Are Chacos Good for Hiking? (Pros, Cons & Recommendations)

Being an experienced hiker, I have been frequently approached with questions regarding the possibility and safety of hiking in Chacos sandals.

Hiking sandals can be a simplistic alternative to hiking shoes, hiking boots, and trail runners. One popular brand, Chacos, is well-known among outdoor enthusiasts for how adjustable their products are, their lightweight designs, and how much utility they have in the water.

Rated as one of the most popular footwear brands for hiking and light traveling, Chaco sandals are made with enough comfort, good arch support, and flexibility to be used for everyday tasks.

It all comes down to personal preference when looking for hiking sandals. Keep reading to learn if you can hike in Chacos and the advantages and disadvantages of using

Quick Summary 

  • Chaco sandals are open toe footwear designed to handle light and casual outdoor excursions due to their soft, but comfortably rigid design.
  • The Chaco Z/1 Classic and Z/Cloud sandals are among the most highly rated footwear for their cushy midsoles and responsive outsoles.
  • While Chaco products are built well and suitable for most activities, there are pros and cons that should be considered beforehand.

What are Chaco Sandals?

Chaco Z/Cloud X2 Strappy Sport Sandals

Chaco sandals are durable and supportive footwear best worn for activities such as camping, hiking, and trips that involve river or stream crossings throughout.

These sandals are sometimes designed with a toe strap, but are commonly made with a toe loop instead.

Typically, the open design of Chaco sandals lets your feet feel free, even while wearing socks.

Additionally, the straps around the ankles can be loosened or tightened as you see fit for a custom feel. The versatility of the Chacos makes them a great all-purpose outdoor option.

Are Chacos Good for Hiking?

good traction for wet and slippery surfaces

Wearing Chacos is a good idea if you plan on traveling on an easy to moderately difficult trail.

The ChacoGrip Rubber outsole has a grippy tread and sticks to surfaces without issues.

Furthermore, the polyester uppers are durable enough to withstand most conditions you would find on a typical hiking trail.

However, do keep in mind that the exposed design of the Chacos makes them difficult to wear in cold weather, and hiking socks may only keep your feet warm and provide protection from the elements for so long.

Otherwise, they’re perfect for trails where you don’t need the bulkiness of hiking boots or hiking shoes

Are Chacos Comfortable?

Chacos are comfortable due to their thick underfoot cushioning and snug strap systems. They have a pillow-like design and do really well with supporting the arches.

What makes wearing Chacos even better is that they provide nearly the same level of comfort that’s given by some popular hiking shoes but without the extra weight. Since they’re so soft, they can be worn for extended periods without causing discomfort.

Also when wearing Chacos, even though they don’t have true ankle collars like other hiking footwear, they’re good at aligning your body in a way that takes stress off your ankles and heels.

What Are the Best Chaco Sandals for Hiking?

Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal

Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal

The Chaco’s Z/1 Classic Sandal is a performance hiking sandal that favors ruggedness over comfort.

Despite this, the uppers are made with a polyester jacquard webbing, which is contouring and allows for a customizable setup.

As with all current Chaco products, this is made with an in-house ChacoGrip Rubber outsole and LUVSEAT PU midsole, both of which work together to give the sandals that firm build and surefooted grip on various terrain.

The rubber is very dense, which is good for separating your feet from the trail. This is a type of sandal to be worn if you can forego a traditional shoe.

Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandal

Chaco Z Cloud Sandal

The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandal is the successor to the Chaco Z/Cloud, having all the same features, but sporting a toe loop.

The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandal manages to slightly increase the thickness of its rubber footbed for increased protection, in exchange for also becoming weightier.

What really sets the Chaco’s Cloud 2 apart though, is that, unlike the Classic, the Cloud 2’s toe loop anchors the toe to the footbed, giving you more stability, especially on jagged and uneven surfaces where the Classic couldn’t.

With their new adjustments, they perform even better on well-maintained trails.

Advantages of Using Chacos for Hiking

1. Comfort

Many testimonies praise Chaco hiking sandals as being incredibly soft on the footbed, allowing for longer hikes. However, another pleasant feature is that the straps around the ankles and feet don’t rub at all.

