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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Chaco OutCross Evo 3 Trail Shoes > Test Report by Kara Stanley

CHACO OUTCROSS EVO 3
TEST SERIES BY KARA STANLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 28, 2015

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been hiking most of my life and backpacking since 2006. I have hiked mostly on the east coast, doing weekend trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Since moving to Arizona, my hikes have ranged from short desert hikes to overnight backpacking trips in the mountains. Recently I have taken up canyoneering and off-trail hiking/backpacking to spice things up. I currently use a solo non-free standing tent, canister stove, purification tabs, and lightweight trail runners, conditions permitting, to cut down on weight. My hikes are solo and range from an overnight trip to 4-5 nights on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Chaco
IMAGE 1
The tongue and laces

Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: www.chacos.com
MSRP: US$ 115
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 23 oz (652 g) for a women's size 11
Sizes offered on Chaco's website: Women's half and whole sizes for 6-11.
Colors offered on Chaco's website: Mecca (a burnt orange), Black, Violet Quartz (a purple-y pink), Marine Green, and Majolica (Dark blue) - The color I am testing.
Made in China.
All man made materials.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The shoes arrived with minimal packaging, all of which is recyclable. The shoes did not have a hang tag and the instructions printed on the box were for fitting Chaco sandals.

The shoes have mesh uppers with rubber bumper strips on the heel and a vinyl strip around the toe. The shoe laces seem thinner than other shoes I have owned, however they seem pretty sturdy. The tongue is only attached at the base and there are no gussets attaching the sides of the tongue to the shoe. There is a strip of webbing down the middle of the tongue that the laces go through in order to keep the tongue from sliding around while hiking. Per the website the sole has a lug depth of 3 mm, this seems shallow to me comparing them to other trail running shoes I have used in the past. The shoes to no have a removable insole, but instead are designed to be worn with or without socks. The heel had a loop to assist with slipping the shoe on.
IMAGE 2
The sole and its 3 mm lugs
IMAGE 3
Top and side view

TRYING IT OUT

So far I have just worn them barefoot around the house to test them. I was impressed with how lightweight they are. I have been wearing lightweight trail runners or approach shoes instead of hiking boots for years, so I was pleased with how light these shoes feel on my feet.
IMAGE 4
The side seam and attached insole.

Since these shoes are designed to be worn with or without socks, I tried them without socks. I don't think that I will plan to wear them without socks in the future. The area over the toes rubbed a bit over my toes and the top of my foot when I walked. Additionally there is a side seam that seems like it would rub my arch raw if I walked any great distance barefoot in these shoes. This seam attaches the additional heel padding to the mesh outer layer of the shoe. Also, it seems that the seam is glued as I could not see stitching on the outside of the shoe. It looks like the padding is already starting to separate from the mesh upper. It will be interesting to see if this causes blisters on longer hikes and if it stands up to long term wear.

I did like the way the heel seems to cup my heel. There seemed to me good arch support, a nice heel cup, and decent sole thickness through the midsole. The sole at the toes and ball of the foot did not seem as thick as it was at the heel or midsole. The soles are very flexible, which I like since I enjoy barefoot and minimalist shoes. I do wonder how much protection these shoes will offer in the deserts of the American Southwest, with its cacti, thorn trees, and sharp rocks.

SUMMARY

Things I like so far:
* Lightweight
* Nice heel cup
* Breathable mesh upper - a major plus in the desert!
* Nice color (Majolica Blue), I'd proudly wear these shoes out with jeans.

Things I'll be watching during testing:
* Are they durable? Does the mesh hold up to sandstone and off-trail hiking?
* Does the mesh offer enough foot protection while backpacking?
* Does the extra padding stay attached to the mesh outer?
* With only 3 mm deep lugs, do they provide enough traction while hiking?
* How well do the laces hold up?
* Can I actually, comfortably hike in these shoes without socks as advertised on the Chaco website?


