The Best Chacos For Hiking in 2021 (Top 3 Reviewed)

The Best Chacos For Hiking in 2021 (Top 3 Reviewed)

Table of Contents

    When it comes to hiking shoes, there are multiple top brands considered as true experts, renowned for their quality footwear and high-quality standards. Today, we zoom-in on one of our favorite brands for lightweight, versatile, and super comfortable hiking shoes: Chaco. 

    Created by whitewater rafting guide Mark Paigen in 1989, Chaco all started with the desire to create a supportive sandal that offered maximum performance, grip, and comfort - both on land and in the water. The brand has since evolved in a go-to name for lightweight hiking sandals. And Chaco has also branched out its expertise to other hiking shoe categories including boots and runner-style designs. 

    In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

    Sale
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    1,323 Reviews
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    • Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit toe loop for secure fit adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers injection-molded...

    3 Best Chacos For Hiking - Overview

    And here’s an overview of the best chacos for hiking on the market today:

    Preview
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    Chaco Women's Z2 Classic Sandal, Black, 5
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal - Men's Hook Hunter, 9.0
    Chaco womens Z/Volv X2 Sandal, Scope Magenta, 5 US
    Chaco Men's Banded Z Cloud Sandal, Navy RED, 10
    Chaco womens BANDED Z CLOUD Sport Sandal, SALT MALLARD, 6 M US
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal
    Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal 
    Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal 
    Gender
    Men's
    Women's
    Men's
    Women's
    Men's
    Women's
    Price
    $69.94
    $94.95
    $160.77
    $89.95
    $99.95
    $99.95
    Rating
    -
    Preview
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Gender
    Men's
    Price
    $69.94
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco Women's Z2 Classic Sandal, Black, 5
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Gender
    Women's
    Price
    $94.95
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal - Men's Hook Hunter, 9.0
    Title
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal
    Gender
    Men's
    Price
    $160.77
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco womens Z/Volv X2 Sandal, Scope Magenta, 5 US
    Title
    Chaco Z/Volv Sandal
    Gender
    Women's
    Price
    $89.95
    Rating
    -
    Preview
    Chaco Men's Banded Z Cloud Sandal, Navy RED, 10
    Title
    Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal 
    Gender
    Men's
    Price
    $99.95
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco womens BANDED Z CLOUD Sport Sandal, SALT MALLARD, 6 M US
    Title
    Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal 
    Gender
    Women's
    Price
    $99.95
    Rating

    To help you determine which pair of Chaco’s is your perfect fit, we’ve created this handy Best Chacos For Hiking Overview. A little disclaimer: we know Chaco also makes great hiking boots and hiking shoes, but we've decided to focus this review solely on Chaco's hiking sandals, as this is by far the brand's most popular, and highly-rated, product line.

    Note: Each Chaco product listed is both available in a Men's and a Women's style (as detailed in the chart below).

    1. Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal

    Sale
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    1,323 Reviews
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    • Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit toe loop for secure fit adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers injection-molded...
     

    The Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal is, as its name already suggests, a classic choice from the brand's line-up. Based on the very first Chaco created in 1989, the Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal is an upgraded, streamlined version of the design that started it all. 

    The best-selling Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal is a perfect example of how sometimes less, is more. The design only uses 8 components parts, configured in a simple - yet super functional way - to deliver maximum performance. These components include Chaco's continuous, adjustable strap to create a custom-fit to your foot. A comfy toe-loop. And a podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT™ PU footbed to ensure superb comfort and support, even on strenuous hikes and multi-day trails.
    The Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal's strap is made of quality polyester jacquard webbing. And wraps continuously around the foot and through the midsole. Both the strap and the webbing heel riser are adjustable. Allowing you to tighten the fit as desired. The silhouette's special toe loop ensures additional forefoot control, whilst the ladder lock buckle is easy-to-use and keeps the webbed strap firmly in place.
    ChacoGrip™ Outsole
    The Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal also features the ChacoGrip™ outsole, made of quality non-marking rubber compound. This particular style has a 3.5mm lug depth, providing great traction on nearly every type of underground. It is not the most heavy-duty of Chaco outsole options (this honor goes to the Terreno outsole), but it should offer sufficient grip, traction, and stability for most outdoor enthusiasts.
     
