In Which I Rant. About Chacos and Other Sandals.

Guys, I am so sick of my Chacos. They’re too heavy, they’re not *that* comfortable, I don’t need the arch support (in fact I’m pretty skeptical of the benefits of arch support), and they’re a pain to adjust when your feet swell, and sometimes they chafe and give me blisters. I’m looking for an alternative but haven’t found anything even halfway decent. What I’ve tried:

  • Xero Sandals (Z-treks and Amuri Clouds). While I love the idea of a minimalist sandal (the light weight! The flexibility!) what drives me crazy is the way the toe portion of the footbed flips under on itself and catches on everything. Also, there’s so little foot protection, I find myself wondering why I don’t just walk around actually barefoot. Also, the plastic adjustment toggles feel bulky and floppy (on the Clouds — I returned the Z-treks because the toe strap hit at a really uncomfortable spot), and the toe post and the round shoelace-style straps just are. not. comfortable. (Note: I hate flip flops. Always have. Not cool with rigid things between my toes — I’ve done alright with Chaco Z/2 styles, because I like how the toe loop prevents footbed flop, and doesn’t really feel like a toe post, since it just wraps around your toe.)
  • Natives and Crocs. I’ve always hated Crocs. The material is gross. They don’t actually fit. Your feet just slide around in them. I thought I’d try Natives, because they fit more like “real” shoes and look sort of cute and come in SO MANY COLORS, but the snugness, compared to Crocs, just compounds how awful the EVA foam feels against your feet, and makes it impossible to remove all the debris that sneaks in. So not good. I should’ve known better.
  • Keens. They don’t fit my feet. Every pair of Keens I’ve ever tried on has been heinously uncomfortable. Why? I dunno. The last just doesn’t work for my feet. It’s baffling, but there it is. No Keens. Ever. (One thought: I could maybe try a men’s Keen instead of a women’s?)
  • Tevas. Before I wore Chacos, I wore Tevas. But I’m absolutely not ever going back to velcro sandals. They come undone in the water and wear out after a year or two, whereas Chacos last for decades. Literally decades. What kind of useless sandal-fastening material comes undone in the water?
  • Astral Mary Jays. These looked so cute I had to try them on in the store. But they’re too narrow/low-volume for me, and the seams inside seemed (hah) like they would be really uncomfortable.

My thought is to try something more-minimalist-than-Chacos but more-rigid-than-Xeros: Luna Sandals, Bedrock Sandals? Anyone have a minimalist/barefoot style sandal that they really love? I would try Unshoes, because they look simple and comfy, but I am unconvinced they will be any better than the Xeros.

Or do I just suck it up and buy some ugly $3 water shoes to wear in the water (hello, zebra mussels, fish hooks and broken bottles), hike exclusively in my trail runners because they’re better than anything in the whole wide world, and find some actually-classy, not-even-remotely-gear sandals to wear around town? My only hesitation, apart from the inherent ugliness of $3 water shoes, is what to wear on canoe trips. Do I know any paddlers who prefer their trail runners, or plain old sneakers, over dedicated river shoes/sandals? I know I’d rather portage in my Altras than my Chacos, and they dry somewhat quickly…

Please, Internet, this is a cry for help. What do you wear in the water? What do you wear when it’s too hot for socks? Inquiring minds want to know. Ending my long-term relationship with Chacos is going to be hard, but I’m SO ready to move on. 

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