Hands-on Gear Review

Chaco Z/1 Classic Review

This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high-performance in rugged conditions; you can't go wrong with Chaco.
By: Rob Woodworth ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 15, 2018
Price:  $105 List  |  $81.91 at Amazon - 22% Off
Pros:  Extremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stability
Cons:  Heavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustment
Manufacturer:   Chaco
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Traction - 25% 8
  • Stability - 20% 10
  • Adjustability - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 8
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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. While they weren't the highest-scoring model for traction, they placed well among the contenders because they always left us feeling solid and secure while on sporty terrain or slick rocks. The Z/1 Classic features a high arch and the stiffest sole material found in the Chaco family. It may not be as cushy as the Z/Cloud or Mega Z/Cloud, but 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, you can't go wrong with this sandal.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Chacos in this review all received similar scores, only varying slightly due to nuanced design and material selections. The Z/1 Classic is noticeably the most sporty but also less comfortable than the two Cloud Chacos.

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.

Traction


Chaco utilizes a patented rubber material for their outsole that has a very similar feel to Vibram soles but is slightly less firm. The bottom of the sole isn't lugged quite as dramatically as the Bedrock Cairn or Luna Oso, 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.

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.

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. If you're seeking great traction with a slimmer profile, give the Bedrock Cairn Adventure a shot.

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 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.

The Z/1 Classic has the stiffest, heaviest, most-bombproof sole in the review, hands down. Most of our testers find this to be a positive attribute regarding comfort. Thick soles 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.

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 got the beefiest sole 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.

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.

Because of its unparalleled stability and confidence on variable terrain, the Z/1 Classic lands 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 Chaco "Z/2" models, but overall we noticed no reduction in performance due to the lack thereof.

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.

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.

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. If you're looking for a highly-adjustable performance sandal that is quick and easy, the Bedrock model is fantastic here.

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; notwithstanding watersports. 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.

Best Applications


We believe that this shoe is best for rugged use, but will also provide satisfaction to folks looking for a bombproof sandal that will stand up to years of abuse—regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. However, you'd be wise first to try on a pair to ensure they fit your particular foot type.

Value


Being that this was hands-down the burliest sandal in our review, we feel that the $105 price tag is adequate given that they 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.

Rob Woodworth

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Most recent review: August 15, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (4.5)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Hiker

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   Jul 28, 2015 - 04:23pm
andrewf · Hiker · cabin john

I thought it was interesting that the two primary downsides to this review are the weight of the shoe and the slickness of the sole. The weight comes with the territory - this is a heavy duty sandal no matter how you slice it. if you want something ligher weight, you get another brand.

regarding the sole, opt for the sticky rubber "pro" sole. it might mark up your floors or decks or canoe bottoms a little bit, but it's excellent in the water and on slick rocks. I have pairs of Z/1 and Z/2 pros, both several years old. i wore them so much that i had each re-strapped a few years ago. it's a great shoe.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Camper

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   Mar 17, 2015 - 04:29pm
kzerbe · Camper

I love my Chacos. They aren't the lightest sandals available, but I'd wager to say they will last as long as any of 'em. I've had mine for 2 years, and they are my go-to shoe during warm weather. Their adjustability (is that a word?) is second to none, allowing you to really dial them in. Mine did take a few days of break-in, which meant I wore them around the house with socks on while my fiance laughed at me.

I use them for anything involving water during the summer. They've been with me kayaking in Virginia and floating the Missouri in Montana. I've used them on a couple small hikes (<3 miles), and wouldn't recommend them for longer treks. Probably my favorite use for my Chacos is to throw them on after having my feet cooped up in hiking boots all day. Doesn't get much better.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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