This Thing Rules

The Swiss Army knife of Crocs changed how I feel about fugly clogs

All it took was some gaiters and an abundance of gizmos, thanks to designer Nicole McLaughlin.

Nicole McLaughlin Crocs

Despite all the words I had dedicated to covering this year of Crocs flourishing, I had yet to indulge in the trend. That’s nice, but it’s not for me, I thought as I saw Croc after Croc get weirder and weirder through the vision of collaborators that have included Beams, Grateful Dead x Chinatown Market, and Bad Bunny. I didn’t even learn from my past mistakes, when I resisted the initial rise of Crocs as a kid until I found a pair with the Denver Nuggets logo on them.

Once again, I have seen the light and regretted my rejection of the comfort Crocs bring. All it took was a pair from Nicole McLaughlin, the upcycling whiz who turned the foam clogs into a veritable outdoor pack. Her collaboration makes Crocs fully loaded with a headlamp, stuff sack, compass, carabiner, and a bundle of rope all attached. Helping to store all these gizmos is a pair of ankle-length gaiters that come permanently attached.

The Swiss Army knife of footwear

The shoe itself is your standard Croc, altered only to replace the brand’s logo with a tent and McLaughlin’s initials in what I hope becomes her own logo going forward. It’s a sharp little number, and any other branding would be excessive because the decorations already announce themselves as her own. All the gear attached is cheekily excessive, more utilitarian than necessary but all the more charming because she dared to think of it.

One of my only gripes is that the collaboration could have come on one of Crocs’ many more outdoor-equipped clogs that come with more aggressive tread and/or durable materials. The choice would have been a natural fit for a shoe designed with activities like hiking and rock climbing in mind, but then it likely would have pushed the price up. $79 for all the accessories included is a relatively good deal, and it’s possible Crocs was wary of trying to sell something for closer to $100.

Ian Servantes/Input

My favorite feature, however, are the maroon and green gaiters, which can be cinched up for a more snug fit. This allows the heel straps to be worn forward and all times and even gives the shoes more ankle support than you’d typically get with Crocs. On the heels of these nylon gaiters are two pockets, one of them zippered, which makes for a good spot to stash some cash or drugs.

Part of the fun of these shoes is that they provide a challenge for what the hell to wear with them. Based on my experience so far, I don’t think they’re well suited for any pair of pants. Fortunately, I was treated to a 70-degree October Saturday and paired them with crew socks and a pair of plain black athletic shorts. But because this seems like the most suitable pairing, I’m not sure that I’ll get a lot of wear out of the Crocs until the spring. That would have seemed like a better time for the release, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the shoes’ inherent value.

Part of the fun of these shoes is that they provide a challenge for what the hell to wear with them

Besides the gaiters, all of the other accessories affix themselves to the shoes similar to Crocs’ Jibbitz charms and can be easily removed if you want to tone down the appearance. The good news is that none of them make the shoes feel too bulky when walking, so taking them off will be more about aesthetic than comfort — or, you know, putting them to their intended use. I have a hard time imagining myself in any situation in which I need to take off and use the rope, but it’ll be staying there on my toes going forward regardless.

Ian Servantes/Input

Comfort for days

More than anything, I’m just glad that this pair has reminded me of how comfortable Crocs are. The brand has been making barely-there footwear since well before every sneaker brand had to come out with its own lightweight and ultra-cushioned sole, and it deserves to be praised for it. The nubs on the insole also provide a massage-like sensation, similar to the Offline mules Nike put out just this year. None of these are unique revelations, which is why I saved them for last, but I hope sharing this well-established knowledge may help any Crocs denialists reconsider their decision.

Speaking for myself, picking up McLaughlin’s Crocs have ensured that they won’t be my last. Whether you’re looking to add to your collection or indulge for the first time, you’ll be able to pick these up on October 27 through the Greenhouse app, and then again at a later date through both Crocs’ and Footlocker’s websites. And I highly recommend that you do, because this ridiculous creation rules.