Image
Image
Eight fan favorites. Three head-to-head rounds. Only one winner. (Illustration: Mark Todd)
Image

Sandal Battle

The People Have Spoken. Here Is Your Sandal Battle Winner.

One month and 26,000 votes after kicking off our favored footwear tournament, we have a victor

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

This article is part of Outside’s Sandal Battle. View the full field of contestants here. Here’s our recap of the Final Four, and our recap of the Elite Eight. Below is our breakdown of the championship round.

It’s been a month since we started the Sandal Battle, and yet no amount of polling or voting analysis could capture how heated (or how passionately) people felt while seeing their favorite sandals duke it out. I realized that some of the most revealing information about this tournament—about how readers really felt about these matchups—came in the form of text messages from my friends in the past week.

“Your report is CONTROVERSIAL,” one friend wrote me about the final round between Chaco and Birkenstock. “Chaconians UNITE.” She also sent a screenshot of a text exchange with her partner. “This is fucking outrageous,” their partner said. “I’ve been following this for weeks and wanted to send you the link for the final round cause I swore it was gonna be Chaco v Tevas.” (We did, too.) “Birks are def gonna win,” one friend texted the group chat. “Not saying I agree. I’m a Keen Canteen kinda guy.” Another friend replied to him: “My vote was tevas. Ngl.”

The Bracket

Last week, I scrolled Outside’s Instagram account, where we posted about the championship round. One commenter expressed the stalemate nature of this relaxation-versus-performance bout between the two brands: “I mean, let’s be honest, no one actually wins in this tournament.”

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, reader. But after 26,113 total votes, you all spoke and have indeed crowned a winner. And that winner is…

The Champion: Chaco

(1) Chaco Versus (5) Birkenstock

(Illustration: Mark Todd)

Congratulations, Z-strap fanatics! Chaco stormed its way to the championship and blew through the Elite Eight, Final Four, and the final round. And the results aren’t really surprising: Chaco was the tournament favorite. Chaco remained unflappable in the face of heavyweights, handing easy losses to Adidas, Keen, and Birkenstock. Considering that there were more than 26,000 total votes over the course of the entire Sandal Battle, 1,700 votes could feel like small potatoes. But that’s all it took for Chaco to be crowned champion.

While Birkenstock has a hardcore cadre of supporters as evidenced by its run through the draw, the slip-ons were always going to have their hands full with the ultimate mountain-town staple. Birks are simply not up for the outdoor adventures that Chacos are and that was reflected in the drubbing handed out in the championship. “In the end, the best adventure sandal won,” writes podcast producer Maren Larsen. “Even this Birken-stan has a pair of Chacos in her closet.”

And that’s it, folks. It was a clean tournament, hard fought, that led to what some may say was an inevitable victory. But we’ll leave you with this message: all feet are different; you do you.

Lead Illustration: Mark Todd

Read this next