    As one of the best-selling styles in Chaco's assortment, the Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal is a popular choice amongst hiking enthusiasts. The design has outstanding customer reviews, rating highly on comfort, grip, and ability to perform in all kinds of outdoor scenarios. The big appeal of the Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal is that you can wear it to the beach, on hikes, or even whilst kayaking or doing other watersports. Plus, it's also great for casual wear due to its sporty, modern aesthetics.
     
    Whether you're traversing water, sand, dirt, mud, or paved roads: the Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal will keep you stable, supported, and cushioned. Making it a great investment for hikers who want an all-in-one solution to their outdoor footgear needs.

    PROS

    • LUVSEAT™ PU footbed
    • ChacoGrip™ outsole
    • 3.5mm lug depth
    • Toe loop/toe strap

    CONS

    • No extra cushioning
    • Not the most lightweight Chaco

    2. Chaco Z/Volv Sandal

     
    The Chaco Z/Volv Sandal is very similar to the Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal but comes with a lighter EcoTread™ outsole. This EcoTread outsole is an extra environmentally-friendly choice in hiking footgear, containing over 25% recycled rubber. Another perk is that the EcoTread outsole is 20% lighter than the ChacoGrip™ outsole. Making the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal an ultralight choice for comfort on the go. The lug depth on this particular sandal style is a moderate 3mm. However, due to the special Z-shaped lug pattern, this sandal still provides outstanding traction on trails and slippery undergrounds. 

    Another slight variation on the Chaco Z2 Classic is that this Chaco Z/Volv Sandal does not come with a separate toe-loop.

    But other than the difference in the outsole and toe-loop, the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal offers the same premium design aspects as the Z2 Classic Athletic style. For example, the Z/Volv edition features adjustable polyester webbing that wraps around the foot and through the midsole, adjustable webbing heel risers, and a ladder lock buckle to keep the strap firmly in place. The Chaco Z/Volv Sandal also comes with the premium LUVSEAT™ midsole made of extra-soft polyurethane (PU). Another perk is that this style's midsole has an irregular, grid-style texture on the footbed for extra traction. 

    Excellent arch support

    Reviews on the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal give the style top marks on its ultralight appeal, comfort, and excellent arch support. Hikers say that this style performs great in all kinds of outdoor conditions and terrain. Regardless if you encounter rain or sunshine, mud or rocky underground on your adventure. Consumers confirm that it indeed feels a lot 'lighter' than traditional Chaco's. Without compromising on robustness, or durability.

    Minor cons mentioned is that the strap on the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal tends to be a bit 'long'. And, therefore, might require you to cut it and/or sew it to prevent the strap from dragging on the ground. Also, some reviewers mention that compared to other Chaco models, the Z/Volv runs about half a size large, so you might want to consider sizing down a little bit to ensure a perfect fit.

    Overall, the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal main appeal is its lightweight sole. If you plan on taking a multi-day backpacking or hiking trip this versatile sandal won't weigh you down. That said, with slightly less lug depth and the lack of toe-loop, it also is a more 'light' version than other Chaco styles. We wouldn't, therefore, recommend it for intensive hiking on challenging terrains, but for moderate hikes, watersports, and regular walking, this is a great investment!

    PROS

    • LUVSEAT™ PU footbed
    • EcoTread™ outsole
    • Lightweight
    • Made of recycled rubber

    CONS

    • No toe loop/toe strap
    • Only 3mm lug depth

    3. Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal 

    Chaco Men's Banded Z Cloud Sandal, Navy RED, 10
    187 Reviews
    Chaco Men's Banded Z Cloud Sandal, Navy RED, 10
    • UPPER: Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit, Durable high-tensile webbing heel risers, Injection-molded ladder lock buckle

    The Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal offers all the premium performance of the best-selling Z/Classic style, but with an extra cushioned LUVSEAT™ midsole for the ultimate comfort. A special layer of ultra-soft polyurethane (PU) provides an instant-cushion underfoot effect, ideal for those that want a sandal that feels like they are 'walking on clouds'. 

