Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Summer Synthetic Exceptions: Chacos

Posted on: May 30th, 2011 by Tom Bonamici

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.


  1. diplomatica on

    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. bright lights, big cities on

    wow! loving the first comment..

    I know these to be the best ones for outdoor activities, funny though was the last comment, ‘horrendously ugly’….

    at least we’re all honest here….

  3. diplomatica on

    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 – – 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!

  4. Tom Bonamici on

    E, nice tip on the Kiwi sandals. Amazing that they’re cheaper than Chacos, but leather and made in USA.

  5. diplomatica on

    Did you read Lee’s story?
    He now makes the sandals with only one hand. I’ve always loved his stuff (same classic offerings since he’s been selling at the Tucson Street Fair). They are also adjustable just like Chacos.

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