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Why Crocs are the best adventure travel shoe on the market

Dec. 19, 2021
6 min read
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“Wait, you’re going to wear those?” an out-of-town friend asked me at the trailhead as we prepared for our hike.

“You’ll see,” I replied. “I feel like you might regret not wearing a pair yourself.”

The back-and-forth banter about my footwear of choice — Crocs — for a hike up a steep and rocky trail near my home in New Hampshire’s White Mountains was not new. I understood the skepticism. Most other hikers at the trailhead were lacing up their heavy-duty leather Vasque hiking boots or Salomon trail running shoes. It seemed foolish that I was opting for footwear that amounted to not much more than cleverly shaped blocks of foam with holes in them.

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I wasn't always a Crocs fan

Before relocating to a small mountain town in New Hampshire, I spent 10 years living in Philadelphia. While I never was on top of the trendiest clothing and footwear styles, I made sure that what I was wearing was, at the very least, socially acceptable. Crocs never fit that mold.

When I was introduced to them during my college years, I immediately wrote them off. “The great thing about Crocs is that not only can you use them as shoes, but they also make great personal flotation devices in the event you fall out of a boat,” I would joke whenever they were brought up.

(Photo by Robin Meurer/EyeEm/Getty Images)

But the days of writing them off ended once I settled in New Hampshire and began putting more value on practicality and functionality than on fashion and impressing others.

As I got into the world of rock climbing, I watched as climbers around me would seamlessly slip from their Crocs into their climbing shoes, and then back into their Crocs after they finished their climb.

“I’ve hiked Mount Washington in Crocs,” said Quddus Snyder, a former university professor who is now often found hanging around New Hampshire’s popular climbing destinations with his favorite pair of grey Crocs. “And I didn’t even use the adventure strap when I got to the steep section. Like I always say, 'If you can’t Croc it, fok it.’”

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The appeal of Crocs

The lightweight foam shoes, dotted on the upper half with ventilation holes and on the footbed with small, traction-providing raised dots, seemed to be mainstream in the climbing community. And Crocs and socks seemed to go hand-in-hand. (According to the Croc enthusiasts, wearing them without socks can be a little sweaty on a warm day.) Socks or no socks, I was the odd man out.

Here are a few styles of Crocs for travelers:

(Photo by Paulo Sousa/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Modeled after a boating clog made by Quebec-based Foam Creations, Inc., the first Crocs clog, named “The Beach,” made its debut in 2002 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The three friends who came up with the idea to improve upon the Foam Creations design — Scott Seamans, Lyndon Hanson and George Broedbecker Jr. — all shared a love of sailing. They were impressed by Foam Creation’s closed-cell resin technology, called Croslite, which provided excellent grip on a boat’s deck.

When “The Beach” made its first public appearance at the boat show, it was a hit not just among boaters, but also restaurant workers and hospital employees. Not only did the shoes have a slip-resistant sole and resist odor, but they also conformed to each individual’s feet, provided support and comfort unrivaled by a basic pair of sneakers and were easy to clean.

Since then, the shoe’s popularity has skyrocketed with help from celebrities like Justin Bieber and Post Malone, seemingly because of a cultural shift towards prioritizing comfort and practicality.

For me, the shoe is more than a trend. My Crocs and I have become inseparable since I purchased my first pair in 2016, replacing the Adidas Samba sneakers I used to wear daily. When traveling, leaving my Crocs at home doesn’t even seem like an option. I know they’re going to be the proper tool for any job thrown my way, from sitting on a 12-hour flight to heading to the beach to enjoying cocktails at a high-end restaurant (OK, whether the last one is actually sartorially acceptable is still up for debate). On more casual outings I wear them as slip-ons, but I don’t hesitate to use the “adventure” strap on the back, which locks the heel in place, for more active excursions.

I’ve even successfully converted a number of never-Crocers (a term coined by me) to Croc enthusiasts, including my partner. When I purchased her first pair for her birthday in 2018, her facial expression didn’t hide the offense she had taken to the gift.

“Um, I don’t think I’m going to wear those,” she said in an apologetic tone.

But less than a week after I returned them she was at the Croc outlet with a change of heart.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the rising popularity of the shoe, which spans a variety of age groups and demographics who are realizing the value of comfort and versatility.

“I started wearing them during the pandemic because we had just bought a house and I was home a lot more,” said Matt Macekura, 34, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. “I was able to easily go from sitting on the couch to doing yard work to climbing a ladder, as long as I had the strap on tight.”

Macekura isn’t alone. According to the company's third-quarter earnings for 2021, revenue is up 73% from a year earlier, exceeding expectations by $16 million.

Bottom line

With a recent surge in Crocs’ popularity — and increasing appreciation of their versatility and comfort — it’s likely that you might see a few more pairs on flights in the coming weeks, months and years. Before you slip them on and hop on a flight, however, do yourself (and your seatmate) a favor and wear socks.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more