30 Years
30 Stories

The brand that started it all, Chaco celebrates 30 years of stepping into adventure in the iconic outdoor sandal. From the first pair off the line, to the ‘socko’ revolution, we celebrate with 30 stories that shaped the brand. Learn how you can win a pair here.

1.

Eight Simple Pieces. One Iconic Sandal.

 
1.

Eight Simple Pieces. One Iconic Sandal.

2.

Socks & Sandals? Don't mind if I do.

 
2.

Socks & Sandals? Don't mind if I do.

It’s an age-old question, really. Socks and sandals? However, in Chaco Nation, the question turns itself into the answer, and the answer is called “Sockos”.

Look up #sockos on Instagram, and you’ll find over 4,600 posts of socks and Chacos. And this phenomenon isn’t relegated to the cool eves of summer months. You’ll find sockos in the snow aplenty. Around the campfire. Paired with shorts, skirts, and high fashion dresses. Worn casually in a tent or as team wear in schools.

Socks and sandals might be the dadwear of yore, but these days, dadwear is cool. And the brand loyal Chaco Nation is embracing the vibe and taking it technical. A pair of Z1s paired with socks extends the sandal-wearing season into the shoulder months, and if you’re a winterphobe like myself, that’s a good thing. Nothing is more foreboding than the day I put my Chacos in the closet to gather dust for the Montana winter.

Chaco has even doubled down on the vibe from a product development standpoint. The all new Z-Ronin takes the socko to the next level and combines the look of sockos into the makeup of a shoe. The Z-Ronin drops in 2019 for $130, allowing you to pursue the Socko phenomenon even further.

3.

My Dog Ate My Chacos

 
3.

My Dog Ate My Chacos

If the ReChaco crew could point a finger at their most loyal demographic, it would have four legs, a wagging tail, and a dedication to the delight of destruction.

“Dogs keep us in business, really” CS Supervisor James tells us, only half-joking. And the ReChaco factory bulletin board is resplendent with pictures of smiling pups with favorite sandals at their paws, the straps chewed, the buckles a midday snack, the heavy duty rubber soles typically holding their own against rows and rows of canine teeth.

The dogs write in letters on their own, explaining the deliciousness of a sweaty, sumptuous sandal, and many, their lack of remorse in the matter. And their humans send in personal notes of apologies for their beloved four-legged friends.

“My puppy decided my sandal would make a good chew toy! Too cute to be mad for long,” one letter puts it. There are stacks of photos of pups with the words “THE CULPRIT”, each one smiling and innocent in their canine bliss. One golden retriever pup sits next to a row of at least six pairs of Chacos, each sandal adorned with a special toothy touch.

“My kind knows not what they do,” Butch Cassidy the border collie replied wearily when asked about the destruction, “It’s sad, you know? But perhaps Chaco should remarket the sandal as a shoe chew. Then, none of us would feel bad about how it turns out in the end.”

Butch turned away from the interview to stare intently at the pair of Z1s on my feet. He deeply sighed then looked up and said, “I’ve never actually tried one. Do you mind if I taste yours?”

With the ReChaco program only a post office trip away, resistance was futile. He gave the shoes an 11 out of 10. Five stars. Delicious. Would chew again.

4.

It All Started With Tracing A Foot

 
4.

It All Started With Tracing A Foot

River Guide Mark Paigen was having trouble with his shoes as he guided clients through the rapids of the Gunnison. They weren’t holding on, and they weren’t holding up. A former custom shoemaker, Paigen looked to the burgeoning sport sandal industry for inspiration.

The continuous pull-through strap was the basis of the shoe, eliminating velcro and adding adjustability. The strap would be anatomically correct, and the sole would need to be durable. Paigen began crafting each sandal by hand.

Clients began asking about the shoe. When people would ask about the shoe, he’d trace their feet on cardboard and make a custom pair for $30. Back then, he called them Geckos. The amphibious shoes reminded him of the tiny creatures sticky feet. A few shops began to carry them. The wheels were turning.

