I wear 'em all the time!
I love my chacos. They are wonderful shoes and I wear them all the time. I'm a guy and was never really into shoes.. but once I discovered hiking footwear such as chacos, I became an instant shoe lover.
Alright so, I use mine when hiking, wading in the water, walking around town, jumping off waterfalls, squishing through the mud, traveling, and so on. Whenever and wherever I can wear my chacos, I will.
It's so nice having my feet exposed to the air, free to breathe. It feels so natural and I feel much more connected with my environment.
I do a lot of waterhikes and Keens seem to be more popular than chacos, but keens seem to be marketed more specifically towards watershoes while chacos are more all-around walking shoes. People have even hiked the AT in chacos. I often bring up that fact when people are surprised to see me hiking in chacos.
I can jog or even run if I need to in chacos, but I wouldn't consider them running shoes. It's good to know that you can run if you need to in these.
When swimming I've found chacos to work better than sneaker-based watershoes. The big footbed works better as a flipper than contoured shoes, though I prefer barefeet over chacos.
I get better traction in chacos than I do in barefeet. The only things I've found that I don't get traction on are steeply sloped wet rocks, or those really slippery slime-covered rocks you find in the water. The traction overall is excellent and I trust my life to these shoes. With a lot of the things I do, I basically have to.
I'd love to give these shoes 5 stars, but there are some limits that it's helpful to be aware of. They're not showstoppers, but simply good things to be conscious of.
Boulder hopping feels good in chacos, but when crossing rugged boulder fields, I prefer my trailrunners or real hiking boots. It's not just about the ankle support, but also the tighter grip around my foot. For hiking I haven't found the lack of ankle support to be an issue. Your ankles will strengthen so you'll be alright. Poles help too of course, especially when on rugged terrain or when wearing a heavy pack.
Foot/toe protection may occasionally be an issue and it's something people often inquire about. Sometimes you'll have a stick poke your foot and get lodged in between your foot and the sandal, sticking out of it like a funky appendage. I rarely encounter problems with exposed toes, but it does happen. A summer of hiking several times a week and I only ran into chipped toe nails twice, and this was during a swim in somewhat rocky water. Sometimes when walking you may accidentally kick a boulder where a higher part sticks out more so that your toe bumper goes underneath it and it's your toes that make impact. The vast majority of the time, however, the front of the sole acts as a bumper, effectively protecting your foot. I normally wear a size 9 shoe. Size 8 was a bit too tight but size 9 works if I cinch the straps down all the way. You'll notice the extended toe bumper this larger sole offers me in the pics. Having the straps cinched down all the way means that I often have a long excess strap hanging off the side of the shoe which hasn't really ever been an issue for anything other than looks.
The straps definitely do chafe. This doesn't happen to everyone, but for me this is probably the biggest issue. I get hotspots after about 5 miles of hiking which soon turn into blisters if I don't take care of them. If I hike through water, hot spots will start making themselves known within 2 miles max. If your straps chafe, get some body glide. I don't hike in chacos without it anymore.
Dirt sometimes gets into the footbed where the straps slink in and cleaning the inside of them can be somewhat of an issue, leaving this gritty sensation when trying to adjust the strap length.
Pebbles sometimes may get caught between your foot and the footbed, but cleaning them out isn't too difficult. You can often shake them out, but sometimes you may need to loosen the straps and do some work to free those pebbles.
The toe strap sometimes gets annoyingly tight and I have to go in and adjust the strap length. This isn't just when the feet swell during a hike either. It can even happen the next time I put on the sandal, oddly enough.
I do like having the toe strap though. It helps keeps the sole very well attached to my foot. The only time my foot comes out is when I'm kicking hard when swimming in the water. Otherwise it does a good job.
You can hike without a single worry about mud or puddles. In fact, you may find yourself going out of your way to step in puddles, play in the water, or squish through the mud. While your shoe-wearing buddies will be doing their best to find dry boulders and delicately walk across a river to keep their feet dry, you'll be thoroughly enjoying yourself by walking straight into the water without hesitation. It makes life so easy. Just beware of others getting jealous of how much fun you're having... :p I've found that since I can walk right into the water, I can be of assistance to those who are trying to cross along the boulders.
So yeah, they're excellent shoes. I really love mine. I assume that wherever I go, it's likely that I'll be getting wet or want to go hiking. Whether it starts raining, I see a nice little dirt path I can take instead of a paved sidewalk, or I feel like spontaneously heading over to a local park, it's great knowing that my casual everyday shoe is also a hiking shoe and I can do whatever I want without worry about changing or keeping an extra pair of shoes with me.
