This article is part of Outside‘s Sandal Battle. See the full field of applicants here. Here’s our recap of the Elite Eight. Below is our breakdown of the Final Four action. Additionally, we have a preview of the championship round.
Here it is, friends. The final game. After more than 20,000 votes in the previous two rounds, you’ve chosen your favorites. Hearts were shattered, hopes were dashed, and rallying cries were shouted (some turned into moans after exits and upheavals early in the round). But what else would you expect in such an intense tournament? This is the championship round of the Sandal Battle. Vote below!
(1) Chaco vs. (3) Vivid
My analogies to Final Four college basketball turned out to be semi-accurate. Keen simply couldn’t compete with the Chaco and his army of rabid supporters, who gobbled up over 72% of the vote, while Keen struggled to muster 800 votes in this penultimate battle. Take heart, Keen, and your devoted camp of close enthusiasts. This match is an important reminder of the nature of the battle of sandals. The goal is not to choose better sandal, as this may vary depending on the activity. Instead, it’s about going with your instincts and picking your favorite. So don’t worry, Keen. You are a sandal that will forever be adored by dads and river rats alike. Chaco just shone a little brighter today.
(2) Teva vs. (5) Birkenstock
It’s a sad day for Teva fans. And given the brand’s huge fanbase, that means it’s a sad time for a lot of people: hikers, cyclists, climbers, walkers, city dwellers, and more. Second-seeded Teva triumphed over Rainbow in the first round but couldn’t resist the Birkenstock wave in the Final Four. It was a close contest, however, with Teva netting just under 44% of the vote.
We all have a sporting friend who will brag about correctly predicting the outcome of a match, especially if it’s a surprise. Yes, very well, Scott, you called him. Well, now you know one more person like that. Don’t you say “I called him!” but I called him. A number five seed knocking out a number two seed makes it the biggest upset of the tournament. Could you call this the biggest upset of the century? I won’t put words in your mouth. Kidding aside, Teva has had a good run. The sandal will continue to bridge streetwear and casual recreation with outdoor adventures for years to come. Kudos to you Teva.
(1) Chaco vs. (5) Birkenstock
How do you preview a heavyweight fight like this? The vote comes down to what the two sandals represent. “Chaco is the shoe you strap on for any active summer adventure – rafting, rock climbing, escaping spooky sounds at night, and just about everything in between,” writes associate editor Tasha Zemke. “Birks are the shoes you slip into after the day is done and kick back to relax. Both equally exceptional in their regard, but distinct too. What makes this vote so difficult is that Chaco and Birkenstock represent the purest duality: sweaty activities in the sun and downtime to unwind afterwards. You need both experiences to have a full day.
I don’t really know how this one will turn out, but there can only be one winner. Maren Larsen, Birkenstock follower and podcast producer, expressed a bit of concern as the championship round approached: “I just think the Chaco stans are powerful,” she wrote to me. She might be onto something, as it looks like Chaco is gaining converts. Outdoor Equipment Group Director Will Taylor, perhaps a little sore from Teva’s exit from the race, is all about Chaco: “If Birkenstock wins the championship in an outdoor sandal contest , all hope is lost,” he wrote.
Now is the time to make your voice heard, reader. Cast your final vote below to crown the ultimate sandal. No pressure.