In 1991, he switched from a custom handhewn footbed to a molded polyurethane base. The sandal began to sell. Geckos were making their mark. A legacy in motion.

5.

We came to Michigan with 6 people and a truck full of sandal beds

 
5.

We came to Michigan with 6 people and a truck full of sandal beds

In 2008, Chaco was in need of a new home. And with promises to keep the ethos of the brand intact, the long-time Colorado company packed its bags and headed to Rockford, Michigan. There, they joined forces with Wolverine, the boot brand behind the continued success of Merrell, Sperry, Saucony, Keds, and more.

Nearly eleven years later, Wolverine stayed true to its promises. And some of the original Colorado crew remains intact in Rockford. For ten years, Chaco and Wolverine have worked in tandem to build a shoe that represents a community of outdoors people and the community has responded in kind. With letters, and visits, and recycled shoes that hold memories as well as feet. It’s a testament to a trajectory, and if the past decade has anything to say about this thirty-year-old brand, it’s that it’s here to stay.

6.

This sandal is Zee One.

 
6.

This sandal is Zee One.

Names are funny things. They stick around for lifetimes, take on new iterations and forms, they’re a label that continues to shape and reshape the meaning behind something. Such is the case with the iconic Z1 sandal.

As all things of legend, the sandal was nameless until Chaco founder Mark Paigen went hiking with a friend, and upon asking the friend what he’d call the sandal, the friend responded in a cheesy french accent, “This sandal is Zee One!” Z/1. Silly and simple. And adorning the feet of river rats since the early nineties.

Many Z’s have followed, but zee sandal that shall occupy that first step toward a movement, that sandal is forever Zee One.

7.

Engineers Can’t Figure Out A Better Way To Thread A Sandal

 
7.

Engineers Can’t Figure Out A Better Way To Thread A Sandal

Stop by the ReChaco factory in Rockford, Michigan. And if you’re not careful, you might catch your shirt on a bent nail.

But that wouldn’t just be any bent nail. That is a feat of human ingenuity. It’s a necessary tool to making a Chaco, a Chaco. If you were paying attention to that bent nail, you might see that it’s actually an apparatus that’s threaded hundreds, nay, thousands of sandals.

“We’ve had engineers come in and see if they can build something that’s faster. It’s a negative,” the shop manager James told us, as two women threaded sandals so quickly, so deftly that it took mere seconds to accomplish.

“We’ll slow down so you can see the process,” they acquiesced as we tried to take photos. Hands blurred. Time stopped. It was harder for them to go slower than faster. It was a reminder that expertise comes in many forms, including the tactile. And that human ingenuity starts with scarcity rather than knowledge.

8.

There's magic in empowering our creative community

 
8.

There's magic in empowering our creative community

“If there’s anything that continually surprises us, it’s the amount of creativity our community has when it comes to their Chacos.” President Seth Cobb told his employees. This was a ribbon cutting of a sort for the ten-year-old factory. The Print Shop opened for business and the staff celebrated with lunch, togetherness, and a moment of gratitude.

With the success of the extremely popular MyChacos program and the brand new Print Shop finally in motion, Cobb stood in front of the Chaco team and made this statement:

“There’s magic in empowering our creative community.” Cobb called out the people who had worked the long hours and tackled the tough problems to make the Print Shop a reality. He thanked the entire staff for their hard work and resilience. Like any job, there were duties waiting. But not every business works to empower the consumer to be the creative director of their own vision. This was an all-in moment. Gratitude was in order. The Chaco team took a moment to live in that gratitude. And then, back to the grind.

9.

Chaco Takes On The Rivers, The Mountains, The City, And The Sea.

 
9.

Chaco Takes On The Rivers, The Mountains, The City, And The Sea.

Where do you wear your Chacos? Perhaps in a drift boat, or to the grocery, or, classically, in the red dirt of desert riverbanks. Your Z tan growing ever more prominent with each passing day.