    Marketed as 'classic sandals with pillow-top comfort', the Z/Cloud line by Chaco is highly-rated by hikers for its cushioned appeal. The Z/Cloud Sandal is available in both a single banded and double-banded version: the latter we've listed in this product review. We prefer the double-banded option, which features two bands on the lower foot area. As this offers an even more secure and tight fit and keeps your foot extra supported.

    The Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal comes with the ChacoGrip™ rubber compound outsole, with a lug depth of 3.5 mm. It premium polyester jacquard webbing upper is adjustable, durable, and allows you to customize the fit to your particular needs. The Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal also features an easy-to-use ladder lock buckle, durable high-tensile webbing heel risers, and is podiatrist-certified.

    Walking on clouds

    Other backpackers and hikers give the design a big thumbs up for its outstanding comfort and 'pillow-like' feel. Reviews also mention that these extra-soft midsole sandals hardly require any break-in time. And that they are suited for both day hikes and long-distance treks, keeping your feet cushioned and supported in style. Minor cons are that the Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal does not come with a toe-loop for additional traction. And that just as the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal, the straps on the Chaco Banded Z/Cloud might be a bit too long and require trimming/sewing to prevent them from dragging. 

    Overall, the Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal is ideal for hikers that prefer a cushy, extra-soft midsole over a regular firmness. This sandal combines the premium features of the Z/Classic model with the cushioned comfort often found in running shoes: creating a combo that gets our seal of approval. 

    PROS

    • LUVSEAT™ PU footbed
    • ChacoGrip™ outsole
    • 'Pillow-like' PU layer
    • 3.5mm lug depth
    • Extra cushioned support and comfort

    CONS

    • Might be 'too cushy' for some hikers
    • No toe loop/toe strap

    Verdict

    Each hiking sandal listed in this Chaco overview scores top-marks on quality, comfort, and support. With lots of 5-star customer ratings, we reckon you can't go wrong with any style on the list. However, we do recommend you to carefully consider where, and when, you plan on using your Chaco's. If you're looking for a pair of sandals with outstanding grip, traction, and performance on all terrains, the 3.5 mm lug depth ChacoGrip™ outsole is recommended. This outsole is found on both the Chaco Z/Classic and the Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal, making them both excellent for nature hikes. 

    However, if you're looking for an ultralight pair of Chaco's with excellent traction in slick conditions, the Chaco Z/Volv Sandal could be your match. The special Z-shaped lug pattern works a treat in wet or slippery surroundings, making this ideal as a pair of water shoes, or for activities such as kayaking or whitewater rafting. 

    A frontrunner in hiking sandals

    Whichever pair of Chaco outdoor sandals you choose, we're confident you'll enjoy it for many years to come. Made by a renowned brand in outdoor gear, Chaco adheres to a high-quality standard and makes a trustworthy, reliable option for your footwear needs. This brand is on the same level to other high-end camp shoe brands such as Teva, Merrell, KEEN, and Northside. And their commitment to quality, authenticity, and durability, have made them a prime contender in best sandals brands. Or, in other words, you won't be disappointment by your first pair and/or new pair of Chacos!

    Our Winner

    Preview
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    Chaco Women's Z2 Classic Sandal, Black, 5
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Gender
    Men's
    Women's
    Price
    $69.94
    $94.95
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sport Sandal, Stepped Navy, 7 M US
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Gender
    Men's
    Price
    $69.94
    Rating
    Preview
    Chaco Women's Z2 Classic Sandal, Black, 5
    Title
    Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal
    Gender
    Women's
    Price
    $94.95
    Rating

    If we had to pick a winner, the Chaco Z/Classic would be on top of our wishlist. Even though the other two models come with great perks, we tend to prefer more traditional styles that have proven their worth. This really is a classic from the Chaco line-up, though the silhouette has been streamlined and perfected over the years. With the comfy LUVSEAT™ midsole, durable ChacoGrip™ outsole, and additional toe strap traction, it's a versatile sandal to keep you stable, and secure, in every kind of outdoor scenario.

    Bonus tip: 

    For more hiking footwear inspiration, check out our in-depth guide on the Best Hiking Shoes For Hawaii (Buying Guide). In this post, we're highlighting some of our favorite brands, including Teva, Merrell, KEEN, and more. If you decide that Chaco is not the brand for you, you may find a perfect match in this editorial! 

