How do you improve one of the grippiest, most durable, most supportive sandals out there? Make it even more grippy, durable, and supportive. That’s what Chaco has done with the Pro, and if you want an open-air hiker, this is it. In collaboration with Vibram, Chaco developed a new rubber formula with less elasticity. The result: a sole that bites into micro nooks and crannies underfoot—in and out of water—almost as well as a climbing shoe, and is even more durable than previous models.
And a polyurethane midsole gives the sandal the underfoot feel of a light hiker that has exceptional arch support. On New Zealand’s Inland Pack Track, one tester reported that it had more support and better traction than the lightweight boots he left at home. “And I didn’t have to take off shoes and socks at each of the 22 river crossings,” he says. “It held even on underwater boulders when I was getting pushed off balance by the current.”
Desert hikers also loved the Pro, since there’s no upper to trap sand and dirt (but keep an eye out for thorns). It comes in two models: Z/1 (no toe strap) and Z/2 (pictured). $105; 2 lbs.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-12Although this heavy-duty trekker has thick leather and a burly outsole, the nubuk leather, ball bearing hardware, and anatomic design enable this boot to conform to your foot for a great fit. Dakota is used by the Adirondack Mountain Club trail crew and it’s recommended by NOLS and Outward Bound for their courses.