The Z/Cloud 2 is a classic Chaco with something of a cult following. This shoe has traveled with many an avid outdoor wanderer for years and years, and its durability was among the highest in our test.
As has almost always been the case, Chacos have a reputation for having comfort that varies from user to user. The Z/Cloud 2 scored in the middle of the pack in this category, but you will probably either love it or hate it based on the shape of your foot.
The sole is one of the thickest we tested and is significantly stiffer than the Bedrock Cairn Adventure or the Merrell Terran Ari Lattice. That said, we found this to be a big benefit. The stiffness protects your feet from sharp substrates and makes it very durable. However, more flat-footed testers were frustrated by this model's high arch, which will not break into a flatter foot. Despite some debate about whether or not the Z/Cloud 2's sole was optimal for a broad enough swath of users, our testers unanimously declared the Chaco's strap system as one of the most comfortable in the test.
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 will keep you comfortable, even under the weight of a heavy pack.
As long as the Chaco's molded footbed works with your foot, you won't find a more comfortable sandal for hiking long distances with a heavy pack. We found the thick sole essential for taking on the extra weight of a pack so that our joints weren't jarred with every step, especially on downhill stretches. The Z/Cloud 2 kept us even more comfortable than most hiking boots! In contrast, our Editor's Choice, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure, has a much thinner sole, which made hiking less comfortable when we were weighed down. If you have flat feet but still want a sandal with a thick, comfortable sole, the Mono Gordo 2.0 may work for you.
With full-coverage straps and a sturdy, supportive sole, the Z/Cloud 2 edged out the competition in this category.
The sole is thick but still supple. This makes the sandal feel stable by absorbing your weight while contouring around small variations in the trail, so you're not wobbling over every lump and bump. This was especially important while carrying a heavy pack. The footbed grabs and cups your heel and gives your arch support, and the toe loop (not included on all Chacos) provides additional stability by stopping your foot from sliding forward. The only reasons that the Z/Cloud 2 didn't score perfectly in this category are that its significant heel-toe drop garnered mixed reviews from our testers, and its weight tired some testers' legs enough to make them feel more unstable on technical terrain. More minimalist models include the Teva Verra and the Bedrock Cairn Adventure.
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 (left) and the Bedrock Cairn Adventure (right) both provide impressive stability, but their approach couldn't be more different. The Chaco has a thick, supportive sole, while the Bedrock's sole is more flexible and nimble.
The Z/Cloud was one of our top performers in this category. We tested these sandals on every type of terrain we could think of — from Sierra granite to duff-covered slopes to river crossings to city sidewalks — and the Z/Cloud 2 performed well across the board. Its sole provides outstanding traction on pretty much every surface, and while the sole is thick, it's supple enough to bend and grip in ways that a clunkier-soled shoe, like the ECCO Yucatan, cannot. The Z/Cloud 2's footbed also has great traction, and it helps that the super adjustable straps keep the foot firmly in place.
Our Editor's Choice, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure, slightly edges out the Z/Cloud 2 concerning sole traction, but its footbed wasn't quite as grippy. We think both are outstanding in this category, and which one works for you will depend on whether you're looking for a thick, cushy sole or a thin, highly flexible one.
Has your trail turned into a stream? That's no problem in the Z/Cloud 2. This sandal provides great traction over all surfaces.
If there was one adjustment system in our test group that made us go "Huh?", it was the Z/Cloud 2's. Once you get the hang of it, though, this is one of the adjustable models out there.
One continuous piece of webbing makes up the sandal's strap system, and this piece wraps around the foot in multiple locations. To adjust one of the straps, you have to lengthen or shorten one of the other ones, which usually leads to adjusting all of them. This system has its pros and cons. It means that micro adjustments and a hugging feeling are 100% possible, but that simple, quick adjustments are sort of out of the question. We found adjustments could take many attempts to get just right. When you're in the backcountry, your feet tend to shrink and swell based on altitude, hydration levels, and miles traveled. We loved that we could get the Z/Cloud 2 to fit perfectly, but wished that there was a less Rube Goldberg-ish way to do it. For a more intuitive system that still leads to a well-adjusted sandal, we recommend the Bedrock Cairn Adventure.
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 (left) and the Bedrock Cairn Adventure (right) take different approaches to adjustability. The Chaco has one continuous strap that flows through the sole of the sandal. The Bedrock has a cross-strap that adjusts with a buckle on one side and a hook on the other, and a velcro heel strap. The Chaco is more comprehensive, while the Bedrock is simpler. Both can adjust to fit your feet perfectly.
If you buy the Z/Cloud 2, save yourself time and watch Chaco's instructional video on webbing adjustment, found here
We loved the adaptability of this model and found that it transitioned easily from rugged outdoor pursuits to urban adventures.
If you lead a casual enough lifestyle, the Z/Cloud 2 could theoretically replace every other shoe in your closet. It's durable and burly enough to handle the roughest trail hike. It has the traction and material design required to withstand tons of time in the water. It's chic enough to be presentable around town. It has a thin enough fore-sole to work with a flat-pedal bike. And, critically, you can fold the sandal's toe strap down so you can "rock socks with Chocs" on chilly mornings in the backcountry. This is an impressive range of performance from a single shoe. The Z/Cloud 2's cousin, the Z/X2, is almost as versatile, but its toe loop can't be folded down to accommodate socks (why Chaco, why??).
Whether you're romping over rough trails or kicking it lakeside, the Z/Cloud 2 will keep your feet happy.
The only area that limits the Z/Cloud 2's adaptability is its weight. This is one of the heavier models we tested, so it's tough to take along as a secondary shoe when traveling light. Other highly adaptable models that are lighter than the Chacos include the KEEN Clearwater and the Mono Gordo 2.0.
The Z/Cloud 2 is attractive and sleek. When we surveyed family and friends, this model got the highest style ratings in our 2018 update test group. Subjectively, our testers thought this was one of the most stylish models, rivaled only by the Bedrock Cairn Adventure and the Chaco Z/X2. The difference between them is that the ZX/2 has double straps instead of single.
The two Chaco models side by side.
The standard Z/Cloud 2 comes in seven attractive colors/patterns (the lighter model pictured in this review is "Candy Gray"). But if you're willing to spend a little more, you can customize your sandal with a dizzying array of options, including 129 strap patterns ranging from tacos to tartan (!). If you can't find a Chaco to match your personality, you may not have a personality.
This is for the rugged traveler or someone who just likes a sandal that will won't wear out. Long-distance hikers and backpackers will find that these shoes last for years and are as functional around town as they are on the trail.
At $110, these sandals are a steal. With the burliest sole of the models tested and straps that are ready for years of use, you may only have to buy two or three pairs over the course of your hiking life. That's the kind of quality and value we wish we found in every piece of outdoor gear.
If you want to enjoy superior comfort and traction during your extended adventures in the back country, we recommend that you become a dog. If that's not possible, just get yourself some Chacos.
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 is ready for action, whether you're hiking to the crag, strapping in for a weekend of backpacking, or hitting the local frisbee golf course. While some testers found it uncomfortable, users with higher arches who need support loved it.