The designers at Chaco have more than just red riverbanks on the mind. They’re pushing the boundaries of where Chacos can and will go. Burly soles for mountain trekking? Check. Leather sandals that keep your Z tan intact? They’ve got that too. Packs for your everyday carry needs? Yep. Waterproof boots for snow days? The brand has eyes for that, too.

“We want to capture different moments of our community’s lives,” President Seth Cobb explained, “The Z can encompass so many energies.” And it does already. People have been married in Chacos, volunteered internationally, traversed landscapes, and sailed across oceans. And the varied options exist, and they’re coming. As the saying goes:

If the shoe fits, wear it.

10.

I trekked 100 miles with Masai warriors

 
10.

I trekked 100 miles with Masai warriors

If there’s a face for Chaco, Lisa Kondrat might be it. She’s been a carrier of the brand and an executor of its sustainability, creativity, and function for 19 years. She’s moved her life from Colorado to Michigan in service to a community. She can give you all the numbers for everything they’ve accomplished. The sandals kept out of landfills, the customized shoes they’ve built for years, the amount of growth she’s been able to sustain in her factory, from six jobs to over seventy.

And she’ll tell you that a defining moment, for her, was trekking in her beloved sandals for 100 miles with the legendary Massai warriors of Kenya. She’ll pull out her pictures of the beautiful shoes of the Masai, of her strong feet next to theirs, and she’ll tell you about the women who accompanied her on the trip.

She’ll also show you the sandal she brought back from Kenya. A nailed-together, crude, yet familiar rubber sandal. With details not unlike the ones she builds in her shop. She’s an adventurer, a grandmother, a savvy and thoughtful leader, and the embodiment of Chaco’s ethos. She’s Chaco’s Director of Planning and Operations. And she herself is a warrior.

11.

Here are my soles souls.

 
11.

Here are my soles souls.

That line was written on a note sent with a pair of beat-up, broken down Chacos on their journey to being ReChaco’d. Or more succinctly, these souls were getting fixed.

The ReChaco program routinely refurbishes 30,000 Chaco sandals per year. For minimal costs, the shoe can be resoled, rewebbed, and rebuckled back into functional existence. It’s an easy gimme in the world of sustainable and eco-friendly products, but the bigger importance lies in the sentimental value that accompanies sandals in the forms of notes, pictures, drawings, and stories. People send bribes of chocolate, cookies, and other delicacies to ensure safe passage for their sandals.

According to letters we found, Chaco sandals have: followed cattle prints in China, hiked mayan ruins in Mexico, aided the betrothed through multiple weddings, been eaten by dogs, traversed the Swiss Alps, joined the Peace Corps, partied at summer camp, gone to college for multiple degrees, helped Steve Zahn go fishing, walked through snow in Crested Butte, Colorado, walked the sandy beaches of Costa Rica, and survived life at the bottom of a lake. Among many other adventures.

Long live those that live well. And may they do it in shoes that live up to those lives.

12.

In 2018, my Chacos kicked up dust in seventeen national parks

 
12.

In 2018, my Chacos kicked up dust in seventeen national parks

It’s true. This GearJunkie wore her Z/1’s to seventeen national parks in 2018. The Chacos weren’t especially special, just the Chacos I found at an REI in California when I realized my old non-Chacos were dead forevermore. I was done with the insolence of bad sandals failing. A black pair with rainbow webbing awaited me, the only Chacos in my size. My mind was made up. Quality over quantity.

I lived ten months on the road in search of public land experiences that year, and until the cold hit, my New Reliables were really the only shoe I needed to pack. I wore them beneath flowing dresses in Baja California and with my backpack on in Escalante. I navigated Pacific Northwestern tide pools and redwood forests. I canoed fifty miles of Utah’s Green River, and the red sediment of the beaches still sits in the porous spaces of the shoe. Seventeen national parks, endless expanses of public land, camping night after night in places I’d never seen, never understood, until stepping foot in them.

