Wednesday, August 6, 2014

BAD Gear: Chaco Z2 Z/2

It's been a while since I reviewed a personal item. So today I will review my favourite pair of sandals: Chaco Z2. In fact I've given up on other types of sandals or outdoor hi-venting shoe including Keens. I'll go into that later. I won't even talk about Crocs. pphhhhhh

I bought this pair of sandals in 2011 and its still going strong. The webbing straps are just now starting to fray at the edges (nothing a lighter couldn't fix). I've just re-soled them with another set of Vibrams, thereby saving money on a new pair of sandals and supporting a local cobbler (oh yeah, I'm probably being environmentally friendly be recycling, reusing, and reducing).

I paid $95 for a pair of these back in 2011 at VPO . I had them resoled including labour was about $50.

The original Z2 soles are Vibrams and feature a deep lug grip. The foot-bed is contoured and provides support for those with pronation. I wear custom orthotics in work boots and exercise sneakers, but for sandals I was very hard-pressed to find anything remotely supporting my bad genetics...until I discovered Chaco Z2's.

There are different models of Chacos ranging from Z1 (open toe) to Fathom (traditional) to Updraft (raised heels for the short guy). I chose the Z2 because I found I needed the stability and forefoot control the wrap-around toe loop gives me. It also features custom adjustment webbing straps that dries fast and maintains a consistent fit.

I've travelled all over the tropical and desert world with this pair and it is a very reliable and rugged. The original out-sole was a Vibram TC-1 rubber which featured a 4-5mm lug depth and was high traction (including wet) and self-cleaning as well as being non-marking. The grip is exactly what is needed from difficult trekking to multi-sport. Because of its thinness, the feedback is communicative about grip and geometry of terrain thereby prevents slipping and tripping. I find that these soles are a better compromise between performance and comfort than Keens.

The new soles also being Vibram, I am expecting the same type of performance I have with my previous soles. There was a requirement to fill in some areas at the heel where I had worn right through the outsole and into the mid-sole. All in all I haven't noticed any performance degradation in my testing of wet traction, and long'ish hikes.

The new soles seem to be performing just fine, and although the out-sole lugs are differently shapes, I am still quite happy with them.

Now the reasons I really like this as compared to other sport sandals, is because I have options for quick in and out. I don't have to utilize all the straps, I don't even need to put my toe in.

I've tried wearing Keens, and although they are a great sandal/shoe, I find that when wet, there's too much friction. Also the webbing starts to stink. And I don't like to whole covered toes thing. Keens do fulfil another type of market, but for what I do, the Chaco's are just fine. Also, Keens, don't offer me that contoured foot-bed, and I found my feet tired and ached due to lack of support for pronation.

Now my kids, they were Keens. I'll probably do write-up about Keen Kids shoes later, but for my Bad Ass Kids, Keens are sufficient. They don't slip off easily, they provide wet/dry interface traction, as well as good cushioning at all-day or multi-day affairs such as Disney, or Cuba, or Mexico, or even at home. For myself however, I prefer the Chacos

In terms of terrain and geography, these sandals have handled everything from white sandy beaches in the tropics, to basaltic lava rocks, to shit-covered rocks in Nigerian streams. I think I even went through some sort of rainforest with them. I know for sure I've climbed a comms tower with them. Did I mention these work perfectly on land and submerged underwater?

One thing to note, if you are travelling, is that they do have a bit of weight to them, about 2lbs for the pair vs 1lb12oz for a pair of Keens. We're talking about 4oz extra of booze you can't put in your carry-on's amenities kit.

Another thing to note, that is a plus, is that the webbing itself is a polyester material, not a nylon, which makes it super fast to dry, and polyester is doesn't present with  much friction when wet, unlike nylon webbing uppers found in the Keens.

So, about the webbing straps. I think it is actually constructed out of one length of webbing for the top that loops in and out of the mid-sole and uses a buckle for cinching. the back heel straps is a separate length. How you "customize" the fit, is to tug each exposed strap starting at the front and working your way to the back (like shoe laces), until you get a snug fit. You pull on the buckle to tighten everything up.

It really is an infinitely adjustable system because it uses this pull-through design to secure the fit without the necessary bulk of extra buckles and straps.

Seems pretty darn easy. Once it's set, it stays in place because of friction within the rubber midsole. To loosen I just have to release some tension from the buckle and I can easily slip my feet out.

These are also machine washable, or even better find a brush, some baking soda and some water. The open-air design really does enable me to clean these sandals more effectively than a close-toe design.

The last comment I want to make is the contouring of the foot-bed. It's what Chaco calls a BioCentric design with moulded arches that offer extra support, reliable stability, pronation control and all-day comfort. All of which are very true and I have proven it. In fact, it carries the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association - which probably means that it's good for you - just like fluoride toothpaste is endorsed by dentists.

So, some things I don't like, nothing really. Weight can be an issue if you are approaching that weight limit threshold for carry-on. They still will get stinky if you trudge in seawater, so will every other shoe, but this is by far the easiest to clean and quickest to dry.

So yes, every bad ass dad should have a pair of Chaco sandals. Because Bad Ass Dads don't let Bad Ass Dads wear Crocs.


Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.