When hiking, wearing the correct footwear is everything. Choosing the correct boot, shoe, or sandal can make the difference between an enjoyable, safe hike and one that’s a flop. But you don’t always need to wear hiking boots, and so many may wonder if Chacos are good for hiking.
Chacos can be good for hiking. However, they do have their limitations, and knowing what those limitations are will help you decide when you could manage to wear them on a hike, and when it’s a better idea to go with something more durable, like hiking boots.
Below, we will discuss when Chacos are a good option for hiking, and when they are not the best. By the end of this article, you will have a better picture of what to do, and whether you should head out and purchase a pair of Chacos, or if you should stick with your hiking boots.
What Are Chacos?
Chacos are sandals designed to be worn in the great outdoors and are characterized by their distinctive adjustable Z-straps. First designed back in 1989, the entire aim was to produce a sandal that offered support while outdoors, but also allowed your feet to dry with ease.
The shoes themselves are supportive, but it’s the way in which you can adjust them so easily that sets them apart. The straps are designed to hold your foot in a comfortable way, and they do a fantastic job. You can adjust the straps, so they always fit perfectly.
Can You Hike In Chacos?
You can hike in Chacos. They are a comfortable shoe designed with the outdoors in mind and are good for many types of terrain and weather. But there are limitations to Chacos, and you should be aware they won’t be suitable for every hike.
For instance, they offer little protection from stones or debris, since your feet are out in the open. That is something you need to consider when it comes to choosing your footwear and choosing the trail you will hike on. A trail with a lot of loose gravel may not be the best time to wear any type of sandal.
Keep in mind that Chacos are referred to as “hiking sandals,” so the clue is in all their marketing material. In all honesty, there is little difference between Chacos and hiking in low hiking shoes that are only slightly different in their appearance to normal sneakers. The only major difference is your feet are in the open in Chacos.
Why Chacos Are Great For Hiking
Since Chacos are considered a fine shoe to hike in, we need to discuss the qualities that make them so good. There are several things you want to look for in any hiking footwear, and Chacos have all of those covered so you will be comfortable on almost any trail you choose to hike.
As Chacos are designed to be worn in the great outdoors, the fact they offer good traction should not come as a surprise. The grip you get on Chacos can be exceptional, and it’s tough to find other sandals capable of coming close to this level of traction.
Clearly, traction and good footing are things you need when hiking. You must feel confident your footwear will provide you with something to grip onto on the trail, so you don’t twist or sprain your ankle. The soles on Chacos provide the grip you need so you can enjoy your hike safely.
Chacos are also very easy to adjust, and that gives you some leeway to increase your comfort level when out hiking. This is a real advantage. There are times where your feet feel uncomfortable on a hike, and you want your footwear to work with you, rather than against you.
They achieve this using a buckle, which allows you to move straps in extremely small movements. This control will also potentially stop you from getting blisters. Being able to adjust things by such small amounts is a massive bonus. It can make the difference between feeling you can finish your hike or dreading what’s left due to pain.
One thing to love about Chacos is their durability. It’s outstanding and they will outperform most other hiking sandals on the market. They are manufactured to the highest standards, so you won’t have the feeling they could simply fall apart at any moment during the hike. Instead, these sandals will last a lifetime, and they will continue to look exceptionally cool at the same time!
Chacos are well-known for their ability to provide you with more than adequate support for the sole of your foot, which is important on a hike. After all, you want to know your footwear is helping you out, or your feet are going to hurt.
They support the instep and come with a larger-than-normal toe box. That means your toes are sitting on the actual sandal instead of being crushed together or hanging over the edge.
Comfort And Forming To Your Foot
Chacos take time to be broken in, but it’s well worth the wait and effort. As time goes on, the sandals will form themselves to your feet. That means they will then hold your foot in place, providing greater support and comfort. Not many shoes on the market will have the ability to do that. This will protect you from various foot conditions, such as blisters or plantar fasciitis, on your hike.
Is It Safe To Hike In Chacos?
It is safe to hike in Chacos. You don’t want your footwear to be inadequate for the trail, which can lead to injuries and accidents. Chacos offer enough traction, comfort, and adjustability to be a safe choice on almost any trail you choose to hike. But they won’t be perfect for every hike.
Not Good For Scrambling
As these are sandals that are open to the elements, they are not good for scrambling. It just increases the chances of stones and boulders causing cuts and grazes. If you plan on venturing onto a hike that involves some scrambling, then you must wear appropriate footwear, and Chacos would not fall into that category.
Extensive Ups And Downs
If you want to go on a trail with some ups and downs, then wearing Chacos will be fine. However, you clearly have no protection around your ankle, so that is something to take into consideration. Without ankle protection, you run the risk of twists and sprains.
While it may not be particularly unsafe to hike through long vegetation while wearing these sandals, that doesn’t mean it’s something advisable. Once again, the issue here is connected to the protection they offer. Nettles, thorns, animals, vegetation, and branches will all have access to your feet since there is nothing stopping them.
