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Chaco Paradox

Aside from being the name of a sailboat my skipper once owned, it’s a great shoe. And with spring just around the corner, sailing season will be back in action (all my Frostbite races have been cancelled since Christmas because of ice). What does that mean? Well, a lot of things, but it means it’s time to pull the gear out of the closet and brush off the dust and sea salt of last fall.

Which brings me back to the Paradox.

I dare say Chaco has never made a bad shoe.

Located in Paonia, Colorado, Chaco started in a 2,000 square foot building. They built a strong following, which even today is rooted in growth almost solely by word of mouth.

Last year, after my old sailing shoes dry rotted, and realizing that Crocs just wouldn’t do on the racecourse, I began searching for a new sailing shoe. Immediately I ruled out the old tennis shoe-like options and vied for something more comfortable and fun. I wasn’t ready to wear the same shoes as a 70 year old skipper, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea of, well … Keen. They were so trendy, everyone seems to have them, and frankly I wanted a little more versatility and protection. Not to mention, they were no match for my skinny long foot.

With sea salt and sunshine, many fabrics fail over a season. Cotton dry rots, leather stays wet, nylon can stay wet too, and worst of all … chafe. Shoelaces can catch on so many things while your jumping around on a boat, and that will almost always spell disaster. So I thought about the companies I know, or that have a good reputation, and I searched. I soon came to Chaco.

While Chaco has long since been a maker of sandals, they do make closed toe shoes too. I’d never tried them, and wondered if like Keen, they would be too wide for my foot. What I found was a great alternative. The Paradox offered the support of a shoe, a sporty design, and great breathability. Yes, they dry out amazingly fast considering how sturdy and supportive they are. In spite of their top being made solely of webbing, they do not chafe. They are lose enough to breathe, but offer the adjustability made famous by Chaco. The rubber toe offers great protection, and the sole is surprisingly grippy and still non-marking. They look great, and perhaps best of all if you do get them wet, especially regularly, they will not stink!

That’s right—gone are the days of the Teva funk or the topsider stench. They just don’t get that horrid smell that makes you think, “I should just throw these away and start anew next year.”

I’ve found these shoes to be incredibly versatile. They’re a great alternative to a flop because they do offer much more support and comfort, yet they’re still breathable and slip on and off so easily. I’ve worn them with socks on and off the boat. They’re a great summer shoe—no matter what your use for them.

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