Are Chacos Good For Hiking?

When it comes to hiking, sandals may not be the first thing to come to mind. However, Chaco is a brand of sandals made for hiking in a variety of terrain. (Going by the announcer in their ads, the name Chaco is pronounced to rhyme with taco.) Chaco does manufacture some low-rise boots, but it’s their expressive and colorful custom-designed sandals that everyone really wants.

They got their start in 1989 when Mark Paigen, a rafting and fly-fishing guide from Colorado, decided he wanted some shoes that could be worn in any environment and wouldn’t leave his feet wrinkled at the end of the day. He took the gecko as the shoe’s mascot because it is an animal that can live in water or on the land.

Paigen settled on the name Chaco after Chaco Culture National Historical Park. These sandals were built not just for the nature aficionado but the nature lover. And to love nature is to preserve it. Thus, all Chaco shoes are repairable to put off being put in a landfill.

are chacos good for hiking

Which Chaco Sandals Are Best For Hiking?

Chaco sandals aren’t just any sandal. They have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of approval. Their patented LUVSEAT™ Footbed delivers day-long comfort and arch support. What’s more, their rugged outsole has traction that can handle the most challenging of terrain.

The Z/2 will keep your big toe in place as you climb over slippery surfaces like river rocks. The Z/Cloud is super comfortable and is great for deserts and mountains. The Odyssey is aptly named as it can get you on trips through the roughest environments.

Chaco Cloud Vs. Classic

The Classic Chaco is known as Z/1. It has a double meaning. A friend of Paigen’s speaking in a phony French accent described them as “zee one!” Of course, the strap going over the instep is shaped like the letter Z. Later, Chaco came up with a new design dubbed Z/Cloud due to its lightweight and softness.

Though soft inside, the Z/Cloud could still handle rough terrain. However, it is less stable than the Z/1. The Z/Cloud is for comfort rather than performance.

Chacos Vs. Tevas

Tevas utilizes a Velcro system that makes them very easy to strap on. The soles on the Chacos are considerably thicker than Tevas. In contrast, Tevas has a footbed that much softer is just the thing after a long day of hiking or backpacking.

The Tevas thin footbed may be fine if you want to feel every bump on the trail. Chacos have an anti-slip footbed which is just what you need in damp conditions.

Chacos Vs. Birkenstocks

Both are good sandals in their own right but if you want something sporty go for the Chacos. They just have better grip and traction. Birkenstocks are known for their comfort and are good for walking and are easy to put on and take off but they just can’t handle tough terrain.

Chacos Vs. Keens

Keens are pretty good for a hike. They have an appreciable amount of traction and ankle support. However, they are a bit heavy and do not do well on wet and slippery surfaces. Chacos, now, are meant for the water. They are fine for light walks and wading and even swimming.

Can Chacos Go In The Water?

They can be worn to wade through rivers, creeks, tide pools, and even while swimming. Their water-resistance makes them easy to clean. Just hose them down or even wear them in a shower. You can wear your Chacos in saltwater or chlorine-treated water but it is recommended you give them a good rinsing with freshwater right after.

Can You Wear Chacos In The Rain?

That’s not a problem. Chacos are both slip-resistant and water-resistant. You won’t have to worry about slipping in mud or on damp surfaces and water won’t pool up and make your feet soggy.

Can You Wear Chacos In The Sand?

They’re sand magnets. Sand just wriggles through the fabric of the straps where it can irritate the skin. If you wear them in the sand, you will be cleaning them later and don’t expect them to keep sand out.

How Should Chacos Fit?

The best way to make sure your Chacos fit properly and to ensure you buy the right size is to try them! This is the best way to ensure that your Chacos aren’t too big or too small. Chacos does not provide half sizes so go up if you typically wear these.

Do Chaco Sandals Run Big Or Small?

They roughly run true to size. However, because they do not come in half sizes, they feel like they run small. Go up a size if you usually wear a half size.

Should Chacos Be Tight Or Loose?

The instep straps on Chacos are completely adjustable. There’s no need for them to be super tight. They just need to be tight enough to stay in place.

