New Chacos from Zappos (Updated)

Be sure to see my updated comments at the bottom of this post!

In preparation for my trip to India, I ordered a new pair of Chacos from Zappos. They are the Chaco ZX/2 in black:

My first pair of Chacos were bought back in 2003 in preparation for a trip to Italy. They have served me well over the years, and there is still plenty of Vibram sole left in them (particularly in the front, less in the back). However, I’ve been convinced almost since the second week I bought them that they were one size too big. Chacos don’t come in half sizes and I am typically a 10 and a half. I had gone for 11s back in 2003.

This time around, I ordered 10s in the new ZX / dual-thin strap style, still electing to have the toe-strap.

So far, I like them. The 10 is definitely a better fit for my foot. And the dual-thin strap of the ZX makes them much easier to adjust. They are also a smidge lighter than my five year old, one-size bigger Chacos. Here’s a comparative shot (apologies for my ugly, long toes):

See how well my old Chacos have held up? Over that same time period, my Milano Birks (God bless them) have been worn through to the leather upper!

I like Chacos for their smart design: the one-strap cuts out any need for velcro and makes for a very clean look. The Chaco footbed is heavy-ish, but quite durable — definitely much more durable than, say, Birkenstocks (I’m a big fan of Milano and Boston, being on my second pair of both in the past 10 years). I’m a big fan of Vibram soles, too (See my review of Five Fingers). Interestingly, I’ve thrown my old Chacos in the dishwasher to clean them. Works like a charm!

As for Zappos.com, all I can say is, “wow”. I ordered my Chacos on Monday mid-day and they were delivered by UPS Tuesday afternoon. That was with the $7.00 rush processing (Note: no other shipping or handling fees at all, meaning had I not gone for rush, it would have been free shipping — oh and no sales tax!), but even so, that is impressively fast. If you know what you want (I.e. size and style of shoe), how can you go wrong? Oh wait, even if you don’t like it, they offer free return shipping! Impressive.

So we’ll see how these new Chacos hold up. My plan (presently) is only to take my FiveFingers and Chacos to India. Now all I need is some injinji socks!

Afterthought: Some of you might be thinking I’m a bit crazy for blogging reviews on my footwear. You just have to understand that I’m a huge fan of being able to wear as little shoe as possible (I have to wonder if this is some primal instinct — a throwback to the countless human generations who never knew shoes. Furthermore, I hate packing multiple pairs of shoes on vacations. To me, the flexibility of Chacos, particularly these ZX/2s in black which combine utility with a bit more “dress”, win out over the comfort-factor of my Birkenstocks, which don’t hold up well to lots of walking, inclimate weather, lots of standing or hiking. And the FiveFingers, well they are incredibly packable and great for long plane rides.

Update, 11-12-2008: The ZX/2s performed beyond expectations on my trip to India where I wore them almost exclusively for three weeks. Of note, whereas the ZX Chacos had a nasty habit of “scissoring” right above my big toe where the two straps crossed over, which caused irritation and a blistering-effect when I wore the Chacos for extended periods (i.e. when I wore my ZXs almost exclusively back on my Italy 2003 trip). Thanks to the interlocking-at-the-crossover double strap of the the ZX/2s, this effect was entirely eliminated. I had no irritation there whatsoever.

My wife thinks the ZX/2s are a bit “strappy”, which is to say, “feminine.” However, I think they’re more stylish, less granola and beyond all, much more functional than the single strap ZXs. Assuming the style is acceptable to you, I highly recommend the ZX/2s over the ZXs.

Now, one drawback of note. I found the soles of these new Chaco’s to be slippery in wet conditions. I expected a bit more “grippiness” from Vibram soles, so this was a slight disappointment — a minor gripe though.

  1. Michel

    Hey, i came across your website because i was looking for some feedback on chacos. I bought my first pair yesterday, the same black ones you have. I was a bit disappointed because my feet feel a little uncomfortable (particularly around the arch). I’m not sure if they just need some “breaking in” as my friends like to call it. But i just wanted some feedback from someone who has had chacos before. Are they really that slippery? I will be going to tenerife soon and there might be rain….