They're useful, multi-purpose, comfortable, give you an awesome chaco tan (way better than the keens tiger tan or pale foot sneaker tan IMHO), attractive, and just all around awesome shoes.
While it will take some time for you to break in the shoes, particularly the footbed, get yourself a pair, walk in them for a while, then take them out with you on a hike. They're excellent shoes. :)
Excellent Outdoor Sandal
I've had my Z/2's for seven years and dread the day I have to give them up. The soles are just now starting to wear a bit thin, the straps are still in great condition though. I've guided for a whitewater outfitter for several years and I have used these sandals for every single trip. I've also wore them on countless backpacking and hiking trips. It's safe to say that I've put them through the wringer and they're still going strong.
When I first bought them, I was a bit apprehensive about the toe-loop. They took a bit of getting used to, but once I got the toe strap adjusted just right, I will never go back. They came highly suggested by other guides, so I decided to try them and I'm glad I did!
They are simply the most stable sandals you can work/play in, hands down. Yes there are other shoes out there that might a bit more stable, but they're just that...shoes. Shoes might offer a bit more protection as well, but they do not offer the freedom and breathability that the Z/2's do.
As with pretty much any sandal, I suggest you clean them every so often to keep them from stinking, but that's a given. Otherwise, they're the most breathable thing you can have on your feet while still protecting them. Many adventurers, guides, photographers, filmmakers, etc...use these, especially in wet and/or humid environments where shoes and socks become a problem to keep clean and dry.
They work great on land and in the water, with one exception...although it should be a given as well. They're not the greatest things to wear to the beach. Sand gets in the footbed, in the straps, and between the straps and your feet...leading to some serious abrasion if used for an extended amount of time in that environment. Once you get in the water though, chug them a few times and that will get most of the sand out. Occasionally you might want to pull the straps back and forth in the footbed and rinse them out as well.
I prefer to use these over hiking boots/shoes on most of my lighter trips although for trips with heavier loads, they do not offer the same support as a boot and were not designed to. As for sheer distance, I've never had a problem. Although to prevent chafing, you need to properly adjust them and have them broken in before taking any longer trips.
The only problem that I can really think of is for some people who aren't used to them, they can be a bit heavy. That's the tradeoff though for a super-tough pair of sandals that will take anything you can throw at them.
One of the big things that people (including myself) love about Chacos, is the ability to send the sandals back to have them resoled and/or restrapped in the event of a mishap or if they are simply worn out.
The bottom line, these are great sandals for casual all the way to commercial use and they look great in the process. The footbed is very supportive and will accommodate just about any foot given you pick the right size and width. Chaco's have an almost cult-like following and it's for good reason...they're tough as nails, comfortable, and the signature Z's they leave on your feet(tan-lines) are a huge bragging right!
the world's best technical sandals
These are, hands down, the best technical sandals in the world. Simplicity of design reigns supreme: One continuous strap and a two-piece Vibram sole guarantee durability, fit, and technical performance in the most adverse of conditions. No other sandal, not Tevas nor Keens nor Birks, can match it in performance or simple good looks.Unfortunately, even as the best, they're still not perfect. For me, their flaws are:- Arch support. Yeah, yeah, I know people love the arch support. Personally, as someone with a naturally high arch who prefers minimalist footwear, I could stand for the sole to be a lot flatter. I know it's not likely for Chaco to change a part of its design which is so integral, but it would be nice if they offered a flatter alternative which also took into account the shoe's:- High profile. I think this is related to the supportive design. There's just a lot of unnecessary bulk in the sole that adds weight and clunkiness to the appearance of the sandal. It seems to me that Chaco could cut a solid centimeter of material from the height of the insole without sacrificing the grip or function of the outsole. And, speaking of:- Weight. This is a heavy sandal. You mightn't specifically notice it while walking around or hiking, but in ventures when every ounce counts, it would be nice to know that your shoes aren't unnecessarily draining your energy as you walk.- Made in China. This has nothing to do with the design or performance of the sandals, which, from what I can tell, has not changed. But for a company that purports to care about the environment, and markets to a consumer audience that has vested interest in preserving the environment, it strikes me as an incredibly poor decision to engage in overseas production simply to save a couple bucks per sandal. The shipment of vast quantities of cargo across the oceans contributes 40% of air pollution, and the 15 largest ships in the world emit more sulphur oxide pollution than all automobiles combined. Surely Chaco must know about the environmental impacts of its decision to move production overseas, to say nothing of the loss of jobs here in the US.Anyway... despite their flaws, and my failing confidence in Chaco's corporate ethics, these remain the industry standard for technical sandals.As far as the Z1 vs. Z2 debate goes, I'm on the fence. I own both. I like the toe-wiggling freedom that the Z1s afford, but when you need your whole foot secured to your sandal in muddy or rocky conditions, having that extra toe strap helps. I've also noticed that the strap of the Z2 is slightly narrower which, I think, is a more flattering look than the thick straps of the Z1, especially on my petite feet (though folks with bigger feet might prefer the look of the thicker straps).For those of you scared by the high price... don't be. Like a house, a car, or even a high-quality jacket, Chacos are an investment. Between the lifetime warranty, Chaco's own repair shop, and the sandals' inherent durability, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to rock a single pair of Chacos for up to a decade or longer. They are well-worth their retail price, and even better if you can find them on sale. And if you aren't satisfied with them, there's always REI's infinite return policy.
