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Not your father’s hiking boots

Not your fathers hiking boots - Chose Chaco footwear and the LuvSeat.
Not your fathers hiking boots - Chose Chaco footwear and the LuvSeat.
Robert J. Wiebel, Chaco, & REI

Melbourne, FL - April 21, 2014 – As winter lifts its grip on most of North America, less hearty outdoor enthusiast are chomping at the bits to get outside and start enjoying Mother Nature. Because most of those outdoor sports evolve walking, running and climbing, selecting the right footwear is very important.

Here is a little footwear trivia. Did you know that footwear has been around for thousands of years? According to, “A complete shoe was discovered at the Areni-1 Cave in Armenia, and reported in 2010. It was a moccasin-type shoe, lacking a vamp or sole, and it has been dated to ~5500 years BP.” And foot prints that show that the feet were covered are even older by a few more thousands of years. In addition, Sandra Fikes, in her article “A brief History of Trail Hiking Shoes” on March 26, 2008 reports that the 1991 buying guide for Backpacker Magazine listed 24 manufacturers of lightweight hiking boots and shoes with over 250 styles available. A short twenty-three years later, can you imagine how big the selection of outdoor recreation footwear must be? The number must be mind boggling. Walking the footwear isles of Sports Authority, Cabelas, Dicks Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shop, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports shoppers will have a broad selection of outdoor recreation footwear for all the activities you can imagine.

So where have we come in the chronology of outdoor footwear design? A few of more important milestones are the 1906 U.S. Rubber Keds shoes and the 1965 Timberland introduction of water proof injection molding. Also in 1937, according to Vibram, “Vitale Bramani, Academic of the Italian Alpine Club, returned from a tragic alpine climb and had the brilliant idea of developing rubber biking boot soles. These would be produced using the same technique used by Pirelli for the production of tires. As a result the first vulcanized rubber sole and the famous Carrarmato” design was born. This design went on to start a legacy of rubber sole designs changing footwear design forever.”

Since that time, Vibram has been the world leader in the production and sale of high performance rubber outer soles in the markets of sport, leisure, work footwear, orthopedic and repair. “

To the best of my recollection, I purchased my first pair of Vasque hiking boots during the early 1970s at Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park, Florida. These boots and the many other hiking and climbing boots I would purchase in the future took me to the mountain and low-Land trails in Colorado, Alaska, Washington State, California, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Maine. I have covered my share trail miles over these past thirty plus years. These days my outdoor adventures have taken on a more relaxed style. Having climbed mountains like Mount Holy Cross in Colorado or Thunderhead in the Great Smoky Mountains along the Appalachian Trail, leisurely walks or bike riding along many of Florida’s Rails to Trails routes suit me just fine.

After logging hundreds of miles on the trail, my outdoor footwear choice today is the Chaco brand. Chaco was started in 1989 and is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Both my wife and I have been wearing Chaco footwear for the past five years. What makes this line of outdoor special may not be obvious when you first see these shoes, boots and sandals on the store display shelf. What makes them special is inside the shoe. It is what Chaco calls their “LuvSeat”. The LuvSeat was designed with assistance from certified pedorthist, Gerhard Rill, OSM, CPed. The LuvSeat design was created to control pronation. Pronation or eversion is the inward roll of the foot while walking or running. The typical way to prevent pronation is to put orthotics in your shoe or boot. An orthotic is an arch support is a piece of material designed to provide support for the arch of the foot. Boy, I can vouch for that. My feet are as flat as a pancake. I need an arch support. The Chaco LuvSeat helps individuals like me who need orthotics. Hikers or walkers today now have a reason to no longer use their orthotics in their hiking or walking shoes. Chaco has solved that problem. They have used the LuvSeat in the design of most of their boots, shoes and sandals.

In addition to the LuvSeatTM, the Chaco collection of shoes, boots and sandals are constructed with high quality materials and workmanship. Each and every shoe, boot and sandal are covered by a lifetime warranty covering material and workmanship. In addition, if you have worn out your favorite pair of Chaco sandals, they have a repair program where they can repair most worn out sandals. So keep this in mind instead of tossing them into your local land fill.

At the January 2014 Surf Expo, Chaco rolled out their newest collection. What caught my eye was the new sandal with interchangeable webbing. With this sandal you can change the webbing color and pattern to suit different occasions or your moods. By changing the webbing it gives the appearance that you own more than one pair of these great sandals. Also, the new “Outcross Web” water sandal, which I would classify as an open web shoe, was presented. The Outcross has Vibram soles for great traction for walking over slippery surfaces like river rocks. Since I have started wearing my Outcross Web sandals, I find that they make a great bicycle shoe for hot weather. I wear them when I ride my mountain bike. The Outcross can be worn with or without socks. New this season the Outcross comes in both men’s and women’s laced and web styles. This sandal makes a great companion for any of the closed Chaco boots or shoes when getting your feet wet is just part of your outdoor adventure.

So if you are in the market for a new pair of outdoor recreation shoes, boots and sandals find a Chaco retailer near you and try out the LuvSeat. I believe that your will be surprised by how the bottoms of your feet feel. Remember that you will not fully appreciate LuvSeatTM until you have worn them in the outdoors and put a few miles on them. Walking around the store shoe department will not due them justice.

Get your Chaco pair today and become a Chaconian – a pavement pounding, trail hiking, wave riding outdoor aficionado who understands how important selecting the right footwear can be.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

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