No matter what kind I tried, they pinched my feet or made them sore. After a little while, my legs would ache, and my toes would throb. All I ever wanted to do with shoes was to just take them off and never put them on again! I was most definitely a barefoot kind of girl and sandals were the one kind of shoe that really appealed to me.
Of course, I would grow up in Alaska. Between the long winters, cool summers and myriad of mosquitoes, going barefoot didn’t happen a lot and sandals of any kind were a rare luxury. Even though most sandals were better than my hikers and tennies, my feet still hurt and nothing was ever really comfortable for very long.
My feet were just funny. Instead of bearing my weight on the big toe as God intended, for some reason I walked with my weight on the outer edge of my feet. Most of the weight rested on my tiny toe. The result was foot pain, leg pain and shoes that made me miserable. I tried to walk properly, but I never seemed to quite manage.
I thought I was destined to live my life hating shoe shopping, foot pain and making do with shoes that were better than some but really not great.
That all changed around seven years ago.
After a week of standing on my feet in a restaurant cooking for customers during the day and baking focaccia bread for my brother’s wedding at night, my feet and legs were killing me. And then, my one and only pair of sandals broke.
I hobbled into an outdoors store the next afternoon, just curious about a sale they were advertising. The young man who came to help me looked at my funny feet. He listened to my complaint about everything hurting me and said “Have you ever thought about investing in a pair of chacos? They saved my feet.”
I had heard of “Chacos” before in some playful banter between outdoorsy folk who were divided into the Chaco group and the Teva group. I’d tried Tevas. They were grippy and I liked them. But they didn’t last too well and my feet still hurt. Truth be told, Chacos sounded like some sort of Mexican food, and the way he said “invest” made me a little nervous. Would I even want to know how much they would cost me?
But he pulled out a pair and told me all the reasons why I needed to give them a chance: not the least of which being it might actually help my feet learn to bear weight properly. I guess they call it proper arch support. Who knew what a difference that could make!
We walked out of the store with me being a little bit poorer (though I did get a good deal with the sale. And by buying the last pair in that size for the season).
It turns out that the $90 or so that I spent was more than worth every penny that I begrudgingly parted with to buy those shoes.
At first, my feet hurt worse than ever. Muscles I didn’t know I could feel in my feet started to let me know about their existence. The sole felt a little rough to the bottom of my feet, and I couldn’t figure out the silly straps! But I’d been warned to stick with it and to wear them as often as I could. In the process of making things better, in my case, it could get a little bit worse.
I learned how to adjust the straps. (It is really not hard once you know what you are doing!)I got use to the firmer soles. My feet started feeling happier.
And I haven’t stopped wearing my chacos since.
It’s been a while since my feet have hurt, and years since I’ve dealt with the kind of pain in my legs and back that I did before I got my chacos. And I wear them everywhere.
I hike in them. I wear them around the house. I worked in them at a job that had me on my feet for 10 hours a day. I wear them in the
garden. I wear them to town. I’ve even worn them to church on occasion! My husband says I live in the things, and he’s right: I do.
Thankfully for me, I no longer live way up North in Alaska. I’ve traded perpetual winter for a longer, warmer and incredibly beautiful summer in the South East. From the first day of warmth (often starting in late February and on until it gets to be too cold to not wear socks some days (usually in November), more often than not you’ll find me wearing one of my two pairs of chacos.
And these sandals are built to last.
After seven years of fairly consistent wear, my original pair is still in fairly good shape. The straps aren’t worn too much (and you can replace those anyway!), and the soles have outlasted almost anything else I’ve ever bought by a long time.
Five years ago I bought a second pair. This time I decided to try the hipthong style. These are the ones that almost never leave my feet. They are easy to slip on and off when I’m in a hurry. They are easy to adjust. They still provide the support my feet need for quick trips and for long hikes. And not least of all, they are incredibly cute to wear. After five years of constantly being walked, the straps are still in great shape, and while you can see wear on the soles, it isn’t what you’d expect for what they’ve gone through. I wouldn’t be surprised if both pairs are wearable for several more years.
In fact, I think it is safe to say that the only thing that I don’t like about my chacos is that they have lasted so well I haven’t had an excuse to buy any more pairs, no matter how cute the style and the straps look!
It’s an investment, but its worth it!
Buying a pair of chacos is indeed an investment. They may cost more up front than any one thing in your wardrobe. But if you ask my feet, they are worth it. Plus, after 7 years, I’m pretty sure that the $90 I paid has been more than recovered–in enjoyment, in good quality and in pain free hours of being on my feet.
Yes, Chacos “saved” my feet.
In return, I can’t say enough about how much I like them, or recommend them enough to friends and family. After I got married, I convinced my husband to buy a pair. Its safe to say he’s just about as chaco happy as I am!
It’s wonderful to not hurt all the time. Plus? When I do wear other shoes, my feet seem to handle it a little better now than they use to. I guess that arch support must’ve taught my muscles a few things about weight bearing.
It’s great to have something that lasts so long and is so versatile. It cost me a fair bit up front, but over time, it is much less expensive than buying shoes every year or so.
Are you ready to try a pair of chacos?
Before you buy a pair, go to a local outdoors store and try on a few pairs of chacos in different styles.
Think about what would work best for you, and where you’d wear them the most.
Be prepared for a little initial pain as your feet adjust. Let your skin get use to the straps and the soles slowly before you to out on a 10 mile hike in them.
But if you are anything like me, my husband and now my entire family (as well as growing numbers of friends), you won’t regret the day that you decided to give chacos a chance.