Gear Review: Chaco Women's Updraft Bulloo

Chaco Updraft Bulloo Sandal ReviewBy Nadia Gomez

I have to confess that I've been a quiet admirer of the Chaco line of sport sandals for some years now. As a person who is forever on a quest for the perfect walking shoe—especially for the summer months—I've been drawn to their chunky ergonomic soles, sturdy straps and unassuming style.

The description of the Updraft Bulloo sandal emphasized its lightweight characteristics. When the sandals arrived, I was delighted to find they felt relatively light in my hands and featured a cushy footbed with a subtle pebble pattern. The sides of the soles were partially composed of a hard plastic, which lacks the attractiveness of the original sandal designs, though it does add a sportier look to the sandal.

I put my feet in them and the straps felt a bit tight. At first I was disappointed, but then I noticed on the inside lid of the box were instructions for how to tighten and loosen the sandals. This is an awesome feature of the Chaco sandal that I had no idea about. What seems like several straps is actually one long strap that loops through the sole of the shoe several times and can be loosened and tightened. By following the simple instructions, my sandals fit beautifully in a matter of minutes and I was ready to get walking.

For my test walk, I hit the streets of New York City, traveling about a mile and a half. The sandals immediately felt very comfy on my feet and the straps felt quite supportive and stable. My initial impression was that the arch support was a bit high, but that feeling went away after walking for a couple of minutes.

The first leg of my walk went really well and I was feeling very positive about the sandals. In the middle of my second stretch, however, I was starting to feel like the sandals were getting really heavy. Now, I am an avid walker, so I can assure it was not physical fatigue! Another thing I noticed was that the sandals kept rubbing up against one another as my walking progressed. I believe both of these issues came about because the shoes are not made with smaller-than-average people in mind. I am 5'2" and 100 lbs., and heavier shoes tend to weigh me down more than most people. Since the sandals are quite wide and I am not so wide, the shoes tended to rub together.

Final verdict: I would very much recommend these shoes for a more ruggedly built person than me—either heavier or taller—but for me they did not deliver the all-day comfort that I was looking for.

Chaco Women’s Updraft Bulloo; $115 at Chacos.com.