BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Author
Initial Report: 
April 23, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 61
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 152 lb (69 kg)
Boot Size: Women's 11 US/42 EU
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
Chaco
Website http://www.chacos.com/US/en
Model Azula Mid Waterproof
Color 
Black (also available in Bungee and Chocolate Chip, both are shades of brown)
Size
Women's 11 (42 EU)
Manufacturer  Weight  NA
Tested Weight  17.4 oz (493 g) and 17.5 oz (496 g) for a pair total of 2 lb 2.9 oz (0.99 kg)
Model Year 2014
MSRP $140.00 US

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots
The Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots arrived in the requested size and color. No hangtags or other information was included.


Fit

I ordered the Azulas in a women's size 11 US (42 EU) and they fit perfectly. This seems to be my normal size lately as my feet like extra length in the toe box. The boots that I received are in the color of black nubuck which is much more like a dark charcoal color. They are trimmed with light gray suede and have both blue lining and blue laces. They are comfortable so far.


Design and Technical Features

The Azulas are a  mid-height waterproof boot with combination type-lacing that consists of loops (10), eyelets (2) and hooks (4). Laces are round and easily pull through all loops to tighten. The boots are lined with a waterproof seam-taped bootie whereas the suede and nubuck that make up the exterior are reportedly water-resistant only. A small metal "waterproof" tag lies on the outside of each boot.

The collar area of each boot plus the gusseted tongue feature polyester mesh lining. A pull loop is located on the top back of each heel to facilitate both putting on the boots as well as removing them.  Below the mesh lining, the rest of the interior of the boot is lined in microfleece-type material.
LUVSEAT Insoles
The toe area of each boot features a rubber toe rand. It is layered over a narrow suede overlay that extends around the perimeter of each boot. The heel area also has a rubber cap over this overlay.  Double stitching is common on all the lower perimeter seams with single stitching on the rest. A decorative pattern of stitching (light gray) adds to the design element on the sides of the boots.

The LUVSEAT insoles are very cushioned with a very deep lug pattern on the bottom of them including much support in the arch area. The tops of the insoles are covered with a soft material that is embossed or textured. The midsoles are made of polyurethane materials.

The EcoTread soles have been designed for high traction with a lug depth of 5 mm (0.20 in). The soles are made with 25 percent recycled rubber and are reportedly non-marking. The soles have a smaller overall "footprint" than other Chacos I have worn so it will be interesting to see how they handle on rocky surfaces.

Chaco products are warranted to be free of defects in materials or workmanship for the life of the product according to the manufacturer.

The snow season is dwindling here. However most trails have lots of snow and ice on them yet. I have already worn them with MicroSpikes to insure safety on icy steep trails but muddy, wet and rocky surfaces are in the immediate future. My next report will include detail as to how they perform in such conditions.

Top of page


Field Report:
June 25, 2014

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have worn the Chaco Azula Boots for two backpacking trips totaling 12 days and also for dayhiking a couple times per week. Locations of all activities were in the state of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (612 m).

Location of Trip #1: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 42 mi (68 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sun
Precipitation: NoneBull moose at Isle Royale National Park Michigan
Temperature Range: 41 F to 85 F (5 F to 29 F)

Location of Trip #2: Isle Royale National Park
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 64 mi (103 km)
Length of Trip: 8 days, 8 nights
Pack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain, some sun
Precipitation: 0.65 in (1.65 cm) rain
Temperature Range: 44 F to 80 F (7 C to 27 C) with mostly 50 to 60 F (10 to 16 C) weather during the daytime hours

Day hiking:
Locations: Marquette County, Michigan
Distance:
4 mi to 6 mi (6 km to 10 km)
Temperature:
Mostly below 40 F to 65 F (4 C to 18 C)

------------------------------------------------------

Trip Talk Muddy conditions
 

The Chaco Azula Boots have been through quite the ordeal in the last two months. When they arrived there was still icy trails to contend with. I wore the Azulas with MicroSpikes for added traction. The combination  worked quite well. The boots were comfortable from the start during the initial dayhikes. As the spring weather progressed the temps remained cold but there was plenty of mud. The traction was great as I didn't slip.

