If you’re going trekking in sweltering weather or hiking the Appalachian Trail and may encounter water crossings, you may switch out your hiking boots for a pair of hiking sandals.
Is it right that sandals can be suitable for hiking? Before finding the answer or you decide to grab a pair of Chaco’s, make sure you have the proper pair because you need a solid grip to avoid slipping on the trail.
You require a footbed that does not cause your feet to slide around or feel slimy when wet, as well as one that is pleasant and provides adequate support.
In our guide, you can learn more about Chaco sandals for hiking and if they are suitable for your needs. By the end, you’ll find out if they make great trail runners, or wearing the best hiking sandals with socks isn’t your thing. Either way, you’ll know the answer to can you hike in Chaco’s? (Read Are Timberlands Good For Hiking)
Are Chaco’s Good for Hiking?
Few brands and products in the outdoor sector elicit the same emotional response as Chaco sandals, and the Chaco Z1 Classic updates what you already know.
Whether you connect Chaco Z with kayakers, hikers, festivalgoers, or others, the brand’s reputation for durability, comfort, style, easy to repair, and grip has kept it a leader in the sandal category.
Chaco sandals are noted for their insanely comfortable webbing, which is used on all of their footwear. The Chaco Z Classic is the most iconic with no toehold, a single strap, and the trademarked LUVSEAT midsole.
The Chaco Z1 is a classic hiking sandal, as the name suggests, yet has seen a redesigned ChacoGrip sole which is noted for exceptional comfort, grip, and durability. These sandals are great for hiking, crossing rivers, and walking around town.
The question is, are they the best hiking sandals you can find and are they suitable for long hikes such as the length of the Pacific Northwest Trail?
Here you can find more details of what makes them the best sandals in many people’s eyes.
Pros of Hiking in Sandals
Your feet will be encased in socks and shoes all day if you wear boots or trail runners. You won’t be able to avoid foot sweat no matter how breathable your shoes are. Blisters result from wet feet combined with friction, and blisters result in a terrible trip.
Your feet may breathe and benefit from a breeze and the sun to keep them dry when wearing sandals. While hotspots, where straps rub on your feet, can still occur, it’s far easier to avoid them in sandals.
Adjusting the straps on your foot can assist, and we have some athletic tape on hand to act as a cushion between hotspots and straps to prevent blisters.
The more weight you have on your back, the more energy it takes to carry it. That portion is straightforward. However, the weight you carry on your feet is significantly more significant.
Weight on your feet consumes 4-6 times the energy that weight on your back consumes. So, switching a 3-pound pair of boots for a 1-pound pair of sandals will save you 8-12 pounds in energy.
There will be no more taking off your shoes and socks before crossing a river. No more securing them to your pack and then sitting on the opposite side of the pack to dry your feet and re-lace your shoes and socks. You can trek right through any body of water in sandals and feel rejuvenated on the other side! (Find the Best Hiking Watches)
One of the favorite aspects of trekking in sandals is the ability to immerse your toes in cool streams. To avoid hot spots, keep a small pack towel nearby to dab extra water off your feet on the opposite side, but the sun and outside air will typically dry your feet very quickly.
It’s easier to get rid of tiny stones and dirt stuck in your shoe – You know how you’re hiking along, minding your own business, and then you feel the tiniest rock in your shoe? You believe you can hike through it, but you know you’ll soon have to sit down, remove your shoe, and get rid of the annoyance.
With sandals, all it takes is a good foot shake or a correctly placed finger between the toes to dislodge the pesky little rock. Although wearing sandals will get more pebbles caught beneath your foot, the difference is that they will fall out of your sandal as quickly as they enter.
Downsides of Hiking in Sandals
Sand and Water: Sandal straps can be rough, and while they are less prone to causing blisters, there is one caveat. If you’re hiking in areas such as those that are sandy, or particularly a mix of both, you can notice hotspots on your feet.
Water mixed with sand can convert sandal straps into sandpaper, which can be very uncomfortable. After river crossings, it is best to blot your feet dry using a pack towel and keeping a roll of athletic tape handy to deal with such hotspots, which develop, so they don’t grow into blisters.
Toe Protection: Exposed toes mean you can wiggle them at your pleasure and get out stuck objects; however, they are exposed to potential hazards. The sun, loose rocks, thorns, poison ivy, the cold, and snakes make up the more common things your feet are exposed to when wearing Chaco’s. You can, however, reduce the hazards when hiking in sandals.
Foot Relief: Bring foot cream with a high SPF sunscreen protection. Also, after a long day, it helps to pack in some moisturizing foot cream to stop your feet from feeling too dry or after you have spent some time around water.
