I was debating between the Newport H2 and the new Seacamp for my almost-three-year-old. He's worn Newports in previous years and we've been pretty happy with them. I went to a local store this morning and tried them both on my toddler in sizes 9, 10, and 11 and found some definite differences:
~The Newport is quite a bit more bulky than the Seacamp. The Newport has a thicker rubber sole that is more rigid than the Seacamp sole (the Seacamp sole is very flexible-- similar to our favorite Pedipeds).
~The rubber toeguard on the Newport is bigger and covers more of the toe. This made a difference in the appropriate size for my toddler. In the Newports I would have gotten a size 10 (we like a little growing room and seemed to need extra room to maneuver his foot in there) but definitely needed a size 9 in the Seacamp (the 10s were huge). More of the toes are visible through the webbing of the Seacamp compared with the Newport and this made a difference in the fit.
~The spaces between the webbing are quite a bit larger in the Seacamp than in the Newport. I like this because it allows more airflow and I'm hoping it will cut down on the odor that we've experienced with Newports in the past. On the flip side, it does seem like the Newports would do a better job keeping out little rocks and mulch. Both are washable, comfortable, and sturdy enough to last all season long... which is why we buy Keens in the first place.
After having my little guy run and jump around the shoe department in both pairs, the Seacamps were the definite winner for us. My little guy had a more natural gate and seemed less encumbered. The store had a very limited color selection, though, so I came right home and ordered them. Happy shoe hunting!
Note on infant size Keens: I would have loved to also buy a pair of Seacamps for my one-year-old, but they aren't available in infant sizes. It turns out, though, that the infant version of the Newport H2 has a lighter sole and is more flexible than the toddler and youth versions... it is more like the Seacamp than the traditional Newports and worked well for my littlest guy.
UPDATE: My now 3-year-old has worn his Seacamps every single day now for over three months. (We spend a little more on summer shoes but only buy one pair.) They've been in and out of the pool, in muddy creeks, at the playground, pounding the pavement... and we both absolutely love them. No blisters, no odor, and they're holding up great! Hey can put them on himself and they stay on his feet. This was a significant purchase for us and one I'd definitely make again!