The Best Chacos For Hiking
There are few experiences quite as liberating as getting outside into nature, and hitting the hiking trails. Taking the ‘roads less traveled’ exposes us to breathtaking wildlife, otherworldly sights, fresh air, and plenty of exercise. Some hikers love these experiences so much, that they want their hiking gear to be as minimalist and natural as possible.
Chacos are a brand of minimalist sandals that are designed to let the wearer feel as if they aren’t wearing shoes at all. Having experience in the ‘shoe game’ since 1989, this eco-friendly and sustainable company has always been putting soles on feet in some pretty exotic ways.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘sandals, for hiking?! That’s absurd!’ And you’d normally be right. Typically, hiking requires the use of durable and protective boots or shoes that keep out the harsh elements on the trails. However, times have changed, and new innovations are on the horizon. Chacos are absolutely excellent for hiking–so long as you buy the right pair.
If you are in the market for an excellent pair of minimalist hiking sandals, you cannot beat Chacos. So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best Chacos hiking sandals on the market, starting with our opinion on what are the best Chaco’s for hiking.
Chaco Z/Cloud – Best Chaco’s for Hiking
The Z/Cloud lineup is aptly named for their exceptionally lightweight construction and unreal comfort. The Z/Cloud model comes with an additional polyurethane lining on the underfoot portion of the sole. This adds additional arch supports as well as cloud soft cushioning for extra comfort across long hikes.
The primary appeal of the Z/Cloud Chaco lineup is how lightweight and comfortable they are. They aren’t the most durable on the market, but they are ideal for long haul hiking adventures. Those taking all day, or multi-day excursions are going to love how freeing and weightless these hiking sandals are.
In addition to being light, the Z/Clouds are also super great for swimming without even taking them off! Hikers can jump into a lake or riverbed and run across the rocks without fear of slipping or cutting themselves on sharp undertones or debris. The manoeuvrability and low-profile design of the Z/Clouds makes the motion of swimming feel natural and ‘barefoot’.
The Z/Cloud model sandals are ones that you can put on, and forget that you are even wearing. You do sacrifice a bit in strength, but you make up for it in sheer comfort and manoeuvrability overall. These are a great choice for those who plan on taking extra long hikes, and need something that won’t bog them down.
Pros & Cons
– Extremely lightweight.
– Extra soft additional insole for better comfort and support.
– Budget friendly.
– Slightly less durable than other models.
Chaco Z/1 Classics
There is no way that we could start this list off without mentioning the traditional Z/1 Classics. These are the quintessential Chaco hiking sandal, and are by far the most popular and recognizable model.
The Chaco Z/1 Classics are everything that makes Chaco hiking sandals beautiful. They keep all of the features to a bare minimum, and simply stick to what is necessary. The soles of the Z/1 Classics are the standard ChacoGrip rubber, and are so durable that almost nothing on the trail is going to be able to penetrate them. In addition, the bottom gripping is perfect for hiking through rivers or across slippery surfaces without missing a step.
Unlike competing hiking sandal brands, Chaco Z/1 Classics don’t use velcro to secure the strapping. The Chaco Z/1 Classics come with polyester woven straps that are secured with an adjustable plastic buckle that is ultra durable. This means that you don’t have to worry about them slipping off your feet–even if you go swimming in them!
The Chaco Z/1 Classics are a hard shoe to beat when it comes to quality, durability, longevity, and simplicity. Some say that the lack of additional features makes them a downer; but others tout this as their strength. These are a great pair of minimalist hiking sandals for anyone who wants something straight, and to the point.
Pros & Cons
– Ultra durable, will last for years.
– Minimalist design that is simple to adjust.
– Great for all terrains.
– Not as comfortable or aesthetically pleasing as other models.
The Chaco Z/Canyon 2’s are designed with high performance in mind – particularly running. Those who want a pair of hiking sandals that can also handle a marathon should definitely take a look at the Z/Canyon 2’s.
The sole plating uses kinetic design to help transfer energy efficiently throughout the leg and foot when running. In addition, the back strapping is a dual-density rubber 3-D heel support mechanism that helps keep the sandal in place and secure during sprints. These sandals make it easy for extreme hikers and mountain runners to scale hills and tough terrain quickly and safely.
The outsoles of the Z/Canyon 2’s are made of the new and improved ChacoGrop+ rubber material. This provides enhanced grip and durability, without sacrificing flexibility and maneuverability. The Z/Canyon 2’s also use the new Cloud 2.0 bio-targeted insoles for extreme comfort and support.
All in all, the Z/Canyon 2’s are perhaps the most advanced and ‘high-tech’ Chaco’s on the market. They are designed for extreme performance across almost any terrain, or speed and distance. These are Chacos that you can take on a marathon, across the Appalachian Trail,
or simply to the store.
They are the only sandal you will ever need, no matter how extreme your lifestyle.
Pros & Cons
– Extremely cutting edge design
– Built for endurance
– Comfortable and snug fit that doesn’t slip during use
– Very budget friendly
– Rubber heel support might be uncomfortable for some users.
Chaco Z/2 Classics
Rather than upgrade and replace the original Z/1 Classics, Chacos are also available in an adjacent Z/2 Classic model. The Z/2 Classics are not necessarily better than the Z/1 Classics, just slightly different in construction. In this way, they might appeal to a slightly different buyer.
The primary difference with the Z/2 Classics is the additional toe loop. This is an added strap that comes across the top of the foot arch, and loops around the big toe. This adds additional support and creates a more snug fit overall. However, some might find this too restricting and might prefer to have all five toes free to wiggle.
The Chaco Z/2 Classics also offer the signature vegan-friendly and eco-friendly construction. All of the materials used are from sustainable sources that use no animal products in any way. These are cruelty free across the board.
The Z/2 Classics are an excellent choice for those who love the aesthetics and simplicity of the Z/1 Classics; but just need a bit more support and control when it comes to the fit. The additional toe loop makes a world of difference in the way that these sandals will fit and function on the foot. In addition, the toe loop makes the sandal itself look a bit more modern and stylish.
This is essentially the same thing as the Z/1 Classic, but with an additional feature that changes the game entirely. Some love the toe loop, some hate it-it’s all down to personal preference.
Pros & Cons
– Vegan friendly construction
– Slightly more stylish appearance
– The toe loop isn’t for everyone as far as comfort preferences are concerned.
Chacos are incredible for what they are able to accomplish. They have managed to bring the freedom and comfort of a sandal to the harsh and rugged world of hiking. Those who want to be more in touch with ‘Gaia’ while they are out on the mountain ranges, or deep in the jungles, will love them.
In addition to their durable construction and low profile design, Chacos are also fully customizable. Buyers can choose custom strapping options, colors, designs, etc,. This makes Chacos the perfect footwear for those who value individuality, freedom, comfort, and minimalism.
Our choice for the best Chacos for hiking is the Z/Cloud model.