What the manufacturers say:
Created from two cords and sole, UNEEK offers an entirely new approach to footwear construction. Every aspect of the design complements the natural shape of your foot... and your friend's foot... and their friend's foot. Why? Because this simple elegance promises a one-of-a-kind fit. UNEEK is, well, unique.
- Lightweight PU midsole
- Metatomical footbed
- Microfiber footbed cover
- Microfiber heel back
- Non-marking rubber outsole
- Polyester braided cord with Polyamide core for increased strength
- Razor siping for improved ground traction
- Secure fit lace capture system
Weight: 10.9 oz/311 g
Activities: Beach, City Streets
Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping
Upper: Polyester braided cord
Fit Tip: Most customers find this style is true to size
Never has a more appropriately named product landed on my desk for review than the Keen Uneek and never has any footwear caused so much physical pain yet still being something I'd recommend to anyone. There's no getting away from the fact that the Uneek is a Marmite product, some will love it to excess and some will hate it with a passion - me, well after a week of agony followed by a couple of snips with a pair of scissors and I'm a Marmite person.
All the usual review points go out of the window with the Keen Uneek; Is it waterproof?, well obviously not with most of the upper being holes. Is it breathable?.....Hell yeah it's breathable - reference those holes mentioned above. What's the heel cup like and the ankle support?.....Hmmmm, it's a strap. It's Uneek by name and unique by nature.
Technically the Uneek is a sandal but the use of two intertwined cords rather than leather or fabric straps is far more than an aesthetic design change, it changes the very feel of the shoe, giving it a moccasin style comfort and unparallelled flexibility. As your feet flexes and spreads the cords move with them to the point that the upper feels like simply a means of keeping the sole attached to the sole of your feet. The combination of a lightweight midsole and metatomical footbed do a good job of supporting the arch of the foot while allowing the foot to assume a very natural position.
The volume of the Uneek is noticeably smaller than the Keen Durand boot we've previously looked at and this is where we had a problem. Wearing the Uneek day in, day out, for a week irrespective of the terrain (from house to hilside) there was a definite pinch point just above midway up the upper. Because of the way the sandal allows your foot to move and spread it was difficult to track the cause down and only after tightening and loosening each pair of cord loops did the reason emerge.
A rub point emerged in exactly the same place on both feet.
If years of trying different approach shoes, boots and sandals teaches you one thing it's that not only is every boot different but so are your feet. Your left foot will be slightly different in length, shape, and volume to your right foot and as a result you'll often find one boot in a pair fits perfectly while the other hurts. So a matching sore on each foot on the same place pointed firmly in the direction of the design and on examination the rub points perfectly matched up to the position where the two cords go through a split in the tongue and cross over. It's the only slit in the tongue and the only point where the cords cross in such a manner while in direct contact with the upper part of the foot.
It's probably not what Keen would wish, as there's no doubt some major reason for having this crossover point where it is in the way it pulls the upper into the foot, but a quick snip to allow the cords to go above rather than below the tongue made all the difference. The result of releasing the cords is an increase of volume at just the right point. With the pressure at that one point released you can still tighten the lace cords where needed and the sandal doesn't feel loose.
Unlike traditional sandals you can get away with wearing socks inside the Uneek, and the chances are nobody will even notice; with a pair of black socks they look more like approach shoes than sandals. The soles provided decent traction on a range of surfaces and they proved a revelation on scree slopes with the inevitable small stones that find a way into your boots just as easily finding a way out.
While the Uneeek was agony for the first full week due to the issue above it was somehow, at the same time, also supremely comfortable in other areas. There was no "heel flop" with the ankle strap holding the rear of the sandle in place at all times and the footbed with the room for your foot to spread as it compresses on impact was a delight. A slightly larger volume in the upper would be an improvement on a personal level but if the Uneek fits your foot it's hard to see how it could be improved. We wouldn't recommend sniping the tongue how we did to increase the volume - try a larger size first, but for me it made the difference between "never again" and "You won't get these off me until they fall off".