And with Chacos on my feet, I picked up trash around every corner, took note of the wear and tear our human existence was having on the American West. I left with other people’s belongings in hand, but only my footprints behind. I felt solid and grounded in my connection to the planet. And grateful to wear a shoe that aligned to these values. I left the West better than I found it, and all on my own rainbow-webbed two feet.

13.

High Fashion, Quality Conscience

 
13.

High Fashion, Quality Conscience

“We’re big in Japan,” President Seth Cobb tells me as I ask where Chaco makes its most fashionable impact.

“The Japanese are freaks for quality. And in Japan, Chacos are high fashion with a quality conscience.”

Japanese consumers are undoubtedly trendsetters in the ways of the outdoors, and their zest for functional fashion expands into many outdoor brands. But Chaco’s hold on the Japanese imagination brings the brand to the forefront of high fashion.

It’s not just the Japanese that are zealots for Chacos as a staple of the wardrobe, Chaco’s hold on the culture of colleges and universities in the American South is as fierce as the rivalries between them. A consumer research study found that 80% of southern university students wore Chacos, a brand saturation that is nearly unheard of in any demographic. And beyond that, the highly traditional and insular nature of summer camps has also become a boon for the brand.

Is it any wonder that a functional shoe with high customizability might find a place in niche markets that appreciate functionality? Not to this writer. And if my college friends had all jumped off a bridge, I might have too. Though I’d hope we’d all be wearing our Chacos, because navigating the rocky bottom of a stream barefoot is no joke.

14.

I wouldn't go barefoot for fear of losing my Z tan

 
14.

I wouldn't go barefoot for fear of losing my Z tan

That’s one piece of what Lisa Kondrat told me about her trip to Africa. She’s Chaco’s Director of Planning and Operations, and a Z tan aficionado. As someone who has cultivated and deeply cared for a Z tan herself, I caught what she was throwing. It’s not just a tan line, no. It’s a statement of how much time the Chaco wearer has spent in the sun. And spending time in the sun means that you’re not inside. And when you’re not inside, well, you’re having fun.

A Z tan is simply a measure of how fun you are. It’s a status symbol of commitment to a life outside. If I witness a Z tan on another human body, I have to ask what it is they’ve been doing. I have to know their secret to such a melanin-enriched contrast.

And the fun abounds when it comes to those of us who cultivate this status symbol proudly. A Z tan is a story to be told, and a memory to carry. It’s that first recognition that the weather has turned and our feet are sunward facing once again. It’s an homage to vacation, summer or otherwise. And a casual nod to a life lived casually.

A Z tan is a story told boldly. What story will you tell this summer?

15.

Chacos Go Pop Cultural, And They Go Big

 
15.

Chacos Go Pop Cultural, And They Go Big

How does a piece of footwear go from casual to iconic? When that piece of footwear gives the iconic a moment to be casual.

Such was the vibe when First Lady Michelle Obama wore Chacos while she was in the White House, accompanying a casual outfit that any mom could relate to. NFL star DeAngelo Williams also dug into the Chaco Nation when he supplied his Pittsburgh Steelers with custom team-colored MyChacos.

“The guys were pretty funny about it, until they put them on and didn’t want to take them off,” he wrote Chaco in a note.

A personal favorite of mine while digging through the archives was an email titled “From That Guy In The Plane Movie”. I pulled out a pic of Steve Zahn, holding a fish in one hand and a Z/1 in the other. “Fall in BC baby! Steelhead on the Dean!” is the quick email Zahn writes to the crew.

In thirty years, Chacos have made their way from the river to the White House. A pop culture success, in the making.

16.

Strengthening the current in our hometown of Grand Rapids

 
16.

Strengthening the current in our hometown of Grand Rapids

Chaco’s hometown of Rockford, Michigan is on the cusp of the greater city of Grand Rapids. Once a trading point for natives and settlers, the city was named for the rapids in the Grand River at its core. But for over 150 years, those rapids have sat dormant, dammed and dredged by industry.

A project called Grand Rapids Whitewater aims to restore the rapids and the river back to a natural state. And recreation is at the forefront. With that in mind, Chaco has jumped on as a sponsor and a partner in the project, ready to dig into their home river just a few miles from their door.

