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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Chaco Z1 Sandals > Owner Review by Anson Moxness

Owner Review by Anson Moxness
July 10, 2007

Age: 18
Gender: Male
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lbs (66 kg)
E-mail: anson dot Moxness at gmail dot com
Location: Anchorage, Alaska US
Backpacking Background:
I have been a backpacker for my entire life. Most of my experience backpacking has been in the Chugach Mountains outside of Anchorage. I am experimenting in a more lightweight approach to backpacking and hopefully I will end up with around a 15 lb (6.8 kg) pack for shorter (2-4 day) trips. I try to seek out the most rugged terrain possible; in the Chugach that I steeper rocky terrain with some snowfield and glacier crossing. I mostly hike in the summer months but I do have experience in cold weather conditions.

Product Information:
Model: Chaco Men's Z/1 Colorado Sandal
Manufacturer: Chaco, Inc.
Year: 2005
Size Tested: Men's 8 Medium Width
Listed Weight: N/A
Actual Weight: 26 oz (740 g) (per pair)
MSRP: $90 US

These sandals featured the Vibram™ Colorado sole, which was designed for normal walking conditions in a variety of wet and dry conditions. It has minimal tread for decreased weight. The other sole option was the Vibram™ Terrano Sole, which is more of a traditional hiking boot sole. Chacos now come with a Vibram™ Uniweep or a Diamond Sheath sole. The Uniweep sole is a combination of the lighter weight Colorado Sole and the traction of the Terrano sole and the Diamond Sheath sole is a very low profile grippy sole made specifically for water use.

The 25 mm (15/16th in) wide strap is a continuous loop, which can be pulled through with a loop covering the ball of the foot and then over the top of the arch and then around the bottom of the ankle where it is fixed. The placement of the loops provides a sturdy hold and customizable fit. The strap is tightened by a buckle on the top of strap which tightens the whole continuous strap. The base of the Chaco is made of a molded "Biocentric™" arch platform that provides support for medium to high arches. The top of the platform is covered in many little squares that grip the bottom of the foot and provides a little bit of texture.

Field Information:
I tested these sandals in almost every condition available in and around Anchorage, Alaska. Mostly I used these sandals for everyday footwear, but they were also an essential part of my backpacking arsenal. I first bought these Z/1's because I had worn out an older pair of sandals from another manufacturer. During the Chaco's first hiking trips they were simply used as a river crossing tool (hence getting the lower profile river sole), but after a few trips they turned into my camp shoes as well. I also chose the Colorado sole because it was more lightweight than the Terrano sole and I probably wouldn't need the extra traction of the aggressive sole in my day-to-day use. On shorter (2-3 day) hikes over well established trails and a light pack (< 20 lbs, < 9 kg) I began to leave my hiking boots at home and use my Z/1's as my only footwear. I would only use sandals over hiking boots when the weather was warmer and there was a low risk of precipitation, and the trail was mostly dry so I not need to worry about getting my feet wet. Needless to say, my Chacos have gotten their fair share of (ab)use over the years - everything from -10 F (-23 C) snowstorms (with wools socks of course) to 90 F (32 C) rock jumping on the Hawaiian coast.

Z/1's in action. Review:
I wear these sandals everyday, and I can honestly say they are the most comfortable pair of shoes that have ever been placed on my feet. I purchased the Z/1 design over the Z/2 with toe strap because while I would have liked to have a little more traction, the ease of use with wools socks (a necessity for 75% of an Alaskan year) and the wider strap overruled the toe strap. I am very happy with the wider strap because I feel it is a little more supportive and fits my foot tighter when I cinch it down. When hiking on wet and otherwise slippery surfaces, such as wet tundra, rocks, and steeper slopes, I often wish I would have gone for the more aggressive Terreno soles, but overall the weight savings is well worth it for most of my uses (see above in Field Conditions). These have been very durable sandals that don't give in no matter how much I punish them. A large part of that is the very supportive hard rubber sandal bed; this offers more arch support than any other sandal I have ever worn.

Overall the design of these sandals is second to none of those I've used. The most impressive feature is the continuous strap, which (after a little inspection of the strap route) is fairly easy to adjust. However, I have kept the strap in the same position for extended periods of time and the sandal body has put enough pressure to wear part way through the outer sheath of the strap. I also have had a problem with strap wear in the heel area. While this is a problem, Chaco can reweb and resole all of their sandals. So after some wear and tear on the rubber sole, Chaco can put a brand new bottom put on, but beware, don't wait too long. I have worn down the heel so much that I have worn into the harder rubber, making it no longer possible to resole them (a flat surface is need according to the Chaco rep). To have Chaco Sandals repaired they must be sent to the Chaco factory in Paonia, Colorado ($7 US for shipping from within the US, $9 US for international). The cost of a resole ranges from $36 to $42 US depending on the sole and the cost of a complete reweb is $20 US for one sandal and $36 US for two. Chaco can also do other repairs on their sandals (see the Chaco website). I have a problem with the sole becoming unglued where the strap goes under the footbed, but the Chaco rep I talked to said that that has been fixed in the newest crop of sandals. This problem really hasn't degraded the performance of my Chacos at all.

I wholeheartedly recommend these sandals for anyone who wants good arch support and an adjustable strap tension system. I recommend trying these sandals on before buying them; I have heard of a few people who don't like the strap positioning because it hits the side of their foot oddly.

To rehash: the great things about these sandals are: durability, great support, ability of individualize the fit through the continuous strap. Things not so good: strap wear after many years of abuse (can be fixed with a quick trip to Dr. Chaco) and fit around oddly shaped feet. These are a high quality set of sandals that can last forever (if maintained with rewebbings and resolings) and are sturdy enough for actual hiking with a lighter pack and on well established trails, look no further than the Z/1's. And another plus, they give some wicked sweet tan lines.

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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Chaco Z1 Sandals > Owner Review by Anson Moxness

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