Chacos: A Love Story for Your Feet

My first encounter with Chacos was in the desert along the Pacific Crest trail. As I sat huddled under my tarp for some shade during the heat of the day, I saw a pair of feet walk by. The feet were those of a guy named Sad Fish, who I would later meet, hike with, and walk across the border into his friendly arms.  I remember thinking at the time “who the hell would thru hike in sandals?” I would meet few others that also opted for Chacos but I never heard a bad word about them. Those who had tried them, had never gone back, swearing by their sandals.

It wouldn’t be till I was halfway done with the Appalachian trail when I wised up and got a pair for myself. I loved them. I could walk through rivers without worrying about my shoes and if they ever got muddy, I could stand in a creek for a second. The straps dried overnight which meant never putting on wet or frozen shoes in the morning.

The benefits were endless. Not to mention the price! I could find a good pair of Chacos in my area for about $85, and sometimes on sale for $50. When comparing them to the $100-$120 trail runners that others were buying, I was incredibly pleased. They also lasted a lot longer than the average trail runner. A pair of Chacos can last an entire thru hike if the webbing stays intact. The tread lasts an amazingly long time. Thinking I could save around $400 a thru hike, I could get used to anything. Luckily, there wasn’t much of a difference from the trail runners I had been using. It seemed as though all that was missing was the top of the shoe which was great for those hot days when your feet wanted to breathe.

I finished the Appalachian trail with my faithful Chacos and decided to take them on my next thru hike of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand. They’ve lasted 2000 kilometers (roughly 1200 miles) and are still going strong. I plan to finish the next 1000 kilometers with them and hope they last for a bit of the Continental Divide trail later this year.

So, when you’re looking for the perfect shoe, check out the Chacos! You won’t regret it!

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Comments 7

  • Greg Ward : Feb 25th

    Initially, I would have considered you nuts, wacko, crazy!
    I’ve climbed a few 14ers in Colorado and one day, a mile short of colorados highest peak, a very pregnant woman flew past me, in chacos! In complete disbelief I had to stop her on the way down. I was battling altitude sickness so I decided to take a break. Here she came on her way back from the summit. Hey you! I managed to eek out. Why the sandals? She explained that it’s all she ever hikes in and states the reasons you shared above. I’m old school, full boot kinda hiker but I’m seriously considering changing my ways!

  • Arlene Gregoire : Feb 25th

    Eveready here. Don’t you bash your toes against roots and rocks? My toes are sooo sensitive! The AT hike convinced me to switch from boots to shoes, but not sure about sandals.

  • Emily C. Whiteley : Feb 28th

    My standbys are Keen’s because I have my toes protected. I actually have tons of miles in the Walmart fake Keens. Love hiking in sandals for the same reasons you mention. NC Slow1

  • Jen Beck Seymour : Feb 28th

    Loved this article, as me and my husband have been considering sandals for our camp shoes and also in river crossings AND if our feet get sore or blistered in our trail runners. Can you tell me which model of the chacos you recommend for a thru? Thanks!!

  • Sandi B : Feb 28th

    I’ve just retired my Chaco him I g boots (sadly, they don’t make them anymore!). They have greater than 2000 Mike’s on them, having hiked the Camino in Spain, many section hikes on the AT and every continent except Antartica. I’ve just returned from Lesvos, Greece where I did 5 weeks of refugee relief work. Wore those boots out on the beaches helping refugees out of boats.
    They deserve their retirement 🙂

  • Bethany Graham : Apr 28th

    I absolutely love my chacos. And just for future reference, when yours finally do give in, Chaco has a lifetime warranty and will mend you shoes by fixing the soles, buckles, and replacing straps. You can NEVER go wrong with chacos, I even wear mine to church, work, and school.


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