Although Chacos are renowned for being incredibly comfortable, are chacos good for hiking? If you ask this question online, you’ll get a lot of different answers, ranging from “Chacos are terrible for hiking” and “I love my Chacos”. Can you hike in Chacos, then, and which one is it?
Yes, Chacos are fine for hiking. Like many types of footwear, it greatly depends on the setting and the wearer’s preferences. I’ve gone on hikes in everything from hiking boots to sandals to running shoes (see how to hike in running shoes), and I’ve even gone barefoot on some mountains. It’s fair to say that Chacos are definitely suitable for hiking.
If hiking is possible in Chacos, does that mean it is a good idea to do it?
Continue reading so I can give you more specific information.
Do Chacos Allow Hiking?
Yes, you can go hiking in Chacos, to put it simply. When trying on hiking boots, there are a few key issues to keep in mind.
- Do I normally wear them?
- Are they really gaining traction?
- Has the break-in period begun?
- Do they feel cozy to me?
- Are they well-supported?
It’s a pretty good bet that the shoe you want to wear can be used for hiking if you can answer yes to all of these questions for any hiking footwear.
Although wearing Chacos may seem odd, some people swear by them and refuse to wear anything else. In actuality, there have been individuals who have worn Chacos while hiking the entire Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Even complete marathons have been completed in Chacos by some individuals.
Although some people have had great success with Chacos, it’s always important to figure out what works best for you.
Why Chacos Are Great For Hiking?
Support and comfort are the main draws of Chacos. According to the American Pediatric Medical Association, the Chacos footbed is approved. It has excellent arch support and long-lasting, sturdy support.
Since the footbed is technically an orthopedic one, you can be sure it is cozy. But don’t misinterpret the name and assume they are only useful for moving around nursing homes. The substance is remarkably resilient.
The Pros Of Hiking In Chacos
As I was growing up, I worked as a camp counselor and trip guide during the summers in between my college years. The majority of the staff wore sport sandals, either Tevas, Chacos, or Keens, as we spent the entire summer outdoors in whatever weather we encountered.
Most years, new staff members and campers would arrive wearing boots or tennis shoes. But after a few weeks, they would switch to sandals, probably as a result of how frequently we went in and out of the lake or ran through wet grass, which soaked shoes through.
An old proverb states that carrying five or six pounds on your back is equal to carrying one pound of weight on your feet. The weight of footwear does have a significant impact on the amount of energy required to hike or run a specific distance, according to a study by the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
Chacos are much lighter than traditional hiking boots while still offering a lot of the same arch support and grip as ultralight trail runners.
Breathability & Water Tolerance
Nothing breathes as nothing does. When you’re perspiring profusely while toting a heavy pack on a hot, muggy summer day, having your feet free to breathe in the air is great.
There are two ways to choose footwear for a wet hike or rainy day: either try to keep the water out as much as you can, or accept that your feet will get wet. I usually choose the latter because by mid-summer the trails I frequent are usually a muddy, waterlogged mess. When the mud covers your boots, no amount of waterproofing will help; however, with sandals, the mud simply slides off your foot.
I’ve found that it’s best to just wear sandals when it’s really rainy outside.
The Cons Of Hiking In Chacos
Even though I enjoy wearing my Chacos while hiking, there are many occasions when I’d opt for a pair of boots. Since I live in the Upper Midwest, I don’t have to worry about snakes, but the colder weather forces me to put away my sandals for about half the year.
Heavy-duty hiking sandals also feel different on your feet than do boots. Before you set out on a long hike, make sure your sandals are broken in and your feet are used to wearing them, just like any other footwear you plan to put some serious miles on.
Even though my feet were used to the shape of Chacos from three months of hard wear before that, the stiff new straps tore up my feet that day as I walked a full marathon in a brand-new pair of Chacos.
I put on my Chacos one evening when I was a college student living in the dorms and headed over to the dining hall across the street for dinner with some friends.
Unfortunately, we decided at the last minute to walk the half-mile to the more upscale dining hall. I had to put some newspaper between my feet and the Chacos for the remainder of the walk back because the arctic winds were making my feet so cold.
Surprisingly, wearing sandals in the winter doesn’t do much to keep your feet warm.
Lack Of Ankle Support
Both sandals and the majority of modern hiking boots lack ankle support.
Ultralight trail runners don’t typically provide ankle support, but most people mistakenly believe that mid-rise hiking boots do.
