chaco bus tour
(Photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Chacos on the Fly: The ‘Fit for Adventure’ Chaco Bus Tour Delivers

Whether your sandals need a refresh or you just want a fresh pair, the Chaco bus tour offers a one-of-a-kind brand experience in your neighborhood.

It’s not every day that you get to watch a group of humans jam a sandal together in less than 10 minutes. But if the Chaco bus is in town, you should take it upon yourself to check it out.

Chaco’s “Fit for Adventure” tour has been rolling since March. And in the process, the unreasonably and effortlessly cool band of dirtbag sandal cobblers has repaired and built an average of 45 sandals a day.

The tour recently stopped in Bozeman, Montana, where I got the chance to dig in with the cobblers and check out the bus behind the scenes. Plus, I walked out with a brand-spankin’ new pair of custom Z1s on my feet. Can’t be mad about that.

Chaco ‘Fit for Adventure’ Bus Tour Review

Figuring Out Your Footwear

chaco bus tour
Panels help makers figure out color combos for their new footwear; (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

In Bozeman, the Chaco bus parked itself near one of my favorite coffee shops, Treeline Coffee. (Backpackers, check out their pour-overs. Insane.) The setup is easy enough. You check in with the folks at the front desk, inquire about repairs or new Chacos, they get you the right forms, and you’re on your way.

For me, no repairs were needed. I settled on making a pair of classic Z1s. Big panels filled with strap and buckle options helped me nail down what I wanted.

Primary colors with a bit of pattern sounded quirky, so I went all in on my new Z1s.

Into the Chaco Cobbler’s Bus

chaco bus tour
No shoes, no shirt, full service at the Chaco bus; (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Stepping onto the bus was like being in a mini-maker’s party with a group of dirtbag dreamboats, gals and guys alike. Old school hip hop pumped through the bus. A general caffeinated buzz of teamwork making dreams work made me miss the days when my work was simple and straightforward.

As the clock kept ticking, I envied that sense that when the clock runs out, work is truly over.

And for this team, it was fun to see each take their station in stride. Most of these makers have been on the road since March, and at this point, they average a sandal in well under 10 minutes. I asked if they’d ever timed a sandal for speed.

Their record? Four minutes, 56 seconds.

My sandals went from start to finish in average time. They moved through the cutting station and into a world of bar tack machines that stamped that thread in all the right places.

Handing Them Over

chaco bus tour
Cobbler Jeremy strings together a Chaco Z1 before bagging it; (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Once the sandals came together, they were tossed in a self-proclaimed Dirtbag — that is, a bag with “I’m a Dirtbag” emblazoned on canvas. Really, it couldn’t be easier or more efficient.

Within an hour, I had a pair of brand new, custom-strapped Chaco Z1s on my feet. As I watched the team work, customers floated in and out, picking up fixed Chacos and new sandals and slides. Most would hang around and watch the well-oiled effort.

Stuff to Know: Chaco ‘Fit for Adventure’ Tour

Chaco bus tour
Filling out forms at the Chaco bus tour; (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

The bus, though cool and funky, is a bit of an enigma.

Go to Chaco’s Bus Tour page and you’re likely to be funneled toward adding your email to get on a list that will tell you if the bus ends up near you. That’s because the tour seems to have no set agenda, though I do know that the bus heads to Chicago next week.

After that? No idea. It’s a little strange, but it’s a little whimsical as well.

The other thing to know is that should the bus come near you, the daily cap for sandals new and old is about 45. And this crew has been hitting that nearly every day they’ve been on tour. So, you want to get there early, order early, and hope for the best.

Repairs are generally prioritized, so that’s something to note as well. However, if you do want a new pair, the bus offers Z1s and Chillos for both men and women.

The crew also offers to have sandals shipped to you from the factory. And should you need a repair they can’t do, they’ll refer you to the ReChaco program.

Final Thoughts: Chaco Bus Tour

chaco bus tour
(Photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

This is a fun one. Really, I love seeing how things are made, and I love being able to throw a personal twist into the mix.

I’ve ordered custom Chacos off the website. I wear the Ramble Puffs in the cold months of Montana (which is most of them). I’ve got quite a lineup of the brand. But, it’s hard to not have a connection to my newest addition to the sandal party.

So, I say this. Sign up for that email, and keep your fingers crossed that the bus tour makes a stop near you.

If it does, it’s worth a trip to hang with the cool Chaco cobblers roadie crew and put some refreshed or brand-new shoes on your toesies.

Nicole Qualtieri
By

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.