User Review: Chaco Men's Z/1 Unaweep
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.