Expert Review: Chaco Z/2 Women's SandalPublished on 07/06/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sandals, which I purchased with my own money in July of 2016 and December of 2020.
All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sandals, which I purchased with my own money in July of 2016 and December of 2020.
The Chaco Z/2 Classic Sandals are my favorite hiking shoes for summer, spring, and fall hikes that aren’t extremely rocky! They are comfortable, durable, have awesome traction, and come in a ton of fun colors and patterns.
About the gear
- Model: Chaco Women’s Z/2 Classic Sandals
- Size: Women’s 6.5
- Width: Regular
- Fit: True to size
- When I bought these: December 2020, but I bought my first pair in July of 2016
- Days tested: 600+
- Terrain: Beaches, rocky trails, dirt trails, river beds, and everything in between
- Used for: Day hiking, backpacking, as an everyday shoe for camping or days with a lot of walking
- Where I’ve used it: Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, Turks and Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Montana
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring/Summer/Fall
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 115 lbs
- Usual shoe size: Women’s 6.5
- Foot Width: Regular
- Foot Arch: High arch
- Experience: 25+ years
How they perform
What I was looking for
When I bought my first pair of sandals, I was about to go on a marine science semester in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It’s a hot and remote area so I knew I needed sandals. I also knew that if I brought sandals that broke, I would be out of luck. There were no stores, it took a month to receive a package, and it was incredibly expensive to ship things. I was there for four months and I needed something that could both withstand the elements and be reliable.
Why I chose this gear
I bought this particular product because the sole was really thick, and they looked very durable. I had heard that they were great shoes and had seen a lot of friends wearing them around. The price tag for the sandals scared me off at first, but I asked around and everyone who had a pair had owned them for more than eight years. That made me decide they were worth it.
I had also considered two other options. One was the Teva Original Sandal, but it didn’t seem as sturdy and the velcro hit my foot in a spot that I thought might bother it. The other option I considered was the Keen Whispers. I had a pair of these as a kid, and they seemed quite durable and like they could offer a lot of toe protection. Ultimately, I decided they were going to be too warm, and I didn’t really like the way they looked.
The second time buying them was a no-brainer. I wore my first pair into the ground, and they lasted really well given the circumstances, so I knew I wanted another pair.
What I love about them
- Durability: These shoes are incredibly durable. I wore my first pair every day for four months, then it was my everyday shoe during the spring, summer, and fall for another three-ish years. They eventually wore through the sole, but that was after at least a few thousand hard miles, which is still really impressive to me.
- Break-in period: Chaco sandals have a strap that's really adjustable. I have found that by adjusting this, I only need a day or two of breaking them in. In terms of break-in time, they are a lot better than any other shoe I have ever owned.
- Comfort: I find Chaco sandals to be really comfortable. I can wear them all day, all the time, and not have any blisters or comfort concerns. Though they aren't my first choice for backpacking, I have even used them for backpacking, and they have done really well and been really comfortable.
- Fit: I wear a 6.5 and I got a 6.5 in these, and it's a perfect fit. I have to adjust the strap a little bit to make sure it's comfortable in all the right spots, but aside from that, they are perfect. I have an average width foot and got the average width option on these, and it was ideal for me.
- Material: The sole of these are made of a thick rubber, which gives them both awesome traction and makes them able to mow over any kind of terrain with ease.
- Waterproofing: I don’t know if waterproof is the right word for these, but if I am doing any kind of hiking where there will be water or I might need to wade through anything, these are the shoes I will wear. They are sandals, which means they dry fast, but they also have incredible traction. If I am walking through water that might be slippery, I would choose these a million times over any of my other shoes.
- Traction: The traction on these is incredible. I have the version with the toe strap, which I like because I feel it prevents my foot from slipping around as much, therefore giving me better traction. Despite being sandals, these Chacos give me better traction than most shoes.
- Arch support: I have dealt with plantar fasciitis for a long time, so I was a bit worried about that in relation to wearing sandals around all the time, but the arch support actually isn't half bad. I have never experienced the plantar fasciitis pain while wearing these, and I commonly get that pain from other shoes, such as hiking boots or trail runners without special insoles.
- Day hiking: I wear these on most day hikes that don’t involve running or extreme scrambling. They are comfortable, have good support, good traction, and fit my foot so well. Once there is no running or scrambling, I will wear my Chaco sandals every time.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: My biggest qualm with these is that they are pretty heavy. This is mostly due to the sole being really thick for durability, but that definitely adds some weight.
- Insulation: There is no insulation since these are sandals. For this reason, I obviously don't wear them on really cold days.
- Ankle support: These are sandals, so there is no ankle support.
- Toe protection: There is no toe protection since these are open-toed, but I haven’t found that to be an issue on long hikes or even backpacking trips. I have had worse issues with my feet and specifically toes in hiking boots that aren't a perfect fit since hiking boots give room to bang one’s toes up against the front. These shoes are a really good fit and can be cinched down.
- Backpacking: Though I have used these for backpacking, they have no ankle support, so for really technical trails, or trails that involve carrying a pretty heavy pack for long distances, I would recommend something with ankle support.
- Scrambling/Really rocky trails: The only hikes I really hate using these on are really rocky trails or trails where there is scrambling. For that, I prefer a trail-running shoe, but for just about anything else, Chacos are great.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these shoes was one of my first days on the marine science trip I mentioned. I really debated getting these sandals, but for the reasons and circumstances I mentioned above, I decided they were the right shoes. Pretty soon after arriving at this remote island, we realized most of us had brought Chacos as our main footwear. It was funny because we had almost all had a similar experience of “These are expensive, but I don’t want to have shoes that break because I will be out of luck.” We took a photo (pictured above) of all of our sandals and tagged Chaco, and the company reposted it on their Instagram page.
Value for the money vs. other options
These are a little on the pricier side for sandals, I know. But they are so worth it. These have lasted longer than any other shoe I have owned in terms of mileage, and they are so versatile. I wear them all the time and take them everywhere with me. They are awesome walking shoes for either hiking or just long days around town on trips, or something of the like. The other options I was looking at—the Teva Original sandal and the Keen Whispers—are not nearly as durable. I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten as many miles out of them. Plus, they aren’t really that much cheaper.
The Chaco Women’s Z/2 Classic sandal is well worth the investment. They will last forever, the straps are super adjustable, and they offer way better traction than I ever would have expected for a sandal. I am convinced everyone needs a pair of these shoes.