Summer Synthetic Exceptions: Chacos

At Myakka State Park, Florida, 2004
We’re dedicated to natural fibers, but every now and again we’ll allow a synthetic exception. The Patagonia Retro-X vest is one of my favorites, ideal for backpacking and casual cycling. However, the longest-lived synthetic exception in my wardrobe is the Chaco Z-1.
Somewhere on the Oregon coast, 2002
I know the sandal-haters will have a fit, but for summer hiking, fishing, scrambling, gardening, biking, picnicking, etc, the Chaco cannot be beat. I love my old Quoddy moccasins, but they can’t go from soaked to dry in 10 minutes…

Working on the Jeffers Brook privy, 2005


I bought my first pair of Chacos when I was 13, way back when they were still made in the USA. They were re-soled twice and were my only footwear for a month in Morocco, performing admirably hiking in the Rif and cruising through the Casbah. After 12 years of loyal service, they vanished off of a commune’s front porch. I’ve since replaced them with a new pair (now made in China).
Hiking above Chefchaouen, Morocco, 2009
Most Chaco offerings are horrendously ugly, so I recommend sticking to the Z/1 in black.

5 thoughts on “Summer Synthetic Exceptions: Chacos”

  1. They were essential in the AZ desert, so I’ve been a long-time wearer. I stole my first pair from my boyfriend in college. He had dumpster-dived for them behind their headquarters in Paonia, CO!

  2. Yeah – I don’t find them horrendously ugly, but it might be the aesthetic soft spot I have for sandals like these (like Kiwis – my original version of Chacos with an amazing story – http://www.kiwisandals.com/ – I started wearing them as a child since he sold at our annual street fair). You can wear these in creeks and they dry out beautifully, as well. And they’re made in USA still!

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