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Chaco Z/Cloud

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Chaco Z/Cloud sport sandal

This is Chaco’s original Z-1 Classic with a softer footbed. The sole is pretty good on both trails and wet rocks; the softer, more grippy rubber shows some wear over time. Good support and comfort for a sport sandal. This is one of my go-to sandals for walking on trails and the beach as well as on canoes and around the water.


  • Softer footbed means feet feel better
  • Adjusts and fits well in wet and muddy/sandy conditions
  • Fairly grippy sole does well, wet and dry
  • A fairly durable design


  • On the heavy side for sport sandals
  • Tradeoff with grippy soles and softer footbed is that they wear faster.

I have been wearing Chaco sandals for nearly fifteen years, still have a pair of their Z/1 Classics; I picked up the Z/Clouds about three years ago as a more forgiving alternative. These have since been worn a fair bit more often than the Classics.

Three years of wear showing on the plastic hardware.
Instep view shows the thickness and some of the contour of the midsole. Also shows the very robust stitching of the straps to the fabric ‘post’ that’s anchored to the midsole. 
Top view. Hard to tell, but these sandals mostly consist of one continuous piece of polyester webbing that  runs from the inside ‘post’ near the ankle, over the arch/instep, under the  outside of the sole, up from the inside of the forefoot, under the sole again on the outside of the foot, then up the instep to the clip. 

In case you aren’t familiar with how these sandals work, the only way to tighten them is by pulling the straps through the plastic clip shown above and by pulling the straps beneath the footbed—no hook/loop/Velcro, laces, speed laces, etc.

The initial adjustment of the straps to fit your feet takes some time and patience. Once you get it right, they’re often good for the duration. (Note, I previously reviewed Chaco’s Z/Cloud 2 in 2017.) Also, if you favor a lighter-weight version, check out the Chaco Z/Volv, and there is a Mega Z/Cloud with extra wide webbing.

Finally - if you are very particular about your sandals and/or concerned about where they are made, you can order a custom pair from Chaco; they're built in Michigan. My Chaco classics were spruced up via a "re-chaco," retaining the original footbed/midsole but replacing the straps and the sole. 

One note about adjusting the straps: if you’re a river rat who spends a lot of time in muddy or sandy conditions, grit can work its way into the channels where the straps adjust under your feet over time. Fill a good sized bucket with water and work the straps back and forth if they get stuck, that should dislodge the grit.  


Chaco’s sandals are available in sizes 7-15 men's and 5-12 women's, in medium width. Chaco also offers wide sizing, though they’re sometimes hard to find retail. For an additional fee, you can customize this sandal on Chaco’s website and ensure you get the wide size, along with a pretty broad and funky array of strap, buckle, and sole combinations. I wear size 11 1/2-12 wide in many men’s shoes; I wear an 11 wide in Chacos. 

Heel strap and heel. Shows more detail about the footbed, including a decent amount of wear under the heel. Z/1 classics are much more firm and take longer to wear like that. 
Forefoot part of the sandal. 

In general, Chaco sandals have a moderate contour to the midsole/footbed that feels very supportive—even if you have flat feet, as I do. The straps are one-inch wide polyester webbing—no interior padding, so initially, some might blister in key spots. Over time, that tends to go away. Last week, I walked about 7 miles one morning in mine, in and out of the ocean, and didn’t blister or chafe. 

The "cloud" means the top of the footbed is made of a soft polyurethane that has more "give" than the Chaco Z/1 Classic. I have worn both sandals a lot, and the Classic is a harder, more firm fit than the cloud under your feet. 

Z/Cloud on the right, Z/1 Classic on the left. The Classics are almost ten years older, but worn more sparingly over the past few years.


These Chacos have their proprietary ChacoGrip sole. The sole pattern is aggressive enough to deal with rocky trails or riversides, and the rubber is fairly soft and has pretty good grip on wet rocks. If you customize or look for it, you can choose a flatter, less heavily lugged Vibram Colorado sole or a more heavily lugged Vibram Terreno sole that‘s best suited for hiking. (My old Z/1 Classics have a sole that looks like today’s Colorado, except they’re made from very sticky rubber.) The ChacoGrip seems to be most widely available retail.

Soles are in decent shape; I often wear and test other sandals, though. Note the wear on the outer heel and under the ball of the foot.


The design takes care of water drainage—like any open water sandal. The straps dry quickly, too. 

I really enjoy the versatility of the Z/1 because they work in such a wide variety of conditions. Trails, water, beach, casual restaurant, knocking around—they do it all comfortably. I wouldn’t hike all day in any sandal if I could help it, but the Z/1 can handle it—you can even wear a light sock on a cold morning by the river or to abate friction during a hike or long portage. (Dorky, I know.)


If you want the most durability and are willing to sacrifice some cushiness under your feet, go for the Z/1 Classic, but I find the Clouds are a good compromise between durability and comfort. The straps are the same and should last a very long time regardless. The Cloud midsoles are in great shape after 3 years, with limited wear visible on the soles and footbed—keeping in mind that I often wear other sandals, which has extended the life of these. Had I worn these more often over three years, I expect they might have needed to be replaced due to tread wear.  

Also, if you’re on hard pavement/rocks/ground rather than around water, it’s worth exploring the Terreno soles as a more durable alternative. 


Worth mentioning that Chaco Z/1 Clouds are a little more expensive than Classics. Considering how long they last in any event, that should not drive your purchasing decisions much. 


Three years of walking around, light hiking, canoeing, going to the beach, and wearing around town.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110

About the Author

Andrew Friedman is a New Hampshire native who loves the Presidentials and spent his college summers guiding trips in the Adirondack High Peaks. He loved introducing his children to hiking and the outdoors. In addition to New England and the Adirondacks, he has hiked the shores of the Great Lakes, the Tetons, a number of California's state and national parks, the Albanian Alps, and trails in India, Asia, and the Middle East. Andrew logged his first review on Trailspace in 2007 and joined the Trailspace Review Corps in 2011. Andrew lives and works in the DC metro area.

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