It happened. I finally did it. After (most likely) being the last hold-out in the outdoor community to own Chaco tech sandals, I have officially added a pair of Chaco Z / Canyon 2’s to my shoe stash. An upgrade from the company’s popular Z / Canyon, Chaco’s most recent version of the sandal is revered for its whitewater-inspired design, versatility and boost in comfort. Maybe it was the heat of the summer, or the peer pressure of summer festival fashion trends, but I willingly made the decision to join the ranks of the diehard Chaco sandal owners, and I’m pretty happy that I did. If you’ve read any of my gear reviews on this site over the past few years, you’ve most likely gathered that I’m a fairly clumsy outdoor recreationist. I trip and stumble on trails like it’s my job. After 33 years on this planet, it just is what it is. You’ve probably also gathered that I’m always on the hunt for multi-purpose gear and apparel that help me maximize space in my trusty carry-on luggage during travels. The Chaco Z / Canyon 2’s address both of those issues. From town to the trails, these sandals are versatile and a one-stop-shop for travelers looking for casual, but tough, footwear that can just as easily be paired with your finest festival garb or an afternoon exploring a new city as it can trekking up dusty trails.
Pros: I’ll be honest. When I first looked down at my feet with these sandals strapped to them, I felt like I’d given up a little bit of my soul. Tech sandals are the ultimate summer fashion trend in the outdoor world. But then I started walking around, and scrambling along riverbanks, and hiking in the mountains on blazing hot summer days, and I finally understood why Chaco sandals have become a must-have piece of footwear for the outdoor community: they’re comfortable and they get the job (well, a lot of jobs) done. The comfort factor is achieved in part by a LUVSEAT™ dual-density PU midsole (in my case, a women’s-specific version, although this sandal is also available in men’s sizing), and partly from the Cloud 2.0 cushiony design that makes up the rest of the bulk of the sandal. The easily-adjustable top straps also add a level of comfort by allowing for a customized fit for every foot. The straps are loosened and tightened simply by the tug or pull of one adjustable buckle on the sandal, and in the case of these sandals, made with a durable polyester material with a minimalist approach (thick straps with a focus on necessity and not aesthetics). The Z / Canyon 2’s are also great hiking footwear, especially on a hot summer day. In the middle of Colorado’s most recent heave wave, the thought of embarking on an 8-mile hike in my trusty medium-weight hiking boots was unpleasant. So I strapped on the Z / Canyon 2’s, lathered the exposed skin on my feet with sunscreen (which I would recommend doing well in advance as to avoid getting your feet caked, and I mean caked … with dirt) and hit the trail. Although I had always steered clear of hiking in sandals, and my feet got insanely dirty, without the boot/sock/convection oven combo, my feet felt cool and lightweight throughout the entire hike. Several times along the trail I traipsed through big, often muddy puddles but Chaco’s signature ChacoGrip™ Plus rubber compound on the sole of the sandal worked like a charm and I never experienced any slipping or sliding as the result of a wet sandal. Additional toe and heel pods on the sole of the sandals add an extra level of traction. As a clumsy hiker, I usually opt for hiking boots with some re-enforcement on the toes, since I’m constantly tripping, but even as I tripped along the trail in these sandals, I never had any issues stubbing my toes or injuring my feet. Chaco’s Z / Canyon 2’s also have a running-inspired kinetic rebound plate to give you a little extra boost in your step, which I wouldn’t say was super noticeable, but a nice addition nonetheless. Chaco also has a pretty sweet repair program. While these sandals are very durable and made to be beaten up outside, the company will repair everything from the outsoles to the straps should your favorite pair of Chacos eventually need some love.
Cons: After hiking 8 miles on a dusty trail, I imagine the aftermath of the dirt and rocks that I left in my hotel shower that day was a con for the housekeeping crew that inevitably had to wash it all away. If you choose to really play hard outside in these sandals, prepare for your feet to get really, really dirty. I have a pretty average foot as far as width goes, and the middle of my foot is very close to running over the edge on both sides. Something to keep in mind if you have feet that fall on the wider side. And, these sandals took a little time to break in. I wore them for the first time in the middle of a move, and had blisters on the back and sides of my ankles the next morning. Like most outdoor footwear, be sure to spend plenty of time feeling them out before heading out on longer treks and adventures.
Where I Took It: Festival-hopping in Eagle, Colorado, exploring Elk Ave. and local hiking trails in Crested Butte, and out and about around town while enjoying a little time at home.