What do you do when you need a quick-drying, jack-of-all-trades sandal tough enough to take on the great outdoors? Well, if you’re Mark Paigen, you invent Chacos! Paigen’s sandals are built for explorers, equally at home on the trail and on the water. Since they were invented in the 1980s, Chaco hiking sandals have become a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Of course, you already know all of this. You’re ready to take the plunge and buy your first pair of Chacos. Are you interested in the Z/1? The ZX/2? The Z/Volv X2? Ok, we admit it. Choosing the right pair of Chacos can be overwhelming, but luckily all it really takes is a few simple steps!
Toe Loop or No Toe Loop?
A helpful how-to from Chaco that also shows the difference between the toe loop and the no loop sandals.
Your first major decision: do you want a toe loop or not? There are pros and cons to both styles. Lots of outdoor enthusiasts recommend the toe loop on the trail and no loop when you’re on the water. The toe loop can help with stability and fit, keeping your sandal strapped to your foot more securely during strenuous hikes. The security can also help keep dirt and debris out from under your foot, but it can also make it harder to remove anything that does get in. No loop can be slightly less secure, perfect for wading in rivers because mud and rocks can wash out easily. You can also pull off a Chacos and sock-os look more easily in the no loop pairs. If you want a more thorough comparison before you make your decision, Alex Gulsby at 99 Boulders did a field test of both styles that you might be interested in reading!
How Many Straps?
Top left: Chaco Women's Z/Volv 2 in Swell Nickel. Top right: Chaco Women's ZX/2 Classic in Angular Teal. Bottom: Chaco Women's ZX/3 Classic in Hollow Eclipse.
Chaco has the option of one, two, or even three straps. Now, when we get into multiple straps, we’re not actually talking multiple straps the way you’re thinking. No matter how many straps you have, they’re laced through the midsole in the same places and hold the same parts of the foot in place. Multiple straps are an aesthetic choice as opposed to a functional choice. If you like the look of multiple straps, go for it! You’ll get the same support as a single strap.
Chaco offers two different soles, both of which are designed and built by Chaco. The first, the ChacoGrip® sole, is a proprietary rubber compound with a unique tread design. Chaco calls it their grippiest sole ever. Your other option is the EcoTread™ sole. EcoTread™ soles are basically the same design as the ChacoGrip® sole, but they’ve adjusted their proprietary rubber compound to include 25% recycled rubber.
Of course, all Chacos feature the LUVSEAT™ footbed. With its contoured arch support and overall supportive design, this ultra-comfy footbed is perfect for all-day wear. It’s even certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association! The Classic footbed is made with firm PU that won’t compress or lose its shape with wear. The Cloud footbed is made with a dual-density PU meant to improve upon the cushioning of the Classic. The Z/Volv footbed is a twist on the Classic design with slightly less intense arch support and a 20% lighter weight than either of the other soles.
Left: Chaco Women's Z/2 Classic NPF Yellowstone. Right: Chaco Men's Z/Cloud in Black.
Now for the fun part: what colors do you want? Maybe the cool Z/2 Classic NPF Yellowstone designed in collaboration with the National Parks Foundation appeals to you. Perhaps you’re interested in a more subtle color pattern like the Z/Cloud in black. Chaco straps come in a rainbow of colors and patterns!
Buying Your Perfect Chacos
So you’ve made all your choices. You know what you want from your Chacos. You’re ready to check out some Chacos and buy your Z/Volv 2 with toe loop in swell nickel with a PU compound footbed and EcoTread™ sole or your ZX/2 Classic with a toe loop and multiple straps in black with a PU midsole and ChacoGrip® tread or perhaps even the Mega Z Cloud with no toe loop and a dual density PU midsole.
What happens if they don’t have what you want, though? As much as we would love to get you the perfect pair of Chacos right here, there’s always the chance that what you want doesn’t line up with standard Chaco styles. Luckily, Chaco has you covered with the My Chacos program. Choose your footbed, your strap colors, the number of straps, and the sole. The customization process also allows you to put custom embroidered words on the heel if you so choose!
Are you ready to find your perfect pair of Chacos?