  2. Justin

    Michael,

    I’m curious to hear more about what kind of discomfort you are experiencing around the arch. Chacos tend to have more of a solid “arch support” than most other sandals. Is this curved “support” bothering you?

    As far as the slipperiness, I mostly experienced it when it was monsoon in India and we were trying to walk on these slate stone pathways. Mind: I’ve not found any footwear that isn’t slippery on this kind of surface (I even slipped and knocked myself out when I was around 15 walking barefoot on this type of surface on a natural falls in N. Georgia called — wait for it — slippery rock).

    I think the Chacos sole is pretty decent even if it’s not as grippy as I’d like — I think you’re just gonna have to try it out and see how it goes though. Just make sure you have got the straps adjusted securely to your feet.

  3. Michelle

    Im not sure how to explain it…i just feel like there is this huge support around the arch and it is not painful, but it was just there…and it was a little painful while im standing up. While im walking, they seem to be less bothersome….im thinking about returning them if i don’t get used to them.

  4. Michelle

    by the way, yes, i think it is the curve support that is bothering me. I don’t have flat feet, so im not sure if this has anything to do with it. I also wear flats all the time, so something that has that much of a support might bother me…but im not sure if this is gonna last a lifetime, or if it’s something i just need to adjust my feet to.

  5. Emily

    I have the same problem (as Michelle) with the arch support, except it only bothers my left foot! Since I just bought my Chacos last week, I’m hoping that after I wear them enough, they’ll stop feeling uncomfortable. My hypothesis is the same – that I NEVER used to wear shoes with arch support and so my foot just isn’t used it.

    I’m also having some discomfort with the toe straps (I bought the black double strap ones). At first the nylon rubbed against my toe, but I think that’s not a problem anymore and now it just tightens around my toe in just the right way to make it ache. I’m hoping that I haven’t found quite the right adjustment to the straps for my feet. Someone did tell me that washing the Chacos helps to stop the straps from slipping and tightening around the toe, have you heard that as well?

  6. gks

    I bought the same kind you have yesterday. Today I wore them for a few hours and the straps rub my feet in the wrong places. I’m not sure if I should return them for a different style, if my feet are too wide and I don’t have them correctly adjusted, or I should keep them to break them in. Any suggestions? :/

  7. Kristina

    I have a problem with the chaco straps bothering the top of my foot where the straps cross closet to the ankle. I have developed a bump on that part of my foot, and sometimes it hurts to the point where I have to walk barefoot. I bought the double strap Zong X ecotread. I also have experienced some blistering on the toe crossing as well. I´ve tried to adjust the straps but nothing seems to be working. I´ve had them for about 2 months and I´m beginning to think chacos aren´t for me.

  8. Val

    Have you ever heard of the shoes that are made that if you buy a pair they send a pair to poor child in africa. Maybe you know the name of those shoes.
    Thanks

  9. Pete

    As far as arch discomfort, It seems as though the arch support hits about an inch too far back for me. If you look at them from the side, you can see that the arch sits farther back than any other shoe. I have worn a size 12 shoe for over 30 years and do generally wear shoes with arch support. I can usually put on almost any size 12 shoe and I’m good to go. I bought a pair of Chacos at the beginning of last summer to replace the almost worn-out Tevas I had. Couldn’t figure out why every morning when I got out of bed the first few steps my feet were in agony. I could pinpoint the pain in the exact place where the arch hit my foot. Just for the heck of it, I put on my old worn-out Tevas and felt INSTANT relief. Keep in mind that I wore the Chacos almost every day for over 2 months so whatever “break in” might have been necessary happened. I really “wanted” to like the Chacos because of the style but they just hurt too much. To add to this, I had bought a pair of Chaco’s Ped Shed shoes at the same time (they were about 50% off) and put them away for winter. When I put them on I instantly felt the pain in the same spot. I have since thrown both pairs away. This is not meant to be a slam on Chacos – as I said, I wanted to be able to wear them. It made me wonder if this is the same mindset/torture that women must go through to wear stiletto heels just to look good…

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