Before I moved to Utah, I was a Teva girl. Wore ’em all the time, had several pairs. But shortly after I discovered the great, empty (well, in the southern portion) state of Utah, I also discovered Chacos. Everyone was wearing them. My coworkers. Native Utahn tourists. The rugged outdoorsy guys I liked. The kickass outdoorsy women I emulated. Hell, I think there were some dogs running around in little Chaco footies. (Kidding.)
So I finally went out and bought my first pair of Chacos back in 2002, and the future of my footwear changed forever.
I freaking live in my Chacos during the warm season. Live in them. Other than riding boots or hiking boots, I pretty much wear only Chacos on my feet from April-October, give or take a few weeks depending on the weather. I hike in them, I go to dinner in them, I work in them, I wear them to the store, the post office, the hair dresser. I’ve been known to drive tractors while wearing them:
On trails, on the sidewalk, in my backyard when I’m gardening.
I wore them in Hawaii last year. Shrug: I just love my Chacos.
Current count of Chaco pairs owned: 8.
Current count of Tevas owned: 2. (And although I still really like them, I just rarely wear them.)
The first fascination belongs to some sort of coolness factor. Have you ever seen those Chaco ad posters, with the feet that have Chaco tan lines? Something about that screams friends, fun, outdoors, rugged, laid-back, in the sunshine. And most of my friends here were living that actual life. As a result, I wanted it too. (Take a bow, Chaco marketing department. Your ads live in real life, and they apparently work.)
Secondly, Chacos are functional. Sure, you can wear them in the water, they’re sturdy as all get out, and they last a long time depending on how hard you use ’em. But I mean they’re also just functional for everyday use, as I noted above. I approve of that. Heck, I have many friends who’ve gotten married in their Chacos. (Too bad Chaco doesn’t make white pairs…yet. However, you can buy white webbing and get it attached to your footbed. Cool!)
Another reason why is that they’re easy. It’s simple to slip them on, kick them off, throw them in the back of your truck. You can attach them to the outside of your pack to use as camp shoes or river crossers. Washing them is no problem. It’s okay if they get dirty (and really, they’re meant to), so you don’t have to watch every foot placement for fear of scuffing them. (Oh, the horror.)
Final reason why: the famous Chaco foot tan. Dude. It’s ridiculously fun, silly, cool, and a clear demonstration of the kind of life one leads. For example: whenever I visit my family in southern California, I notice how few Chacos and Chaco tans I see. ‘Nuff said.
Okay, Chacos aren’t really meant to be hiked in. They’re supposed to be river sandals. But most of the people I know hike in them, me included. Have Chacos, will trail travel.
I know people who’ve backpacked in them for miles, pack upon back. (No, I’m not recommending that, as you can seriously mess up your feet if you twist your unsupported ankles.) I often hike in my Chacos all day.
Do I sometimes need to put on sneakers instead, do I get hot spots, have I worn my skin raw, especially if multiple water crossings happen? Yes.
Have I been stabbed so many times by those damned leaping cacti (I swear to all that’s holy, the cactus around here lies in wait for the unwary Chaco-clad foot and then strikes with deliberate intention)? Oh, yes.
Do stones and pebbles launch themselves with stinging force at my bare toes when I unwittingly kick them at my own feet? Uh, yes.
But even with all that, I still hike in my Chacos.
Tell me about your Chaco experience. Wear them? Love them? Hate them? Prefer a different outdoor sandal brand? Have tips about using them? Leave a comment and let me know.