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.
Chaco Z/1 Classic Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Extremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stability
Cons: Heavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. If you're looking for a highly-adjustable performance sandal that is quick and easy, the Bedrock model is fantastic here.
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.
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.
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.
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