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Some of us prefer the road less traveled, but traditional sneakers don’t get the job done. They are too clunky and hot for many outdoor activities and unbearably uncomfortable for any water adventures. Chaco and Teva were created to solve this problem. These sandals secure the foot while allowing water to pass through and are perfect for any river guide, beach lover, or mountain goer. Chacos and Tevas are perfect for the true adventurer.
Which is Better? Chaco or Teva?
Chaco and Teva were both born from a river guide’s need for a better sandal, though Chacos are a little tougher and Tevas a little more casual and comfortable. Both brands are suitable for a day on the river, and when it comes to adventure sandal brands, there are none better.
Chaco’s webbing pulls through the midsole and over the foot, so the resulting fit is customized and secure. A strong buckle keeps the webbing locked in place. On the other hand, Teva opts for straps secured with velcro, but the fit isn’t as tailored to your foot.
Not that Chacos are particularly heavy, but Teva’s original is very lightweight. The tradeoff for a little extra weight is durability and ruggedness. All considered, we recommendChaco for most people, because their sandals are very versatile and will last for years. And if you plan on climbing over boulders or hiking across heavy streams, you will appreciate the brand’s rugged nature.
We recommend the following sandals, which we will explain more as part of the detailed reviews below.
Teva or Chaco? Comparison Table
Chaco and Teva both make a great pair of sandals for the active lifestyle, but they have distinct differences. And if you are genuinely looking for hiking sandals or footwear that might accommodate water sports, you need a serious sandal and should choose wisely.
Chaco Sandals Review
Geckos are known for their adaptability, so an image of a Gecko was chosen as the logo for Chaco. The active, outdoor sandals were designed to adapt to any environment. Chacos were originally designed by a rafting guide looking for more appropriate footwear. He needed sandals that would keep his foot secure in the water without getting bogged down, and he wanted it to be versatile enough for life on and off the water.
As a result, the Chaco Z series was born, and so was an entire outdoor culture. And as an outdoor-focused brand, it is no surprise that they have cultivated environmentally friendly practices. For instance, the midsole is made with vegan-friendly construction materials. More pointedly, they offer Chaco repair through the website.
The brand calls the program “ReChaco Repairs,” and it’s designed to give new life to your worn-out Chacos, so they don’t end up in a landfill. Some loyalists have gone through multiple straps and soles, which is saying something since Chacos are designed with durable construction to start.
And look, other brands offer repairs hidden on their website, but ReChaco Repairs is a big part of the company culture. They have repaired more than25,000 pairs of Chacos in some years. And while Chacos lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship doesn’t cover normal wear and tear, the ReChaco Repair program will keep your Chacos going strong for years.
If you are looking for high-quality, durable, and eco-conscious sandals for your outdoor adventures, Chacos are hard to beat. And by the way, many of their sandals are customizable so that you can match performance with your personal style.
While the Chaco Zs are the foundation on which the company is built, there are a few notable variations. The company has also expanded beyond the originals due to the brand’s loyalty, but here will focus on which sandals are best for an active, outdoor lifestyle and how they stack up against Tevas.
The Chaco Z/1s started the entire movement and featured only eight components, including an adjustable strap that secures the foot with a Z shape. The midsole features the Luvseat design that supports your foot in all the right places. When you combine the footbed that supports your arches with the adjustable strap, which can be fitted perfectly to your foot, the Chaco Z/1 securely fits your foot like no sandal before it.
The Classic Z/1 now features a ChacoGrip outsole, which the brand believes is superior to any predecessor outsoles. In fairness, many long-time wearers preferred the Vibram outsole, but the ChacoGrip outsole gets the job done in a manner worthy of the Chaco name. Ironically, though the original versions used Vibram, the “Classic” model uses ChacoGrip, as it no longer uses Vibram for any models.
The Chaco Z Cloud is very similar to the Classic Z/1, but it features a soft cushioning layer on the Luvseat footbed for additional comfort. While most users are OK with the comfort the Classic Z/1 provides, the classic midsole is a little firm. The Cloud Z is much softer, so if you plan to go on long hikes or use your Chacos as primary footwear, the Cloud Z is worth considering.
And by the way, since the Chaco Z/1 is the original, there are many designs to choose from. They are durable sandals that look good too. Personally, I like neutral colors, but if vibrant colors and designs are your style, more power to you. Chaco has plenty of options to choose from.
So what’s the big difference between the Chaco Z/1 and the Chaco Z/2? The Z/2 features a toe loop, which provides additional stability on top of the original Z shape. I wore the Z/2 for years because I appreciated the extra security; however, there are two primary considerations to be aware of before buying.
