Playa Pro vs. Flip EcoTread
Chaco is discontinuing their cult classic Flip EcoTread in favor of the Playa Pro. This new offering is a bit more robust than its predecessor, and uses a new tread called ChacoGrip Plus. The tread pattern is notably different from the EcoTread; compare the two below (the Playa Pro is pictured first).
The new Playa Pro also employs e.dye's Waterless Color System, which is an ecologically conscious dyeing method that uses no water in the dyeing process. The two flip flops are shown below (Playa Pro on the left, EcoTread on the right)
Hands-On Review of the Flip EcoTread
This classic versatile flop is an all-time favorite of many of our testers.
The Chaco Flip EcoTread received high scores in almost every testing metric. It's a great sandal for day to day use that has accrued a cult following amongst the climber and boater communities across the country for being able to perform when the going gets tough. They may take a minute to break in, but we've come to expect that with most flip flops that are supposed to last more than a few years. This model is supportive, comfortable, and versatile, simple, and understated.
These flops are among the most durable we tested. Some of us have been wearing this model for over a decade.
Although this wasn't the most comfortable sandal straight out of the box, you just need to give it time. With time, the straps break in and soften up. The footbed is stiff at first, but soon after, it molds to the contours of your foot for a flawless fit. We've said time and again that the best, most durable flip flops take some time to break in; it's just part of buying a piece of footwear with longevity on its side. The materials are stiffer at first, yet overall, they hold up longer. The Chaco is no exception, but don't expect this straightforward to break down in time; instead, it will keep its shape and form for years to come.
The stiffness of the footbed and sole up the comfort level while walking on rocky, uneven terrain, as it's difficult to feel sharp rocks come through the footbed, even with a heavy backpack on. If you're into hiking, check out our Top Pick for Hiking, the Astral Filipe. The Filipe features some extra "cheater straps" that lock your feet into the flop for boulder hopping or slippery stream crossings, plus they've got sticky rubber.
From the backcountry to the backyard barbeque, the Flip Eco is at home wherever you go.
The simple look of these flops makes them a prime candidate for undercover flip-flopping at summer weddings. You can hose of a grubby pair of Flips and they'll look shiny and new, and no one will suspect you just spent 30 days in the Grand Canyon or live in a van.
The fact that both rock climbers and whitewater boaters swear by this model says it all. Carrying a heavy pack, walking off the top of El Capitan, or boating the Grand Canyon, these flops excel at every test you can throw at them. They do well on granite slabs and grip well when wading in rivers. They're aggressive enough to get it done in the wilderness and stylish enough to take on a night on the town.
There are few criticisms to speak of the EcoTread when it comes to durability, so few that it was an obvious choice for us for the Best Buy award.
Buy a pair of Chacos and be prepared to commit to them - it's going to be a long ride. The toe post and thong material are both high-tensile webbing that will go the distance. How do we know? Previous experience tells us that the straps only break down beyond the five-year mark and they do so by gradually softening and fraying at their outer edges. This makes them less efficient overall, but much more comfortable. And the toe-post, which is the Achilles heel of most flip-flops, is bomb-proof and we've never heard of one pulling out. If it does, Chaco is known to stand by their product and will likely warranty you a new pair.
The EcoTread earned the highest score in this metric, though the Astral Filipe, OluKai Ohana, OluKai Hiapo followed closely behind, earning above average scores. The Flip Eco will easily outlast leather sandals like the Hari Mari Scouts, the Rainbows and the Reef Draftsmen.
These flops are a favorite of raft guides and boaters.
To tread the fine line between function and fashion is a tricky thing and we would argue that the Chaco Flip does it almost as well as any.
Chaco always seems to be changing the color and patterns of their flop, ensuring that they are many choices. Whether it's an exceptionally designed colored pattern or a straight black strap, the Chaco is straightforward and understated enough to wear in every occasion from big mission to groomsman. The other sandal in our review that matched the Chaco's style versatility is the OluKai Ohana and let's not forget the uber-classy OluKai Hiapo for all of your fanciest (and not so fancy) occasions. If you're a diehard Chaco fanatic and need to crank up the style factor, the Chaco Marshall is an obvious choice.
Grippy and tough, the tread on these flops is not marking and sticks to rock slabs or the boat deck.
The Flip has excellent traction, making short work of slippery stream crossings and rocks.
The rubber sole, which is 25% recycled rubber, sticks well to rock and is hard enough to hold up against heave wear and tear. We wore these things up and down approaches to rock climbs, on long walks with backpacks and waded in the rivers that are raging this summer in the Tahoe basin. There is little they don't excel in. The 2mm tread depth is just enough to grip to loose sand, mud, and dirt, without being too deep to stick to bare granite slick rock. The Astral Filipe gets higher marks in the traction metric because of their sticky rubber and extra straps. Even though the Flips are grippy, if your feet sweat, you can slide ride out of the footbed. The Filipe allows you to crank down the extra straps so you can take full advantage of the sticky rubber outsole.
Our tester probably won't take these flops off until it starts snowing... about 8 months from when this picture was taken.
There is little that the Flip EcoTread doesn't do very very well. For years, outdoors people have been trusting this flip-flop to take them into the mountains, rivers, and deserts of the American West. Going on a big trip and bringing one pair of sandals is a daunting task, as well as one that we do not take lightly. From all the globe-trotting thrill seekers we know who use this flop, we've never heard of someone coming home disappointed. Shop for groceries, grab a beer, kick back around the tailgate or campfire, walk deep into the mountains for a climb, or run a river, the Flip EcoTread is a proven piece of footwear that will not let you down.
Historically, one of the cheaper flip flops in the review might win our Best Buy award. But what good does a minimal price tag do you if you're just going to be buying another pair in a couple of seasons? Despite their retail price tag of $65, the Chaco flop wins our Best Buy Award. Every penny you spend on these flops will be worth it. A bonus is that you don't have to look far to find a deal on these flops - even Chaco sometimes offers a low price.
The Chaco Flip EcoTread is by far one of the finest flip flops we've worn and totally deserving of their cult following. They're rugged and durable, comfortable and versatile. The only reason these didn't pull the Editors' Choice Award this year is that despite all of their amazing qualities, we recognize that it takes a special type of flip-flop enthusiast to really appreciate everything the Chaco has to offer. Conversely, the OluKai Ohana is more mainstream and user-friendly with its soft footbed and leather straps, all while earning top scores in the durability and versatility metrics.