Gear Guide 2012: Chaco Ponsul Bulloo Shoe

This shoe is ideal for river rats, but can handle any adventure with its gripping capabilities and overall protection.

[best for canyoneering]

Cross Chaco’s classic Z-sandal straps with a neoprene river bootie and you get the Ponsul Bulloo. It’s ideal for river rats, but it’s also more versatile than its funky look suggests. Testers found this closed-toe sandal/neoprene sock combo ideal for Southwest canyoneering treks that require wading, scrambling, and overland hiking.

The rubber Vibram outsole with low-profile lugs gripped smooth slickrock with “Spiderman-like suction,” according to one tester who wore the Bulloo as her only shoe on a trip in Glen Canyon. “I leapt from the bow of a moving boat onto a steep sandstone canyon wall and my feet didn’t slip,” she reports. “And I could transition from wet to dry rock without losing traction.”

The neoprene sock sealed out gravel and debris when a tester waded up slot-canyon pools in Utah’s Davis Gulch, and the rubber toe bumper cushioned against rocks. A spongy, removable (to speed dry times) PU* footbed added spring to our tester’s step. The Ponsul Balloo is heavier than the average sandal, but way more protective. The soft neoprene sock prevented chafing from the one-pull sandal straps; testers were amazed to finish daylong hikes with no blisters. $120; 1 lb. 14 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-12;

*PU Polyurethane foam is denser than EVA foam; it provides a more durable layer of cushion and some underfoot protection.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.