As I mentioned in Flip-Flops, Part 1 (below), the APMA* has granted the Seal of Acceptance to 6 flip-flop brands (Chaco, Dansko, FitFlop, Orthaheel, Reebok, SOLE, Spenco, Wolky).
And that's when you say, What? Only six brands?
Seems crazy, right? There are MANY glaring omissions on that very small list. After a quick search, I found a few brands that seemed to meet APMA's criteria (anatomical footbeds and arch support): Birkenstock, El Naturalista, Merrell, Rogue (a new discovery for me!), and some Teva styles (not all).
But the one that comes to mind first and foremost, let me say it in caps — KEEN. Yes, Keen, people (although again, not all styles)! I have two pairs. Let me tell you about them!
*American Podiatric Medical Association
KEEN FIRST PAIR (LOVE): I searched for a long time for flip-flops with a thong that didn’t hurt the area between my big toe and my second toe. Finally, I found the Keen Waimea H2. Although the toe thong is a little thick, the diagonal strap that extends into a toe cover was just enough extra reinforcement to take some stress off it. And I have to say the big toe cover (er, the "patented toe protection") gives you a little extra confidence against objects dropping on your toe. I love the light, quick-drying, polyester webbing straps.
The new Waimea H2 styles (below, images from Piperlime) have a lighter sole, which could be nice, but I prefer mine (darker). Color below, first image, is Violet Quartz/Brindle. Color below, second image, is Rice Bag.
KEEN MARKETING SHORTCOMINGS (see? I'm being impartial here!): "Rice Bag"? Who on earth named a color "Rice Bag"? I'm sorry, but it sounds too much like "Douche Bag." There is a cool concept behind the name, also mentioned in connection with the Harvest MJ style, shown directly above, from Zappos, which comes in "Woven Rice Bag." Much better name. Amazing the difference one adjective makes. Made from reclaimed RICE BAGS.
Keen did not include this name explanation in the Waimea H2 description. I had to go offsite to Amazon, thank you. Until this second, I was all gung-ho about Keen's site, especially the Hybrid.ology page (under “Who we are” and "Hybrid Innovation"), which is devoted to their various shoe technologies and includes a demo of the awesome anatomically correct footbed, what they call a “metatomical footbed.”
I have to add that Keen's site seemed really slow, and I doubt it was on my end because it was repeatedly slower than many of the other sites I visited over the course of writing this post.
KEEN WEBSITE COOL FEATURE: Check out the "SEE WITH JEANS" button on the bottom right of the viewing window for any shoe style. Choose either a "dark" or "medium" wash jean, and boom, down lowers a jean leg over your chosen shoe style. Fun!
KEEN SECOND PAIR (REALLY LOVE!): Back to my story. At the end of a summer several years ago, I spotted a sale at the City Sports near BU (1035 Comm Ave) and bought my second pair of Keen’s at the irresistible price of $15 (75% off the original $60 price). The Keen St. Bart’s slide, shown above, was ten times more comfortable, without any toe thong to deal with. They essentially replaced my Waimea H2's, which are now for backup only.
The St. Bart's go on my feet first thing in the morning and first thing when I get home from work. And all weekend. Not too wide for my narrow feet. Not for long walks, as they could slip off, but OK for a two-block trek to the corner store. My summers would be nowhere without them.
The insole of both styles is covered in tiny grooves that give the bottom of your foot a non-stop massage. Hello! Heaven! (The only time this insole was a problem was when I had a pool-burn on my big toe, where a layer or two of skin got scraped off. If I’d had a band-aid to put on my toe at the time, the Keen's insole would have been fine.)
SURPRISE KEEN DISCOVERY: Did you know Keen made socks? I didn't. With all sorts of technical features, like "left and right specific fit" with cute little "L" and "R"s on them to tell which is which. In 3 different weights. And dig it: arch support! (What? How can you put arch support into a sock? I do not know. It is a mystery.)
TEMPTING KEEN STYLES: I'm going to have to keep away from City Sports end-of-summer sales, so I don't buy any of the similar but slightly different styles, like these cool leather Waimea's (below) in "vaporous grey/amaranth" (long enough color name, ya think?) on sale for $56 (from $70) at Zappos. Although leather straps don't appeal to me, despite the APMA's recommendation of leather flip-flops, to reduce blister potential.
leather (below, $70 at Zappos), with perky red accents (peppercorn/hollyberry), I might not be able to resist.
Or I could progress to the Bali (below, $59 at Zappos) in "pumice stone/baroque rose" (yes, that's a color) for a slide that's just slightly different than my St Bart's.
Or the Balboa, below, $80 at Zappos. Sorta like my St Bart's, but with an ankle strap.
Or the cute Madrid Ballerina, below, in Topaz (I love orange hues). On sale for $72 at Zappos, down from $80 (if ony I could ignore that drab flowery strip).
Or the Madrid Mary Jane, below, also in the cheery shade of Topaz. (Except now there's two flowery strips to ignore. Oh, the sacrifices we make!) On sale at Zappos for $72, down from $80.
Or, if I am ready for something a bit wacky, there's the Keen Yogui slip-on, "massage for your feet after you have done them wrong." Weighs only 7 ounces! (Newer styles 8.2 ounces.) The first one is in Camo Blue ($34.95, Sierra Trading Post). The second one is Yuki/Black ($34.95, Sierra Trading Post). These are much more interesting than Crocs!