    Chaco Sandals Buying Guide

    We've tried to describe the differences between our favorite types of Chaco Sandals clearly. But we realize that it's difficult to keep track which pair has what types of midsoles, outsoles, etc. Which is exactly why we wanted to include this handy chart, courtesy of Chaco, to help you better understand the key features of each model in our overview: 

     

     

     

    Chaco Terminology

     

    If you want to find your perfect fit, knowing your 'Chaco Basics' is essential. Many reviews carelessly throw around terms like 'LUVSEAT™ PU footbed', expecting readers to instantly understand the meaning and importance. We think that unless you're already a Chaco expert, all that fancy terminology can be straight-up confusing. Which is exactly why we want to give you a crash course in 'Chaco lingo', which will help you better understand some of the footwear's key features, as mentioned in our product overview: 

    Footbed / Midsole

    A Chaco hiking sandal/shoe can have 3 types of footbeds, also referred to as the ‘midsole’: Z/Classic, Z/Cloud, and Z/Volv.

    Z/Classic

    The Classic footbed is made of regular polyurethane and features the brand’s special ergonomic LUVSEAT™ design. This means it provides outstanding contoured arch support and is certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association. 

    Z/Cloud

    The Cloud footbed also features the special LUVSEAT™ design but is made of special dual-density polyurethane for extra cushioning and outstanding comfort. As its name suggests, this footbed is extra plushy, like walking on clouds. 

    Z/Volv

    The Z/Volv footbed also features the special LUVSEAT™ design, only with less prominent arch support. The Z/Volv footbed is also 20% lighter than the Z/Classic and Z/Cloud, ideal for hikers who want minimum weight, maximum comfort.

    Polyurethane 

    All 3 Chaco footbeds are made of lightweight polyurethane compounds (PU). Unlike other types of disposable foam, polyurethane is less prone to degrading, breaking down, or compressing under pressure. This makes it an extra-durable choice to keep your feet supported, even with intensive usage. 

    Outsole

    Chaco hiking sandal/shoe can have 4 types of outsoles: ChacoGrip™, EcoTread™, Colorado, and Terreno. Each type of outsole has its special characteristics and lug depth, but all are designed to provide excellent traction and grip, even on challenging undergrounds. 

    ChacoGrip™

    The ChacoGrip outsole is made of a non-slip, non-marking rubber compound. The sole’s lug depth and added traction on the toe help provide outstanding grip on both dry and slippery surfaces. Note: the lug depth of the ChacoGrip outsole may differ per style, which is something to be aware of. 

    EcoTread™

    The EcoTread outsole is an environmentally-friendly choice in hiking footgear. The sole is made from 25% recycled rubber, adding a ‘green’ touch to your outdoor adventures. This type of outsole is mostly found in Chaco’s flip-flops or more casual sandals and has a more moderate lug depth (for example 2 mm). This makes this sole more suited for leisurely walks, the beach, and moderate hikes; instead of heavy-duty trails and challenging undergrounds.

    Colorado

    The Colorado outsole is a light, low profile choice especially suited for slick or wet environments. The design maximizes surface area to provide extra traction when on slippery surfaces. 

    Terreno

    The Terreno is the most heavy-duty Chaco outsole. This high-performance sole has a 4.5 mm lug depth for increased traction on any type of trail. The thicker, more sturdy design is big on durability and offers superior grip on rocky and unstable terrains. Made in the USA, it adheres to the highest quality standards and is a favorite amongst hiking enthusiasts. 

    Chaco Strap Adjuster

    You’ll notice that most Chaco’s hiking sandals feature one continuous strap, instead of separate straps and buckles. According to Chaco: ‘This strap system secures different areas of your foot without any complications.’ The strap is fully adjustable, allowing you to customize the tightness and fit based on your exact preferences. More information on how to configure your Chaco sandals is available in Chaco’s handy Strap Adjuster Guide

    I grew up in Montana, spent my free time camping, hunting and fishing. I began writing as a side hobby while camping. Very happy to be working with the guys here at Outdoor Command and look forward to providing best in class outdoors content for you.

    Click to rate this post!
    [Total: 2 Average: 5]