What makes Chaco’s so different? Is it the cult-like following or the tan line contests? Is it their roots in river running? Is it because they are based in Colorado? I suppose all those factor into the “coolness” of Chaco footwear, but the number one differentiator in my mind is their BioCentric footbed design. This alone makes Chaco sandals and shoes out-of-the-box the best-fitting and most comfortable footwear I’ve worn. Why, you ask? Well, simple… I know of no other shoe manufacturer on the market that I can wear right out of the box without some sort of orthotic or aftermarket footbed.
The simplicity of slipping these shoes on and going, right off the bat, is quite refreshing since most of the time I’ve got to hunt for an available pair of Superfeet or Sole insoles to swap from an idle pair of shoes. With Chaco, I don’t have to think about that… just slip and go. While I’ve been a fan of Chaco sandals, I’d heard that they were re-tooling their shoe designs, but that they were sticking to a handful of shoe/sandal crossovers and that included the Paradox, which I’ve been tooling around in for the past few weeks.
About the Chaco Paradox
Part shoe, part sandal, the Paradox is somewhat of a conundrum. It breathes like a sandal, yet wears like a shoe (heck, you could even sport socks with them if you so choose). All that polyester webbing provides ample support while the BioCentric footbed gives you stability and comfort for long days on your feet.
Features of the Chaco Paradox
- Polyester webbing upper
- BioCentric footbed (seen below)
- Available in Men’s or Women’s
- Colors: Chocolate or Gun Metal (tested)
- MSRP: $110
Chaco Paradox Review
When the Paradox shoes arrived, I was instantly drawn to them. Lets just say that they might as well be called the McGuire because they had me at hello. Slipping my feet into the BioCentric footbed and comfortable uppers, I felt cradled and comfortable. Add on top of that, awesome breathability and the result is a pair of shoes that’s hard to get me to pass up in the morning when I’m heading out the door.
With jeans or shorts, the Paradox sandals are stylish and unique. I might go so far as to say that if the Paradox had come on the scene prior to the ubiquitous Crocs sandals, Chaco just might have won over the market–at least the high-end of the market with these shoes. They are very comfortable and provide support and traction aplenty.
My primary focus so far has been casual wear, but I’ll file updates as I push the limits of these sandals on the trails and in the water.
The Paradox’s are built with Chaco’s standard polyester webbing running fore and aft with strategically-placed cross-members of either solid polyester or stretchy elastic to properly cradle the foot. For my normal-width, flat feet, I found that the elastic bands could have provided just a tad more resistance, but other foot sizes should find them perfect.
One pull of the adjustable cross strap and the shoes are cinched down for better fit and function. I did find that the buckle was easy to bump loose inadvertently, but not annoyingly-so. This same single buckle makes removal a cinch. The aggressive diamond-shaped tread pattern provides excellent traction in all conditions.
The best application for these shoes I’ve found thus far is travel. They are easy to slip off at security gates and compact down to nothing in your carryon bag.
- BioCentric footbed is supportive and comfortable
- Webbing uppers breathe very well
- Super-grippy soles with aggressive tread pattern
- Easy slip-n-go on/off
- The definite “go-to” shoe
- Still comfortable after an all-day pavement-fest in downtown Chicago
- Could use a “Z” cross webbing like regular Chacos for a more secure forefoot
- Not as suited to water as regular Chacos
The Bottom Line: Chaco Paradox
Go ahead, ditch your ugly Crocs already and pick up a pair of Paradox shoes. These are now my go-to casual shoes for everything short of heading to Church on Sunday (maybe I could rock them still). Bio-Centric insoles on top of sandal-like breathability and the Paradox seems more concrete to me than a paradox.
Buy Now: Search for Chaco at REI
How do these compare to the Keen Newports?
Daniel… they are both really very different sandals for different purposes. The Keen Newport sandal is built to be an all-terrain, all-duty sandal for hiking and water. But, they fall short in their style around town and all-day comfort due to the lack of a real arch support.
The Paradox is really like that luxury SUV in the driveway. They look nice and are very capable, but you mostly buy them for the comfort and style around town. The Paradox is comfortable on short hikes, but nothing technical as you can’t cinch down the forefoot like you can on the Newports.
I really like them much better than the Newports in everything but hard-core river/water activities or hiking.
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