Chaco Ponsul Shoes - Gear Review

You can officially add another category to my footwear addiction list.  Watershoes now hold "Ultimate Junkie" status.  The latest generation have it figured out and the Ponsul Shoes from Chaco are masters of all terrain versatility.  
The Ponsuls are another piece of gear that made the 12 hour plane ride to Maui for a tropical gear test unlike anything we have done before.  I was more than comfortable trekking to the beach or running around the shopping district in Lahaina wearing these, but what really made these things happy was getting off the pavement and hitting the trails.

The trip to Hana had a little bit of everything, which made a perfect footwear test scenario.  The roughly 70 mile drive took nearly 3 hours each way, not including stops.  With over 600 curves (dozens of which were one lane wide and felt like you were about to fly off a 200 foot tall cliff and careen into the Pacific) and peppered with waterfalls, vistas and trails at pretty much any place you could find to pull the car over.  From the black sand beach and "Alice in Wonderland" Trail at Wai'anapanapa State Park to the O'heo Gulch (or 7 Sacred) Pools, every step was on different ground.

We went from gravel trails to course black lava rock sand.  Just 50 feet later we were holding onto branches of banyan trees as we climbed down a slick trail covered in tree roots to caves filled with freshwater.  The trails around the 7 sacred pools were covered in mulch, but once you left the manicured paths you were shimmying like a billy goat along jagged lava rocks right at the edge of a pool with a cascading waterfall spraying you in the face.  I was in Heaven, and so were these Chacos.

I got more crap from the rest of my group than you could possibly imagine, all thanks to these shoes.  For many of them, the footwear they chose for the day was, um... under-performing.  The point at which I knew the Ponsuls were like ATV's for my feet was when I had my 3-year-old daughter on my back, and I was waiting for the rest of my group to catch up as we scaled a rock ledge on our way out to the lower falls at the 7 sacred pools.  "Hey, Wait up" or "Slow Down" was all I heard for most of that hike.  I was walking along like I was on a concrete sidewalk while the rest were slipping all over and had no faith in their footing.

They fit much like the Chaco sandals, but with a full toe cap and a neoprene booty keeping the your foot protected from everything from a rocky trail to sugar sand invading your toes.  You have no fear of slipping out of these like you may with other booty style shoes, the Z strap system has proven secure for several generations of Chacos.  Water is shed fairly quickly, but the neoprene and foot bed feel wet longer than some of the other watershoes out there. Nothing 10 minutes baking in the Hawaii sun couldn't fix though.  Traction was great on both wet and dry surfaces.  All in all these shoes can go anywhere you want to, and will make your buddies in their flip-flops flat out mad at you.

MSRP: $120.00

On a side note:  Chaco has just launched a new site, which allows you to customize your own unique pair of Chaco sandals.  Pick from 4 different styles (Z/1, Z/2, ZX/1 or ZX/2) and countless strap and webbing options, all for a flat $125...

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