Recently, it has become common to see people ditching hiking boots for trail runners and even sandals.
And as there are many benefits to hiking in sandals, many brands and styles focus on one feature or the other.
If you are new to hiking, you may be more open to considering sandals over boots than more traditional hikers. Consider the pros and cons of hiking in sandals to gauge your decision.
Chacos are one of the most popular brands of hiking sandals in the hiking world today. Their support and comfort are the most common among their many appealing features. Additionally, they are the most breathable footwear to hike with, and it is easier to wade through water in them. However, there are some downsides to this seemingly great option.
This article will address all there is to know about hiking in Chacos – the pros, the cons, and the best Chaco styles you can hike in.
Is Chacos Good for Hiking?
According to many pro-hikers, Chacos are suitable for hiking. It is essential to consider the pros and cons of hiking in Chacos to make an informed decision.
#1. Pros of Hiking in Chacos
Hiking in Chacos gives your feet room to breathe on hot, sweaty, rainy, muddy days.
No matter what, it is relieving to know that your feet will not be stuck in boots throughout your hike.
One of the primary benefits of good, breathable hiking footwear is that it reduces the chances of blisters due to foot friction.
#2. Water crossing
For two reasons, it is easier to cross water bodies in sandals than in boots. First, it takes less time to dry sandals than boots.
Secondly, you can keep your sandals on whenever you want to cross a water body.
It is also easier to clean mud off your sandals than from boots or trail runners – no matter how waterproof they may be.
#3. Durability & Design
As a great brand, Chaco is one of the most durable footwear you can own. With proper care, they can last for about seven to ten years.
There are two unique features of the Chaco design. The first is it provides firm support to your foot arch.
While the second is that these sandals taper upwards around the edges. This tapering helps to help keep out small stones and dirt from your feet as you hike.
And even though these objects manage to get into the sandals, it is much easier to get them out than if you were in hiking boots.
Furthermore, the sole’s bottom has a jagged tread style that makes it suitable for rough and rocky terrains.
Different models have different weights. The lightest is Chaco Z1 Classic weighing about 420 grams per sandal. Other models usually fall within a bracket of 500 to 800 grams.
#2. Cons of Hiking in Chacos
#1. No proper ankle protection
One benefit of hiking boots is that they have high cuffs around the ankles to protect them during a hike.
They help to reduce the chance of you rolling or spraining your ankles when you go on rough and uneven terrains.
With hiking sandals like Chacos, there is no such protection. The alternative would be to exercise more caution as you hike and to wear boots when you go on daunting trails.
#2. Proper feet protection
Sandals do not offer the kind of protection boots or trail runners offer. So even if you put on socks, your feet will still be exposed to different dangers.
Some dangers are pebbles, cold, sunburns, snakes, and other insects. With this in mind, you must consider specific preventive strategies to keep your feet safe.
For example, you should apply good sunscreen to the exposed parts of your feet to avoid sunburn.
You can also invest in good hiking socks, which will form a protective barrier from the sun and pebbles.
Furthermore, it is best to keep an eye out for snakes and other dangerous animals to avoid interacting with them at all. This tip is valid even when you are putting on hiking boots.
#3. Possible abrasion
While the chances of developing blisters are lesser while wearing sandals, it is still possible, especially in highly wet or sandy areas.
Either of these elements can rub against your skin when they catch in the straps leading to a significant amount of discomfort and, with time, blisters.
You can remedy this by using athletic tape to protect the hotspots on your feet.
Can You Do Long Hikes in Chacos?
Many hikers do complete thru-hikes in Chacos. This goes a long way to endorse the fact that you can do long hikes in Chacos.
However, it would help if you took proper care of your feet to prevent blistering.
Additionally, it would help if you noted some essential tips before embarking on that hike with your Chacos – irrespective of the length.
- Buy and wear your correct sandal size.
- Break into your Chacos by wearing them for short periods at different intervals.
- Adjust the straps of your sandals to your comfort.
- Wear hiking socks and use athletic tapes when and where necessary
Which Chaco Style is Best for Hiking?
Chaco sandals vary on different bases.
There are open-toe variants like Chaco Z1, which are easy to wear with socks, and toe strap variants like the Chaco Z, which aid foot control, especially on trail descent.
There are also variations in colors, soft padding, sole grip styles, materials, and dual straps. So, the choice comes down to your preference.
But below is a table showing some of the best Chaco styles and some of their features.
|Chaco Z1||Open-toe, simple, rugged, adjustable, and comfortable.|
|Chaco Z2||Similar to Chaco Z1 but with a big toe strap for dexterity.|
|Chaco ZX||Similar to Chaco Z1 but with a dual strap system.|
|Chaco Z Cloud||Additional soft footbed layer for comfort.|
|Chaco Z Volv||They are lighter than other Chaco classics.|
Can You Hike the Narrow Trails in Chacos?
While it is possible to wear Chacos while you hike through the Narrow trails, professionals recommend wearing waterproof boots instead.
Wearing Chacos will only expose you to many discomforts, as the Narrows involve many water crossings.
For example, you may experience discomfort from pebbles stuck between your feet and the sandals.
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