Are Chacos Zero Drop?

While they are zero drop shoes, weighing in at two pounds makes them a little too heavy to qualify as minimalist.

Are Chacos Good For Flat Feet?

The Z/Cloud comes highly recommended in this case. The ultra-soft footbed is enough to win over anyone with fallen arches. Super comfort prevents pain.

Do Podiatrists Recommend Chacos?

They are likely the closest thing to a flip-flop a podiatrist will recommend. APMA gave their seal of approval because Chacos improve body alignment while preventing heel pain, ankle pain, and pain resulting from plantar fasciitis.

How To Break In Chacos Fast?

You could wear them for a few hours every day over a one- or two-week time period. You can speed things up by wearing them the whole day for three to seven days. However, this is also a fast track to blisters. Make sure they are broken in before you go on a hike or long trip.

How Can You Make Chacos More Comfortable?

To start with, do not wear them for hours at a time. You can also put band-aids or moleskin on your foot beneath the pinky toe and just behind your heel. It may take you a couple of weeks to build up calluses on your heel and outsole. An alcohol rub can speed things up.

Are Chacos Better With Or Without The Toe Strap?

The toe strap does take some getting used to. However, you may need some extra security if you plan to do a lot of hiking. You may want to use a toe sock to cut down on the irritation.

What To Do With The Extra Strap On Chacos?

The easiest thing to do is to just tie a knot in it so it doesn’t drag. Anything else could void the warranty.

How Do You Soften Chaco Straps?

OK, this is just a random hunch but maybe fabric softener? This will make the straps softer and easier to manage so that you can get sand out of them. Getting the straps damp also helps.

How Do You Keep Chacos From Smelling?

Cut off their nose. (Rimshot.) Seriously, if your Chacos are a little funky you can scrub the footbed with a firm bristled brush and baking soda. Let them air dry.

Can You Put Chacos In The Washing Machine?

You can, on the gentle cycle with mild detergent. This must be a laundry washing machine and not a dishwasher. Do not use bleach or anything corrosive. Let them air dry.

How Do You Clean Chaco Sandals?

If your sandals are leather, machine washing is not recommended. Wash them by hand with a damp cloth. Let them air dry without heat. You may want to use a specialized leather cleaner. If you got some grit stuck in those straps, a little fabric softener will loosen them up.

Do Chacos Have A Lifetime Warranty?

To quote the Genie from Disney’s Aladdin “Uh, almost. There are a few, uh, provisos, a, a couple of quid pro quos.” Frayed webbing and worn soles due to normal wear are not covered by the lifetime warranty.

Neither is product failure due to use outside of its original intention. For example, don’t use them for fire walking or kickboxing with great whites. The fit is also something you have to determine before you walk away with the shoes.

Can Chacos Be Repaired?

That’s one of the big selling points. Chaco is very much against the throw-away culture and takes pride in their products. If a product fails due to a defect in the materials or the quality of the workmanship, they will repair or replace it for free. In 2019 they managed to save 25,000 shoes.

How Long Do Chaco Repairs Take?

It depends on what extent repairs are needed but, generally, the average is about ten days. After that, your shoes are “reChaco’d”, good as new.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair Chacos?

Not a dime if they are still under warranty. Otherwise, it’s $40 for a resoling and $36 for a rewebbing.

How Long Do Chacos Last?

With ordinary use, they will last roughly about a year. The first thing to go is the sole. It starts to split under the ball of the foot. The straps will start to go next.

How To Spot Fake Chacos?

If you see an ad online for Chacos and the ad does not directly link to or one of their authorized retailers you are probably getting catfished, particularly if the ad seems too good to be true. The only place to get Chacos is from Chacos.

Are Chacos Worth It?

They do last a long time. Their customer service is excellent. The warranty is good as long as you didn’t deliberately damage them yourself. And while you have them you can travel over a vast variety of terrain.


Chacos make a very decent sandal that can make you rethink what sandals are good for. Sandals for hiking? Why not? You can not only hike but wade through creeks and puddles. They could be just what you’re looking for.


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