I next put the boots to a test during a four-day backpack. Several of the days were in the double digits mileage-wise and my feet were comfortable even though I was wearing a fully-loaded backpack. There was still mud to contend with and I had no problems with traction. The last two days the temps soared and my feet were hot in the boots but that is rather normal for waterproof boots (nothing I can't deal with).

My last trip wearing the boots was an eight-day backpack carrying a load of approximately 30 lb (13.6 kg) to start. The island that I traveled is extremely rocky but the low spots were deep mud due to frequent rain during the spring. I did slip a few times even though I was careful, with one episode involving a lichen-covered sloped rock (they are all over the place as the island is mostly rock). My foot just slid out in front of me and I ended up on my back side. Another time I was able to catch myself before ending up on the ground. I attribute those incidents somewhat to the lugs storing mud on the bottom of the boots. It really is hard to never slip in such conditions as wet lichen-covered sloping rocks and wet slippery mud cover the island at this time of year (I remember one researcher from out west who couldn't deal with the slippery rocks and had the park service pick her up and transfer her by boat to her research outpost instead of hiking).

The wet mud accumulates but my feet stayed dryDuring the two backpack trips I wore the Azulas with Injinji Toe socks (CoolMax version) while on the dayhikes I wore assorted types of wool socks. All worked well inside the boots with no internal slipping.

I am very pleased with the comfort of the Azulas as I had absolutely no soreness in my feet after 8 continuous days of hiking difficult terrain.
The footbeds didn't retain much moisture and quickly dried when I took my feet out of the boots. 


Care and Durability

Initially until the snow and ice melted the boots stayed clean. Now after weeks of mucky conditions they are rather dirty. I haven't made the effort to clean them yet as I just recently returned from the eight-day trip but I will do so soon.

The water-resistant nubuck leather on the boots does wet out in appearance (as shown in the second picture) but there was no water inside except once. However that was due to my pants wicking moisture into the top of the boots as I hiked through very wet vegetation. That was no fault of the boots as they likely would have stayed dry if not for that.

So far I have put on a couple hundred miles (200 plus mi/322 km) on the boots in tough condtions and they seem to be a winner. A couple more months of testing will conclude whether my opinion holds true.

Top of page


Long Term Report:
September 9, 2014

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term test period I have worn the Chaco Azula Boots for several more backpacking trips totaling 10 days and also for dayhiking a couple times per week. Locations of all activities were in the states of Michigan and Wyoming and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest to mountains. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to 11,560 ft (3523 m).

Location of Backpacking Trip #3: Grand Island National Recreation Area (July 23-24)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 22.5 mi (36 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night
Pack Weight: 21 lb (9.53 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, windy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 48 F to 63 F ( 9 C to 17 C)

Location of Trip #4: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (August 14-15)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 19 mi (31.6 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night
Pack Weight: 22 lb (10 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sun
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 43 F to 72 F (6 C to 22 C) 

Location of Trip #5: Grand Island National Recreation Area (August 20-21)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 6 mi (9.66 km) backpacking and 4 mi (6.44 km) dayhiking
Length of Trip: 2 days
Pack Weight: 25 lb (11.34 kg) luxury backpacking - brought camp chair and hammock and tarptent!
Sky and Air Conditions: foggy, cloudy, light mist
Precipitation: Not measurable
Temperature Range: 53 F to 65 F (12 C to 18 C)

Location of Trip #6: Wyoming Wind River Range (August 28- September 1)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 36+ mi (58 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days, 4 nights
Pack Weight: 29 lb/13 kg (bear canister with too much food)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, rain, sleet and snow
Precipitation: 0.18 in (0.46 cm)
Temperature Range: 30 F to 65 F (-1 C to 18 C)

