The latest version of Columbia's popular Kea flipflop, the Columbia Kea II sandal is a cut above a casual flip flop. With grippy rubber soles, a cushioned insole and wide straps designed to keep your foot snug in place, it's designed to be one of the best flip flops for walking. We hit the trail to see how they performed.
Of course, flip flops are very limited in the amount of protection and support they can provide. For more strenuous outdoor activities, you may want to upgrade to one of the best walking sandals, or even a pair of the best women's walking shoes. Read on for our Columbia Kea II flip flop review.
Columbia Kea II flip flop review: design
When is a flip flop not a flip flop? When it doubles up as a walking sandal, offering grip, support and cushiony comfort. Meet Columbia's popular walking flipflop for women – the Kea II has been designed to work on trails as well as around the pool, and sports a sturdy sole and comfortable wide straps. Although the Keas are well-cushioned, they're still breathable enough for wearing in baking hot weather. The lining is hydrophobic, wicks away sweat and dries fast, and you can also pop these sandals in the washing machine to get rid of any dirt or odour.
The neutral design of the Kea IIs stands out in the walking flip flop market. These may be sandals aimed at adventurers but they look rather smart, especially in the plain black colourway (a neutral brown is also available), and can easily be worn from city to country, making them ideal if you're packing light.
Columbia Kea II flip flop review: comfort
The Kea II's cushiony comfort makes it stand out from the crowd. More basic flipflops offer no real support and can be downright painful to wear at first – not so the Kea II, which is comfortable straight out of a box, with no breaking in or pain around the toes when you wear them for the first few times. A thick rubber sole and cushioned insole are designed with walking in mind, and there's also some arch support, which is lacking in casual flipflops.
We like the wide, slightly stretchy strap, which hugs your foot, and the snug toe post – between them they hold the foot in place all day. The Keas have grippy enough soles to tackle trails (so grippy and cushioned, in fact, that we'd compare them to the soles of walking shoes), and we'd recommend these sandals for short country walks or for taking on holiday for city sightseeing and days out. While some reviewers report walking up to eight miles in the Keas in comfort, we'd definitely switch to proper walking sandals with ankle and heel support for long distances, as a flip flop can never give you the same kind of all-over support as a sandal.
The only question mark we had when reviewing the Kea IIs was sizing. These flipflops definitely fit on the small size, and you may find that your heels hang over the back if you don't go for a full size larger than usual – our tester tried out the size 6 and found them far too small. Those wide straps on the Kea also fit on the narrow side – this is handy in some ways, as the flipflop stays firmly on your foot with no sliding about, but it won't suit anyone with wide feet.
Columbia Kea II flip flop review: verdict
Columbia describes the Kea II as a 'high-function flip' – not a bad description of this durable, walking-friendly flipflop, which offers comfort straight out of the box. It isn't perfect – the sizing needs work, and the close-fitting straps won't suit all feet – but the Kea II comes pretty close, with well-designed straps and a toe post that keep the flipflop firmly on your foot all day, plus a sole so grippy it rivals the performance of walking shoes.