Some wearers love their Chacos so much that they wear them year-round, even as the weather turns cold. The easiest solution to throw on some wool socks with your Chacos. This may be the best option; however, it is a little more challenging to wear socks with the Z/2 sandal featuring the toe loop
And that leads to the second consideration. Generally speaking, the Polyester jacquard webbing straps are easy to adjust. You pull them through the midsole to tighten or loosen, but it does seem to take a little longer when dealing with the toe strap. The strap isn’t hard to adjust, but once you get the toe strap and midfoot strap just the way you want it, you won’t want to readjust them. You could pull the toe strap all the way down to the footbed to wear socks, but then you would have to readjust when not wearing socks.
This won’t be that big of an issue for most people, and I did love my Z/2s. I only got rid of them because I mixed concrete on the ground while wearing them, and cement hardened between the straps and the midsole. Oops. All-in-all, I loved my Chacos, and gladly recommend them to others.
Chaco Banded Z Cloud
My next pair of sandals will be a pair of Chaco Banded Z Cloud. They are next-generation footwear, with the open-toe design of the Z/1 with the additional support people love from the Z/2. The Banded Z Cloud features an extra strap across the midfoot, which not only provides more support across your foot but also allows for a more perfectly-adjusted fit.
In addition to the extra strap, the Chaco Banded Z Cloud also features the dual-density midsole that provides extra cushioning and ChacoGrip outsoles. Most people appreciate the softer footbeds.
Honestly, the Banded Z Cloud is the culmination of all of Chaco’s innovations. And while it provides extra support with the additional webbing across the midfoot, it doesn’t have the big toe loop, which is known to cause blisters to some and prevents socks.
If there is any downside to the Banded Z Cloud, it doesn’t come in many colors. Many of Chaco’s products can be customized, but the Banded Z Cloud isn’t one of them. Regardless, this is a homerun outdoor sandal, perfect for anyone enjoying an active, outdoor lifestyle.
The Odyssey includes some of the same Z structure and support found on the other models, but it also provides mesh over the toe box. This is great if you frequently go rafting or hiking through water, where your toes might need a little extra protection. They might even work for canyoneering in areas that aren’t too treacherous.
I once hiked up a trail in the Dominican Republic that included a section that required trekking directly up a small river rushing down a mountainside. It was one of the few times my feet ever felt unprotected or insecure in Chacos. The straps were holding the weight of my body between my toes as I climbed over small boulders. I can’t help but wish I could do that hike again, wearing a pair of Odyssey sandals. I think it would go much better.
The Odyssey features ChacoGrip Plus for premium traction, the dual-density midsole for cushioning, and an antimicrobial treatment that reduces odor. The Chaco Odyssies are ready for any water adventure you might imagine.
Are Chaco Sandals Worth The Money?
Chacos are very affordable considering the wear and tear most wearers put them through and the reliable way the sandals respond. Born with a Colorado spirit, these sandals are great for river life, mountain life, beach life, or just the simple life. And if they get worn out, you can use ReChaco Repair to give them new life and keep them for years to come. Truly, Chacos are worth the investment.
Plus, you can build a custom pair with more than 10 ways to adjust the look at feel of the sandals to fit your style and preferences. A pair of Chacos weigh a little over a pound, compared to the Tevas which are lighter than a pound, but the extra weight is well worth the extra support and durability, and the extra weight is barely noticeable for most people.
For many people, particularly those with an outdoor spirit, a new pair of Chacos will replace their favorite pair of shoes. They are versatile, durable, and comfortable.SUMMARY PROS
- All-purpose sandals, ready for any terrain
- Adjusting straps takes practice
- Variations include toe loop and additional midfoot support
- Customizable color options
- ReChaco Repair program
Teva Sandals Review
Tevas were born in much the same way as Chaco sandals. Instead of Colorado, Tevas were born in the Grand Canyon when velcro watchbands were attached to flip flops to keep them from floating down the river. It’s great history, and it should come as no surprise that the product that was born from adventure would later be considered by many to be the ultimate sport sandal.
Like Chaco, Teva has evolved beyond mere sandals and now has other footwear and accessories. We are particularly fond of the Ember moc series, designed with quilted nylon to keep you comfortable while you hang out fireside. However, for this review, we still plan to focus on hiking sandals and other outdoor sandals.
The first thing you will notice about Tevas compared to Chaco sandals is that they are secured with velcro straps instead of buckles, making them a little easier to adjust. The Original Tevas have a thinner sole than some of the more adventure-specific sandals.
While the original model still works well for rafting and many activities, you might prefer to wear them to the local music festival, as the sole is much softer than some alternatives. The original is relatively cheap, too, at least compared to more rugged models, but if you are looking for something tough and ready for any adventure, you will want to check out some of the other sandals.
