Chaco Z/1 Unaweep
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $60
Comfortable, durable, great for hiking and water sports, as well as casual wear. They last forever! Great for anyone looking for a sporty everyday sandal and/or outdoor activity sandal.
- Great traction
- Rough footbed
- Pricey—look for them on sale or clearance
I was given my first pair of Chaco Z! Unaweep sandals over 15 years ago. I have had them re-soled once, and one strap replaced, and still wear them for hiking and gardening all summer. I bought my second pair about 10 years ago. They are now my "water shoes" for rafting, kayaking and playing in river with the dog. I bought 2 new pairs in the last year in different colors to wear for work and casual wear.
I love that they are comfortable, have great traction on uneven terrain and in water, and last forever. I have a high arch and find Chacos fit much better than Tevas in that regard. The straps are endlessly adjustable so you always have a good fit. To clean them I just throw them in the wash with towels and such-of course if they're muddy I hose them off first!
My only complaint is the footbed is a little rough. This probably keeps your foot from sliding when they're wet, but does tend to roughen the bottom of my feet. My boyfriend got his first pair of Chacos this year in the new "Updraft" style and they seem to be a little easier on the bottom of the feet.
The only problem is I already have 4 pair and they'll never wear out, so it's hard to justify new ones! They are a bit pricey, but if you shop around you'll find them on clearance (that's why I have so many...). A great looking, great wearing outdoor activity and casual wear sandal.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Very rugged outdoor sandal; heavy and possibly too supportive.
- Simple, functional strap design
- Possibility to fix without replacing the whole shoe
- Rugged sole
- Very heavy for a sandal
- Non-foam footbed with high arches can be uncomfortable
I've owned my Chaco Z/1 Unaweep sandals with Terreno soles for 10 years now. The beauty of Chacos lies in their simplicity and functional, no-frills design. In this case, form and function melded into one beautiful, clean sandal with no crazy bungees or doodads.
The strap system is all integrated in the sole, beneath the footbed; when you pull one piece, it shifts the fit of all the other pieces. This allows you to adjust the fit to your own foot, and to add socks and still feel comfortable. This also makes the sandal easy to fix; you send it in to get re-webbed and get to keep your nice, worn-in sole and footbed.
The sole/footbed is a bit of a point of conflict for me. It is very heavy; I imagine if I added straps to my Asolo boot soles, they would weigh about the same as the Chaco soles. However, they are also incredibly durable. Furthermore, the once-piece construction prevents any sort of delaminating or general falling-apart issues of more "complicated" soles.
The footbed, which they call LUVSEAT, is accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association. They purportedly align your foot and body and force you to walk how you're supposed to walk, without overpronating, etc. They feature very high arches; as someone who has very high arches, I find them almost uncomfortable.
Every summer, it takes me some time to get used to wearing the Chacos. It's not so much that you break them in; they break you in. Until then, if you wear them for too long a stretch, your feet will be sore. They are not padded, there is no foam, supposedly your body heat helps the rubber conform to your foot but I think this effect is imperceptible if it exists at all. In short, the fit is specific, and while they come in multiple widths, they are definitely not for everyone.
They are pretty much as far from being barefoot as it gets, despite them being sandals. If you're a fan of FiveFingers, or Merrell Gloves, or other "barefoot" shoes (I am!), these are definitely a "try before you buy" item.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $40
A retail employee and outdoor enthusiast's best friend, the Chaco Z/1 is a great performance and casual sandal for everyday or active use.
- Great tread/traction
- Good looking
- Unaweep poor for water/slickrock
- Webbing sticks at times
I've had my Z/1s for one year. I always heard of people having Chacos and loving them, so I figured I had to try them. I found these on sale at the Whole Earth Provision Co. near the UT campus in Austin. After one year and many other shoes coming and going, they are my shoe of choice for 3 out of 4 occasions both work and play.
Chacos are definitely an acquired taste. If you're not used to a hefty, supportive sport sandal, then they require some adjustment the first several times you wear them, both in your foot muscles and in the actual securing of your foot to the foot bed. The arch is very pronounced and supports your foot very well.