Ankle support is minimal in a 6″ mid-rise hiking boot. Instead, choose a high-rise hiking boot in the 10 to 15-inch range that extends well up your calf if ankle support is a concern for you.
So, while sandals don’t offer ankle support, your current hiking boots probably don’t either.
Lack Of Protection
I wouldn’t hike in Chacos in snake country, but I’m also paranoid about snakes, so I’d wear some heavy-duty high-rise boots.
Aside from protecting against snakes, sturdy leather boots are very effective against jagged rocks, pointed sticks, and prickle-covered plants.
I rarely stab my toes because of my very high-stepping, bouncy hiking gait. But I’ve gone on hikes with plenty of people who don’t lift their feet quite as high, and I’ve seen numerous instances of people getting poked between the toes by sharp objects.
See more about What To Wear Hiking In Summer?
Chacos And Blisters
Hiking blisters are never fun. Blisters and Chacos are still potential outcomes, though they may not materialize at all. Because every person’s foot and gait are so unique, many people report having a variety of experiences.
When blisters do happen, it’s sometimes for the following reasons:
- Chacos are not broken in
- The strap is too lose or too tight
- The Chacos are the wrong size
If you decide to purchase Chacos, first confirm that they are the appropriate size. I’ve heard tales of hikers returning their Chacos after learning that they weren’t initially properly fitted.
Make sure they are broken in before trying the next thing. You might anticipate having somewhat softer feet if you’ve always worn shoes. Blisters can develop as a result of that combined with newly purchased sandals. To correct this, start by jogging or taking short, easy walks to help break in your Chacos. Your feet will get tougher and your Chacos will soften up where it needs to.
The strap might also be adjusted. The strap may occasionally be either too loose or too tight. If it’s too tight, your foot may experience excessive friction while moving. On the other hand, excessively loose straps could result in friction where none should exist. The straps can be adjusted according to Chacos’ instructions to ensure a good fit.
Chacos’ toe strap is another factor that can cause blisters. Some styles have a strap that passes between your toes. These models have better stability, but some people may find them to be inconvenient.
Wearing socks is a simple solution to avoid blisters when wearing Chacos. The Injinji toe socks (Amazon) are a popular choice among hikers. I own a pair and find them to be quite nice. A lot more movement is possible for your toes thanks to them. You can even wear two pairs of socks if you are still developing blisters. Blisters are frequently avoided by wearing two pairs of socks.
And What About Ankle Support?
This is a significant issue that is occasionally vaguely understood. In contrast to trail runners or even high-profile hiking boots, Chacos do not cover your ankles.
The mechanics of ankle support, however, make this less significant. Actually, the level of support at the heel of your foot determines how well your ankles are supported. This is where the majority of your ankle’s stabilizing power actually originates.
Some claim that restricting your ankle’s range of motion and hiding it with a high-profile fit actually causes more harm than good. The Chaco’s heel cup is actually quite sturdy, which enables the heel of your foot to be supported, which in turn supports your ankle reasonably well.
Ankle rolls are inevitable, even in everyday hiking shoes. Since there aren’t many places for your ankle to roll, this doesn’t really happen with heavy hiking boots. Your ankle and heel will actually get stronger and offer much better support after you’ve broken in your Chacos.
Chacos have a little bit more width, which is another thing to think about. On the trails, this increases stability.
Tips For Hiking In Chacos
Since Chacos aren’t the most well-liked hiking shoes, becoming familiar with them beforehand will be crucial.
Any hiking footwear needs time to break in, but Chacos require it the most. Before wearing your hiking shoes on the trail, you should get as comfortable and accustomed to them as you can. This is simple to accomplish. They’ll be comfortable for running, sprinting, and walking. You can wear them around the house or even to work (if you have a really cool job). You’ll want to get a good sense of how they perform on trails, on various terrain, and in various conditions before you start your actual hike.
The following advice is to bring foot cream. Maintaining proper foot moisture may be difficult if you aren’t wearing socks. This will occur much more quickly than if your feet were enclosed in shoes or boots because they are exposed to the air.
Finally, whether you use them or not, it’s a good idea to bring socks. In addition to shielding your feet from debris, socks will help prevent blisters, keep them from drying out, and keep them warm when the weather turns chilly.
Top Picks For Hiking
The Chaco Z/2 Sandal will give you more stability as you scramble through rocky terrain. A toe strap adds more safety and stability, and it is attached to that. When you cross slick streams and scramble through rocks, this feature will help you maintain a better foot-to-sandal connection.