Day hiking:
Locations: Michigan, Wyoming
Distance:
3 to 6 mi (4.8 to 9.7 km)
Temperature:
35 F to 74 F (1 C to 23 C)

------------------------------------------------------

Trip Talk
 
Author wearing the Chacos in the Wind River Range
Throughout the long term period I continued to wear the Chaco Azula Boots for various hikes on rocky and rooty trails. Some sandy dune areas were also encountered. These trails are sometimes wet and slippery. I have stayed upright so I am happy about that. One of the local peaks involved some scrambling and steepness. The grip held true to the rock. I vary the socks I wear on dayhikes including CoolMax toesocks, or wool full-footed socks but all are of a lightweight thickness.
 
In addition I did several backpacking trips during this period with long distances walked each day on the first trip. The first one involved over 12 miles (19.3 km) the first day and double digits the next. I was carrying a load of approximately 21 lb (9.53 kg). My feet felt fine with no irritation. 

Another trip to Pictured Rocks involved about 19 mi (31.6 km) of hiking divided about equal distances each day. The weather got hotter on the second day and I did pick up some sand in my boots as I walked part of the trip along several miles of beach rather than use the trail. It didn't seem to effect the comfort level so I didn't bother to stop and shake the sand out of my boots. I also encountered rogue waves when I wasn't paying attention. The boots got wet on the outside but they didn't wet through.
Muddy conditions in the Wind River Range
The third trip was a short distance trip with over 6 mi (9.66 km) of backpacking and 4 mi (6.44 km) of dayhiking. It was a birthday trip with luxuries carried. The trail conditions were sandy with mucky sections due to torrential rain the day before the backpack trip started. My feet remained dry and therefore happy.

My longest trip of this period was a four-day backpack in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. This is way different country than my other trips as it is very mountainous. However the trails were mostly very muddy due to an unprecedented amount of rain and snow prior to the trip. During the trip more rain, sleet and snow compounded the conditions. I walked through wet areas most of the time.

During the last day of the trip we encountered high rivers that had to be crossed without bridges. I decided it would be better to walk through them with my boots rather than removing them for water shoes. This gave me more support as well as being less slippery on the river rocks underneath. One of the rivers was too high to cross so we bushwhacked upstream quite aways and crawled over huge boulders covered with lichen. Grip was everything as I did not relish the fact that if I slipped, I would be in serious trouble. Although my boots were totally soaked after this, I did hike another 8 mi (12.9 km) with wet boots with no issues.
One of many water crossings wearing the boots
As a side note this last trip I carried more weight than my other trips (29 lb/13.15 kg). This was partially due to carrying a bear canister plus carrying a heavier tent and cooking equipment for two people. My feet felt fine even with the additional weight. The insoles have been remarkable in that I haven't had to switch them out for aftermarket ones.

I wore Injinji CoolMax toesocks during all the backpacking trips. They were a perfect match as I had no issues with my feet.

Total days backpacking during the entire test period were 22 and total mileage was at least 360 miles (580 km). I feel that these boots were more than adequately tested for traction, comfort, durability and waterproofness to declare them a winner in all areas!


Care and Durability

I cleaned the boots off after most of the muddy season occurred here In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I just used mild soap and water with a soft brush. They are due for a huge cleaning again as I just returned from my Winds trip. When the boots become entirely wet they do take a few days to dry in mid-humidity conditions.

The water-resistant nubuck leather on the boots continues to wet out in appearance but the insides have stayed dry in normal wet conditions. 


Pros 

  • Comfortable
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Top-notch insoles

Cons 

  • Sometimes too warm on hot days likely due to waterproofing, but that is to be expected
Last photo: Courtesy of Sue Schenk-Drobny
------------------------------------------------ 
Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Chaco and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Azula Boots. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.

Top of page



Read more reviews of Chaco gear
Read more gear reviews by Gail Staisil

Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Chaco Azula Mid Waterproof Boots > Test Report by Gail Staisil



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson