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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots > Test Report by Frances Penn

CHACO AZULA BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY FRANCES PENN
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 09, 2014

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Frances Penn
EMAIL: oldhikergirl AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: Santa Ana, California USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for eight years mostly on long weekends in Southern California with two or more 5-day trips per year in the Sierras. My total daypack weight, including food and water, is usually 15 lb (7 kg) and my total backpack weight, including food and water, is usually 22-26 lb (10-12 kg) depending on the need for a bear canister. I have converted to a tarp and bivy sleep system instead of a tent to keep my pack weight down. I have experienced all night rain, hail, heavy winds, camping in snow once, but mostly fair weather.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Chaco
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.chacos.com/US/en-US/
MSRP: $140.00 US
Listed Weight: none listed
Measured Weight: 31.2 oz (885 g)
Colors Available: Bungee (Light Tan); Chocolate Chip (Brown), and Black (charcoal)
Color Tested: Black
Size Tested: 9 1/2 regular width

The women's Azula Mid Waterproof boots are mid-height lightweight waterproof hiking boots featuring a women's specific LUVSEAT® polyurethane mesh lined footbed, a light-weight cushioned midsole with the ESS shank, a non-marking Active Adventure outsole with 5mm lug depth EcoTread™ that has an all-purpose tread design.

IMAGE 1
top of boots



INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The boots are a comfortable fit that feels like a well worn hiking shoe. The boot height is just above my ankle bones. The sole feels very supportive without feeling stiff. The color I am testing is called black but it is dark charcoal trimmed with light gray suede, blue laces and an attractive gray stitch pattern around the laces. The laces consist of 10 loops, 2 metal rings and 4 hooks at the top. The blue laces are round and slide through the lacing hardware easily.

IMAGE 2
stitch pattern



The upper portion of the boots are constructed of water-resistant nubuck and suede with a gusseted tongue in light and dark gray colors. There is a durable rubber toe cap and heel, and seam-taped waterproof bootie. There is a tiny waterproof sign on the outside upper portion of each boot.

The midsole is lightweight and cushioned with the ESS shank. The midsole section includes a removable women's specific LUVSEAT® polyurehane footbed that is thicker in the arch area. The footbeds have a tread pattern on the bottom that is deeper under the arch area. The top of the footbed is patterned and mesh lined in the same blue color as the laces.

IMAGE 3
top and bottom of insole



Breathable material in the same blue color is stitched inside the top of the boots ranging from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) at the top, depending on the location. The top 2 inches (5 cm) of the inside of the tongue also contains this same blue material where the size tag is located. The remaining inside portion is a soft black material. The outsole is constructed of 25% recycled rubber in a non-marking Active Adventure material with a 5mm (0.20 inches) lug depth EcoTread™ all-purpose tread design.

IMAGE 4
tread design


These boots appear to be sturdy, well designed and attractive. I can't wait to wear them on and off the trails this summer.


READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There was no hang tag or instruction booklet included with the boots.

WARRANTY

The Chaco website indicates that its products are warranted to be free of defects in materials or workmanship for the life of the product. There are a few disclaimers regarding normal wear and tear that is not covered under the warranty.


TRYING THEM OUT

I put on the boots and went for a walk around the neighborhood. I immediately noticed the cushioning and support without the customary stiffness of other boots I have recently worn. The boots fit slightly larger and looser than the boots I have been wearing. I have a tendency to develop blisters if my boots don't fit my foot tightly. I will pay close attention to this aspect during my testing trips.

SUMMARY

These boots are among the more comfortable and supportive boots I have worn. I look forward to wearing them for my planned on and off trail backpacking trips this summer.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #1:
Location: Warren Point area of Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 5,200 ft (1,585 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: sandy desert off trail with lots of desert cactus
Temperatures: 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C)
Weather: mostly sunny with heavy winds the first day and light winds the second day
Hours wearing boots: 13
Miles hiked: 13

Trip #2:
Location: Quail Mtn area of Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 5,800 ft (1,768 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: sandy desert off trail with lots of desert cactus
Temperatures: 50 to 90 F (10 to 32 C)
Weather: sunny days with light winds and heavy winds at night
Hours wearing boots: 13
Miles hiked: 15

