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BACKPACKER Gear 360 Review
How much do you trust your sandals? How far are you ready to push them? Could they take you somewhere more exciting than just beach day or a BBQ? Probably not; the ultralight, ultraplush chassis of most models usually offers little in the way of support and traction. That’s where Chaco’s Z/Chromatic—a brightly colored version of the Z/1 Classic, which we gave an Editors’ Choice Award to in 2018 for its impressive hiking chops—sets itself apart. The difference is apparent the moment you put the sandal on: it is substantial. The PU midsole’s structure wouldn’t be out of place under a lightweight hiking boot, and it has ample arch support and a stiff feel that improves stability and lessens fatigue in the toes. The rubber outsole is also substantial, with 3.5-millimeter tread depth and the width of an average running shoe. Consequently, the Z/Chromatic is plenty stable.
“I didn’t think twice about wearing it on an impromptu hike up a shaley wash in California’s Big Tujunga Canyon to catch an elusive Los Angeles-area waterfall,” one tester says. “It gave me all the underfoot security I needed on the scrambly approach.” There are some tradeoffs: Our tester would have preferred an independent strap adjustment at the forefoot (others liked the system just fine, though). This is also a relatively heavy sandal, and for long hikes perhaps a bit much for clipping onto your pack to use as a camp shoe. But for dayhikes, paddling trips, car camping, or yes, even a beach day or BBQ, the Z/Chromatic will get the job done.
Active Pass Member Review: Debbie Turner
I love how the straps adjust within the sole versus above the toes and ankle as in other sandals I’ve worn. While the arch is a bit much for my foot, it definitely provides plenty of support. The straps are comfortable and do not rub, chafe, or bite into my skin. The sole is tough, and provided a comfortable grip on large gravel and uneven terrain in both wet and dry weather conditions. I would easily wear this sandal on paddling trips for getting in and out and transitioning from water to dry land.