“This type of project is a lightning rod for outdoor recreation,” said Josh Wiechhand, Creative Director for Chaco. “And the Chaco brand embodies recreation. It’s an obvious project for us to support.” And support they have. Chaco developed a custom Grand Rapids Whitewater-themed sandal that quickly sold out at a local festival. The river will have kayaking and fishing opportunities aplenty. When I asked if Weichhand planned to float the river in 2025, his response was immediate.

“Yes, absolutely. And my little boy will be big enough to float it with me then. And I can show him how we’ve made the city a better place for his generation.”

17.

No Better Testing Ground Than With the Best of the Best

 
17.

No Better Testing Ground Than With the Best of the Best

Core to its roots, Chaco treats whitewater rafting as an iconic river activity. As such, the company has long sponsored the USA Men’s Whitewater Rafting Team with monetary support and product made for the sport.

The team races around the world as a part of the United States Rafting Association. And they paddle for speed and precision through rapids up to class V. That’s no small feat for any crew.

This spring, Chaco unveils an updated Outcross Pro shoe. Designed with USA Men’s Whitewater Rafting Team members, its closed-toe build, quick-drying uppers, and grip sole stand up to the rigors of a raft bouncing swiftly downstream.

18.

A Long Strange Trip in Z1s and Beyond

 
18.

A Long Strange Trip in Z1s and Beyond

In 2015, the world of music celebrated 50 years of The Grateful Dead. And in a collaborative celebration, Chaco launched a collection with the band itself. Rife with dancing bears, tie-dye patterns, and the iconic Steal Your Face logo, Grateful Dead die-hards danced to the “Fare Thee Well” tour in shoes celebrating their favorite band.

Although the 50th anniversary has passed, the Deadhead collection is still both available and popular. And with the Chaco Print Shop’s new custom capabilities, the personalization of a Deadhead sandal helps the long-time fan to live no particular way but their own, with nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.

19.

Keeping Sandals Out Of Landfills, One ReChaco at a Time

 
19.

Keeping Sandals Out Of Landfills, One ReChaco at a Time

The durability and long-lasting craftsmanship of Chacos is further bolstered by the brand’s ReChaco program, in which Chaco owners can send in their beloved sandals and get them back. The lifetime-warranty program began back in 1991. 

ReChaco repair is available on four sandal styles: Z1, Z2, ZX1, and ZX2. And sandal repair work ranges from simply fixing the toe tightener, to full replacement of straps, buckles, and soles. In fact, these days, Chaco’s Michigan factory completes about 30,000 sandal repairs each year. At 2 pounds per pair, that’s 30 tons of potential waste going back onto the feet of Chaco fanatics. 

And most repairs are sent in July, the prime season for which Chacos are necessary. So here’s your hot tip for summer satisfaction: Send your precious sandals in during the offseason. Then deepen your Z tan in July.

20.

Love is for Everyone

 
20.

Love is for Everyone

It isn’t every brand that gets behind a movement of love for all, but Chaco’s Stonewall National Monument Collection with the National Park Foundation did just that. And with a labeled nod to the birthplace of the LGBTQ movement, Chaco and the NPF were able to bring light to both sexual identity issues as well as the preservation and celebration of historic public places.

A significant 10 percent of sales went back to the Stonewall National Monument, in an effort to help with preservation and programs, and the Limited Edition sandal sold out of their produced in-line collection. The 2017 timing of the release followed President Barack Obama’s designation of Stonewall’s recognition as a national monument, an historic recognition of LGBTQ heritage in America.

21.

A Custom Boat, a Lofty Goal, and 277 Miles of River

 
21.

A Custom Boat, a Lofty Goal, and 277 Miles of River

In 2016, the U.S. Men’s Rafting Team set out to attempt a speed record on 277 miles of the Colorado River. The goal was to finish under 34 hours, which would put them at a blistering and consistent river pace of 8.15 miles per hour. 

