Overall, this is an attractive and durable sandal, though its hard, heavy sole and very high arch made it downright uncomfortable for many testers. We only recommend this shoe to individuals with high arches.
Chaco ZX/1 Unaweep Review
Cons: Hard sole, only compatible with high arches
Our Analysis and Test Results
What the Chaco ZX/1 Unaweep lacks in comfort it makes up for in appearance. The ZX/1 Unaweep is quite similar to the other model we tested, the ZX/2 Yampa, except that it lacks a large toe strap. So if you know you love Chacos and want more stability, maybe consider the Yampa instead.
The metric where this sandal lost the most points was in comfort. The sole of the sandal was just too hard and heavy for most testers. The footbed of the shoe was loved by those with exceptionally high arches, but despised by those whose arches were anything less. The cross hatch pattern on the footbed of the shoe was generally not viewed as comfortable. Designed to prevent the foot from sliding forward while wet or on steep terrain, the pattern is irritating on sensitive feet - particularly after a day of climbing. For all of the aforementioned reasons, testers agreed that the ZX/1 was best suited for city wear, wet terrain, and/or short hikes. This sandal only comes in whole sizes but does come in wide widths. Sizing is a little tricky. Our size 8 1/2 tester felt that the length of the 9 was too long but the arch and heel cup of the size 8 was too tight. In the end, if you are a half size and have a high arch, we would say it might be better to size down. For half sizes with an average to low arch, size up.
The Vibram sole of the ZX/1 had good traction, however this unfortunately didn't translate in to extra confidence on steep terrain. The sole just felt too insensitive to be secure. Testers remarked that they couldn't feel the sole gripping anything because it was so stiff. In sum, we think this shoe is fine for occasional technical terrain, but would look at other options if this is something you are likely to encounter regularly.
The stability of the shoe was good, but nothing too exciting. The heavy, thick sole of the sandal is supportive on moderate terrain, but again we didn't like how insensitive it felt on steeper surfaces. For this reason, we gave it slightly above average scores in stability. The issue of mixed concern about the ZX/1 was the high foot arch. Testers with high arches loved the support of the sandal, but those with moderate to low arches found it to be painful. This brings up the main issue with the Chaco's footbed; its material is so firm that it can be unforgiving. If your foot doesn't fit the contour of the sandal perfectly, your feet will be miserable. On a side note, we gave the Chaco ZX/2 a slightly better rating than the ZX/1 with the stability metric due to its added toe strap.
If you are unfamiliar with the Chaco's lace system, the sandal has one continuous webbing strand that wraps around the foot in various locations and then weaves down inside of the sole of the shoe. This means that when you take slack out of the webbing in one area, you will be adding slack to the system in another. After the initial sizing of the sandal to your foot, slipping on the sandal is quite easy. Fortunately for our testers, they became efficient at making adjustments to the ZX/1 throughout the testing process. Nonetheless, it required more effort and attention than any other sandal we reviewed, aside from the ZX/2. Also, unless you really cinch down the webbing strap, you might find your foot sliding forward on downhill travel. The adjustability issues that were present in the ZX/2 due to its toe strap were thankfully a non-issue with the ZX/1 since it did not have the toe strap.
On a more positive note, the ZX/1 is quite stylish. It has a curvy footbed made of dark Vibram rubber and webbing in a variety of tasteful colors. We gave it nearly a perfect score in style. Testers loved the versatility of being able to wear this sandal out on the beach or at the crag then straight out for a beer after.
The other metric that the ZX/1 scored well on was water resistance. These sandals dried in record time: just 10 minutes! Besides being an interesting fact, the rapid dry time makes these sandals much more comfortable for anyone planning on getting them wet regularly. Their inability to hold water also means that the sandal is less prone breed bacteria that can result in off-putting odors.
Testers preferred this shoe on easy walking terrain or when they wanted an attractive looking sandal option. Its performance on hiking terrain was low relative to most of the other models we tested. Testers preferred the feeling of the ZX/2 Yampa when they were hiking on steep terrain, but agreed that the ZX/1 was much more comfortable.
For $105, we thought the price of the ZX/1 seemed pretty steep for a sandal, even something as good looking as this one. In its defense, it was one of the most durable feeling sandals we tested and didn't show any noticeable wear or tear during our testing process. If $100 for a sandal is within your price range, we recommend the Keen Newport H2 - Women's over the ZX/1 as it performed much better on a broader range of terrain and was much more comfortable to more testers.
The ZX/1 is a very stylish and durable sandal. It was preferred by our testers over the ZX/2 for comfort reasons. Its very high arch and hard sole result in us only recommending this sandal to individuals with high arches. We felt that it didn't have good enough traction and was too heavy for hiking use; however, it is very water compatible.
— Laura Lingeman