Still, the thinner footbed is quite nice, and the original model will improve your sandal game if you are looking for everyday footwear. A pair of Original Tevas also works great for travelers. You can also choose from plenty of popular styles.
If you are interested in something a little more tough and rugged, ready for miles of more demanding conditions, then the Teva Hurricane is worth considering. The Hurricane is built with velcro straps and hook and loop closures and has soft heel-strap padding and a more serious sole. The upgrade sole includes lugs providing better traction, compared to the original model’s mostly flat bottom.
Made from quick-dry webbing, these work well for day hikes and light rafting activities. Tevas are responsible and sustainable too. The straps are made from verifiable REPREVE polyester yarn and save five plastic bottles from the landfills. And while the midsole seems softer than Chaco’s midsoles, they include nylon shank stabilizers to help with uneven terrain.
The classic sandal is a lighter version of the Hurricane in many ways, but if you plan to use your Tevas for true adventuring, it makes sense to go with the Hurricane.
Hybrid Shoe / Sandals
Of course, if you are serious about adventuring, you might want a little more toe protection. The Teva team makes a few hybrid shoes/sandals that accomplish this, and they are built with superior traction to grip slippery surfaces. If a few straps across your foot don’t seem like enough, and you want a little extra protection from a hiking sandal, it is worth investing in a pair of Tevas.
The Omnium is excellent for day hiking and includes leather for a durable upper with a more premium feel. These shoes don’t have velcro straps or buckles. Instead, they are built with bungee cord laces for tightening. They also include a Microban treatment to eliminate nasty odors.
The Omnium comes in a few different varieties, but Teva also has the Forebay model with similar features, including a closed toe. Still, if you are looking for a serious hiker, we recommend the Omnium since several different versions might work.
Are Teva Sandals Worth The Money?
Tevas are very affordable, even compared to Chacos, but perhaps not as rugged. Still, if you want a comfortable sandal that is great for leisure and good enough for light hiking, then Teva sandals are worth the money. If your first focus is adventuring, and you prefer Teva’s velcro closures to the buckles straps, the Hurricane is a solidly built outdoor sandal.
While Teva doesn’t have the custom options that you can add to a pair Chaco Z, they did put together a collaboration with Polaroid. It was unexpected, but the mismatch collaboration seems to work. Another small difference in approach is that the brand now offers a way to recycle your faded and worn out teva sandals. They don’t have a repair program like you might use for your Chaco, but they do offer the recycling program at no cost to you.SUMMARY PROS
- More affordable option
- Not as rugged
- Velcro straps easier to adjust
- Thinner sole for leisure activity
- Sustainable company focus
Chaco and Teva Alternatives
The sports sandals sold by Chaco and Teva are not only original, but we think they are the best options on the market. That said, there are a few other outdoor footwear brands to consider, such as Merrell and Keen.
Merrell has options similar to Teva, such as velcro strap sports sandals and a hybrid shoe/sandal. Merrell sometimes uses Vibram on their outsoles, which is worth noting for exceptional performance in wet conditions. Still, their sports sandals aren’t as highly regarded as their hiking boots. Merrell’s hiking boots are second to none. Keens might be more worthy of your consideration if your primary goal is finding a do-it-all sport sandal. The Keen Newport, for instance, has a rubber sole that wraps over the toes for a little extra protection.
If you decide you want the full protection of a hiking boot over the simplicity of an active sandal, by all means, consider Merrell, Keen, or even Danner. However, if you are looking for a lightweight sandal that is as comfortable at the beach as it is on the mountain, we recommend sticking with Chaco and Teva.
What Is The Best Active Sandal?
While each brand is a little different, Chacos are a bit more rugged, while Tevas are a bit more casual and affordable. Neither brand is costly, but if you are looking for a sandal to mostly chill in, with the occasional hike thrown in for good measure, Tevas might be your best bet at a slightly lower price point. Still, our favorite sandals are Chaco sandals because they are built with superior durability.
Chaco’s overall design and better durability also increase their sandals’ overall versatility. Chaco sandals will work in whitewater or off-the-grid excursions.
We are also fans of the ReChaco Repair program that allows you to send your worn-out footwear in for the webbing or soles to be repaired. Honestly, Chacos are built well, so if you need to do this, it is a sign you are enjoying life, so you might wear them like a badge of honor.
The buckle is sturdy, and the adjustable straps fit perfectly to your foot. The contoured Luvseat shape of the sole has been certified by podiatrists for comfort and support, and the dual-density polyurethane sole used on the ‘cloud’ sandals provides excellent cushioning. The Luvseat design creates an incredibly comfortable footbed that stands above the competitors.
Like anything, the decision partially comes down to personal preference and intended use, but we recommend Chacos as the best adventure sandal. Pick up a pair of Chacos and enjoy the great outdoors.
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