Rocks: One of the worst pains you can feel while hiking in sandals is accidentally kicking large rocks, either with your toe or kicking one into the back of your heel. Hiking shoes and running shoes protect against this, but unfortunately, it is one thing you have to be careful of when hiking in Chaco’s or Xero Shoes on rocky terrain.
Wear Socks: The fear of cold feet is one of the most common concerns about hiking in sandals. You can avoid this easily by wearing Chaco’s with socks. For mildly chilly hikes, pack in some wool socks. Hiking socks can differ based on your types of sandals, such as wearing socks with a toe loop may be a challenge.
Why Chaco’s Are The Worst?
- No need for separate water-crossing shoes
- Durable heel cup with good support
- Comfortable, secure webbing
- Very good arch support
- Possible toe-stubbing
- Blister-prone strap system
- Foot sunburn
You might wonder what’s wrong with the Chaco’s hiking sandal, as the flagship product is among the best available. They’re highly durable, but Chaco’s’ true strength lies in the straps, which only run over the fleshiest regions of the foot, avoiding bones, pressure points, moving parts, and so on. (Find the Best Hiking Pants For Men)
They do an excellent job of avoiding the more sensitive spots, which is why some users boast of being able to wear them for up to 12 hours at once and are suitable for a thru-hike.
In comparison, 99 percent of all other brands of sandals have a strap crossing the shin and the instep, which is quite painful. However, certain users may experience the following vexing but easily fixable issues:
Taking them off your feet after a long day in the sun releases one of the foulest scents known to man. The sweat between the sole and the footbed creates an entire ecosystem of nasty microbes. Adding an antibacterial solution to the footbed can quickly remedy this issue. If you’re concerned about the environment, there are lots of options available.
They’re made for challenging hikes and offer great support. Yet when you wear your first pair and get through the quick break-in, you will find them heavier than other brands of sandals.
Fewer firm straps may be welcomed. While Chaco’s can’t move much once applied, a few locations might use a touch less abrasive; however, some users use them for rock climbing, so that it would be a personal choice.
Is It Bad to Hike in Sandals?
Hiking in the summer in boots might result in sweaty feet due to the heat generated and trapped inside the boots.
So, many wonder if they should wear hiking sandals on trails in warmer weather.
There are several factors to consider before making the transfer. The taller hiking boots guard against sprains. Is it sensible to use hiking sandals on lengthy hikes?
Wearing hiking sandals on the route poses no significant safety issues. Some ankle support is lost, but if you don’t stumble, this isn’t a problem.
What To Consider Before Buying
- Is it closed or open toe? Open-toe hiking sandals are only suitable for light hiking on terrain with pebbles and other debris that could hurt your toes.
- Need strong or medium arch support? Some brands provide more arch support than others, so know what your foot needs.
- Do you require shock absorption? Look for sandals with ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or foam midsoles for a more leisurely hike where you won’t feel every bump in the route with each step.
- Keep an eye on the fit! If your feet swell or you plan to wear socks and sandals alternately, ensure that your sandals can accept these changes without being too tight on your feet. Chaco’s don’t offer a half size yet have a standard and wide fitting.
- What’s the status of the sole? You’ll need a sandal with thick bottoms, like the Vibram soles in Keen sandals, so that you won’t feel every rock on the trail.
- How quickly do you want dry feet? For the fastest drying, choose a pair with rubber soles and synthetic uppers if you plan on doing a lot of hiking through creeks.
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is: can you go on long hikes in sandals? The short answer is 100% yes, even though there are many opinions on hiking footwear.
You can find as many wearing hiking boots as those wearing sandals on a thru-hike along the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.
You’ll find many who claim proper hiking footwear are boots and that any person wearing a trail running shoe or less is foolish. Sandals fall to the side of the group who claim hiking barefoot-like ancestors is how we are supposed to travel.
It comes down to finding footwear that is comfortable and supportive thick soles with good traction for difficult terrain. When you have worn Chaco’s, you’ll find Chaco offers sandals that cover all areas and do it well. (Find the Best Baby Carrier For Hiking)
Chaco’s Z/2 has a toe strap. Some people appreciate these, while others prefer the Z/1 and prefer to keep their big toe free. For stream crossings, the toe strap adds extra security and provides a bit more foot-to-sandal touch.
The Z/Cloud series takes the LUVSEAT footbed and adds an extra layer to the PU midsole for comfortable feet on long treks.
Some trails need toe protection, and it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the Chaco feel.