What do van lifers, river guides, and New Yorkers have in common? A lack of storage space and a distaste for single-use products. Sure, a GRIGRI belay device is fine to serve one function, but when it comes to outerwear, camp gear, and footwear, designs that function well in multiple environments will always reign supreme for us outdoors lovers operating on limited space. Now make that multi-functional item look dang good too, and you’ve got yourself some grail gear. Enter the Chaco Z/Sandal, a sandal designed for all day comfort and support—and style—whether rafting, hiking, or simply walking to the bodega for a coffee and bagel.
We’ve long been members of the #ChacoNation—and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are, too. Summertime Z tans are a sign of pride, from Denver to Portland, Brooklyn and beyond. Now, with the introduction of the Z/Chromatic collection, which makes the legendary design available in a range of bright and bold full-color solids, extends the strapped sandal’s range from function-forward outdoors footwear to a full-on fashion contender, too.
Thanks to good fortune with NYC’s vaccine rollout, we recently found a window to head west for some long overdue time with family and Mother Nature, making a lengthy pitstop in the Mt. Hood National Forest outside Portland a priority. There, among the old growth, we put a fresh set of Z/1 Chromatic sandals to the test—hiking, fly fishing, and of course, chilling creekside. With olive and black Z/1s already in the closet back home, Oregon’s endless shades of green proved the perfect backdrop to photograph bone white Angora and vibrant Gold Flame on foot.
For over thirty years the Chaco Z/1 has proven itself time and again the world around. Our brief mountain escape introduced no new challenges, but did confirm our love for the exceptionally simple sandal.
The design—a single piece of durable, strong poly webbing that wraps around the foot and through the ergonomic LUVSEAT footbed before securing to high-tensile webbing heel risers and a bomber buckle—is as iconic a design as it gets in the outdoor space. Right up there with the Stanley insulated bottle and The North Face Nuptse. But even more-often evangelized.
The classic Z is sturdy, strong, and rugged, yet flexible, comfortable, and customizable. It performs in all conditions, in water and on the train, rain or shine. (Add a pair of comfy socks—like Japan’s funky Anonymous Ism, pictured above—and wearability range goes four season).
After a year of confinement and restrictions, freedom from full-cover footwear can make every little activity just a bit more fun. Now just think about how much fun it’ll add to the big activities and adventures to come, too.
The Chaco Z/Chromatic is available in 15 colors for men and women, with prices ranging from $95 to $100.