For someone who wore Chuck Taylors for three years straight, the arch was uncomfortable at first, but soon help my feet regain their more natural shape (my foot even shrunk a half size). I usually wear a 10.5, but Chacos come in whole sizes only. Chaco sizing is long, so a 10 is perfect for me with stub-room to spare.
The foot bed is PU, so it is firm (and heavy when compared to EVA) but has some cushioning for all-day comfort. The ports where the heel strap risers exit the foot bed are raised and were a different feeling for my foot, but they do serve to anchor your foot laterally.
I never had any blistering or much rubbing, but it did take two weeks before my feet and the foot bed were best friends. The foot bed has a cross-hatch of channels that run the entire surface and act as conduits for sweat to evaporate. These can get pretty funky, but a paper clip or toothpick with water in the tub are enough to clean them up nicely.
The webbing adjustment system is so unique and ingenious. It is secure, and, when properly tightened, keeps my foot very stable. The webbing runs through molded channels between the foot bed and the outsole, so dirt and grit can get in there, making the straps hard to move. With some elbow grease, one can "floss" the webbing back and forth and clean out the channels and free the webbing. The webbing is soft and feels nice on my feet, but is also rugged and stands up to plenty of indoor and outdoor abuse.
The Unaweep tread is deep and luggy giving great traction on gravel, dirt, dry rock face, and most anything else. I noticed when walking in lakes or rivers with slimy rocks that my foot did slip quite a bit. I bought the Unaweep because I wanted them more for hiking/general use; the Yampa sole is better for water activities for those so inclined.
I'm stoked because ReChaco will replace the outsoles when they wear out ($40), so it's cheaper than a new pair, I can use my Chacos for many more years, and it keeps them out of the landfill!
I also own a pair of Z/2s. I mostly reserve those for hiking, whereas the Z/1s I use for work (8+ hours on my feet in a retail job) and grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, walking the dog, etc. The lack of toe loop on the Z/1 offers more comfort but less stability in uneven terrain, but if you hate the toe loop and still want to hike in a Chaco, the Z/1 will still get the job done.
After a hike, I use my Z/1s as a recovery shoe with a pair of SmartWool socks, and my feet rejoice everytime! With a pair of socks (Sockos), they even gain the coveted 4-season distinction in my arsenal (Texas is probably better suited for Sockos than Duluth or Juneau).
I can't rave enough about Chacos. They are my favorite shoe. My partner probably wishes I wouldn't wear them out to dinner, but what can I say, I love them too much!
*I am an employee at Whole Earth Provision Co. in Dallas. My views do not necessarily represent the views of Whole Earth Provision Co. or its employees. I pride myself in providing unbiased reviews of products I purchase for my personal use.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $70 amazon
From Z/2 to Z/1 and a lot happier!
- No toe strangulation
- Same Chaco feel
- General everythingness
Let me preface this review by saying, I am super biased, I love Chacos and no other sandals can even compare in the least bit.
I switched from a Z/2 to a Z/1 recently, because I kept getting toe strangulation no matter how I adjusted the toe loop strap. I finally yanked it all the way down, resolving only to bring it up on hikes. However that soon started to cause to problems beneath my big toe. Affectionately I sold them on Ebay, and picked up the same size (8) in the Z/1.
Best decision of my life! Chacos are really the only shoe that I can honestly wear all day, everyday, in every situation. With the LUVseat platform strapped on me I feel supported and invincible! I thought that without my beloved toe strap my hiking would be impacted, but that has certainly not been the case in the least. The only real difference is that the straps are a bit thicker than the Z/2 which is something they don't tell you really on the website.
Now let me tell you about the performance. Chacos are the only sandal, THE ONLY SANDAL, that can stand up to all day abuse, in town, on the trail, the river, or any other situation you can think of. I wear them as much as weather permits here in Utah, and without fail year round when I visit my family in Vegas. I also use and abuse them at Lake Mead and around the local trails. They are the only sandal to never give me any wear problems as far as fit, and function. They also do not wear down at all! They still look as fresh as they day I bought them.
