Historic Range: $26.55-$80.00
Reviewers Paid: $40.00-$50.00
Think of these as a major upgrade over high-end flip-flops. The same straps as Chaco's Z-2 sandal, without the heel strap, these are easier to put on and take off. Comfortable to wear and walk in, secure enough to cross streams.
Like any sandal with no heel, these aren't as secure and are more likely to slip off your feet. Simple design should make them extremely durable.
- More secure on your feet than flip-flops
- Easy to adjust
- Better sole than I expected
- Adjusting straps initially takes some work
- Don't buy them full price
I'll admit it up front, Chaco does an outstanding job with sandals in my opinion. Great soles, great midsole/footbed, simple straps, virtually no hardware to break. My old Tevas invariably fouled up the velcro with sand or experienced hardware breakage, and my old Keen Newports eventually smelled so awful that I had to let them go.
The Zong is kind of like a flip-flop on steroids. Similar sole, midsole/footbed, and straps to the Chaco Z-2, except that they are slip-ons without a heel strap. If you haven't worn or looked at Chaco sandals before, the concept is pretty simple. What looks like a series of straps is actually one continuous polyester strap, with parts of it that run underneath the midsole.
They are not lightweight; my size 12s weigh 1.5 pounds on an electronic hand scale. That's perhaps a little heavier than some would like to carry in a pack for stream crossings, but they are a lot less likely to slip and slide than crocs or simple flip-flops.
FIT is pretty much universal and true to size, unless you have very wide feet. I wear E width shoes, but that's due to the ball of my feet; at the arch, I'm pretty average width. To adjust the sandals to your foot, you can slide the straps underneath and essentially customize how they fit.
The small strap over the toe takes some getting used to, as it can initially feel somewhat uncomfortable. However, it gives these sandals security and lateral stability that no heel-less sandal can match, particularly in the water. Once you adjust the straps, you simply loosen the single buckle to put them on, then tighten. For most people, that's all the adjusting you will ever need.
Note, I'm wearing moleskin in these photos because we had a ton of rain today, and I walked on a local trail in these. They haven't blistered me, but any sandal can get your feet pretty raw on a rainy two-hour walk. I don't use these for trails that have a whole lot of up and down, but on a flat trail, they are fine.
As the photos show to some degree, the bed under your foot is contoured and has some arch support. It is very comfortable.
TREAD GRIP of the soles are fine—solid, reasonably grippy. Chaco makes Z-1 and Z-2 "Pro" sandals with a highly grippy sole (which also tends to wear more quickly and can mark up your floors). The Zong doesn't offer that option, but I have found they do fine on the wet rocks in the Potomac River near our house. Not as good as the Pro sole, but better than I expected.
DURABILITY is something I cannot assess with this particular sandal, as I have only had them for a few months. However, I have collectively worn my Z-1 and Z-2 Chacos for about fifteen years, and they have proved to be bombproof.
I had the Z-2 pair re-strapped a few years ago because a lot of sand and grit worked its way into the space under the midsole and abraded the straps, made them hard to adjust. If you spend a lot of time putting canoes in and out in muddy-sandy shallows, take the time to move the straps back and forth in bucket of water and get the grit out.
Otherwise, I anticipate these will be bombproof, and that the soles will wear extremely well.
COMFORT depends on one's preference. Chaco does not make super-cushy sandals. They are firm without being bruising. They have really solid arch support. They are not particularly flexible, and the sole and midsole offer very good protection from pointy rocks, for a sandal with no shank. While they stay on pretty well, you're better off with sandals with a heel strap if you really need them to stay on. But, they aren't nearly as likely to fall off as flip flops.
PRICE — The list price is 79 bucks. Don't pay that. It is pretty easy to find them discounted if you look around on the web.
WHERE I HAVE WORN THEM — walking the dog, running errands, flatter rocky trails by the river, dirt trails, and walking the canoe down to the river and back.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $45
Chacos are the best. Offer the best support and look good too. These are extremely comfy. Easiest flip to just throw on. No straps to tighten.
I would recommend these to anyone that doesn't like the feel of heel straps. Though if you are an avid climber, hiker, etc I highly recommend getting the Z/1 with the rear heel straps for support.
Price Paid: $40
I wear these shoes more than any other pair I own year round. I beat the hell out of them and they never give me any problems. The footbed is very supportive and great for long trips. I took them to Belize for a mission trip and walked around 10+ miles a day and no problems whatsoever. I highly recommend these if you like being comfortable.
Materials: vibram soles, proprietary anatomical footbed, nylon straps
Use: everyday wear, rough use, anything really.
Break-in Period: get the straps set, and your set.
Weight: heavier than most sandals but worth it.
Price Paid: $50