Some people swear you should only hike in hefty boots with tons of ankle support, some love ultra light trail runners, others hike full on barefoot. There’s no one-size-fits-all type of hiking shoe, but if you’re like me and like to give your toes some freedom, you might be interested in some hiking sandals. So, are Chacos good for hiking?
This Chaco sandal review is all about hiking in Chacos, so spoiler alert: yes, Chacos are good for hiking!
But it all depends on what you’re looking for in a hiking sandal – so this guide will give you some info and tips to help you decide.
Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because these are all things I love and use, and sharing them helps me keep making free guides for you!
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My Experience With Chaco Sandals
Before I get into the Chaco sandal review, it’s important that you know where I’m coming from! I’ve been wearing Chacos for almost 7 years. I’m on my second pair, and the only reason I replaced my first one is because one of my sandals was tragically lost – somehow it managed to fall out of my van and I was left with one.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I wear my Chaco sandals every day. I wear them just about everywhere, and they’ve done many miles of trail with me so I can honestly answer the question “are Chacos good for hiking?” after years of experience!
My Chacos are custom Z/1 sandals, and my previous pair were Z/2 sandals (the difference is that the Z/2 Chacos have a toe loop). I wear a women’s size 8, which is my regular size.
Is it Comfortable to Hike in Chacos?
This is usually the most important question to ask when you’re looking at any hiking shoe – is it comfortable to hike in Chaco sandals?
Chacos are incredibly comfortable – like I said, I wear them literally every day! I don’t like the feeling of closed toes shoes (they just feel constricting), which I think is the biggest reason why people consider Chaco hiking sandals. If you feel the same, I pretty much guarantee you’ll love them!
There are a few drawbacks to hiking in sandals instead of boots – with sandals, little rocks and debris can get in a little easier. But, because they’re so much easier to slip on and off, I think this tradeoff is worth it, and they’re still more comfortable than boots!
The other con of hiking in Chacos is that they don’t provide any warmth. But, if it’s cold I just wear socks! Chacos aren’t good for hiking in the snow, but otherwise it’s very comfortable to hike in Chacos.
Is it Safe to Hike in Chacos?
Along with comfort, the other question when it comes to whether Chacos are good for hiking is if it’s safe.
In general, the answer is yes – but there are definitely a few safety considerations to think about before you hit the trail.
Are Chacos Good for Your Feet?
Chacos are actually certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association – the comfortable footbed is said to be great for arch support and can help people who have foot pain. I don’t have any personal experience with this, but Chacos have a good reputation for being great for feet. Chaco sandals are also zero-drop, which means there’s no difference in height between the front and help of a shoe, which is good for your feet (for most people) because it strengthens them.
Do Chacos Have Good Traction?
One of the most important things to look for in a hiking shoe is traction. When you’re walking on wet surfaces, slippery rocks, mud, or a steep trail, it’s important that your shoes have good grip.
I’ve worn my Chaco sandals for a lot of hikes here in the Pacific Northwest, and they’ve done really well with traction. I feel confident with stream crossings, steep trails, and wet conditions.
Chaco Sandals and Ankle Support
Of course, Chaco sandals, like most hiking sandals, don’t have any ankle support. This is usually the biggest drawback when answering “are Chacos good for hiking?”
I used to exclusively hike in Chaco sandals, but after a few twisted ankles I decided do invest in hiking boots. Plenty of people will be totally fine hiking in Chacos without the ankle support – it depends on your ankle strength and how good your balance is.
I’ve strengthened my ankles (through more hiking experience and also through some post-sprain exercises) since then and haven’t had any issues for the past few years. I do still hike in my Chaco sandals often – I find them more comfortable than boots and I just like the feeling of my feet being free! But, for hikes that are more technical (lots of talus fields, unmaintained/overgrown trails, etc) I usually opt for more ankle support with my Danner hiking boots, just to be safe.
Which Chaco Sandals are Best for Hiking?
There are a few different types of Chacos, so let’s talk about which Chaco Sandals are best for hiking!
The Worst Chaco Sandals For Hiking
There are 6 different types of Chaco sandals – so let’s start with the two that are not good for hiking.
These two Chaco sandals are called Chillos – they have flip flops and slides. They aren’t good for hiking, because they don’t offer much support.
The Best Chaco Sandals For Hiking
Now, which Chaco sandals are good for hiking? The Z/ Chaco sandals all make great hiking shoes – there are 4 different kinds.
Z/1 Chaco Sandals
Z/2 Chaco Sandals
The Z/1 sandals have a single strap and no toe loop, while the Z/2 Chacos have one strap and a toe loop.
ZX/1 Chaco Sandals
ZX/2 Chaco Sandals
The ZX/1 Sandals have a double strap and no toe loop, while the ZX/2 Chacos have two straps and a toe loop.
The differences in these sandals mostly come down to personal preference – they’re all great for hiking! The ones with a toe loop offer a little more security for hiking because they provide a little extra foot-to-sandal connection. All of the straps on Chaco sandals are adjustable, so if you pull the to strap through to make it flush with the footbed, you can wear those sandals without the loop too!
I went with the Chaco Z/1 sandals without the toe loop, just because I think it looks a little better – I haven’t had any issues with stability, so the best Chaco sandal for hiking is all about what you prefer!
Chaco Hiking Sandals Review – Pros and Cons of Hiking in Chacos
To wrap up this Chaco hiking sandal review, here are the pros and cons of hiking in Chacos!
- no sweaty feet
- don’t have to take them off for stream crossings
- good traction
- good arch support
- rocks/debris can get stuck under your feet
- you’ll need to put sunscreen on your feet
- not good for snow or very cold weather
Where to Get Chaco Hiking Sandals
If you’re ready for your own Chaco hiking sandals, here’s where you can get them!
The best place to buy Chacos is the Chacos website! This is where you’ll find the most options when it comes to styles and patterns.
You can even get custom Chaco sandals – this option has more pattern options, and you can change the colors of the straps, the footbed, and even the buckle!
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