Trip #3:
Location: Sugarloaf Mountain area of Big Bear, California USA
Elevation: 9,955 ft (3,034 M)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: rocky forest trail
Temperatures: 50 to 70 F (10 to 21 C)
Weather: clear skies with light winds
Hours wearing boots: 7
Miles hiked: 9

Trip #4:
Location: Day hike to Little Jimmy Campground in Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 7600 ft (2316 M)
Trip Duration: 3 hour day hike
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with a slight breeze at times
Hours wearing boots: 4 hours
Miles hiked: 5

Trip #5:
Location: Butler Peak, Big Bear area, California, USA
Elevation: 8500 ft (2591 M)
Trip Duration: 7 hour day hike
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 75 (24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds
Hours wearing boots: 8
Miles hiked: 12

Trip #6:
Location: San Gorgonio area of San Bernardino Mountains, California, USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2134 M)
Trip Duration: 6 hour day hike
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 45 to 75F (7 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 7
Miles hiked: 6

Trip #7:
Location: San Gorgonio area of San Bernardino Mountains, California, USA
Elevation: 9,500 ft (2896 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 13
Miles hiked: 20

Trip #8:
Location: Little Jimmy Campground area of Angeles National Forest area, California, USA
Elevation: 7,600 ft (2316 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 11
Miles hiked: 8

Trip #9:
Location: Butler Peak, Big Bear area, California, USA
Elevation: 8500 ft (2591 M)
Trip Duration: 7 hour day hike
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 75 F (24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds
Hours wearing boots: 8
Miles hiked: 12

Trip #10:
Location: Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop, California, USA
Elevation: 7,000 to 10,000 ft (2134 to 3048 M)
Trip Duration: 6 days, 5 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 45 to 80 F (7 to 26 C)
Weather: sunny days with a light breeze and cool nights
Hours wearing boots: 48
Miles hiked: 48

IMAGE 1
close-up


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Footbeds:
While the footbeds that came with the boots have more cushioning in the arch of the foot and are very comfortable for a walk around the block, my feet are injured and require my custom orthotics for serious hiking and backpacking. I initially wore the boots with the footbeds for a short hike, but it quickly became obvious that I needed to switch to my orthotics for the duration of the testing period.

Grip:
I have worn these boots on large granite slabs that contained sandy areas, in deep sand, on and off wet slippery rocks in streams, and of course dirt forest trails. I have found the grip to be firm and sturdy with no slippage.

Socks:
I tend to get blisters between my toes so I wear thin wool liner toe socks under medium thickness wool hiking socks. The height of the socks is just above the top of the boots.
Durability:
Except for the customary dirt that accompanies hiking, these boots show no wear or damage. They feel as supportive as the day I put them on for the first time.

Lacing:
Lacing up the boots is fast and easy. The shoe strings hold the knots and do not slip or become untied during use. The metal rings and hooks are strong and smooth and do not chafe the laces.

IMAGE 2
top of Warren Point


When I first started wearing these boots, they felt loose when compared to the boots I had been wearing recently. My feet slipped around inside the boots and I almost twisted my ankle on the first trip. I switched to thicker hiking socks over my liner toe socks. As I continued to wear the boots with the thicker socks, I became accustomed to the slightly loose fit. My toes have plenty of room and do not pinch together in the boots. My feet are not tired at the end of a long day of hiking and backpacking as they usually are in the boots I have worn previously. The boots are very supportive for backpacking. With my previous boots, I would remove my boots the minute I got to camp and change into my camp shoes. I have that found while wearing these boots, I don't mind leaving these boots on while I set up camp and get my gear organized.

I have walked through as many streams as were available in this light water year to test the waterproofing. My feet have stayed dry during these waterproofing test opportunities.

