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Chaco Z/Cloud Review

Chaco takes a classic sandal and enhances it with a softer footbed material
Chaco Z/Cloud
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $110 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfaces
Cons:  Expensive, somewhat heavy
Manufacturer:   Chaco
By Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth  ⋅  Mar 25, 2022
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Traction - 25% 7.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Adjustability - 15% 7.0
  • Versatility - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

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 with 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. Because it is slightly more oriented towards comfort than performance, the Z/Cloud is best suited as a general all-purpose sandal but is still capable of tackling extended hikes and sporty terrain.

Editor's Note: We performed an update on this review on March 25, 2022, to include new details on the sandals we recommend and why we love them.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Chaco Z/Cloud
This Product
Chaco Z/Cloud
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$105 List
$105.00 at REI
$135 List
$135.00 at Amazon
$65 List
$64.00 at Amazon
Check Price at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Comfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfacesLightweight, versatile, excellent tractionVery comfortable, good support, grippy outsoleVery affordable, light, comfortableGreat wet traction, comfortable and stable, quick-drying
Cons Expensive, somewhat heavyNot best for high archesPricey, dad-style designLess supportive than others, loses some traction when wetLack of adjustability, doesn't slip on
Bottom Line Chaco takes a classic sandal and enhances it with a softer footbed materialThis lightweight sandal is comfortable, durable, and capable of handling anything out on the trailClassic three-strap sport sandals that provide high-end comfort and solid all-around performanceImpressive comfort and solid all-around performance in a lightweight and affordable packageWith solid coverage and water friendly materials, this is our favorite closed-toe sandal for water sports
Rating Categories Chaco Z/Cloud Bedrock Cairn Adven... ECCO Yucatan Teva Katavi 2 Keen Newport H2
Comfort (25%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Traction (25%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Stability (20%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Adjustability (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Versatility (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Chaco Z/Cloud Bedrock Cairn Adven... ECCO Yucatan Teva Katavi 2 Keen Newport H2
Weight per Pair (pounds) 1.81 lbs (size 9) 1.10 lbs (size 10) 1.51 lbs (size 43 EU) 1.36 lbs (size 9) 2.01 lbs (size 12)
Width Options Medium, Wide Medium Medium Medium Medium
Footbed Material LuvSeat PU Granite Grip rubber Dual-density EVA Contoured EVA EVA
Midsole Material LuvSeat PU Rubber PU EVA Compression molded EVA
Sole Material ChacoGrip rubber Vibram XS Trek Regolith Rubber Durabrasion rubber Rubber
Upper Material Polyester jacquard webbing Premium webbing Nubuck leather Suede Washable polyester webbing

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Chaco Z/Cloud is only slightly different than its sibling, the Chaco Z/1 Classic. The only notable distinction we could report is the softer footbed material found on the Z/Cloud. Otherwise, the two models perform similarly across the board. In the past, we've also reviewed the Chaco Mega Z/Cloud that has a similar design but with wider strap material. Most Chaco models feel and perform similarly, with only small nuances setting them apart.

Performance Comparison


Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the z/cloud provides classic chaco style with enhanced comfort from...
The Z/Cloud provides classic Chaco style with enhanced comfort from a softer footbed material.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Comfort


The Cloud series of Chacos features softer, lighter soles to provide more comfort during extended use outings. The softer material may not offer the same arch support as the classic Chaco, though it does conform to the foot a little better and helps minimize pressure points. As was the case for other Cloud series models we've previously tested, we found the Z/Cloud to be a very comfortable sandal once appropriately adjusted.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the plush sole material that is softer than other chaco models...
The plush sole material that is softer than other Chaco models enhances the comfort of the Z/Cloud.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

The straps of the Z/Cloud allow for a comfortable and precise fit. Our testers agree that the Cloud series is an excellent choice for comfort, assuming that you prefer the pronounced arch support that this brand typically provides.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the classic chaco straps allow for a precise custom fit, though they...
The classic Chaco straps allow for a precise custom fit, though they can be a little tedious to work with.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Traction


Chacos are known for being ultra-rugged and sporty sandals that handle everything from river floats to rocky approach hikes to days at 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 found on the traditional Z/1 Classic model.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the chacogrip rubber provides excellent traction across a variety of...
The ChacoGrip rubber provides excellent traction across a variety of terrain and conditions.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

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

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the z/cloud has dependable traction on a variety of wet and try...
The Z/Cloud has dependable traction on a variety of wet and try surfaces.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Stability


The softer and lighter midsole material makes this sandal 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 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 most of the competition.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - although the material is softer than other traditional chaco models...
Although the material is softer than other traditional Chaco models, the molded footbed provides plenty of support and stability.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

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, regarding overall stability. It is still an extremely solid sandal, just not quite as stout with the softer footbed material. Other Chaco sandals with the additional toe strap also help dial in an even more snug and stable fit.

Adjustability


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

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the classic chaco strap system consists of a single piece of webbing...
The classic Chaco strap system consists of a single piece of webbing that is interconnected within the sole material. To adjust one portion of the strap, every piece must likewise be adjusted to accommodate the change.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

We found that the Z/Cloud requires less tweaking on the trail than some other Chaco models 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 overall, the Z/Cloud has an intuitive and reliable adjustment system that works great once you know how to use it properly.

Versatility


Chacos are known to handle all sorts of outdoor activities with 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 the additional toe loop, this particular Chaco model also gains the bonus of being compatible with socks for those chilly nights at camp. Like its Chaco brethren, the Z/Cloud scores high in versatility for its ability to serve as a daily sandal capable of any objective you set out to accomplish.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - like most chaco models, the z/cloud can handle almost any conditions...
Like most Chaco models, the Z/Cloud can handle almost any conditions with comfort and style.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Should You Buy the Z/Cloud?


The Z/Cloud is a comfortable and refreshing update to the classic Chaco sandals that many people already know and love. The softer insole material provides greater shock absorption and comfort, with only a slight compromise in overall stability. Otherwise, the traction and adjustability of this sandal are on par with most of 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.With one of the highest list prices in our lineup, the standout comfort and performance of the Z/Cloud certainly don't come cheaply. However, we've been shown repeatedly that Chacos can stand up to years of abuse no matter where you take them. Bomber construction, coupled with a guarantee to repair or replace blow-outs, makes this shoe a valuable footwear investment in the long run.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals - the z/cloud's dependable construction will likely last for many years.
The Z/Cloud's dependable construction will likely last for many years.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

What Other Sandals Should You Consider?


If Chacos are your sandals of choice, the Chaco Z/Volv 2 scores slightly higher with better adjustability. It weighs less and has the signature Chaco toe strap. If you want an impressive lightweight shoe with the best reaction in the group, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure is about the same price and includes better versatility and adjustability. While it is less stable than the Chaco, this sandal will pass sand and pebbles easier than the competition. If you want the most comfortable sandal and prize this over other metrics, the ECCO Yucatan is a great sandal to consider. It does cost more than the average option in our lineup, but it is hard to beat if you want excellent comfort and stability.

Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth
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