By L. Renee Blount
When I’m outdoors, I recognize I’m highly visible. There are moments when I become highly conscious of it— when bumper stickers change, when I no longer want to get out of the car at desolate rest stops, when the way I want to be outside sometimes isn’t the way others want to be “outside.” Sometimes I want to dance. Sometimes I want to frolic. But I always want to bring the flavor and style. I want to always celebrate that I’m there.
For many, the joy comes with the summit. I think differently. There are many times where I am joyous because I am deeply aware that I am in a place that still so few people who look like me get to enjoy. So many haven’t felt invited. But I want them to feel as such through my images. And it’s what I can speak to personally.
Almost on every journey, you can see my outdoor joy in my Chacos. I initially did not think they were a shoe for me. I associated them with people that lacked style but enjoyed comfort. That’s complete honesty. It was not a shoe that was marketed for style, but rather function. I did not see anyone bring the style outside when I first noticed the salt life crowd wearing them growing up.
I began wearing Chaco sandals after fracturing my foot in 2010. It was so hot in Atlanta that summer, that I begged the podiatrist to let me get out of the stinky boot. It was killing the vibes as a youthful soul. At that point, function truly mattered. The doctor gave the option wearing of Chacos, and I said, “Bet.” I immediately bought a pair. I wore them everyday that summer because they felt good after that injury.
And that one pair then several pairs over the years. They became my go to shoe for my climbing approaches, shoots, and summer days. But I had to wear them in a way I felt fly to me. Often with socks. A thick outdoor sole where I could bring soul when I tread.
6 pairs in, I’m almost always shooting photos in them and adventuring. I use them to easily slip into and out of while climbing outdoors. When my toes hurt from climbs, I want to feel unencumbered. I prefer something that allows max utility in terms of terrain, style and comfort. The thick rubber sole provides comfort. From mountain to beach, it helps me pack light on adventure trips.
Being so highly visible, I know the shoes are visible. Thus, it’s another way to bring in my personality and the fun. I love to swag them out with my outdoor flavor. These z straps are the staple of my summer steeze. I’ve embraced the function and comfort, but the brand has embraced style. No longer a sandal for comfort, it’s my shoe where I tread lightly, visibly, and joyously.
Follow L. Renee Blount’s adventures on instagram @urbanclimbr.