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

When: April 2015
Length: Day Trip
Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona
Mileage: ~9 miles (14.5 km)
Conditions: Cool (~65 F/18 C) and sunny

When: April 2015
Length: 2 days/1 night
Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona
Mileage: 18 miles/29 km
Elevation gain: 1,500 ft (457 m)
Conditions: Cool (65 F/18 C to 45 F/7 C) and sunny

When: May 2015
Length: 3 days/2 nights
Location: Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Mileage: ~30 miles/48 km
Conditions: Cool and rainy - the whole trip! (65 F/18 C to 45 F/7 C with some humidity from all the rain)
IMAGE 1
Front view of shoes while hiking on Utah sandstone

IMAGE 3
Side view while hiking



IMAGE 4
Hiking on sandstone ramps

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The first time I wore this shoes was for a hike to the base of a 1,000 ft (305 m) rock needle and the subsequent climb and scramble to the top. The total distance traveled was roughly 9 miles (14.5 km), with about 6 miles (9.6 km) on a well maintained trail, 2 miles (3.2 km) where off trail hiking to the base of the scramble/climbing section, and about a mile (1.6 km) of scrambling and climbing to reach the top. I enjoyed the lightness of the shoes on this hike and airy mesh uppers. During the off trail sections, the airy mesh allowed cactus needles and burrs from the wheat-like grass to poke my feet, necessitating many stops to remove the irritating needles and burrs from my shoes and socks. Overall, I was happy with the grip of soles during all aspects of this trip. We did some 4th class scrambling, which means we used ropes for safety, but still stayed in normal hiking shoes. I felt that the shoes provided good grip while climbing, better than the hard-soled hiking boots a friend wore on this trip. The shoes did show wear after this first trip, with some abrasions over the small toe area of the shoe. This reinforces my concern that the mesh upper may not hold up well to the rough, off-trail hiking that I enjoy.

The second trip for the shoes was a two-day backpacking trip on a well maintained trail. My feet were comforted the whole hike and I did not get blisters. For this backpacking trip I estimate my pack weight at about 30 lb (13.6 kg) at the start of the trip.

The third trip for these shoes was a three-day backpacking trip in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. This trip has several off trail sections that involved walking down steep sandstone ramps and rock scrambling to get into and out of several, mostly dry, stream beds in the bottom of canyons. The grip on these shoes was excellent! There were a few steps that I had to take on a 6 in (15 cm) wide, sloped ledge that had a ~200 ft (61 m) drop on one side and rock wall on the other. While this was not my favorite part of the trip, I didn't worry about my shoes slipping on the sloped ledge. While making my way down the steep, sandstone ramps that had angles in excess of 45 degrees, these shoes stuck to the sandstone! At the end of this trip, my feet were blister-free and happy. These shoes did get damp on this hike, but due to relatively low humidity in Utah, they dried quickly.
IMAGE 2
Worn mesh after the third hike

I have worn a mix of double-layer, thin synthetic socks and medium-weight wool socks. For me, both socks have worked well with these shoes.

The shoes do look pretty well worn despite having less than 100 miles (161 km) on them. I have a wear spot on the inside of the left shoe that looks like it has worn part way through the mesh upper. Additionally, the sole is started to peel away a little on the toe of the left shoe. Only about an 1/8 of an inch (~ 0.5 cm) or so at this time, but still for shoes that have less than 100 miles on them, this is not promising for long term durability. I will admit that I may have been harder on the shoes than many hikers are due to a fair amount of off-trail hiking and rock scrambling done in two of the three trips they have been on.

SUMMARY

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the shoes. They have great grip and I have been comfortable in them crossing exposed, narrow ledges and on high angle sandstone slab ramps. I have not had a single blister or noticeable hot spot and they required no break in period. Additionally, they do dry quickly when damp which is a plus on multi-day trips.

With less the 100 miles (161 km) on the shoes, the mesh uppers are showing some serious wear around the toe box. The soles are not showing much wear other than slight peeling around the left toe.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Flagstaff, Arizona USA
When: July 2015
Length: 2 days of day hikes
Day 1:
Mileage: 3 miles/4.8 km
Elevation gain: Minimal
Weather: Sunny and warm (~85 F/30 C)
Trail Conditions: Flat well-maintained trail with some cinders in patches, with some fun, optional scrambling at the end.
Day 2:
Mileage: ~2 miles/3.2 km
Elevation gain: Minimal
Weather: Rainy outside and cool ( and dry in the tube (~45 F/7 C)
Trail Conditions: The hike was on a well groomed path to a lava tube which was all slick rocks, boulders, and loose rocks.

