So, I bought this new pair of sandals and they’re just so great I had to pass the word along.

No, this is not going to become a product-placement blog (and who here hasn’t wondered how much it costs to get talked up on Dooce?) No shoe company is paying for this. (Well, there’s an Amazon affiliate link; I’ll be rich, I tell you, rich!)

I hate shoes, except for certain hiking gear. No shoe I’ve ever worn hasn’t made my feet sweaty and uncomfortable. So as soon as it’s warm enough, the shoes go in the cupboard and stay there till autumn. Thus, I’ve bought & worn a lot of sandals and while the ones I like may not work for you, my opinions are informed by loads of experience.

I often wear Eccos, which on top of being comfy, come in leather models that you can pretend are sort of dressy. But I have to say that they’re not that tough; they typically don’t make it through two summers.

Anyhow, I was in the local outdoor-gear emporium and these Chaco “Z/1 Unaweep” sandals caught my eye. Uh, “Unaweep”? But I digress. You can buy them from Chaco, and from a bunch of other vendors via Amazon. But I’d recommend finding a local retailer, because fit matters.

Unlike previous faves, they don’t slip on effortlessly, you have to loosen up and re-tighten; so if your lifestyle includes escapes where seconds count, stay away. Also, unlike Eccos and their ilk, they don’t have that luxurious worn-leather feel. But here’s the thing: once I put them on, they vanish from my sensorium; they’re just not there. I’ve worn them every day in May and I already regret the inevitable eventual return to shoes. And I’ve been out playing frisbee and catch with my 12-year-old a couple of times; they function well as runners, and are lighter than any runner I’ve ever owned. Also, they’re waterproof.

I have no evidence on how well they’ll hold up; but early impressions are very, very good.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Dan (May 27 2012, at 18:37)

If you've ever been to the SW US, a word like Unaweep immediately calls to mind the four corners country, and sure enough, here's Wikipedia on the word:

and Chaco is instantaneously recognizable as a reference to Chaco Canyon:

What all that has to do with sandals or shoes I haven't deciphered. But the shoes/sandals sound terrific so I'll go have a look.


From: Cedric (May 27 2012, at 19:24)

Still no socks, though, right? RIGHT?


From: Chris Sutton (May 27 2012, at 19:28)

Chacos are a really tough sandal. I've had mine for 10 years and the main strap is just wearing through this year.

It's the best sandal I've ever had.


From: steve h (May 27 2012, at 20:33)

yes, Chaco sandals are excellent; they are very commonly worn in Colorado as they were originally made in Paonia, a small town on the Colorado's western slope which is not far from the wonderful Unaweep Canyon …

because of the minimal design, the footbed contour and the durability, we at my house have worn Z/2 sandals for years (the ones with the toe-loop, which makes the sandal stick to your foot better when walking through water); we haven't need new pairs for so long that i can't say whether they're still as good; i also have two other models Chaco no longer makes: "Fidel" leather sandals and solid leather (Italian-made) hiking shoes

as the company grew, it moved production to China; last to go were the sandals, which was a sad day — you can read about it here:

a year or so later they became a division of Wolverine; the sandals still feel great on my feet, but not so good on my conscience


From: Constantin González (May 27 2012, at 23:42)

Hi Tim,

I'm a big fan of walking and running barefoot or as close to barefoot as possible, so I can totally relate to your feelings around getting rid of shoes during the summer!

One thing's missing, though in the Z/1: the sole is thick, which shuts down the feeling of the underground from your sensorium, and they have a pronounced heel which interferes with the natural biomechanics of the feet-ankle-leg-hip-back system. Yes, heels make a big difference up to the point of people curing back pain buy just getting rid of heels.

I can recommend the Vivobarefoot Aqua sneakers for everyday use and I love my Vibram Fivefingers for running and I occasionally run a few km fully barefoot (which requires training).

If you're interested in the science of the walking apparatus, check out the "proprioception" brochure from Vivobarefoot (it's trustworthy even if sponsored y a shoe company) or the book "born to run" for the more entertaining spin.

A friend of my invented "socks" for barefoot walking that are entirely made of micro chain mail fabric. These are truly amazing!




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