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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Chaco Canyonland Mid > Test Report by Andrew Buskov


Canyonland FrontChaco Canyonland Mid Shoes
Chaco's mid ankle hiking shoes
Andrew Buskov

Initial Report: August 17, 2008
Field Report - October 12, 2008
Long Term Report - December 12, 2008


Tester Biographical Information

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 217 lbs (98 kg)
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky  USA

Backpacking Background:

I started backpacking young, hiking various environments from the green mountains of the Appalachians to the barren desert of Arizona. I enjoy the solitude of deep backcountry and prefer colder weather and snow. I’m moving toward becoming a light weight hiker, but still prefer a tent or enclosed hammock. My goal is to get my pack weight between 15 to 20 lbs (6 and 9 kg), but right now I'm hovering around 25 lbs (11 kg). Additional information about the author can be found at http://www.corridor9.net.

Product Information:

Canyonland Left
Item: Chaco Canyonland Mid Shoes
Manufacturer: Chaco
Website http://www.chacousa.com
Year of Manufacture: 2008
MSRP: $110.00
Listed Weight:N/A
Actual Weight:2 lb 8.5 oz
Size:US 11
Color: Burl (Also available in Oxide)

Product Overview:

The Canyonland Mid is Chaco's only current mid height shoe. Chaco advertises that all their shoes feature a wrap construction with quick dry, abrasion-resistant material and a multifunctional Getagrip outsole. In addition, the Canyonland Mid includes a removable BioCentric footbed, a high friction outsole, and a dual-zone marathon lacing system for terrain-specific adjustability.

Also listed on Chaco's website are the following features:
  • Abrasion-resistant Construction
  • Compression-molded EVA midsole
  • 360 Rand
  • Synthetic Microfiber

Initial Impression:

Defect and Glue2These Chaco Canyonland Mid shoes arrived in a standard cardboard shoe box, in good condition, and with all pieces. Also included inside the box were a hangtag attached to one of the lace holes and a receipt from Chaco. They have a low profile look to them as well as a rounded heel. That, coupled with the leather that encapsulates the front and sides of the shoe, makes them look just like a pair of wrestling shoes.

 Upon opening the box, I weighed the boots as usual, then proceeded to look them over for defects and imperfections. I was very surprised at the amount of defects I found. Immediately I noticed a number of spots with glue on them; what appeared to be places where someone had glue on their fingers and touched the boots. In addition to the "glue fingerprints" I found one area in particular that had an excess of glue. This caused the leather to bulge over the glue and formed a rather nasty looking imperfection. You can see in the picture above how the leather forms a sharp ridge instead of a nice smooth line like on the other boot.

Scratched HooksMoving on to the interior of the Chaco Canyonland Mid I found that the insole comes out easily. While this seems to be a plus, I noticed that the insole seems to shift around inside the boot while walking. There is a visible gap between the lateral side of the insole and the shoe. It doesn't seem to fit in the shoe as tight as it should and this appears to be what is causing the insole to slip inside the shoe. I also notice some scratches on the lace hooks at the top of both boots. While this is likely to happen over an extended time due to use, it was a bit disappointing to have these scratches on a new set of boots. Because of these scratches, I have already caught some threads from the laces and feel that the laces are being exposed to wear prematurely.

More Excess GlueOne of the things that struck me as different was the high arch in the insole. When I purchased my previous shoes, notorious for having a low arch design, I found it hard to adjust after coming from a whole life of wearing shoes with moderate arches. Trying on the Chaco Canyonland Mid shoes was equally strange. There was such a high arch that it almost hurt to walk in them. I had to wear them while sitting for a bit just to get used to the arch before I could walk in them without feeling the discomfort that I initially felt. Even after wearing them for a while, it was still a bit strange wearing them up and down stairs as the arch prevented the natural movement of my foot while climbing and descending.

