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Summer is the best time of year, hands down. And it’s not just because swimming is abundant and outdoor activities are rampant. Summer is really great because it means I get to wear sandals constantly. It’s not a question of if I’m going to wear sandals, it’s a question of what kind? There are three main sandal varieties (and only three!) to choose from, and each of them have their unique pros and cons: the Birkenstock, the Teva, and the Chaco. I personally have all three, and love each one for different reasons. To help you decide which sandal to go with this summer, here is a rundown of all three, and why they are all so special.
Birkenstocks have been around since 1774, which is kind of nuts. If you want a shoe that won’t go out of style for 300 years, I mean, enough said. The Birkenstock comes in two important styles, the classic Arizona and the EVA. Both are casual, yet fashionable (and pair well with socks). The Arizona is the classic Birk. It has a cork footbed that is orthopedic: it massages your feet with each step. The signature two straps come in leather or suede and help secure your foot in place. The bottom is made out of a rubberized grip that is excellent for any terrain.
The only difference between the Arizona and the EVA is that the EVA is made out of a more waterproof material. Before the EVA came along, I’d say that the Birk was more of a city or house shoe. It still is: your foot will be less secure than the other three, but now you don’t really have to worry so much about mud or water totally ruining them.
Birkenstock Arizona EVA
It turns out, we’ve all been saying this wrong. It’s actually not pronounced “tee-vah” but instead “teh-vah,” which is the Hebrew word for “nature.” Any 90’s kid knows these shoes and holds them close to their heart. The Original Universal are the Teva Sandals that have been around forever. The heel strap and toe strap are just iconic: you really can’t miss them. The footbed is EVA, which is quick drying, and made for all day adventuring. The Universal Strapping system is made from polyester webbing and they come in an infinite array of colors and designs.
The Original Universal Teva
The newer Hurricane XLT2’s maintain the original Teva design, with small but important upgrades. Unlike the Birkenstock, the Teva is really supposed to be something you can wear at rivers, lakes, parks, and even hikes. It’s an outdoorsy shoe, and the Hurricane boasts more grip and support for your feet, as well as more traction so you can tackle any terrain. They are still very lightweight—the lightest of all three shoes—and keep your foot secure, yet offer some wiggle room, thanks to the strapping system.
Hurricane XLT2 Teva
Last but not least comes the Chaco. Whereas Birks are made more for the city, and Teva Sandals are light adventurers, Chacos are really for the rugged outdoors. While you can hike in Teva Sandals, if you’re going to hike in sandals, I think the Chaco is the way to go. People hike the entire Appalachian Trail in them, which is pretty unbelievable.
Chaco makes a ton of great sandals, but the one I personally associate most with them is the Z/2 Classic, mainly because it has the toe loop. The Z shaped strapping system helps secure your foot, and the big toe loop will make sure your foot doesn’t slide around. The midsole is soft, friendly and cushioning, and the bottom provides unparalleled traction. An important thing to note is this: they are heavy. But with weight comes support, and so it’s not a bad thing, just something worth noting.
Z/2 Classic Chaco