Have you yearned to join the Chaco-wearing masses, but you can't get past that stiff, high-arched footbed? The Z/Volv X2 might be the sandal solution you're looking for. Chaco reduced the weight and bulk of this pared-down model and slightly decreased the footbed molding to accommodate those with lower arches. While we did verify that the Z/Volv X2 is about 15% lighter than the Chaco Z/Cloud 2 and has a lower molded arch, we couldn't detect much of a difference in performance between the two models during side-by-side testing. Both models are outstanding performers for a wide range of outdoor activities, and they look good enough to wear around town after the adventures.Editor's Note: This sandal review underwent an update on March 23, 2022, with more information to help you make a decision on the right sandal for your needs.
Chaco Z/Volv X2 - Women's Review
Cons: Short straps, difficult to adjust, can't be worn with socks
Our Analysis and Test Results
While we weren't blown away by this model's Volv footbed, we are happy to report that this is one more great option in the Chaco lineup. The Z/Volv X2 is, by our measurements, about 15% lighter than the Z/Cloud 2 — not exactly a game-changer, but perhaps significant for those who strongly prioritize gear weight. The Z/Volv X2 also has a less molded footbed than the classic Chaco models, so some low-arched people who have previously found Chacos uncomfortable may find that these sandals are their ticket into the club.
As with all the Chaco models we tested, how comfortable you'll find the Z/Volv X2 depends on your foot type and your preferences. This model has a molded footbed, which testers with moderate-to-high arches love, and those with flat feet tend to hate. However, in the Volv line, Chaco has toned down the molding and arch height compared to the other Chaco models. This means that some people with moderately low arches who have previously found Chacos uncomfortable may find it a good comfy fit. The best way to determine if these are the sandals for you is to try them on and to know that the molding will not relax or conform to your foot — so if the arch is not comfy after a few days of general break-in, they're probably not the right model for you.
The materials of the Z/Volv X2 feel good against the skin and only require a day or so to feel fully broken in. Keep in mind that we found this model's double straps to be slightly less comfortable than those of the single-strap models because there are more edges to rub against your foot when you put them on, especially when they're wet.
Traction is another area of excellence for the Z/Volv X2 and Chaco models in general.
When wearing this model and the Z/Cloud 2 side-by-side, we can't feel any difference between them. Both feel grippy and stable while heading up and downhill on trails and scree, and they performed identically during our river crossing test (so much so that we had to look down to confirm that we were wearing two different shoes…)
Like all Chaco models, the Z/Volv X2 has a continuous strap that flows in and out of the sandal's sole to achieve a foot-hugging fit. Note that the X2 models, like this one, actually have two parallel straps (since they function as one and are meant to be adjusted together, we'll refer to them as "the strap"). This is a mixed bag in terms of adjustability — on the one hand, adjusting one strap means adjusting all of them, and even after you get the hang of it, this is kind of a pain. On the other hand, you can dial each strap to fit your foot perfectly, so you'll be stoked once you do get them all adjusted.
One downfall of the Z/Volv X2 is that the integrated strap is shorter than in other Chaco models, to the extent that our narrow-footed tester had just enough room to dial in all the straps with a bit to spare. Those with wide feet may find that there's not enough strap to fit their feet comfortably. This hasn't been an issue with other Chaco models — in fact, when we wore one model on each foot and measured the extra strap length, we found the Z/Cloud 2 to have 1.5" more extra strap than the Z/Volv X2.
The Z/Volv X2 joins its Chaco brethren to earn high marks in this category. The sole of this model is slightly more supple than that of the Z/Cloud 2, but we weren't able to feel the difference when we wore both models simultaneously for side-by-side testing. Like all the Chacos we tested, the Z/Volv X2's sole feels stiff enough to be supportive but also supple enough to handle contours in trails and rocks. With full-coverage straps, including a toe loop, the feet are held in place, and we didn't feel like we were sloshing around in this sandal in the slightest.
This super cute, high-performing model is one of the most versatile we tested. We would be totally happy wearing this on a multi-day backpacking trip, and after a quick rinse-off, we'd be just as happy wearing it to a mountain-town bar or to get coffee with a friend. Our testers wore this model hiking biking, to the (casual) office, with a pack, in the water…there's really no activity where we wouldn't be happy wearing the Z/Volv X2.
The one exception to this might be lounging around camp at night: this model has a toe loop, and because the double straps are woven into each other, it's not possible to wear socks with the Z/Volv X2.
Our testers and the friends and family we surveyed agree: this is a pretty good-looking shoe. The double straps give this model a more delicate, feminine style, even though it's as rugged as the single-strap models. The Z/Volv X2 slightly thinner sole takes away some of the Chaco bulk found in the classic models.
The Z/Volv X2 comes in many colorways with bold, vibrant patterns, as is the Chaco way. One tiny gripe here is that all of the colorways have a dark footbed, so if you prefer a lighter color, you're out of luck.
Should You Buy the Z/Volv X2?
In the Z/Volv X2, Chaco has created a lighter, less molded version of its classic sandal. While we weren't able to detect a difference in performance between this model and the Z/Cloud 2 during our side-by-side tests, folks who are interested in shaving grams off their gear weight or who have previously found Chacos' stiff molded arches uncomfortable might want to check out the Z/Volv X2. This comfortable, high-performing model looks good and will likely last for many years to come. This isn't the cheapest sandal we tested, but like its fellow Chacos, it's one of the best. This is an extremely versatile model, and it's very stylish, so as long as sandal weather lasts, you'll have an opportunity to wear it daily. Chaco's outstanding quality and durability mean that this sandal will last you many years, and Chaco's warranty covering material defects is excellent. We think it's a fantastic value given the years we know you'll get out of this scandal.
What Other Sandal Should You Consider?
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 is a potential alternative to the X2 with a different strap design but a similar overall look and feel. It has virtually identical performance to the X2 and could be a potential alternative depending on your style, tastes, or adventure goals. If you love the idea of fewer straps and a freer feel, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure - Women's could be a great solution with a thong-style approach and some of the best traction versatility and comfort in the group.
— Joanna Trieger
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