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Chaco Z/1 Classic Review

This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high performance in rugged conditions
Chaco Z/1 Classic
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Price:  $95 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Extremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stability
Cons:  Heavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustment
Manufacturer:   Chaco
By Jacob Clark & Nick Bruckbauer  ⋅  Mar 25, 2022
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Traction - 25% 7.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Adjustability - 15% 7.0
  • Versatility - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Chaco Z/1 Classic is an undeniably popular sandal, and for good reason. It's stylish, comfortable, and provides a very supportive platform that is great for a variety of activities. The Z/1 Classic features a high arch and the stiffest sole material found in the Chaco family. Our testers agree that the webbing and contoured footbed of the Z/1 Classic is ergonomic and comfortable enough for long days on the trail. With a bomber reputation and plenty of traction and support, hikers looking for all-around performance and excellent durability can't go wrong with this sandal.

Editor's Note: This gear review update includes new sections designed to help you in your buying decision. It occurred on March 25, 2022.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Chaco Z/1 Classic
This Product
Chaco Z/1 Classic
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$105 List
$105.00 at REI
$74.73 at REI
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Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$65 List
$65.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Extremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stabilityLightweight, versatile, excellent tractionSolid construction, comfortable and adjustable, good traction, weighs less than typical ChacosComfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfacesVery affordable, light, comfortable
Cons Heavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustmentNot best for high archesAdjustment can be tediousExpensive, somewhat heavyLess supportive than others, loses some traction when wet
Bottom Line This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high performance in rugged conditionsThis lightweight sandal is comfortable, durable, and capable of handling anything out on the trailWith solid all-around performance, this is one of the most dependable models we testedChaco takes a classic sandal and enhances it with a softer footbed materialImpressive comfort and solid all-around performance in a lightweight and affordable package
Rating Categories Chaco Z/1 Classic Bedrock Cairn Adven... Chaco Z/Volv 2 Chaco Z/Cloud Teva Katavi 2
Comfort (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Traction (25%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (20%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Adjustability (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Versatility (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Chaco Z/1 Classic Bedrock Cairn Adven... Chaco Z/Volv 2 Chaco Z/Cloud Teva Katavi 2
Weight per Pair (pounds) 2.29 lbs (size 12) 1.10 lbs (size 10) 1.65 lbs (size 10) 1.81 lbs (size 9) 1.36 lbs (size 9)
Width Options Medium, Wide Medium Medium Medium, Wide Medium
Footbed Material LuvSeat PU Granite Grip rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU Contoured EVA
Midsole Material LuvSeat PU Rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU EVA
Sole Material ChacoGrip rubber Vibram XS Trek Regolith Non-marking EcoTread ChacoGrip rubber Durabrasion rubber
Upper Material Polyester jacquard webbing Premium webbing Webbing Polyester jacquard webbing Suede

Our Analysis and Test Results

Most of the Chaco sandals in this review all received similar scores, only varying slightly due to nuanced design features and material selections. The Z/1 Classic is a very durable and supportive model with a classic Chaco design and high-quality materials.

Performance Comparison


Classic designs and a reputation for comfort and durability make...
Classic designs and a reputation for comfort and durability make Chaco one of the most recognizable sandals out there.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Comfort


Our experience with the Chaco family has shown that comfort is a fluid metric that has notable variance from user to user. It depends mostly on how you intend to use (or abuse) your footwear. Light to moderate users will likely find the extra rugged soles a bit unforgiving for their needs. On the other hand, multi-sport die-hards will be fond of the additional support when the going gets tough.

The Z/1 Classic has one of the stiffest, heaviest, most-bombproof soles in our review. Most of our testers find this to be a positive attribute regarding comfort. Thick soles tend to have greater shock-absorbing capabilities and generally keep the foot from feeling the sharp irregularities of the trail. Even on the roughest terrain, our feet remained comfortable in the soles of the Z/1 Classic. Furthermore, the intuitive strap placement kept our feet secure without any rubbing or hotspots.

The simple, wide strap design and 3-D contoured footbed make for a...
The simple, wide strap design and 3-D contoured footbed make for a comfortable and stable ride.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Traction


Chaco utilizes a patented rubber material for its outsole that has a very similar feel to Vibram materials but is slightly less firm. The bottom of the sole isn't lugged quite as dramatically as other models, but it does feature a rugged tread pattern that can grip well in adverse conditions. Overall, traction is significantly complemented by a stiff, sturdy, fully-rubber midsole.

