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Best Closed-Toe Water Shoes: Chaco Outcross Free vs. Outcross 1.5

posted in: Fashion, Travel
September 13, 2016

Even though I’m back from my recent trip to Israel, that doesn’t mean I’m done adventuring. This past summer, I was bit by the hiking bug and I don’t plan on stopping! While away, I discovered how much I like doing hikes that have a lot more than just a dirt path— one of my favorite highlights of our 10 day stay was a river hike that started out as a small stream and led us into waist deep water half way through!

Because we were trailing through so many different terrains, water shoes were a must on our packing list. However, we were encouraged to find closed-toed water shoes because of our activities and state park regulations. I have to admit, it’s hard to find water shoes that are both comfortable and cute enough to want to wear in and out of the water.

After many friends who had been on a similar trip had mentioned the brand Chaco, I looked into their options. After scouring their extensive selection, I narrowed my choices down to the Outcross 1.5 and Outcross Free shoes. The Outcross collection is “amphibious,” meaning they’re great for both land and water adventures, and since my goal was to pack lightly, I thought a pair would be perfect to double as walking and water shoes.

Outcross Free

The Outcross Free shoes are a good compromise when you’re a sandal person, but want to have a little more coverage on your trail. They’re extremely lightweight, made from mesh, polyester webbing and synthetic leather with open sides for ventilation. While the fabric is thin and light, you can feel their durability and they will still help protect your toes and majority of your foot from any debris. They lace up with a quick cord lock, and are treated with an antimicrobial application for odor protection— pretty important when you’re moving a lot… and through random water.

Outcross 1.5

The Outcross 1.5 shoes were the ones that made it on my trip with me. They have a more full-coverage design, with a breathable mesh material enclosing the entire foot, with a Lycra Neoprene heel and film toe cap. They have the same quick cord lock to adjust the tightness of the shoe, and a pull tab at the back for easy on and off if you’re switching into these from normal hiking shoes. I wore them on the 15 hour plane ride to and from Israel, since they make really great barefoot walking shoes. The reason I ended up packing these was because I wanted the extra protection for the activities we had planned such as water rafting, water hikes and of course the rock laden dead sea, where you’re not supposed to sink your toes in the sand.

Which pair do I prefer?

While I brought the Outcross 1.5 shoes with me on my trip, I actually wish I had brought the Outcross Free shoes after testing both of them more upon my return. While the Outcross 1.5s do feel more sturdy, they’re definitely a little heavier both in and out of the water. Plus, the extra fabric that provides coverage is extra time that it takes for them to completely dry. I didn’t find these particularly comfortable to continue wearing after they’re wet, while the Outcross Frees drain a lot easier with the thinner material and open sides. On top of that, while the full coverage design helped against scrapes on rocks and other obstacles, sand and dust were still able to get through the coral vents, so on that level it didn’t really help. They both have extremely solid soles with the same EcoTread (made of 25% recycled rubber compound) that give you good traction in and out of the water, plus a very comfortable and supportive insole. Plus, the entire Outcross collection comes in vibrant colors that I love, and are designed to look great in any casual situation, whether you’re lounging, running errands or staying active.

At home, I also prefer to slip on the Outcross Free shoes when I’m out and about or walking around my complex. I’m not a huge fan of sandals because of how quickly they let my feet get dirty, so these help me let my feet breathe in the LA sun while feeling more protected.

The Outcross 1.5 shoes are available on Amazon for $115 and the Outcross Free shoes are available on Amazon for $110.00. While the price is on the steeper side, anybody who knows the Chaco brand– including myself now– will tell you that these shoes are sturdy, and will last you many adventures. While most of my friends ended up throwing their water shoes away at the end of the trip, I was happy that mine still looked good as new after some serious wear time.

What do you use water shoes for?

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