The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Chaco Z/Cloud Review

Tough to go wrong with a Chaco classic; especially when it's geared for comfort.
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Price:  $110 List | $76.96 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfaces
Cons:  Softer footbed means less stability
Manufacturer:   Chaco
By Rob Woodworth ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 15, 2018
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85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Traction - 25% 8
  • Stability - 20% 9
  • Adjustability - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 8

The Skinny

The Chaco Z/Cloud is a very comfortable sandal that is also capable of handling rugged terrain. It is nearly the same as the Z/1 Classic but offers a softer footbed and slightly less stability. The outsole material is stiff and heavy but provides excellent support for long days on the trail. The high arches may not please every foot type, but that's par for the course with Chaco. Our testers prefer the stiff, rugged soles to floppy ones as they provide greater security and also aided traction. The classic interwoven webbing that Chaco has become known for might be tricky at first but ultimately delivers a snug, customizable fit.

We tested multiple pairs of Chaco's to find out the differences between these similar yet unique models. For increased comfort with the same cushy footbed, the wide straps of the Mega Z/Cloud is a nice upgrade. And for improved trail performance, the more rugged Z/1 Classic is where you should turn your head.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Z/Cloud is only slightly different than the Z/1 Classic. In fact, the only notable distinction we could report is the softer footbed found on the Cloud. Otherwise, this model performed very similarly to the other Chacos in this review.

Performance Comparison


By and large  the softer footbed of the Chaco Z/Cloud (left) offers noticeable comfort and slightly less stability when compared to the Z/1 Classic (right).
By and large, the softer footbed of the Chaco Z/Cloud (left) offers noticeable comfort and slightly less stability when compared to the Z/1 Classic (right).

Traction


Chacos are known for being ultra rugged and sporty sandals that handle everything from river floats to crag hustling to days on the beach. In our experience, the newer Z/Cloud offers the same traction we've grown to expect from the Chaco family. This model features the same ChacoGrip rubber and tread pattern that can be found on both the Z/1 Classic and the Mega Z/Cloud.

As expected  the sole of the Z/Cloud held up to Chaco's reputation.
As expected, the sole of the Z/Cloud held up to Chaco's reputation.

Throughout the testing process, the Z/Cloud performed well on a variety of wet and dry surfaces. Even though it's got a thick sole, the rubber is forgiving enough to bend and grip on contoured terrain better than other bulky models like the Teva Omnium 2. Additionally, the footbed material has a diamond tread pattern that helps to lock in a secure footing which ultimately aids in overall traction.

Comfort


The Cloud series of Chacos feature softer, lighter soles aimed at providing more comfort during extended use outings. The softer material may not offer quite the same arch support as the classic Chaco, though it does conform better to the foot and minimizes pressure points. As was the case for the Mega Z, we found the Z/Cloud to be a very comfortable sandal once adjusted properly.

Even in adverse conditions  the soft footbed and smooth webbing of the Z/1 Cloud offer a cozy ride.
Even in adverse conditions, the soft footbed and smooth webbing of the Z/1 Cloud offer a cozy ride.

The straps of the Z/Cloud are narrower but a bit thicker than the webbing found on the similar Mega Z. This style of webbing allows for a more precise fit when compared to the wider, more pliable straps on the Mega—which some might argue makes them more comfortable. Our testers agree that the Cloud series from Chacos are excellent choices for comfort assuming that you prefer pronounced arch support.

Stability


The softer and lighter midsole material makes this sandal only slightly less stable than its classic Chaco counterpart. While it sports the same rugged outsole that is substantially thicker and stiffer than most sandals, there is noticeably more flexibility in the Z/Cloud when compared to the Z/1 Classic. This model is a step back from the ultra-sporty original, though we still think it can hold its own against the competition.

Being only a bit softer than the Z/1 Classic  the Z/Cloud has comparable stability to the rest of the Chaco family.
Being only a bit softer than the Z/1 Classic, the Z/Cloud has comparable stability to the rest of the Chaco family.

The proprietary Chaco webbing weave keeps your foot secure during dicy scrambles and even maintains solid footing when you've gotten them wet after impromptu river crossings. The Z/Cloud is ousted only by its burlier brother the Z/1 Classic when it comes to overall stability. It is still an extremely solid sandal, just not quite as stout with the softer footbed material.

Adjustability


The Chaco interwoven webbing loops provide a good amount of adjustability provided you take the time to get a dialed fit. While some may prefer a sandal with more individual points of adjustment, like the Teva Terra Fi 4, our testers remain convinced that the Chaco system is capable of providing a highly-customized fit. Once past the initial learning curve, the webbing loop can be adjusted to accommodate the nuanced features of your foot.

If you're already familiar with how Chacos work  then you'll find no surprises in the Z Cloud. If you're not familiar  the learning curve will only be temporary.
If you're already familiar with how Chacos work, then you'll find no surprises in the Z Cloud. If you're not familiar, the learning curve will only be temporary.

When compared to the wide-strapped Mega Z, the Z/Cloud requires less tweaking on the trail because the webbing is a bit thicker and has a greater tendency to stay in place during use. It is worth noting that because of the softer footbed on this sandal, a tighter fit is preferred to keep your foot from sliding around too much. But all in all, the Z/Cloud has an intuitive and reliable adjustment system that works great if you know how to use it properly.

Versatility


Chacos are known to handle all sorts of outdoor activities with both style and grace. The Z/Cloud is no exception. Rugged construction and a grippy outsole mean that this sandal can handle everything from watersports to long treks on the trail to approach missions with fully-loaded packs. Without toe straps, this sandal also gains the bonus of being compatible with socks for those chilly nights at camp. Similar to its Chaco brethren, the Z/Cloud scored high in versatility for its ability to serve as a daily sandal that is also capable of any objective you set out to accomplish.

Like the rest of the offerings from Chaco  the Z Cloud is right at home in the water. The webbing and ChacoGrip sole also make transitioning from wet to dry a breeze.
Like the rest of the offerings from Chaco, the Z Cloud is right at home in the water. The webbing and ChacoGrip sole also make transitioning from wet to dry a breeze.

Best Applications


Because it is oriented towards comfort more than performance, the Z/Cloud is best suited as a general all-purpose sandal in our book. While it is capable of tackling extended hikes and sporty terrain, our feet were happiest just lounging around in these shoes. If you'd like the same Chaco fit coupled with greater performance, take a look at the stiffer Z/1 Classic.

Value


Priced at $110, the Z/Cloud has an above average cost. However, we've been shown time and time again that Chacos can stand up to years of abuse no matter where you take 'em. Bomber construction coupled with a guarantee to repair or replace blow-outs makes this shoe a valuable investment in the long run.

If you're fond of Chacos but looking for a bit more cushion  you'll certainly enjoy romping in the Z Cloud.
If you're fond of Chacos but looking for a bit more cushion, you'll certainly enjoy romping in the Z Cloud.

Conclusion


The Z/Cloud is a comfortable and refreshing update to the classic Chaco that many people already love. The softer insole material provides greater shock absorption and comfort with only a small compromise in overall stability. Otherwise, the traction and adjustability of this sandal are on par with the higher-scoring models in this review. If you're already fond of Chacos and would like a sandal with no break-in period and greater comfort for extended use, we highly recommend the Z/Cloud.


Rob Woodworth