Chaco Sandals – Field tested in Southern Utah
By Tahoe Mountain Sports Ambassador Coral Taylor
As a fellow lover of the outside spaces, I was looking for a new sandal to wear around the campfire and to bring on backpacking trips – flip flops were no longer cutting it. I love hiking and backpacking in the summer and am also an avid mountain biker and yogi. When shopping for footwear, both comfort and style are important to me. I had heard a lot about Chaco’s and wanted to give them a try.
The first Chaco’s question to ask is “toe loop or no toe loop”? Given that I get cold frequently and wanted the fashionable look of socks and sandals, I opted for the “no toe loop” version (Z/1® or ZX/1®). Friends of mine that spend a lot of time on rivers or in warmer climates told me that they prefer the toe loop version for its additional level of stability, but given my inclinations, I figured no toe loop would be perfect.
After perusing the various color options, I selected the National Park Foundation Yosemite version. One thing that I love about Chaco’s is that there are many color ways to select from, and if none of them are to your liking, you can create a custom sandal, selecting everything from the color of the straps to the footbed.
Testing the Sandals
When I got my pair of Chaco’s, I immediately put them on to wear around the house to break them in. This step was completely unnecessary, as they were comfortable right away. It took a few iterations to get the correct fit for my feet, but the helpful directions and easily adjustable straps made achieving the perfect fit a breeze. Check out TMS’s video below on Chaco sandal fitting and features for tips on adjustment.
The arch support was an added bonus that I didn’t realize when I was initially scoping these shoes out, and as a person with high arches, it made the sandals even more comfortable.
These sandals arrived just in time for a two-week sojourn to the desert of southern Utah, where I explored/barely scratched the surface of a few National Parks (Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands). I wore my Chaco’s around the campfire, on short, mellow day hikes, into Moab for fancy city days, and even on a bike ride. They were comfortable both with and without socks, and the adjustable straps made it simple to change the fit based on no socks/thin socks/thick socks.
Two other members of our group were also part of the #ChacoNation and I was able to ask them about their experience with these sandals as well. One person had lived in Panama for a two-year Peace Corps stint, and her Chaco’s held up under the tropical conditions for near daily wear during that period. She is on her third pair of Chaco’s, so they’ve clearly met her expectations, and I’m looking forward to a similar experience.
The polyester webbing straps come in a variety of fun designs, the midsole is Chaco’s patented Women’s-specific LUVSEAT™ PU midsole, and non-marking ChacoGrip™ outsole has 3 mm lugs.
Comfort and style, as well as adjustability. The fit is true to size and it appears they are durable as well. They also felt stable even without the toe loop and I felt confident in my footing on variable surfaces. My friends even hiked up some Class 3 rock with their Chaco’s on, no problem. I liked the elevation from the ground that these sandals have (about ½-3/4”), which kept my feet dry when there was frost/snow/mud on the ground.
These sandals weigh 1 lb 5.2 oz, so for a long backpacking trip/through hike, they would probably not be the shoe of choice. The price point is also a little high, but given the durability and quality of these shoes, I think the return on investment will be worth it.
The Bottom Line
I really enjoyed wearing my Chaco’s around southern Utah, and given the chilly temperatures during early November, I appreciated having sandals around that accommodated my warm socks. Overall, I have been extremely satisfied with my Chaco’s and am looking forward to wearing them more when the weather warms back up! I also liked them enough to purchase a pair for my bae. 😊
If you’re looking for a stable sandal that adjusts to your needs and feet, I would recommend Chaco’s!