Even the Z/1 Classic footbed is made from a proprietary PU rubber that is trail-ready and super durable. Our only gripe is that the footbed rubber tends to get a bit slippery after extended use.

Chaco's unique tread design lends itself well to a variety of...
Chaco's unique tread design lends itself well to a variety of surfaces and conditions.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Stability


Stability doesn't always intersect harmoniously with comfort when it comes to footwear. But in the case of Chacos, we found the stiff sole to be advantageous for both metrics. As previously noted, the Z/1 Classic has one of the beefiest soles in this entire lineup of multipurpose sandals. Couple that with a grippy rubber sole secured by ¾ inch webbing, and you're looking at a very solid platform.

Because of its unparalleled stability and confidence on variable terrain, the Z/1 Classic lands at the top of its class in this particular metric. If nothing else, the classic Chaco is a total beefcake of a sandal capable of powering through scree fields and muddy marshes alike. Some users reported that they would have preferred the additional toe loop found on the Chaco ' Z/2' models, but overall we noticed no reduction in performance due to the lack thereof.

Even fully submerged, these sandals handle the slippery surface well.
Even fully submerged, these sandals handle the slippery surface well.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Adjustability


Another point of contention in the Chaco debate is their proprietary interwoven webbing strap. We admit if you aren't already familiar with the Chaco fastening system, you might initially be frustrated with adjusting these sandals to achieve a proper fit. However, once you've gotten through the Chaco learning curve, the continuous piece of webbing found on the Z/1 Classic offers a snug, performance-oriented fit.

Wrapping around the foot in various places, the Chaco webbing is woven directly through the sole to secure the sandal to your foot. The webbing adjustments stay in place better than traditional straps by weaving through the footbed. Because of this design, users can achieve a customized hug-like feel, though not without some tinkering. Micro-adjustments are a little trickier to accomplish since, to tighten one spot of the webbing, slack must be let out from another area. With a single continuous piece of webbing, a lower volume foot may find the strap too long once fully adjusted. Trimming the webbing is easy if you prefer to remove this slack. If you do so, we recommend leaving enough tail material for taking on and off the sandal with ease and sealing up any trimmed ends to prevent fraying.

With only a single buckle and one continuous piece of webbing, these...
With only a single buckle and one continuous piece of webbing, these sandals can be adjusted to comfortably hug almost any foot without an issue.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Versatility


There isn't much that Chaco sandals aren't capable of handling. A thick sole and respectable traction make the Z/1 Classic a go-to option for a wide variety of outdoor activities. It is durable and resilient enough to handle long days logging miles on the trail, but still comfortable and stylish enough to be worn as primary summer footwear. Furthermore, the lack of toe floss allows you to wear socks with these sandals if that's what you're into. Whether you're heading out on a backcountry adventure or making a quick jaunt into town, the Z/1 Classic won't let you down.

The Z/Classic handles a sandal's most common element, water, with...
The Z/Classic handles a sandal's most common element, water, with ease.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Should You Buy the Chaco Z/1 Classic?


Whether you're in search of a casual sandals or performance footwear, the Chaco Z/1 Classic is ready for action. Even though Chaco has a love/hate relationship with some folks, this model is popular for a reason. Every self-respecting outdoor junkie should own a pair of Chacos at some point, and this is a great place to start. While the Z/1 list price is one of the more expensive in our lineup, it is also one of the burliest sandals in our review. These sandals will provide great value for the right user and stand up to seasons upon seasons of use.

Solid construction, unique wide straps, and durable support sole...
Solid construction, unique wide straps, and durable support sole make one killer combination.
Credit: Jacob Clark

What Other Sandals Should You Consider?


The Chaco Z/Volv 2 is the better Chaco in our tests. With the extra toe loop strap, it offers better comfort and adjustability. Depending on your goals, it is worthy of a look over the Classic so well-loved by wearers for years. The Volv 2 is also lighter and possibly more comfortable, depending on your personal feelings. If you want a great lightweight shoe with excellent traction, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure is the better option with a similar price tag. This ultra-lightweight option is highly adjustable and passes sand and pebbles with ease. It doesn't offer as protective of a footbed, but it is comfortable to wear. If you want a close-toed sandal with more foot protection, the Keen Newport H2 is a high-quality, rugged sandal you might consider.

Jacob Clark & Nick Bruckbauer
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