I have worn sandals my whole life, growing up in Vegas and going to Lake Mead almost weekly (especially in the summer) and I used to wear another brand of sandal before I heard about Chacos. Lets just call them 'Steva's'. With the hiking, and boating and abuse I put them through, I was lucky to get a summer's use out of them. Straps would rip out at the eyelets, toe pieces ripped entirely off, velcro that would degrade from the sand. It was hopeless at times. And honestly I don't know if I could ever go back to 'Stevas' now that my eyes have been opened.
Bottom line, I will be buried in my Chacos and if luck has it the way that these ones are holding up, it might even be my original pair.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $95
Good, supportive sandal that has been with me for a long time. I recommend this sandal to anyone who spends at least one weekend a year out of doors.
I bought this shoe 7 years ago when all of my buddies had already got them. Following the crowd is recommended at times, and these sandals are a great shoe. The single strap system is what I would call "neat." Does it make these shoes? Not by itself. Everything about these shoes makes them what they are.
The strap is great to evenly distribute support to your foot. The supportive sole is protection from the ground, and the soft, strong straps will never abrade your ankles with sand or water even with extended use. I have taken these shoes through caves, on mountain blitzes (not real mountaineering, but in UT they'll call anything a mountain), as my sole pair of shoes for my honeymoon backpacking trip where I packed way too much.
These shoes are the most stable sandals there are, and have in some respects done better than tennis shoes on bouldering and climbing ladders in the Oil city to LaPush hike, and slogging through knee-deep mud in the Dugualla Bay of Whidbey Island. They won't fall off your feet even if the mud is sucking at your shoes. Great traction, and how can you beat them for stream crossing?
The only time they don't work is when you know that all sides of your feet will be getting constant abuse. Read: I did not take them on the Zion Narrows through-hike, because I knew that slippery river rocks would eventually get the best of my ankles. I wore well-vented tennis shoes.
The cons? Simple. Everybody knows that Chaco foot smell. And for what it's worth, after 7 years the soles have delaminated a bit. I'm ok with that.
Source: received it as a personal gift
Chacos are boot on the bottom and sandal on top! These things grip in the water and on the land, desert and mountain! I recommend these to thru hikers and day hikers, paddlers and cyclists, and they are great for travel too!
- simple design
- durable as hell
- excellent arch support
- multi-sport appropriate
- a little heavy
- no toe protection
The strap design combined with the super-supportive footbed combined with the Vibram sole make these sandals second to none.
All day comfort from the hostel to the trail to the put-in to the take-out to the pub and then on to the fine dining.
More support than most orthotics. These sandals actually become the last resort for folks desperate for sandals but bound by doctor's orders to their orthotics. Chaco offers so much arch in their footbed that orthotics can often be replaced entirely.
These sandals are wonderful for rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and standup paddle boards. When negotiating slippery rocks and roots at put ins and take outs these sandals offer good traction. When moving around the boat these sandals are not bulky so negotiating thwarts and gear is easy.
The Z/1, as opposed to the Z/2 model, can be worn with socks in the cold and without in the warm.
(I own The Badass Outdoors Gear Shop and do sell these sandals in my store. The reason I sell these sandals is because I USE these sandals for almost every adventure and they keep on working for me.)
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $50
Have these plus the flip flops.
- unsurpassed arch support
I have these plus the flip flops and and they're the only footwear that provides the arch support I need. I just wish I could have them in an ultralight trail runner shoe.
Price Paid: $50
I have 2 pairs of Z/1s with the Unaweep sole and 1 pair with the Colorado sole. I find the Unaweep soles keep up better. Colorado sole starts to bubble up.
Cannot live without my Chacos. Putting any other sandal on my feet is extremely uncomfortable. Chaco has been praised by the podiatry association for the construction of their sandals/shoes.
My only gripe: I have been wearing Chacos for years. In 2009 they started to outsource to China. I took great pride in the fact that I was buying an American made product. Apparently NOTHING is accomplished in Colorado anymore.
I needed a pair re-soled and instead they sent me a "like pair." Unfortunately the newest models have become more of a fashion statement. I would not purchase. Best bet is to find older models on eBay.