Heavy Rain Or Mud
It’s perhaps best not to wear Chacos if you expect a lot of mud or heavy rain. While the sandals are designed to still work from a traction perspective in the wet, you need to think about your feet. Since your feet are open to the elements, you may feel uncomfortable in mud and rain. The upside to this, however, is that your feet will dry faster than if you were wearing shoes or boots.
Chacos Are Safe On Flat Trails
One area where it’s perfectly safe to wear Chacos when hiking is on a relatively flat trail. Chacos offer you more than adequate traction, and as long as they are broken in, they will remain extremely comfortable, even on long hikes. And a comfortable hike is a great hike!
Also, if you are hiking on a warm day, sandals make your feet feel far more comfortable during the hike. There’s no need to worry about breathability as the sandals will help keep your feet cool on your hike.
Are Chacos Or Tevas Better For Hiking?
Chacos are usually better than Tevas for hiking, as they offer more grip, more protection, and they are often more durable too. However, Tevas are usually lighter than Chacos, and you can often find Tevas for cheaper prices. However, Chacos are the better option for regular hikers.
Where Chacos Perform Better Than Tevas
When comparing the two, Chacos have several advantages over Tevas sandals. For example, they usually more durable than Tevas. That means they can withstand a lot more punishment and usage before you need to buy another pair. Also, the toe box is larger with Chacos. That offers your toes a bit more protection, in what is still a limited way, than you will get with Tevas sandals.
Chacos come with buckles and straps for adjustments, whereas Tevas sandals use Velcro. The problem with Velcro is it that it loses some of its strength over time, and that could mean you are forever adjusting and fixing your sandals on your hike. Chacos also have a better grip on the sole than Tevas. This grip is designed to make water crossings safer.
Where Tevas Perform Better Than Chacos
Tevas sandals are lighter and less “chunky” than Chacos, so if you don’t like thick shoes, Tevas sandals would be the better option. Also, they are often cheaper, and they are certainly much easier to wear for day-to-day life.
However, don’t automatically opt for the cheaper option when it comes to hiking footwear. Chacos sandals allow you to cover more types of terrain, so paying a bit extra to remove so many of those restrictions and limitations makes sense.
It’s also worth knowing that Tevas sandals come with an anti-microbial footbed. This will cut down on odor, and it’s a nice little addition to a wonderful pair of hiking sandals. This will help prevent athlete’s foot and will protect against infection if you have any cuts or abrasions on your foot.
Which Pair Wins?
Overall, Chacos sandals are the winner when comparing the two. They can cope with more types of terrain, and they feel more secure on your feet. Add in the ability to hike longer trails without them hurting your feet, and you see how these sandals perform better with all the key factors. Also, Chacos can withstand a lot more punishment, and there’s less chance of the straps breaking than Velcro.
3 Best Chacos For Hiking
1. Chaco Z1 Sandals
We must mention the original versions, which are the Chaco Z1 sandals. Even though several changes have been made since they were first designed, the Z1s still work exceptionally well. These sandals are simple, but they still have the ruggedness associated with the brand.
Also, they made adjusting the sandals as easy as possible. This means they offer plenty of comfort, no matter your foot size and shape.
The Z1s have several different options when it comes to the sole type. You can choose from Vibram soles for extra grip, while options such as the Z1 Unaweep come with a BioCentric footbed, which holds your foot in the middle of the shoe, offering more support than normal.
2. Chaco Z2 Sandals
The Z2 sandals represented a reincarnation and an upgrade over the Z1 Chacos. One major difference is the loop around the big toe, and this has a very specific purpose. The reason for this loop is it allows you to keep your toes closer to the edge of the sandal, meaning your feet do not feel as crushed.
With the Z2, the sole of the sandal sits closer to your foot. This is an excellent feature, and it decreases the chances of you picking up some sort of injury thanks to the shoe moving around too much. This is the best reason to wear Z2 sandals. They feel very secure on your feet, and with the same choice of soles as the Z1, you can enjoy support and comfort while you hike.
3. Chaco ZX Sandals
Chaco ZX sandals look like the classic Z1, but there is a slight difference between the two. With the Z1, there’s a single strap to hold the shoe on your foot, but the ZX has two straps. This means you get a feeling of the shoe being far more secure around your foot and ankle than you would do with other models in their range.
They still come with the same traction options and a sense of being extremely secure and capable of dealing with all sorts of terrain. They still provide you with a real sense of comfort while out hiking. This version comes with Chacogrip soles as standard for a significant amount of grip compared to other models. Also, the webbing used on the straps won’t put too much pressure on your skin.
Chacos are good for hiking. Chacos sandals are best for summer hikes where the terrain is quite easy to hike and there’s little in the way of scrambling or dealing with an unstable surface. They offer a good amount of grip and will keep your feet cool with their open-toe design.