love at first sight
When i first saw these they reminded me of tarahumara (indian nation) sandals, because of the toe strap. So i reckoned they would be good for running because the toe strap keeps the front of the sandal close to the foot and doesn't "flap". When i jogged in them the straps became tighter fitting. I wonder if i had the right size, even though they were great to me... I got basic black and found them to be very good looking. I had them for two years or more and the bottom were barely beginning to wear thin. I love the vibram bottom because they are as sturdy as a boot and the sole's lugs grip as well as a boot! Outstanding in rivers! Caveat...after more than two years the straps were very slightly frayed and in the river beside the city of Sedona, AZ, the smooth, fine, mud swallowed my feet up to my shins and ripped the straps off of one of the sandals. I was bummed about it. So if you are in sticky mud pull your feet up and out gracefully and tenderly. Cause these sandals deserve that much care as rugged and faithful as they can be, aye. They are great even when swimming. And like many sandals will not be pulled off by water currents or ocean waves. It is unfortunate that they always made my big toe sore, again, i wonder if i chose the right size or what. I hate to gross anyone out but after awhile the skin cells and funk get into the holes where the strap goes into the soles and collects to a nasty degree. When cleaning them i had to move the straps back and forth through the holes to get out the entire funk. oh yeah, tiny rocks and sand will get stuck in those areas, too. ...peace out.
After numerous recommendations from friends I finally sprung and bought myself a pair of Chacos. I bought them right before leaving for Europe as I wanted to have a durable sandal to wear while walking, traveling, whatevering. It took a day or so of readjusting the straps before I found the right fit. Take your time and find a fit you like, it's worth it and makes all the difference.
First day in Paris I walked about 6 miles with my brand new Chaco sandals. Bad idea... I'm a runner and a hiker and am usually smart about breaking shoes in, oops. Ended up with a small blister on the side of my ankle where the strap rubs. After some proper breaking in (of the shoes and my feet) I have had zero issues with blisters, chafing, or sore spots. I put many, many more miles on them that trip and continue to wear them on a regular basis.
The only downside I can find thus far is that your toes do not have protection like some other brands of sandals. However, you are wearing a sandal, so I feel as though that is to be expected. In addition, the sole is extra thick and extends a bit beyond my toes so it does offer some protection. As of yet I have never stubbed a toe in these.
Bottom line: this is a quality sandal. I know a number of people who have had their Chacos for several years with little signs of wearing out. I'm planning on owning these for a long time to come.
Everyday and Adventuring
I'm on to year 3 with my Chacos, and they continue to be the perfect shoe for all kinds of circumstances. For those who found them uncomfortable right away, be patient! I found particularly the soles to be rough on my feet the first few weeks, but I kept wearing them around town until they broke in, and now I can hardly tell I have them on. (You wouldn't think you would need to break in sandals, but with these it is often necessary.) Things I would not recommend: buying a brand new pair of Chacos and going for a 10 mile hike. Things I would recommend: taking a well-worn pair of Chacos on a 10 mile hike.