As it stands now, I don't consider it safe to hike in these for an extended period of time without a second pair of shoes. I will definitely have to spend time wearing these around town and while dayhiking to get them broken in and feel out how they will wear on my feet. I also foresee my foot changing and conforming to the high arch over the testing period. I can only hope that my feet don't have too much trouble conforming back to my low arch hiking shoes after the life of the test.

Lacing HolesThe Chaco website notes how these shoes have a marathon style lacing system. However, I can not for the life of me figure out how the two holes in the plastic piece work. You can see in the picture to the left that there are two different style holes. The one closest to the sole of the shoe is circular in shape, but the one closest to the tongue actually appears to be a locking style lace hole. I have figured out how the locking laces work and find them to be very useful in adjusting different tensions around the top of the foot and the ankle area. However,  any lacing configurations that might use the center hole have me stumped. I will likely call Chaco sometime in the future, if I can not figure out how to lace these with the bottom hole, and figure out how they intended the hole to be used.

Summary:

Having worn these only a few days, I am reluctant to guesstimate how these will work for me on the trail. During those few days though I have found these shoes to be uncomfortable, and difficult to adjust to. I also found that when transiting back to my normal pair of shoes, the arches of my feet hurt.  I feel that the shoes are well constructed even though there are more than a few defects. It honestly appears as if the shoes were not handled properly and that is where a majority of the glue came from. I will definitely be watchful for material separations and problems with blisters due to the movement of the insole.

I would like to thank Chaco and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test the Chaco Canyonland Mid shoes.

Field Report - October 12, 2008

Field Locations:

I was able to use the Chaco Canyonland Mid shoes roughly 6 times during various dayhikes. Most of my testing occurred in the 20 a (8 ha) forest area behind my house due to my hesitation to take these on longer dayhikes. The elevation is roughly 400 ft (122 m) with about 75 ft (22 m) elevation change thanks to the smooth rolling hills. I was also able to use these on day trips to the Pennyrile State Resort Park area of the Pennyrile State Forrest, a 14,000 a (5600 ha) section of forest that has roughly 23 mi (37 km) of trails.  The elevation for the area is between 400 -700 ft (122 - 213 m). The temperature for most of my trips was around 80 F (27 C) with no precipitation. The humidity during these trips was high though till our dry spell this past few weeks.

Performance:

Throughout the past few months, I've had the opportunity to get out into the woods more and more. Starting with little nature hikes in the wooded area behind my house, and progressing to local dayhiking loops. Getting away for those few hours has finally become a bit easier. This has given me the chance to test the Canyonland Mids a bit more, and develop a better understanding of how the shoes wear on my feet.

As stated in my previous report, I was extremely hesitant about wearing these in the woods due to the way they were absolutely painful to wear. Initially I thought about getting new insoles to alleviate the problem I was having with the BioCentric footbed and the high arch it contained. While I still may get a new set of insoles, I decided that I wanted to test these throughout the Field Report phase to get a better idea of how they wear. I also wanted to see how my foot would adjust over a period of time to a different configuration of boot.

In all honesty, they are still painful to wear although I have been able to stand them a bit more over time. When I began wearing these it felt like I was standing with my arch on top of a 1 in (2.4 cm) dowel rod while trying to touch both my heel and the ball of my foot to the ground. It just hurt. Now though, it isn't as painful. While it still hurts for long periods of time, it is more of a discomfort walking in these. However, as everyone knows, having uncomfortable shoes for any length of trip doesn't promote an enjoyable experience. I have found that the insole settled into the boot a bit more and the shifting of the insole while walking has ceased.

I've now found that while the arch is the most prominent area that causes me pain, there are some spots that rub and have caused minor blisters around the heel, ankle, and toe areas. While these shoes aren't broken in to the extent of my other hiking boots, I believe that they should have passed the threshold where blisters would occur. In addition, I wouldn't normally mention blisters in a report due to the fact that they are really a natural occurrence on the trail. However, if I recall correctly, in the past 4 years of hiking I have had a total of three blisters. Two of them came from these boots, while the other was caused by the plastic wearing through the fabric in the heel area on a pair of worn out mid hiking shoes.