The crew would need a specially designed boat, oars rather than paddles, and eight months of intense training. But, of course, nothing entirely prepared them for what the river had in store. Presented by Chaco, the film The Time Travelers premiered in select REI’s nationwide to aplomb, with event proceeds going to the conservation organization American Rivers.

22.

A Household Name Inspired By A Pup

 
22.

A Household Name Inspired By A Pup

Initially, the Chaco sandal was the Gecko. Founder Mark Paigan thought that the shoe would essentially act like a gecko’s foot, creating a solid and sticky platform while in the tumult of the river. But when the name proved already in use, Paigan — like a gecko’s foot — was stuck between a rock and a wet place.

Legend has it that he was eating dinner at a friend’s house, where he bumped into a pup named Chaco. And that dog was named for the historic Chaco Canyon. Gecko to Chaco was an easy leap. It was short, quick, and easy to pronounce. And there, you have it. Chaco was named less after the historic place, and more for a dog that inspired it along the way. Let the legend be rewritten.

23.

Bears Ears Needed an Urgent Response, We Answered

 
23.

Bears Ears Needed an Urgent Response, We Answered

The memorable national monument onslaught of 2017 began with a battle over the true definition of the Antiquities Act. That proved to be a masked attempt to remove protections to allow for potential energy extraction in some of the nation’s most delicate landscapes. Many monuments saw adjusted boundaries, and Bears Ears National Monument was reduced to a staggeringly minute 15 percent of its original scope.

Here’s the thing about Bears Ears: It’s important to our indigenous people. And it’s deeply important to the Chacoan period. Some of the roads of Bears Ears date back to A.D. 800, even to 500 B.C according to and some historians. The resonance for a brand with a name honoring this period was profound.

In a move of urgency, Chaco brought a line of Chaco x Bears Ears sandals to market in six weeks. And every cent Chaco made went back to organizations fighting to preserve the 1.3-million-acre landscape. The reduced monument awaits its fate as lawsuits by indigenous groups and the NRDC have been filed. And for now, many Chacoan artifacts and historic sites remain unprotected.

24.

It was just a passion project I did on my personal time.

 
24.

It was just a passion project I did on my personal time.

When I visited Chaco’s factory in Rockford, Michigan, one of the first things that caught my eye was a stretch of drawings lining a wall. They were fantastical, fun, realistic, and intricate. And upon closer examination, I realized they were all pictures drawn on the inside of Chaco shoeboxes.

“Customers sending in sandals would sometimes ask for a picture with their shoes,” Chaco’s Susan Debore name told me. “And I’ve always loved to draw. So I’d take boxes home and draw whatever the customer requested.” Susan’s talents span the gamut, with cartoon dinosaurs for some and beautifully colored trout for others. And the occasional comic adds a joke to ReChaco’d sandals heading home.

25.

Who would be there after the NPS celebration died down

 
25.

Who would be there after the NPS celebration died down

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turned 100 years old. And while the outdoor recreation community celebrated, the team at Chaco was thinking about how they could do more.

Former CEO Seth Cobb told us he wondered: “Who would be there once the celebration died down? Who would continue to push the NPS’s mission forward?” So Chaco answered those questions with a two-year, $50,000 commitment to NPS non-profit, the National Park Foundation. This commitment continues in 2019, as Chaco created a line of NPS shoes benefiting specific parks and monuments, as well as growing awareness for the NPS’s non-profit branch.

26.

It's a sandal that's truly made for the foot

 
26.

It's a sandal that's truly made for the foot

In 1993, a German podorthist named Gerhard Hill recommended the supportive shape of Chacos for those in need of structural support. The buck didn’t stop there. Molded footbeds allowed for a new kind of support in an active sandal, and podiatrists began to pay attention to this modern mode of human conveyance.

Over the years, many of Chaco’s sandals have received the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance for products that promote good foot health. A generous sizing and width platform —  combined with different soles, styles, and setups — helps Chacos fit lots of different feet. And you can check APMA’s website to be sure that the style you’re looking at is going to be as good for your feet as it is for your fashion sense.

