PSA: Nerdy Outdoor Sandals Are Officially a Thing—Here's the One Pair You Should Buy
These are not your Uncle Bob’s velcro sandals.
In case you hadn’t heard, nerdy outdoor footwear is officially cool—the uglier the better, really. Long reserved for unaware tourists, outdoorsy folks, and your dad, thick, rubber-soled, utilitarian sandals are the new trendy footwear that everyone is going to be wearing this summer
If you have a backpacking or camping trip coming up that you could use some sensible footwear for—or you’re simply tempted to try the dad shoe trend—you’ll be glad to learn that Chaco recently dropped a new style of nature-inspired, monochromatic sandals just in time for summer. While the super practical design is appropriate for all your outdoor adventures—from kayaking to beach days to music festivals—they’re also more polished and hip than your Uncle Bob’s velcro sandals.
The Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal ($105; nordstrom.com) delivers a double punch of comfort and style with its cushy footbed, supportive straps, and grippy rubber outsole—optimized for wet traction, whether you’re caught in a summer shower in the city or hiking through slick, moss-covered rocks in the woods. You can even adjust the webbed straps for a customized fit, feeding them through the buckle at the top of the foot to tighten and loosen them as necessary. And while the glowing reviews speak for themselves, I couldn’t resist snapping up a pair to try for myself. Here are my thoughts.
I consider myself an outdoorsy person, and at times have regretted not having a quick-drying, water-friendly pair of shoes handy for outdoor activities—but honestly, I couldn’t justify the purchase for the handful of times a year I thought I’d use them.
When I first saw the newest monochrome Chacos in a showroom in New York, I was surprised by how lightweight they felt and how cute they were IRL. Later, I scrolled past them on Instagram and I thought they looked shockingly cool with their editorial-like campaign—paired with socks and bold tonal-colored outfits that looked chic enough for the office.
I caved and ordered a pair in bone brown, figuring they would be neutral enough to wear with anything in my closet. When the sandals arrived, I excitedly strapped them on in my apartment and found them to be insanely comfortable. While my boyfriend shot me judgmental looks from the couch, I strutted around the living room and was super pleased with how they felt and looked. But, were they versatile enough to wear beyond the hiking trail?
To buy: Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal ($105; nordstrom.com, zappos.com, chacos.com)
Well, I’m happy to report that they are. I’ve worn them with jumpsuits and sundresses to work and with denim shorts and blouses when I’m biking on the weekends. I love slipping them on with leggings and a sports bra to my morning workouts (plus, they double as good gym shower shoes), and I’ve even had the chance to test them camping and rafting at the start of this summer. Turns out, they were practical enough to wear outdoors and yet cute enough for all the photos I was in. With so many awesome wearable shades—like muted clay (resembles a pretty blush pink), aloe, lavender, celery, peppercorn, and more—I’m considering scooping up another pair. (I currently have my eye on the angora off-white ones.)
I like knowing they’re good for my feet, too. Rubber soles are ideal for proper shock absorption, Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City, previously told Health. And since the Chacos have rubber soles, they’re ideal for all-day wear and will keep your feet supported and injury-free.
Luckily, the Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal checks all of Dr. Cunha’s boxes—and mine. I found a nerdy-chic sandal that’s comfortable, versatile, and perfect for all my summer adventures—what more could I ask for?