Travel Sandal Showdown: The Keen Whisper vs the Ahnu Tilden IV

Travel Sandal Comparison: Ahnu Tilden IV vs Keen Whisper

This travel sandal comparison post was submitted by Cynthia Hoeppner.

When I was in the market for new adventure sandals, I fell in love with the Keen Whisper – those colors! – and promptly bought two pairs. After taking some test walks, I decided they would be the right shoes for an upcoming trip to Disneyland in Anaheim (lots of walking!). I have trouble with my feet, and I knew I would need at least two good, supportive pairs of shoes.

Then, just a few days before the trip, I got a pair of Ahnu Tilden IV sandals. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, and I knew you should never go on vacation with untested shoes, but they were so comfortable right out of the box, I put them in my suitcase as well, leaving one pair of Keens behind.

What I loved:

Both the Keens and the Ahnus provided great support for long days of walking on concrete. They’re both adjustable – good for swollen feet on a long day. Both are also well-ventilated, so even in June my feet didn’t get overheated.

Travel sandal comparison:  The Ahnu Tilden IV vs Keen Whisper
The Ahnu Tilden IV vs Keen Whisper

What I’d change:

The Keen Whisper is designed so the material curves and, by necessity, folds a little in the front where the holes are. Unfortunately, this little fold began to cause friction on my toes after just a day or two. Keens also have a label glued inside near the ankle and that began to rub as well. I resorted to wearing anklets, despite my 11-year-old niece’s assurance that socks with sandals are Not Cool, but it wasn’t enough.

The Ahnus, on the other hand, are smooth inside and didn’t rub at all. The Ahnus also have an “escape hatch” in the back: a velcro strap that opens the back of the heel entirely, making it easier to get the shoe on and off.

My conclusion:

The Ahnus were a clear winner for me; they became my primary shoes for the majority of the trip. I still love my Keens, but will save them for trips around town or for cooler-weather trips when I can wear anklets with them.

>> Check out the Ahnu Tilden IV or the Keen Whisper on Amazon. You might also be interested in our other travel shoes posts.

About the Author: Cynthia Hoeppner is a veteran of a lifetime of family road trips, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, and a fan of any activity that involves packing a suitcase.

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Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

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Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

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Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

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Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


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Reader Interactions


  1. Maggie says

    Glad you confirmed what I feel: these Whispers are rubbing my big toes.

    I’ve tried on countless Keen’s and they all fit differently…same size. The size seems to vary from one year’s model to the next.

    I actually had less rubbing with a pair that felt too small…so small, in fact, that it felt it was continually pushing my foot out the back of them. I am usually not hard to fit for shoes, but not all that impressed. Also, NO arch support, and it seems that could have been improved in a hiking shoe. My husband is afraid his little toe would “fall out” of his and got dri weave socks to wear. I put on socks with mine and, while they are more comfortable, this does not feel like a sandal I can get wet and keep hiking in with socks on. Sigh. May have to look at two day delivery on the “other brand”, though I think the Whispers look more feminine with, say a bathing suit sarong or skirt shopping around town. So hard to find an “all in one” shoe for flights!

  2. K Baker says

    both companies were started by the same group. Keen was sold, and Ahnu begun. I hope they don’t change TIlden … I wish we could see if the sole / fit inside the Tilden matches any other style.

  3. K Baker says

    After I found Tilden about five years ago I wear nothing else! Even in winter. I have a couple of pairs in case one gets wet. No more heel spurs, no more … Once the nubs extension on the sole wear off, I use the for gardening … those little extensions really make a difference!

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