If you’ve ever adventured with us at our summer camp over the past years, you may have seen our guides wearing a specific type of sandals which are called Chaco Sandals.  Many of our summer guides  have these shoes  at our camp because of their durability and strong grip that is necessary for the types of adventures we lead our campers through.  Due to the many different types of sandals Chaco offers, many of our campers often ask us about which sandals are better for the different activities they are interested in. Luckily, here at Rock-N-Water, we’ve got loads of experienced with these sandals to help you choose which ones are right for you!

The Different Types

First off, in the title of a sandal’s listing, you may notice the letter Z and a number following it, such as “men’s Z/1.” This can be confusing, but it really doesn’t pertain to the shoe type, its merely the straps.  The Z/1 sandal has no toe loop, the Z/2 has the toe loop, and the ZX/2 has doubled thin straps, instead of one solid thick strap. These differences are mainly important for personal preference of look and feel. Some people feel that the toe loop is uncomfortable, while others like the toe loop because it secures their foot it the sandal bit more when hiking on uneven terrain.  The straps are important for the overall comfortability of the sandals, but the real differences are seen in the soles that Chaco offers.

Chaco Sandals on a sandy beach - credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictureclara/3630505902

Over the last 10 years, Chaco has had many different soles on the market. Currently, the Chaco company has come out with many different types of soles: ChacoGrip, Eco Tread, and Colorado soles. ChacoGrip is the companies perfected sole for their active sandals.  This sole has an ultra-sticky outsole and is designed for dry and wet traction.  They created new tread designs that are consolidated into a single men’s and women’s outsole.  There is an increased surface area in the heel and toe to maximize grip and balance performance across the land and water. In our testing of the sandal we have found that ChacoGrip has increased grip on dry terrain. Yet, it has a decreased grip from past outsoles in wet conditions. We have found ChacoGrip to be incredibly slippery on wet rock, making it less than ideal for activities like rafting and canyoning.

The Colorado, is designed for wet or slick surfaces and designed for casual wear. The Colorado is by far the favorite of our adventure guides because of its grip on wet rock.  We love that the Colorado sole offers great traction in wet conditions for a sandal. Since our feet are wet day in and day out, it’s nice to have a sandal instead of a shoe that needs to dry. While it is currently a staff favorite, it’s important to know that the Colorado is only available for custom made Chacos.

The next type of sole is the Ecotread sole.  This sole is a lightweight sole that is made out of 25% recycled rubber and is mainly used for Chaco flips and some low profile sandals. This sole is for light hiking and casual wear.

The Terrano is great for aggressive, heavy and rugged terrain, such as summiting a summer mountain with a backpack on. ​The Terrano is also only available on custom made Chacos.

Any style of the sandal that Chacos makes is going to be top quality and great for any type of wear. Even if you aren’t planning to hit the trail on a Rock-N-Water style adventure, Chacos are worth the buy for their footbed support alone. We recommend taking a few weeks to break in your chacos before wearing them on adventure, to avoid the blisters that can ruin your trip.  Not only are these sandals durable and grippy, they also have a great arch support while still being comfortable.