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Chaco Z/1 Classic Review

This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high-performance in rugged conditions
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Price:  $105 List | $78.69 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stability
Cons:  Heavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustment
Manufacturer:   Chaco
By Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth  ⋅  Jun 1, 2020
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Stability - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Chaco Z/1 Classic is an undeniably popular sandal, and for good reason. It's stylish, comfortable, and provides a very supportive platform that is great for a variety of activities. The Z/1 Classic features a high arch and the stiffest sole material found in the Chaco family. Our testers agree that the webbing and contoured footbed of the Z/1 Classic is ergonomic and comfortable enough for long days on the trail. With a bomber reputation and plenty of traction and support, hikers looking for all-around performance and excellent durability can't go wrong with this sandal.

Color Updates

Chaco is constantly rotating their color choices, always keeping the options fresh. One of this year's colorways is shown in the photo above.

June 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Most of the Chaco sandals in this review all received similar scores, only varying slightly due to nuanced design features and material selections. The Z/1 Classic is a very durable and supportive model with a classic Chaco design and high-quality materials.

Performance Comparison


Chaco has built an iconic sandal with the Z/1 Classic; the hardcore fandom following this shoe is legit and founded in bonafide trail performance.
Chaco has built an iconic sandal with the Z/1 Classic; the hardcore fandom following this shoe is legit and founded in bonafide trail performance.

Comfort


Our experience with the Chaco family has shown that comfort is a fluid metric that has notable variance from user to user. It depends mostly on how you intend to use (or abuse) your footwear. Light to moderate users will likely find the extra rugged soles a bit unforgiving for their needs. Multi-sport die-hards, on the other hand, will be fond of the extra support when the going gets tough.

The Z/1 Classic has one of the stiffest, heaviest, most-bombproof soles in our review. Most of our testers find this to be a positive attribute regarding comfort. Thick soles tend to have greater shock-absorbing capabilities and generally keep the foot from feeling the sharp irregularities of the trail. Even on the roughest terrain, our feet remained comfortable in the soles of the Z/1 Classic. Furthermore, the intuitive strap placement kept our feet secure without any rubbing or hotspots.

The interwoven webbing of the Z/1 Classic offers a very secure and comfortable fit; even during demanding activities like trail running.
The interwoven webbing of the Z/1 Classic offers a very secure and comfortable fit; even during demanding activities like trail running.

Traction


Chaco utilizes a patented rubber material for its outsole that has a very similar feel to Vibram materials but is slightly less firm. The bottom of the sole isn't lugged quite as dramatically as other models, but it does feature a rugged tread pattern that can grip well in adverse conditions. Overall, traction is significantly complemented by a stiff and sturdy, fully-rubber midsole.

Even the footbed of the Z/1 Classic is made from a proprietary PU rubber that is trail-ready and super durable. Our only gripe is that after extended use, the footbed rubber tends to get a bit slippery.

The patented ChacoGrip rubber isn't quite the same as a Vibram sole  but it still offers hardcore traction rivaling the name brand.
The patented ChacoGrip rubber isn't quite the same as a Vibram sole, but it still offers hardcore traction rivaling the name brand.

Stability


When it comes to footwear, stability doesn't always intersect harmoniously with comfort. But in the case of Chacos, we found the stiff sole to be advantageous for both metrics. As previously noted, the Z/1 Classic has one of the beefiest soles in this entire lineup of multipurpose sandals. Couple that with a grippy rubber sole secured by ¾ inch webbing, and you're looking at a very solid platform.

Because of its unparalleled stability and confidence on variable terrain, the Z/1 Classic lands among the top of its class in this particular metric. If nothing else, the classic Chaco is a total beefcake of a sandal capable of powering through scree fields and muddy marshes alike. Some users reported that they would have preferred the additional toe loop found on the Chaco 'Z/2' models, but overall we noticed no reduction in performance due to the lack thereof.

With a beefy sole and extra secure webbing  the Z/1 Classic is a rugged and reliable sandal. Even when transitioning from wet to dry.
With a beefy sole and extra secure webbing, the Z/1 Classic is a rugged and reliable sandal. Even when transitioning from wet to dry.

Adjustability


Another point of contention in the Chaco debate is their proprietary interwoven webbing strap. We admit, if you aren't already familiar with the Chaco schtick, you might initially be frustrated with adjusting these sandals to get the proper fit. However, once you've gotten through the Chaco learning curve, the continuous piece of webbing found on the Z/1 Classic offers a snug, performance-oriented fit.

Wrapping around the foot in various places, the Chaco webbing is woven directly through the sole to secure the sandal to your foot. Because of this design, users achieve an undeniable 'hugging' feeling, though not without some tinkering. Micro-adjustments are a little trickier to accomplish since, in order to tighten one spot of the webbing, slack must be let out from another area.

Not everyone is keen on how the Chaco straps adjust  though once you're past the learning curve  it's quite easy to get a cozy fit.
Not everyone is keen on how the Chaco straps adjust, though once you're past the learning curve, it's quite easy to get a cozy fit.

Versatility


There isn't much that Chacos aren't capable of handling. A thick sole and respectable traction make the Z/1 Classic a go-to option for a wide variety of outdoor activities. It is durable and resilient enough to handle long days logging miles on the trail, but still comfortable and stylish enough to be worn as primary summer footwear. Furthermore, the lack of toe floss allows you to wear socks with these sandals if that's what you're into. Whether you're heading out on a backcountry adventure or making a quick jaunt into town, the Z/1 Classic won't let you down.

Thanks to a secure fit and stiff sole  we felt comfortable wearing these Chacos in scenarios you may not expect a sandal to pull through.
Thanks to a secure fit and stiff sole, we felt comfortable wearing these Chacos in scenarios you may not expect a sandal to pull through.

Value


While the list price of the Z/1 is one of the more expensive in our lineup, it is also one of the burliest sandals in our review. For the right user, these sandals will provide great value and will stand up to seasons upon seasons of use.

It's hard to go wrong with a classic. No matter how you intend to use them  we're confident that you'll find a friend in the Z/1 Classic.
It's hard to go wrong with a classic. No matter how you intend to use them, we're confident that you'll find a friend in the Z/1 Classic.

Conclusion


Whether you're in search of a casual sandal or performance footwear, the Chaco Z/1 Classic is ready for action. Even though Chaco has a love/hate relationship with some folks, this model is popular for a reason. Every self-respecting outdoor junkie should own a pair of Chacos at some point, and this is a great place to start.

Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth