By Angela Dollar
Back in the 1900’s (okay, the 1990’s to be a bit more specific) it was all about the Tevas. If you are of a certain age, you’ll remember when Tevas first hit the market and people went nutso for these, the Grandaddy of All Sports Sandals. Never before had a shoe manufacturer created a sandal specifically for us outdoorsy types. Finally, you could ditch those heavy hiking boots for summer day hikes. And smart, colorful webbing designs meant a lot of us wore them off the trail and out about town, too.
I spent my prime Teva-wearing years living primarily in Hawaii, and groundbreaking though they were, I found my Tevas had a few drawbacks. Hiking there often includes fording small streams, and the grid of my footbed would fill with water and cause my foot to slip around. The rubber soles, too, would lose their grip once I wore them down a bit. And it seemed that no matter how often I scrubbed them with soap and water, that funky Teva foot smell was always hanging it’s stinky hippie backpacker haze around my heels.
And then came Chacos.
Chaco sandals marked a transition into the new millennium of active footwear. It’s as if the designers specifically noted what my gripes were with my long-beloved Tevas and set out to fix them. Perhaps most innovative in their design is their pull-through strap system. This one continuous piece of webbing allows the wearer to cinch the strap to tight to the contours of their foot, creating essentially a custom fit. You can opt for a toe loop around the big toe or none – I’ve found that the shape of my feet doesn’t work well with the toe loop, but they sure look cool on people who can rock the loop. They also offer styles with a single strap or two smaller double straps.
I also love the footbed on Chacos – when paired with the nice snug fit of the cinched webbing, my foot does not slide around, even when wet. As for the treads, Chaco offers two different Vibram options – Z1 and Z2. Z1’s are smoother and flatter, while Z2’s are a deeper lug tread. I’ve had pairs of sandals with each kind of tread and my preference is the Z1 – the grip is still amazing, but you get a lighter and slightly more flexible shoe. But I do know several people who swear by the meatier Z2 lug soles.
Especially exciting is the fact that they breed far less stinky foot funk! I’m not saying they are scentless, but I’ve found that the stinky build-up takes far longer with Chacos, making it easier to head off.
Chacos are a great sandal for adventure travel, and they can be found on the feet of many a Crooked Trails traveler. Their BioCentric footbeds, approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, offer great support for urban exploration as well as on the trail. Overall, I find the styling and webbing colors/patterns to be prettier and classier than their predecessors. This means after a day exploring the outlying trails of the Sacred Valley, I can return to my hotel and pair them with a nice dress for dinner and a night out exploring Cuzco.
Chacos at Taj Mahal photo by Crooked Trails traveler Elise Child
Share this Post