IMAGE 3
stream crossing in Yosemite

SUMMARY

These boots have performed well during this portion of the test. Considering how comfortable they feel on my feet, I am impressed at their support when carrying a pack that is heavier than I would like on occasion. I will continue to wear the boots for the next phase of testing and will report on my findings.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #11:
Location: Mt. Silliman in Sequoia National Park, California, USA
Elevation: 11,100 ft. (3,383 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions, then a granite slab up to camp by Silliman Lake
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night
Hours wearing boots: 15 hours
Miles hiked: 15

Trip #12:
Location: Midnight Lake area of the Sierras, California, USA
Elevation: 11,300 ft (3,400 M)
Trip Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C)
Weather: partial sunny days with overcast skies and drizzles the first and second day and a thunderstorm on our way out the third day
Miles hiked: 20

Trip #13:
Location: Boothe Lake area of Yosemite, California, USA
Elevation: 9,800 ft (2,980 M)
Trip Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 35 to 75 F (1 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night
Hours wearing boots: 40
Miles hiked: 40

Trip #14:
Location: Sugarloaf Mountain, Big Bear area, California, USA
Elevation: 9,955 ft (3,034 M)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 75 F (24C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 8
Miles hiked: 10

Trip #15:
Location: Sugarloaf Mountain, Big Bear area, California, USA
Elevation: 9,955 ft (3,034 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 9
Miles hiked: 10

Trip #16:
Location: Saddlerock Lake area of the Sierras, California, USA
Elevation: 11,100 ft (3,380 M)
Trip Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Trail Conditions:dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 35
Miles hiked: 35

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The boots collect dirt on the top side. I tried to brush off the dirt after the first two trips, but was not successful in removing the dirt. The boots that were charcoal when they were new now look like they are dirt colored, except for the top portion which are covered by my pants. The dirt has not affected the durability or performance of the boots.

I continued to stomp through as many streams as I was able to find. The boots are waterproof and my feet stayed dry and warm. The water rolled off the boots after the stream crossings and dried quickly.

On the Mt. Silliman trip, we climbed up to Silliman Lake via a large granite slab while wearing our backpacks. Some portions were a little more steep than I was comfortable with. I trusted the grip of the boot soles and kept walking up the granite. I really appreciated the grip of the soles on that granite slab. We camped at Silliman Lake at 10,000 ft (3,000 M) and then day hiked up to the peak at 11,100 ft. (3,383 M).

On the Midnight Lake trip, we experienced a thunder, lightning, rain and hail storm on our way back to the trailhead. We had just packed up and were putting on our packs to hike out when the rain and hail started. We put on our rain gear and started the hike out. The thunder and lightning was so close, we decided to wait for a while to give the storm a chance to pass. Once the storm was a safe distance from us, we resumed the hike out to the trailhead. This trip was an awesome chance to stomp through all of the stream crossings that were swelled with the storm water on the way out. I didn't hesitate to be first in the water and stomped right through all the stream crossings that I had negotiated on the rocks on the way in to camp. The boots performed well under these storm conditions. The water rolled off the boots quickly after exiting the streams, my feet stayed dry for the entire trip and the boots look the same as when the trip started.

On the Boothe Lake trip, the weather was beautiful and the boots performed well. While the streams were low, I still stomped through as much water as I could find to test the waterproofing.

On the Sugarloaf Mountain trip, there were two small streams that I walked through. I am rather enjoying the ability to walk right through any water that crosses the trail. I plan to wear waterproof boots on all trips in the future.

On the Saddlerock trip, the water was low but I continued to walk through as much water as possible. The boots kept my feet dry and comfortable.

These boots continue to support my feet like when they were new. I leave you with pictures of the boots in their current condition after as much abuse as I could possibly find to test them.

IMAGE 1
tops at end of test
IMAGE 2
outsides

IMAGE 3
insides
IMAGE 4
soles


I am very impressed with the performance of these boots. I will continue to wear them until they are no longer viable and will most likely purchase another pair.

SUMMARY

These are an awesome pair of hiking boots. They are lightweight, the soles are very supportive, the waterproofing works well and they are very comfortable to wear. My feet don't hurt after a long day of hiking wearing these boots. When I get to camp, I don't mind leaving the boots on while I set up camp. I am glad I had the opportunity to test these boots. I will definitely buy another pair of Chaco hiking boots after this testing experience.

This test series is now concluded. Thank you to Chaco and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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