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
When: August 2015
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: 18 miles 29 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft/2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Weather: Hot and sunny (High: ~95 F/35 C, Low: 80 F/27 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail, dry and dusty with some cobble stone areas.

Lila Lake, Snoqualmie Region, Washington, USA
When: August 2015
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: 11.0 miles/17.7 km
Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft/853 m
Highest Point: 5,400 ft/1,646 m
Weather: Warm and mostly sunny with an overnight shower (High: ~80 F/27C, Low: 50 F/10 C)
Trail Conditions: Well-maintained, mostly dry and dusty, with patches of talus and some marshy trail.

Baldy Loop, Eastern Arizona, USA
When: August 2015
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: 17 miles/27.4 km
Trailhead Elevation: 9,394 ft/2,863 m
Elevation Gain: 2,250 ft/686 m
Accumulated Gain: 2,880 ft/878 m
Weather: Rain for the first few hours at the start, then warm and mostly sunny for the rest of the hike (High: ~80 F/27C, Low: 50 F/10 C).
Trail conditions: A mix of rain water covered trail (about 1 in/2.5 cm of water at times), and dry and rocky. Overall, the trail was well-maintained.

IMAGE 1
Shoes after 4 months of testing
IMAGE 2
Worn sides

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

For the day hikes in Flagstaff, I decided to try the shoes without socks since the hikes were short. I did carry a pair of socks in my backpack in case I started to develop hot spots or the shoes rubbed. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not develop hot spots and the shoes were comfortable without socks. Overall, I don't like wearing shoes without socks, but it is good to know that if I forget my socks, my feet will survive in the Chacos without them.

For the Grand Canyon hike, I did notice that my knees seemed to be more sore than normal after this hike. I carried very light overnight packs (about 10 lb/ 4.5 kg) on that trip, so pack weight was not a factor. The Chacos' soles are less cushioned, more of a stiff rubber sole than other trail runners I have used for the 7 7 mile/11.2 km trek to the bottom of the Canyon. A week later, hiking to Lila Lake, I again noticed on the way down my knees seemed sorer than on past hikes. Overall, the sore knees seemed to be tied to hikes with lots of elevation loss in a relatively short distance.

On the Mount Baldy hike the shoes got totally soaked between 2 hours of rain and walking through a marshy meadow with pools of water hidden by the tall grass. Once the sun came out in the late afternoon, I put the shoes in the sun to dry and also stored them in the tent vestibule at night. I was somewhat disappointed that the shoes were not fully dry by mid-morning when it was time to put them back on. To be fair, it was quite humid due to the recent rain and camping in a marshy area by a stream. When I put them on with dry socks, the shoes were dry enough that my feet didn't feel wet.

SUMMARY

IMAGE 3
Close-up of the wear
IMAGE 4
Soles after 4 months
Overall, these shoes did not hold up well to my hiking style. I tend towards longer hikes with off-trail sections with rough and abrasive terrain. At the end of 4 months of use, I would not take the shoes on another trip longer than overnight or on a trip that involves off-trail segments. The uppers around my toe on the sides on the shoes are well-worn and thin. I do not think it would take much additional wear on the sides of the shoes to create holes in the uppers. There is some minimal wear to the soles, but still some tread left. The inside of the shoes has held up well, there are no holes or rubbed spots. Additionally, despite my initial concern about the thin laces, they are still in excellent shape and there is little sign of wear on them.

Pros:
* Light Weight
* Breathable and airy
* Can be worn without socks
* Sticks well to sandstone

Cons:
* Not durable to off trail hiking
* Soles are not very cushioned
* Toes starting to delaminate

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and Chaco for allowing me to hit the trails over the past months in the Outcross Evo 3s!

This concludes this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Kara Stanley

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Chaco OutCross Evo 3 Trail Shoes > Test Report by Kara Stanley



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