Other adventures my Chacos and I have been on together include hiking and camping in Colorado, floating rivers in Missouri and Texas, outcrop-jumping in Utah, and field work in the Caribbean. The latter includes no foofy drinks with umbrellas on beaches, but lots of knee-deep tidal flat mud with big sharp shells, and the occasional wade through hypersaline lakes, which corroded almost everything that touched them except my Chacos. The only downside I've seen is occasionally forgetting to sunscreen my feet, which I'm pretty sure has made my stylish Chaco tan permanent. Actually make that 2 downsides - the other includes algal funk and mud working its way down under the straps in the footbed, which smelled terrible until I figured out that chucking my shoes in a washing machine makes them look (and smell!) brand-new.
Moral of the story: Get some Chacos! Go on adventures!
Best footbed out there
When I first got my Z2 Chacos I had some trouble getting used to the big toe strap. I often found the strap tightening around the toe and cutting off circulation. But after getting them wet a bunch of times and wearing them a lot, the straps seemed to find the right place. And once you get them to fit you perfectly, this sandal stays in place in all conditions. If your feet are wet and muddy and you are hiking steep trail, you won't need to worry about your foot slipping around inside the bed--an issue with my Tevas and Keens. As for the footbed, it beats all the competition by a mile. I could walk fifty miles in them without a stop. Great arch support, nice heel cup. The only other negatives has been that the soul wears out fairly quickly. I have sent mine back to be resoled several times now--almost annually. And it isn't exactly cheap to resole them, but what gets returned to you is like a brand new sandal. I also had them re-webbed once when my dog chewed through them. I've tried just about every sports sandal, but the Chaco Z2 is the one I put on most of the time, especially when I'm going to be doing some real hiking, creeking, etc. But clean them up and wear them out to dinner at a beach side restaurant and they are good for that, too. They are on my feet almost every day from May to September.
Every single day, all summer long.
Plunked down the cash for these three years ago. I could hardly believe I was spending around [$] for a simple pair of sandals! Outrageous?!!NOT OUTRAGEOUS AT ALL. In fact, probably the best [$] I've ever spent on foot wear. I couldn't possibly make this review glow enough. These are the best; the only sandals you'll ever need. I've been wearing mine about 120 days a year for three years, and they still look like they did in the store the day I bought 'em.They're uber comfortable because of the total adjustability of the straps and the great arch support. They fit so well to my feet I can even run short distances in them without any discomfort or rubbing.I don't have to change shoes for hikes and pick-up games of football anymore. I just cinch down the straps and get going. When I get home I use an old toothbrush to scrub down the footbed. If they're really dirty, I just throw 'em in the wash. Beautiful.My feet are pretty thin, so during my first Chaco off-season, I sent these to Chaco for their free shortening of the strap. The shipping charge was definitely worth not having to tuck it in anymore.I would recommend these over the Chaco Z1's. I really like the extra support of the toe strap, and having it between my toes doesn't bother me like I thought it would.Get you a pair!
I would buy this product again and again
Have had 2 other pairs of chacos as well as a new pair of these (edgy color) and they all feel great. The only reason I got new ones was because I wanted a new color. and I put that they feel halfsize bigger is because with chacos you dont really leave room for yourself at the end. Your toes are supposed to come closer to the end unlike shoes where you usually leave half an inch or sumthing like that. For example im a sz. 13 in any shoe but I wear a sz 12 chaco. I was very happy to see that the edgy color ones that I got look dark green instead of a dark grey color like the picture shows. I wear these every where and they always feel as great as when I first purchased them. I sometimes have a tendency to let my heel drag, mostly with my other pair. So after 2 years the heel started waering down, and I followed the directions on chaco's website and I had chaco re-sole them. They did a great job and it was easy to do. Overall great sandals and great company. Something that will last forever.
I love Chacos! At first I was really skeptical if they would last longer than a week because it was only webbing. Then I also wondered if I would get horrible chaffing. Lastly I also wondered if the arches really would be supportive enough if I had a back pack on.
Well, I have had my Chacos for over 2 years and I have treated them horribly. The webbing is VERY strong and long lasting, it only chaffed a little bit in the beginning, and the are great for backpacking on trails with out tons of fist sized rocks. As far as durable goes, They are spectacular! i've taken these rockclimbing (pretty good on edging even!)hiking, backpacking, to just wear around camp, and Canyoneering.
These sandals are also great in the water. I found their ability to "grab" wet rocks to be amazing.
After wearing them for 2 years they can become smelly if not washed enough.
You have to be careful when walking in rivers so you don't cut your toes on rocks.
But yeah, i love them! I look forward to at least another 2 years of using them!