27.

Wild And Undeveloped Rivers Matter To All Of Us

 
27.

Wild And Undeveloped Rivers Matter To All Of Us

Since 1968, the Wild and Scenic River Act has protected swaths of river deemed too precious for development. These two pieces of legislation combine to protect our waters, and in 2018, Chaco and boat brand NRS got together to celebrate 50 years of clean water and Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Chaco’s push for conservation ties directly back to a shoe built for wild places. And in a move that proved popular with the whitewater crowd, Chaco designed the webbing to mimic the iconic NRS straps well-known to all river rats. And as a bonus, Chaco sent $10,000 to American Rivers in support of 5,000 new miles of rivers being designated under the Wild and Scenic River Act umbrella.

28.

Chaco Goes Mainstream in 2019

 
28.

Chaco Goes Mainstream in 2019

Since the 1990s, Chaco’s Z line has been its most popular and best-selling sandal. But in 2019, the tides are changing. For the first time, Chaco’s best-sellers go beyond the classic Z sandal. And for the brand, it’s an exciting shift.

“We’re becoming relevant in different avenues of our customers’ lives,” former CEO Seth Cobb shared with us. “People aren’t just looking to us for a river sandal.” And Chaco’s fresh lines reflect that. With fashion-forward items like the top-selling Wayfarer and the Cataluna boot in rotation, the line expands into life and business wear. And, of course, with ReChaco, people are able to hold onto their favorite pair of Zs much longer. The diversification good for the closet, while the sustainability is great for the planet. Win-win.

29.

Customized footwear for an extra $10 a pair

 
29.

Customized footwear for an extra $10 a pair

Chaco’s new Print Shop technology quietly debuted in February. And the technology itself takes shoe customization to a new level. With the ability to print photos, patterns, drawings, and really anything you can dream up directly onto webbing, the possibilities for a truly custom pair of sandals just reached a new level.

After seeing the awesome intricacies of the facility, I designed a pair. And I was surprised to learn that it was just $10 to add my own touch to my new Z1s. I put iPen to iPad and sketched out a little grizzly. Then, with some Photoshop divination, I built a webbing that I really loved for the back piece. For the front, a bit of gold and navy. I thought a brown sole that looked corkish might be fun. Ten days later, the sandals showed up on my doorstep. And with the Montana spring finally taking a summer turn, it’s time to get my Z tan to max contrast.

30.

There’s life beyond shoes

 
30.

There’s life beyond shoes

Chaco sandals are, of course, iconic. But a 2012 ReChaco tour of music festivals started a new trend in Chaco culture. Somehow, a concert goer got ahold of some extra Chaco webbing, wrapped it around her wrist, and before the Chaco team realized it, kids queued at the tent, waiting to wrap their wrists in colorful webbing. The Chaco wrist wrap has become a top seller for the brand, and lives on as its own as part of festival culture.

The accessories don’t stop there though. Chaco opened up customization to the Chaco doggos, and collars and leashes are designed daily for Fido friends. It seems an appropriate gift to give the dog that required your sandals be ReChaco-d anyway. And with bags, hats, and drinkware, it’s easy to sport the brand whichever way you please.

31.

Thirty years and thousands of stories

 
31.

Thirty years and thousands of stories

In 1989, Mark Paigen sold the first pair of Chacos for $30 to one of his clients. Of course, back then, it was simply an idea in the making. His goal was to create a river sandal that allowed the foot to dry while supporting it in the process. Thirty years later, that brand has evolved and transformed into a household name, a river staple, and a powerhouse for philanthropy.

Beyond creating the iconic sandal, Chaco’s quest for sustainability through refurbishing old sandals, for a sense of decency in work culture, and for a focus on conserving our special and wild places continues to reach new heights. It’s a story of American ingenuity that both continues on and gives back. There are many reasons to feel good about the Chacos on your feet, but feeling good on your feet is where it all began.