Footwear Chacos

Published on June 9th, 2010 | by bobby@coloradokayak.com

16

I’ve been all around the world…in my Chaco’s

Chaco Sandals Review

We’ve been selling Chaco’s for quite a while, and decided to do a review on them because it seems like everyone on the CKS staff has a pair (or 2 or 3), and loves them. Besides being the most utilitarian footwear on the planet, they are also really comfortable. Great combo. As we were looking for someone to interview for this review, one person in particular came to mind. A friend of a CKS staff member, has worn his Chaco’s (and only his Chaco’s) all over the world. Luke, has traveled to Patagonia, Chile, Argentina, Nepal and all over the Western US in his Z2′s. He was the perfect person to interview. Here are the things that he thought were noteworthy:

Specs:

Pro’s:

  • You can use Chaco’s for almost any outdoor activity. Luke has worn them hiking, backpacking (25-80 lb pack), climbing, sea kayaking, rafting, whitewater kayaking, for glacier and snow travel (with wool socks), desert travel and music festivals. Chaco’s really seem to shine when they are used in water based sports. They function just like shoes (or river booties), except they do not fill up with water. Sea Kayaking is a great example. You can wear your Chaco’s in the boat while paddling, then walk through the water and bring your boat to shore. When you are at camp, your feet will be dry. Just throw on a pair of wool socks, and your feet will be warm too.

    Luke\’s sporting his Z2\’s.

  • Overall durability is a 10 out of 10. After traveling much of the world for 6 years, Luke eventually had to replace the soles. Chaco is very easy to work with, and will be able to replace the soles quickly. Overall they have a great warranty program.
  • If you are on a backpacking trip, and have a limited amount of space, you can bring some Chaco’s and they can double as hiking shoes, as well as camp shoes.

    More Z2 porn

  • When socks are added to the mix, any pair of Chaco’s will function just like insulated shoes. Luke, our trusty test pilot, wore just his Chaco’s at 17,000 feet above sea level, when he visited Nepal.
  • The heel lock is perfect for walking in the water. This system is MILES better than wearing flip flops in the water.
  • The toe strap (Z2) adds stability, by locking the toe down. If you are very active (running, climbing, jumping) this is a good feature. The cool thing about the toe strap, is that you can also pull them down so they are out of the way. Wearing socks around camp is a good time to do this.
  • Ultimate adjustability. This is a life saver for doing activities like back packing. You can fine tune the fit really well. Also the BioCentric foot bed ensures the most comfortable, and supportive fit possible. When you are carrying a heavy load, it is very important to have a sandal that fits like a hiking shoe or boot.
  • Great for desert living. Why not air your feet out when it is hot outside?

    Buena Vista is pretty hot in the summer. Morgan like to wear his Chaco\’s so his feet don\’t stink.

  • The Vibram soles are AWESOME. You can have the freedom of a sandal and the durability of a mountaineering boot at the same time.

Con’s:

  • Sometimes sand and gravel gets into the strap adjustment system. This can inhibit the ease of use. If you wash your Chaco’s well, it should solve the problem.
  • The toe strap is not for everyone. If you don’t like the feeling of your big toe being tied down, get a pair of Z’1′s.
  • Chaco does not make 1/2 sizes.

The Verdict:

Writing this review made me think about all of the cool places that I have been in my Chaco’s. Grand Canyon slot canyon hiking missions, Delores River trips, Rogue River overnighters and walking the dog in the river all come to mind. It is amazing how thinking about a pair of shoes can revive these lucid memories. Steven Stills had it right when he wrote Southern Cross and said “I’ve been all around the world”…wonder if he was wearing Z1′s or Z2′s. Where have you been in your Chaco’s?

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16 Responses to I’ve been all around the world…in my Chaco’s

  1. Cstein40 says:

    These are not the Chacos you bought five years ago.  Chaco sold out in 2009 to Wolverine World Wide and moved manufacturing to China.  The quality is no longer there and worse the customer service is absolutely gone.  I had a simple quality issue and was completely blown off.  I had three pairs of the made in Colorado shoes but would not buy another junk Chinese made shoe.  I could actually accept the realities of difficult times and lower quality but I can’t accept poor customer service.  I recommend you consider another brand and spread the word. 