Now for some good news. I have found that the laces stay nice and tight due to their round design. I usually end up with my laces coming untied at least once during the day even though they are double knotted. However, the laces on the Chaco Canyonland Mid hikers have yet to come undone during any of my hiking experiences. I've also found that due to the design, they are easier to lace up now than most of the shoes that I have. I've also tried various configurations for using the second hole in the plastic piece, but have yet to find one that is quick while being more secure than any other lacing pattern. I've got quite a few patterns left to try though after finding a site dedicated to lacing patterns.

The scratched hooks haven't been a problem so far and have actually worn down a bit thanks to the constant use. Naturally all the plastic pieces have a few more scratches, but that hasn't begun fraying the laces yet as far as I have observed. The excessive glue hasn't worn off yet, but in my opinion that is a good thing. I would equate that to a strong bond between the sole and the upper section of the boot. No material separations have taken place yet, which is definitely a plus.

Let it be known that these shoes have not seen any water yet. It as been an exceptionally dry season here and most of the streams that I cross during my dayhikes have been almost completely dried up. As the fall weather, and thus cooler temperatures, is coming rapidly, I don't expect to have any problems finding a few watering holes to pounce around in to expose the Canyonland Mids to some wet environments.

I have had the experience of carrying a day pack and found that while I was actually carrying extra weight, my feet hurt the same as they did with no pack. The pack weighed roughly 10 lbs, so it wasn't that much in relation to body weight. This next testing period I have some longer trips planned which will require more equipment, and thus a heavier pack. I will document my experiences on these trips in the next reporting phase.

Long Term Report - December 12, 2008

Field Locations:

I was only able to use the Chaco Canyonland Mid's two additional times during the Long Term Report phase. Both of these were once again at the Pennyrile State Forest, a 14,000 a (5600 ha) section of forest that has roughly 23 mi (37 km) of trails.  The elevation for the area is between 400 -700 ft (122 - 213 m). There was a bit more water and mud this time around and I was able to test the boots in wetter conditions.

Performance:

Even though these boots are not water resistant in any fashion, I did test them in a wetter environment during this testing phase. I found exactly what I had thought; water seeped into these boots easily, and my feet were wet for the remainder of the hiking trip. I did note that the grip didn't get any worse during the wet conditions and actually held rather well on slipperly roots and slopes.

 The scratches on the hooks haven't seemed to cause any problems yet, nor has the excess glue seemed to be peeling off yet. I figure if glue that is exposed and excess isn't working its way off yet, maybe the soles will continue to hold rather well. I was able to get a bit more weight on these boots, roughly 15 lbs (6.8 kg) worth of pack weight, and didn't feel that much difference while walking. In short, I found these boots to be well constructed and good at handling the punishment I gave to them.

 That being said, I will never wear these boots again. They hurt my feet. I've tried 3 different insoles and can't find a good fit. Not only do they look like wrestling shoes, they wear like them as well. Actually, they wear more like a pair of Chuck Taylor All Star Converse. Without the stiffness from the  rather large arch of the standard insoles, these have no form at all and are almost completely flat.

I continued to receive blisters over the life of the test even though I thought the boots were rather well broken in. I also found that after wearing these for a period of time the other pairs of shoes I owned hurt my feet as well. It was almost like my feet were having to readjust to their normal shape. Any boot, shoe, or clog that causes the shape of my foot to "change" after being worn for 6-7 hours is not for me. I certainly would not recommend ordering these from any online outlet unless they have a good return policy.

Summary:

Positives:
Quality construction
Good hold on wet surfaces
Tight laced

Negatives:
They hurt and cause more blisters than other pairs I've owned
BioCentric footbed isn't comfortable

I'd like to thank Chaco and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Chaco Canyonland Mid Hikers.



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Read more gear reviews by Andrew Buskov

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Chaco Canyonland Mid > Test Report by Andrew Buskov



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