You’ve heard of snakes on a plane. But how about Crocs on a plane?
My wife, a makeup artist who spends hours standing, decided to try a pair of Crocs to relieve persistent foot pain. While she tried on different pairs in a Crocs store last summer, I turned up my nose.
“You should try them,” she told me after selecting a black-and-white marbled set. I declined but was curious. Could these clogs be that comfortable that people would willingly wear something so, well, ugly? When she wasn’t looking, I slipped a pair on. I walked a few steps, felt the textured insole cradle and depressurize my instep like a team of tiny reflexologists and promptly set my aesthetic misgiving on fire.
Founded in 2002 in Boulder, Colorado, by three friends, the shoes are molded from Croslite, a proprietary resin that’s lightweight, nontoxic, waterproof, antimicrobial and a cinch to clean. The thick nonslip sole and Braille-like interior provide comfort and support, while the honeycombed top allows for airflow, reducing foot sweat and odor.
They would be sensible to wear around the house, I reasoned. Good transitional footwear between the seasons, like slippers. No one would see them, or see me in them. So I bought a pair in green for $49.99.
From 2019 to 2020, Crocs e-commerce sales in the Americas increased nearly 81%, with wholesale increasing 42%, according to a July report in Fortune that added, “The ungainly but comfy Crocs clogs reached new heights of popularity during the pandemic as not only the ideal work-from-home shoe but as a fashion statement spotted on the feet of Justin Bieber and on the Oscar red carpet worn by Questlove.”
As planned, I wore them around the house. Then I started wearing them to run errands. Then I started wearing them to dinner. Then, as an October work trip to Orlando approached, I started wondering, “Could I wear them on the plane?”
Once again, my wife led the way. “I’m wearing mine,” she said as we packed, and I followed suit, wondering if we’d wind up on Passenger Shaming. By this time, I was a full-on Crocs convert, wearing them more than my new Nikes, evangelizing about how great my feet felt, but I was still unsure about wearing them on the plane. While my Crocs offered sublime support and comfort walking the dogs or around Target, I had no way of knowing whether they’d hold up during the ambulatory rigors of travel. I was heading into a blind test-drive.
Functionally, one of the most useful features of Crocs is their sturdy straps. They rotate 180 degrees like bucket handles: Forward lets you wear the shoes like casual moccasins; flipping them around the back secures the ankles for sustained walking. This came in handy when the TSA PreCheck lane was closed at airport security and I had to take my Crocs on and off — no unlacing, no back-of-shoe smushing — and while there was no need to test this on a two-hour flight from Philly, the easy on/off nature of Crocs would be a dream on a long-haul international flight for trips from your seat to the lavatory.
Hours of travel and roughly 10,000 steps later, I checked into my hotel at Universal Studios and my feet felt fine. None of the tension or throbbing I usually experience, even in my most comfortable sneakers, after trudging through two airports.
“I think I’m going to wear them in the park tomorrow,” my wife said. “Are you wearing yours?”
No, I couldn’t. A travel day was one thing. Multiple miles trekking around a theme park, standing in lines for who knows how long, was another.
I could and did over the next four days, through both of Universal’s theme parks, plus Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And I wasn’t alone. Gators might populate Orlando’s swamps, but the theme parks were a fertile Crocs habitat.
What I appreciated most was how cool and dry the hole-punched tops kept my feet in the squelchy Central Florida heat. Those holes did let in water when thick humidity gave way to rain, but I simply stripped off my socks, and when the precipitation stopped, my feet and shoes dried within minutes. Nobody caught in an Orlando downpour in sneakers can say that.
The versatility of the set of Crocs was useful in the mornings at the hotel too, when I slipped out of the room to grab a coffee in the lobby. I don’t know about you, but I don’t travel with slippers, and I hate having to put on socks and sneakers at 7 a.m.
Ultimately, comfort remains Crocs’ biggest selling point. Over my four days spent in Florida, I racked up 87,777 steps in my Crocs — that’s about 40 miles. My feet remained pain-free, and because of such solid, supportive footing, my legs and back did as well. The pair of Nikes I packed went unworn. Next trip, I’ll probably leave them home altogether.
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