Every summer when I was a kid between the ages of 8 and 12, my mother would buy my siblings and me a pair of water sandals for the summer. Since she had to buy five pairs, we usually got knock-off Tevas. You could tell they were not the real McCoy because they didn’t have the strap down the outside of the foot. Also, they didn’t say Teva on them. I always hated those knock-off sandals because I would constantly get stuff between my foot and the shoe, and because back in the day I didn’t really like to get dirty. Suffice it to say, I have not owned a pair of water sandals since those traumatizing years spent running around the farm in kid-friendly, adjustable, non-name-brand sandals. Whether these two things are directly related is a question for my therapist, but I think the correlation is fairly clear. Will I ever get over my fear and disgust with this type of footwear? No.
These days, it seems Chacos are the preferred footwear of river rats, festival hippies, nature camp employees, and anyone else who may step in water at any given time. People love these things; they are everywhere. But what does Chaco have to offer the sandal-averse? Well, actually, Chaco makes a lot of boots and shoes in addition to their line of sandals.
Ok, but what does Chaco have to offer the sandal-averse who likes to be casual, but also stylish, while keeping cool and collected during the summer?
Slip into the Chaco Helm my friends. This slip on style of footwear is rapidly becoming my favorite from spring through fall. Obviously, socks are not an option when talking about casual footwear during the heat of the summer, but flip flops can be just as cumbersome – they’re noisy (the flop more so than the flip), unreliable (Jimmy Buffet wrote a song touching on this, although if the result is a margarita, I guess it’s not all bad), and lack performance (you can read more about my dislike of flip flops here). Even though I wear them all the time, flops are not my first choice. What is my first choice is a slip on that incorporates the ease of a sandal and the stability of a shoe: the slip-on.
What I like specifically about the Helm is the versatility. The upper is made from suede and leather, which gives the shoes enough class to rock under a pair of slacks. This makes the break-in period is a little longer due to stiffness, and they can run a little hot in bare feet, but that is a small price to pay for a year-round, go-to piece of gear. Here’s the thing though: wear them enough – where any shoe with no socks enough – and they are going to stink. Those are just the breaks. Luckily, Fabreeze was created for just this purpose and works like a charm.
My major knock on Chacos over the years – besides my general biases already discussed – was that they were too heavy for a sandal, but the Helms are light and quick when on the foot. The outsole is made from 25% recycled rubber, merging “high-traction with eco-function” (their words), so you can feel 25% percent better about wearing them. Plus, they say Chaco right there on the side, so everyone will know you’re legit.