Northern-climate Chaconians, rejoice! You now have options that don’t need to hibernate in winter: The muklukish Chaco Belyn Baa boots.
The Belynn Baa’s are part of the Chaco’s new winter boot line that is now available at retail. They’re kind of a long-awaited engineering marvel:
- Pull-on, lace-up style.
- Nine inches of full-grain leather (suede) upper.
- ChaPU™ midsole and contoured LUVSEAT™ platform for the classic Chaco arch support and alignment.
- Low-profile Vibram® outsoles to enhance stability on backcountry snow and icy city sidewalks.
- Full shearling lining and pigskin sockliners to keep out cold.
- Taped seams to keep out the wet.
I first met these boots at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 where Chaco provided me a pair to test during the remainder of the winter. I did, naturally, and discovered three additional items not mentioned by Chaco:
- Snowshoe compatible
- Gaiter compatible
- They’e the Siberian Husky of the Chaco line
If you’re buying these to look cute about town, or après ski, you will (and have superior traction), but they also love the snow. Discovering their snowshoe compatibility came by happenstance.
I brought them along on a snowshoe hike on the North Shore in February because I wanted to experience the Chaco footbed on seven miles of winter hiking in snowshoes. (Note: I packed extra pairs of warm socks and toe warmers just in case my theory failed)
The Belyn Baa’s performed as well as my trusted and proven Steger Mukluks. They fit into snowshoe bindings, accommodate gaiters, kept my feet dry and warm and when the snowshoes came off, I had excellent stability from the footbed.
That’s because Chaco has nailed it in the footbed department. It’s what sets them apart (and way above) all other footbeds on the market and the Belyn Baa boots are no exception. Using the same footbed as their sandals, the Belyn Baa’s are therapeutic and comfortable with the most support you’ll ever find hands down. The unique curved footbed, called LUVSEAT™, ensures that your feet and body are aligned properly and are supported to control pronation. Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls too far inward, resulting in stress on the muscles and tendons of the foot.
It all may sound like footbed smack-talk but this design has a specific purpose. It relieves the stress that can radiate through the body causing injuries to your neck, back, hips, femurs, knees, shins and feet and also relieves the pain felt from flat feet and plantar fasciitis. In other words, Chacos save your joints.
Walking on snow is challenging both in stamina and the stress on your joints. So I love that a pair of boots have come along that address the elementary concept that walking on snow has its own set of unique challenges to your joints.
During the winter, good boots are the barrier between fun and frostbite. I still swear by my Steger Mukluks because they’re comfortable, warm, made in the U.S.A. (Ely, MN) and if I ever winter in Antarctica or spend the night at 27,000 feet high in the Himalayas, I know I’ll be return with my toes intact. But what Steger possesses in comfort, warmth, duability, reputation, country of origin and continents they can travel to, they lack in arch support.
The Belyn Baa’s do have one point of contention on their glowing list of accolades. They’re not entirely waterproof. Keep in mind that I walked seven miles in snowshoes with these boots and my feet stayed dry and warm. However, I was wearing gaiters. If you slog through slush or water, prepare for cold, wet footsies.
Pricewise, they’re relatively compatible with Steger Mukluks. They retail at $220 and, like Steger, they’re a good investment for winter an many winters to come. Though the Belyn Baa’s repel salt crud from sidewalks easier than the Stegers do. With Steger, you actually have to put a concerted effort into cleaning the salt; The Belynn Baa’s just require a couple of passes with a damp wash cloth.
Chacos also have a surprisingly long life-span thanks to unparalleled product support with ReChaco, Chaco’s repurposing program. You can easily plan on wearing your Chacos for ten years or more. When it’s time (and your Chacos will tell you when it’s time), send them back to Chaco. Their team of sandal repair specialists will patch and mend the worn and torn bits to give your Chacos a new start.
If you live in Minneapolis, you can find the Belyn Baa boots at REI. Or, you can always buy them directly online at www.chacos.com