get the shoe to stay on and not slip off my heel when I walked. The original Newport ran small in length and I had to go up one size or half size to get the proper length.
Then years later Keen introduced the CNX line, a lightweight and fitted (narrower) series of shoe. I originally got the Men’s 10 CNX Clearwater and found them to have too much material over the top of my foot. This was because the shoes was just too roomy for my skinny foot. I had to cinch the heck out of the bungee fastener to make the shoes stay on and not slip off my heel when I walked. This had the effect of folding over excess fabric in the mono-sock collar design of the shoe and would dig into the top of my foot uncomfortably. I tried the Men’s CNX Clearwater size 9.5 and found they were just not long enough for my foot and my toe just slightly hit the toe cap of the shoe in an uncomfortable way. The 9.5 however was a much better fit in the ankle and did not have as much excess material around the mono-sock collar when the bungee was cinched. I found the Clearwater to be about true to size where the Newport ran small.
In recent years I have found that women’s shoes are often narrower than men’s. They usually are more colorful too and that isn’t bad for someone like myself that likes colors other than black, red, brown and white. I tried the Women’s Clearwater size 11 and found the fit was spot on. I still have to cinch the heck out of the bungee but the fold over of the mono-sock collar is minimal and is not enough to dig into my foot. The width of the Women’s size 11 is still roomy but not excessively so. So far I have had great luck wearing this shoe all day with no issues.
My wife was a huge Keen Whisper fan. She had previously tried the Keen Newport H2 and Venice and found them to be too roomy and slipped off the back of her heel. Her Keen Whisper size is 8. She does not like to or have time to shop and found the Whisper fit to be good enough and stuck with that. With my revelation that the Keen CNX Clearwater fit almost true to size I ordered her a 7.5, her usual dress flat size. It was in her favorite color and I knew she would give it a try because of that. It fits her perfectly, and she finds it very lightweight and comfortable and better fitting around the foot compared to the Keen Whisper. Her only point to note is that she likes the Whisper bungee cinch system better than the mono-sock collar of the Clearwater. She finds that to cinch the Clearwater tight enough to where there is no heel slip the material folds over and if not positioned just right, can dig into the top of her foot.
In short this Keen Women’s CNX Clearwater fits us both better than any Keen shoe we have yet tried. Keen has made an attempt to welcome those with narrow or medium width feet into the Keen wearing flock. We would both say that the width fit for us is the as our regular athletic shoes fit. For length she fits into her regular dress shoe size with in this shoe. Of the Women’s shoes I do own this fits like some 11’s do and like some 12’s do (I do not own any 11.5).
To compare the fit more universally, for me the Clearwater 11 fits like Men’s 9-9.5, Women’s 11-11.5 Converse Chuck Taylor and for her the Clearwater 7.5 fits like Men’s size 5 Women’s 7 Converse Chuck Taylor.
Everyone thinks of arch support differently so I really don’t like the question. I have noticed most people confuse arch support with stability and motion control. Look up “pronation shoes” on google for more information. Most people that want arch support really mean they want “motion control” or “stability” shoes. These shoes force the feet to roll outward when running, walking and standing. The majority of people have feet the roll inward naturally and feel only the insides of their feet are bearing the weight and pressure. This has nothing to do with arch support.
I have been told by two doctors I have a high arch on my foot. I am a light runner and use minimalist or barefoot shoes for running. I suppose I have somewhat strong feet. I was told arch support comes from within the foot and is provided by muscles and tendons of the foot. I was told flat feet can be hereditary or come as a result of wearing stiff inflexible shoes over a period of time that cause atrophy of the muscles. I was told no amount of upward arch curve in a shoe will correct flat feet. Exercise and flexible shoes, barefoot shoes or actually being barefoot while doing exercise to strengthen foot muscles may help return an arch to the natural shape or keep an arch strong. The arch curve of this Clearwater shoe does not even come close to contacting the bottom of my foot in the arch area. In fact only once every few years will I ever find a shoe that the built in arch “support” bump actually contacts the arch of my foot. When I do find that, it creates a great amount of artificial pressure on my tendon and is painful and torturous to walk or stand in. Again everyone is different.
I've had them for a few months now, worn them through all types of terrain, wet, dry and Rocky. They've held up wonderfully. I only have one issue with them and it's their supposed "anti-odor" footbed. For a sandal, they keep a horrible smell. Grrr I'm going to try and get rid of the smell, but it would be nice if they didn't smell at all 😪