This means that even after wearing them for long hikes, you don’t have to worry about blistering or irritation.

2. Durability

specifically designed with comfortable footbed

The rubber outsoles of Chaco products tend to be very thick, making them less prone to premature wear and tear, even in the most rocky conditions.

The uppers are long-lasting and very sturdy, barely showing any signs of use even if they’re frequently worn in place of other types of footwear.

3. Waterproofing

Chaco sandals have a waterproof footbed and polyester straps, which shed water very quickly. Originally designed to be worn as rafting sandals, Chacos are good at keeping the foot in place to prevent slippage in wet conditions.

This allows them to be used in rain, for showering, and even navigating some conditions your boots and shoes might not be as equipped for.

Disadvantages of Using Chacos for Hiking

1. Debris

Based on my personal experience, another drawback of Chaco sandals is that they leave your feet uncovered, increasing the likelihood of debris becoming trapped beneath them.

Even though they would be easy to remove, anything from gravel to small sticks could slip in between the gaps, making the hike a little uncomfortable.

2. Toe Protection

no toe protection

Unlike a traditional hiking shoe or hiking boot, the exposed design of a Chaco sandal leaves your toes vulnerable to various trail hazards.

In exchange for having 100% ventilation, the sandals aren’t made with a protective toe cap.

This makes it more likely for you to experience an injury if hiking a difficult or unkept trail.

Read more to find out the difference between a hiking shoe and a hiking sandal.

3. Design

Chaco sandals aren’t meant to cover your feet the way other hiking footwear does.

Even if you wear socks with sandals, which provide a superficial layer of protection, they don’t provide you ankle support and can’t protect you from the extreme cold or rough objects that you’d experience in the winter season on a more advanced trail.

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Do We Recommend Chacos for Hiking?

All in all, I and my team consider that Chaco sandals are good for hiking and can be recommended as high-quality footwear for hiking. For such a minimalist design, the comfort of the LUVSEAT midsole and the toughness of the polyester webbing makes this a perfect waterproof sandal for most outdoor adventures.

With the standard 3mm lug depth of the non-slip ChacoGrip outsole, you’ll find that the traction is just as reliable as what you’d see on some hiking boots.

While the exposed design does absolutely nothing in terms of protection, leaving you susceptible to trail debris, Chaco sandals come in many other design styles that might fit what you need.

So, are Chaco sandals the best sandals for hiking in 2023? Check our guide where we review and compare the best models.


Are Chacos Waterproof?

Chacos are waterproof. The PU footbed is made to be water-resistant and absorb moisture very slowly. The straps, which are made with polyester, also dry quickly when exposed to water.

Are Chacos Good for Walking All Day?

Chacos are good for walking all day. The LUVSEAT midsole cradles the arches and the heel cup aligns the body to reduce stress on the ankles, in addition to having a pillow-like footbed.

Can You Hike in Chaco Sandals?

You can hike in Chaco sandals. However, the effectiveness of you hiking in Chacos depends on the difficulty of the trail you’re hiking, the terrain, and the weather patterns that you’ll experience.

What Are Chacos Best For?

Chacos are best for light-moderate outdoor activities. You can take them on hikes, rafting trips, and out camping. They’re convenient to slip on and off at a moment’s notice.

Do Chacos Give You Blisters?

While individual experiences may vary, some hikers have reported getting blisters when wearing Chacos sandals due to the friction caused by the straps and footbed.

Do Chacos Provide Ankle Support?

No, Chacos sandals do not offer substantial ankle support as they are designed with an open and minimalistic structure.

Do Chacos Run Big or Small?

Chacos are made to fit true-to-size to prevent the need to size up or down. Chaco brand sandals are commonly sized in medium and wide options to accommodate different foot volumes.

Catalin Geangos

Catalin Geangos

Catalin is a writer and outdoor specialist who has been traveling in over 35 countries so far. He loves spending time in nature, enjoying mountains and nature adventures, and ultimately inspiring people to travel more. In his time off, he is testing, analyzes, and reviews hiking and other outdoor gear and accessories.

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