Chaco Torrent Pro - Women's Review
Cons: Sizing seems to run small, shows slight signs of wear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
No model tested matched the Torrent Pro in comfort. With easily adjustable elastic laces, the Torrent Pro fit testers of varying foot widths and retained comfort in bare feet and warm layers. The shoes' knitted polyester exterior dried quickly after a long day of heavy splashing on the Colorado River, and the self-draining Flexi-grip sole drained efficiently while offering great traction while scrambling around the raft to strap in gear. It does seem to be less durable than other models tested, showing signs of wear after months of putting them through the mill. Yet, if you're looking for one shoe that performs as well as it feels, the Torrent Pro is it.
Chaco's LUVSEAT Footbed makes the Torrent Pro stand above when it comes to comfort. While many water shoes seem to lack arch support, this technology gives the Torrent Pro plenty of cushioned structure. They were thus useful for anything from a 5-hour hike to a waterfall to standing for an 8-hour workday at a brewery.
With extended hikes and long days, we had no fear of arch pain or foot fatigue. While a more cushioned sole usually is compromised in a shoe's sensitivity, Chaco seems to have found the perfect balance. We were still glad to feel subtleties in the ground through the footbed without risking injury to the foot from poky sticks or sharp rocks.
The adjustability on the Torrent Pro was superb. We preferred the elastic tightening mechanism to full laces or a single-pull loop, as it was easy to tighten or loosen quickly and remained secure. While other shoes also featured an easy tightening system, the execution wasn't as great as in the Torrent Pro. Other quick-lace systems didn't provide the same level of security, leaving heels to feel loose and unstable. While at first the loop on the tongue of the Torrent Pro to tuck the elastic into seemed superfluous, it was appreciated on days where creek-walking adventures brought the risk of becoming entangled in roots or bushes. Likewise, we liked being able to walk around a gear boat without fear of a lace becoming caught in a strap only to tumble into 48-degree water.
The Torrent Pro felt comfortable and snug in bare feet, neoprene socks, and a drysuit. The lacing pattern snugs the shoe down around the entire foot. It also scored highest with a co-tester who has wide feet and has trouble finding female-specific shoes to fit.
We tested the Torrent Pro on wet rafts, sandy beaches, slick rock, even an icy trail, and the traction on the Torrent Pro held up. While it wasn't best in its class for traction, it is pretty dang close. Our testers found it sufficient for most wet and dry missions.
The Torrent Pro especially thrived on soft surfaces. We had no fear walking around on the wet tubes of a gear raft or navigating a steep sandy hike. On slippery rocks and wet metal framing, we sometimes wished the Torrent Pro had a stickier outsole, but we found it a good compromise as the Chaco makes up for it on other metrics. It still performed well above-average in traction.
The Torrent Pro moved seamlessly from the river to a long side hike to camp, its quick-drying capabilities and adjustability making it easy to wear them all day long in varying conditions.
The shoes can be worn in a range of weather conditions, given their comfort in bare feet, neoprene socks, and a drysuit. We wore them on a 50-degree overcast day with wool socks, a drysuit, and neoprene socks as well as on a long side hike with plenty of sunshine where no socks were the most comfortable way to go.
The Torrent Pro held its own on river days as well as hiking, cragging, mountain biking, or heading to the local watering hole. Its comfort held up for an 8-hour shift on our feet as well. Their relatively lighter weight and lack of bulk made them easy to pack in a dry-bag short on space.
For warmth in a water shoe, it's imperative that you can layer comfortably. The Torrent Pro was just as comfortable and functional in bare feet as a drysuit with wool socks. While neoprene booties retain warmth when wet, the Chacos drained and dried quickly, leaving the feet more comfortable and less pruny.
The stretchiness of the mesh also made it relatively easy to put on and remove the shoe with layering, avoiding the red-faced frustration of stuffing a well-insulated foot into a smaller shoe. The knitted polyester upper fabrics ensured the shoe stayed secure with various layers, which slipped off the heel when we added things to our feet.
Classified as a whitewater rafting shoe, the Torrent Pro held up decently through our tests, but did yield some minor signs of wear by the end of our testing period.
We found mild fraying on the seams, but of more consequence is the beginnings of separation between the outsole and polyester. It is likely that the separation between the upper and outer sole wouldn't last a season of being jammed under rubber raft thwarts or the inevitable stubbed toes of navigating a gear boat or camp. This is one area where we think the Torrent Pro has room for improvement. Some seam-sealer glue will help prolong the life of these (and most) shoes, although it's not the prettiest goop to apply to your shoes.
The Torrent Pro strikes a great balance between sensitivity and cushion.
We were confident in feeling rocks and roots between our toes as well as flexing over round surfaces like a log or raft. Yet they could also be worn for longer periods and longer distances, like on a more extensive scouting hike. They lack the sensitivity found in neoprene booties but provide more cushion. For the largest range of activities, these Chacos provide our favorite balance of sensitivity and comfort.
The Torrent Pro is one of the pricier models we tested, but they are much more versatile than more inexpensive models. They give you everything you need out of a water shoe and excel off the water as well. While you can find a more inexpensive neoprene bootie, it won't have the cushion or versatility of the Torrent Pro. Likewise, a heftier canyoneering boot will be more durable but will lack sensitivity and versatility. The Torrent Pros combine all of the necessary aspects of an all-around great water shoe at a reasonable price.
The women's Chaco Torrent Pro provide all the necessary aspects of a great water shoe with incredible comfort and versatility. They perform well both on the water and land, with exceptional traction and adjustability. They are comfortable and easy to put on and remove given any layering considerations, making them useful in many temperatures. They dry quickly, so can be worn all day without pruning up. Whether you are looking for a shoe to wear every day in the water or a shoe that occasionally forays into wet conditions, the Torrent Pro has you covered.
— Monica Nigon