    • ckspaddler says:

      Thanks for your comments. Fortunately, there are other brands out there; ones that are still manufactured in the USA.

    • kykgrl says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Have a well-used pair of Z2s (made in Colorado) that I bought in 2004, and they are still going strong, but bought my daughter a pair of Chacos Updraft 2 Bulloos (the “lightweight version” of the Z2, made in China) last year, and the straps broke within 6 months. I discovered that, unlike the 2004 Z2s, the insert at the ankle is made rubber/plastic rather than webbing, and it broke in two deep inside the sole. Chacos couldn’t care any less than they already do. Time to move on and find a quality product and a company that cares. Bummed.. ,

  2. new chacos no good says:

    I have an old pair of Chacos, which were made in the U.S.
    They were great everywhere. Mountains, river, ocean, desert, it did not matter
    my Chacos endured. I just blew them out, as I broke the one non-replaceable
    strap that goes under the heel. So I went to the store to buy a new pair and
    they didn’t feel the same. They felt lighter and cheaper. I looked on the box
    and found out they are now made in China, as they were bought out by Wolverine
    Worldwide. So I did some research about the new Chacos compared to the old ones,
    only to find that there are some very sad old school Chacos owners out there,
    who own the new made in China Chacos and consistently state how awful they are,
    and that they don’t last.  To be clear,
    this is not anti-china it is anti-poor quality and anti-globalization. Steer
    clear these are not the old Chacos they are junk. I will be going to a cobbler tomorrow
    to see if my strap can be repaired.

    • I hear ya. It’s a tough dilemma for manufacturers. To meet the quantity demands for their retailers, they often need to outsource production…but often at the expense of quality.
      I hear ya though.

  3. dorianmlewis says:

    Chaco offers custom sandals.  They’re still made in the US and are of superior craftsmanship for about $20 more than their off-the-shelf shoes.

  4. Lee Martin says:

    Chacos are plenty durable. The sole is pretty hard though, doesn’t offer much in the way of padding against a constant pounding, my only complaint. But all things are a compromise, somewhere…

  5. Shehulk3 says:

    I just wanted to say, first off, I am a female, so this my be why I have a different reaction to these shoes then some males, but all I heard was good reviews about this shoes, then I bought a pair last year, spending way more than I should have, only to be completely disappointed. I spent all summer trying to “break them in”. First time I have ever spent over $100 on a pair of shoes/sandals, and I was very upset that I did. My feet were sore with blisters, after the summer as over I got rid of them. I could no longer keep trying to make something work that didn’t work for me. Maybe they are just made for certain feet types.

    • Thanks for the feedback. That is good info to know. It sounds like it must have something to do with your foot shape.
      I actually have similar issues with all open toe shoes, and have switched to Astral Brewers instead. I got sick of the rubbing marks on my feet.

      The Brewer’s are just as light and airy, but offer full protection, and also fit better for me…

  6. I have not had experience with the new Chaco’s, but I will say that recently I had to send in an old pair that were still in good shape for a repair. They sent me a prepaid shipping label so I would not have to incur costs. Upon receiving my sandals Chaco immediately contacted me and said unfortunately they could not be repaired but I could chose a new pair for free (up to $100) I also was given the option of doing a custom pair and paying the $20 difference in price. In my opinion their customer service was amazing. Any questions were answered immediately. They have been friendly and easy to work with.

  7. Joyce Kreis says:

    I sent back a pair of Chaco’s that my son had worn only 3 weeks at summer camp. Both had defects of the main strap. They sent me back a pair, obviously used, a different color, different style AND a different size!!!.. Not just a half size different, but so small, it was a joke. What kind of company and bogus warranty is this?

  8. Thanks for the tip. Great to know.

  9. Well Chaco’s have a custom “made in the USA” program, if you like their fit and style:
    http://www.chacos.com/US/en
    The link is on the lower, right hand side of the page.

    Rainbow flip flops and sandals are built by hand, but have a different vibe that Chaco’s. More beach, less mountains. I love them though. Nothing like leather on your feet.
    I am fairly certain that Rainbow’s are still made in USA, but not 100%. Would need to do more digging around.

    But you can get a pair of US made Chaco’s.

  10. Dan says:

    Off hand what would you recommend?

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