Which outdoor sandal wins?

by

Lauren Stiles

This or That

July 8, 2021

Chacos and Tevas are highly popular brands for hiking/outdoor sandals that can be worn on the trail, in the water, and just around for errands. A lot of (mostly “granola" or outdoorsy) people have strong opinions regarding which is their favorite, but so far I haven’t been convinced by either party.

Chacos are made from a vegan polyurethane midsole and rubber compound outsole containing 25% recycled rubber. The straps are polyester. Tevas are made from a EVA midsole and rubber outsole as well Their straps are recycled plastic REPREVE yarn. Even though both brands use similar materials, neither company goes into much detail about where their materials are sourced, meaning there’s no reliable way for us to evaluate their sustainability.

When it comes to manufacturing, Chacos takes the lead. Chacos are made in Rockford, MI while Tevas are made in China, El Salvador, and Vietnam. Since Chacos are made more locally, distribution of their sandals likely has less of a carbon footprint than Tevas.

Chacos also has a program called ReChaco Repair which provides consumers with the option to send their used sandals to their factory in Michigan for repairs. In 2019, Chaco repaired 25,000 sandals. This program is an excellent example of a company actually caring about the impact of their product. Instead of planning for their product to fall apart within a certain number of years so that costumers will just buy a new pair, Chacos makes an effort to ensure that their well loved products remain out of the landfill for as long as possible. I love to see this.

To be fair, Tevas also has a program to divert its products from the landfill. Consumers can send their used Tevas back to be recycled by the program TerraCycle. On Tevas website, it mentions that their sandals are repurposed as running tracks, playgrounds, and other things. This program is good for sandals that have been used beyond repair though it would be cool if they had a repair program similar to Chacos’ as well.

Overall, I would say that these two brands are comparable when it comes to sustainability. I would say that neither sandal type wins. Both use some recycled material yet do not disclose as much as they should about their sourcing. One thing that might set Chacos apart from Tevas is that their manufacturing is done in the US instead of other countries. But, when it comes down to it, both companies need to improve on their transparency. We need more information. This is such a common theme when it comes to evaluating sustainability and is something that I would love to see more companies/corporations like Chacos and Tevas recognize. It is certainly past time. 

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