Z/cloud Series Sandal
The supportive footbed system is given an additional layer of cloud cushioning in the Z/Cloud series. Your feet will be more comfortable while hiking with this Chaco sandal. It will also give you the impression that you are effortlessly floating through the trails of the desert and the mountains.
Branded Z/cloud Series Sandal
Long treks are best done in Chaco’s Branded Z/Cloud series sandals. It is the same as their Z/Cloud series, but it improves stability. To improve your comfort while wearing, there is an additional strap on the cloud-cushioning footbed.
What Are Chaco’s?
Chaco’s is a Colorado rafting guide-founded company that makes a variety of outdoor gear in addition to their well-known outdoor sandals. The sandals are made up of just 8 simple components including a single strap running through the base that is totally adjustable to your feet. Chacos are better suited for hiking than your average sandal because of their durable sole and excellent arch support.
For Whom Were Chacos Created?
These are excellent for wading through water and getting wet because they were founded by watersports enthusiasts, so you better believe that. Chacos are ideal for outdoor adventurers who prefer open-toed footwear because they are made to be tough, cozy, supportive, and durable. They are suitable for hiking in general because you can wear them on rock, sand, dirt, in the water, and through rivers. Chacos are excellent as a backup or substitute on casual day hikes without a pack for backpacking trips where you need more than a pair of boots.
Why Hiking In Sandals Is Great
No more blisters – Your feet are forced to spend the entire day inside socks and shoes if you wear boots or trail runners. You won’t be able to avoid foot sweat no matter how breathable your shoes are advertised to be. Blisters result from friction combined with wet feet, and blisters result in a miserable hike. Your feet can breathe when you wear sandals, and the breeze and sun will help to keep them dry. In sandals, it is much simpler to take preventative measures even though hotspots where straps rub on your feet can still happen. We always carry some athletic tape with us to use as a barrier between hotspots and straps to prevent blisters. You can also adjust where the straps sit on your foot to relieve discomfort.
Weight – You use more energy when you are carrying more weight. That’s the easy part; the real challenge comes from the weight you carry on your feet. A person carrying more weight on their feet than their back will use up their energy 4-6 times faster. So, if you replace a 3-pound pair of boots with a 1-pound pair of sandals, you’ll save enough energy to do so by taking 8 to 12 pounds off your pack. It’s a matter of science, really.
Why Hiking In Sandals Isn’t Great
Sandal straps can be abrasive – Blisters are significantly less likely to form when wearing sandals, but there is a catch. You might experience a lot of hotspots on your feet if your hike takes place in a really wet area, a really sandy area, or a really wet and sandy area. Sand or water can make the straps of your sandals feel like sandpaper, which can be very uncomfortable. We advise dabbing your feet dry with a small pack towel after crossing water, and always having an athletic tape roll on hand to treat any hotspots that form and stop them from developing into blisters. For more information, see our guide on preventing and treating blisters.
Exposed tootsies – Although it’s great to be able to move your toes around freely, doing so exposes your little piggies to a variety of potential risks. The risks you expose yourself to when hiking in sandals include the sun, loose rocks, thorns, poison ivy, the cold, and snakes, to name just a few. By taking a few preventative measures, you can lower your risk of most of these hazards.
- Sun – Until you develop a strong base tan, be sure to carry a high-quality SPF sunscreen and reapply it every few hours to prevent burning on the tops of your feet.
- Loose rocks – I once kicked a large, loose rock into my heel while hiking downhill, and it was one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced while wearing sandals. The impact was so strong that the skin was broken and it immediately bruised. Stepping carefully is the only way to avoid accidents or injuries like this during rock scrambles.
- The cold – One of the most typical objections to hiking in sandals is the worry of having cold feet. This can be avoided by engaging in one of the most heinous fashion sins imaginable: wearing socks with sandals. We like to pack a pair of Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks for hikes that get just a little chilly. We pack a pair of Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks for winter and quick snowfield or glacier crossings to keep our feet warm. Depending on your sandal straps, toe socks may also be a good option for hiking sandals. See our list of the Best Hiking Socks for more awesome sock choices.
- Snakes – Despite the fact that snakebites are uncommon regardless of your footwear, more exposed skin is at risk when wearing sandals. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that snakes don’t want to interact with you as long as you don’t try to do so. Never approach wildlife; keep a safe distance from all creatures on the trail.
They were specially designed for this use and are unquestionably trail-worthy.
Wearability, like that of all other footwear, is a matter of preference and environment. We discuss Chaco sandals in this article and why they are great for hiking.
I appreciate you reading.