Chaco Z/1 Vibram Unaweep Sandals

Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals

• Open-toe design
• Heel-leash for front-back stability
• 360° Wrap-Fit adjustable straps
• BioCentric™ footbed
• Vibram® Unaweep outsole with all-purpose TC-1 rubber compound

• $95.00 US

October 19, 2009
by Anderson Bowman


I have ugly feet, a tendency not to trim my toe nails as much as I should, and an unnatural desire to wear sandals year round.  While these habits are not going to make me extremely popular around my house anytime soon, it does mean that I am probably the perfect person test out a pair of Chaco’s Z/1 Unaweep Sandals.

When they arrived in the mail I was ecstatic and ripped into the box as a fast as I could. I got them on my feet with almost no hassle and let out a heartfelt “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I have heard rumors of how nice Chaco sandals are and once I got my feet situated on the BioCentric footbed I understood very well why people speak so highly of them. I have never owned a pair of sandals that felt like these do. The fact that I can actually feel the arch support and it hits my foot in just the right spot makes me a very happy person.  I also understand why people hike in these things, because they feel so damn good on my feet.
Normally I wear a men’s size 10.5 in shoes, but the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals arrived in a size 11.  After looking at the website I realized that they do not seem to come in ½ sizes so the 11 is as close as I can get to a 10.5 without getting sandals that are too small. With that being said, they fit great. The arch support that I mentioned earlier hits my foot in the perfect spot and makes them feel extremely comfortable.  There does not appear to be too much sole because of the size difference and the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals do not look like boats on my feet. They look just fine to me, but I think I need to cut by toenails again soon.

After reading the instructions on how to tighten the strap and put the sandals on (all done after I put them on) I realized that the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals utilize what I would call a “unistrap” design. There is only one strap that loops through the sole/footbed to hold my foot in place. The website refers to this as the 360o Wrap-Fit adjustable straps.  This feature rather impressed me because it means less attachment points for the strap/footbed and less chances that one of these attachment points might fail under heavy use.  This strap design also lets me tighten the sandals with one pull.

I not sure just exactly what the Vibram Unaweep sole is, but I do know that it looks cool and is attached to these sandals.  Hopefully I will figure this out before I am done testing, but for now all I can say is that it looks heavy duty and good for stomping things.
My only side-note here is the weight. I have not put the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals on the scale yet, but I will soon. There is no way around it because they feel sturdy, look sturdy, and have a good bit of heft to them. While weight is not really a huge issue for casual or day-hiking use, it makes me wonder if they are too much to stash in/on my pack for wearing along with a pair of boots? This is a question that I will have to ponder later. Right now it is time for me to go fishing and I am taking my new fishing partner, the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals, with me.

“How do I love thee? Let Me Count The Ways

January 4, 2010
by Anderson Bowman
The Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals have been one of the most amazing pieces of footwear that I have ever encountered. Sandals have always been a great love of mine and the weather here in Texas allows me to wear them almost year round.

My main issues have always been that most sandals are uncomfortable to wear over prolonged periods of time and they have to be retightened or adjusted to keep them attached to my feet in a safe manner.  I love this type of footwear, but they are not overly practical for hiking or longer trips into the outdoors.

Enter the Z/1 Unaweep Sandals. I have worn them all over Southeast Texas doing everything from bird watching, hiking, fishing, and even a bit of water wading.

As I noted when they first arrive, they feel like a slice of heaven on my feet. There is actual support for my feet in the footbed of these sandals. Even after wearing them for several hours my feet do not hurt. They are not simply flat slabs of rubber with straps; they are works of art formed to make my feet happy.

On top of the comfortable fit, they are easy to get on, off, and to keep firmly strapped to my feet. The “unistrap” design allows me to quickly put them on, cinch the single strap down, and then hit the trail, street, boat, or water. It does not matter what type of surface I am on or how wet my feet are, the Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals stick to my feet and do not allow any slippage of my feet within the straps or on the footbed. Once attached, they stay put.

I have stepped off of boat trailers into knee deep water on slippery concrete boat ramps in these sandals and my feet stayed put in the sandals and the soles gripped the concrete like they were glued down.  After wading out of the water, my feet did not slip at all and if I ever worried that they were going to, it takes a gentle tug on one strap to make sure everything is ship shape and ready to go.

Sandals have also appealed to me as hiking wear on several occasions, but the brands I have used have not been comfortable enough or provided enough foot support to be considered serious contenders. I finally braved the woods in the Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals and made a nice four mile loop carrying a lumbar pack full of gear. Not one blister or hotspot popped up. The sandals were comfortable and easy to wear and best of all, my feet could breathe.

I will continue to wear these sandals even though it is full blown winter here in Texas. My next step is to try them with socks and take them outdoors in the cooler temperatures. At this point I see no reason why they will not continue to perform in the most splendid manner.  The Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals have really surprised me with their simple, yet rugged design and construction.  I cannot fathom ever finding another pair of sandals that is so easy to get on and off, easy to keep in place, and comfortable. The combination of practicality, easy use, and rugged construction make me wonder why it took me so long to get into a pair of Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals.

Come on back in another month to see how they handle cold weather, but trust me when I say that they have performed far better than I could have ever imagined. They are not just sandals, but a pair of footwear that looks like sandals, but wear like my most comfortable pair of shoes.

The End of the Beginning

February 13, 2010

by Anderson Bowman

Chaco Z/1

I have always wondered what it would be like to hike in sandals and never been able to find a pair that did not make my feet hurt like the devil after one long day in them. There was nothing that could convince me that I would ever put a pack on my back and wonder around the woods for more than a few minutes in the sandals that I wore.

After three months of using the Chaco Z1 sandals, my opinion of being able to hike in sandals has changed a great deal.  I started off wearing them around the house and yard and eventually as the weather permitted I moved up to short day hikes, bird watching, and fishing trips in the Chaco Z1 sandals.

Not only were they extremely easy to get on, tighten up, and keep on with the uni-strap system (one strap does it all), but they were comfortable too. I even bit the bullet and went on two day hikes of about 4 miles each carrying a lumbar pack fully loaded.  With a load in the 10 pound range I figured that I would find out if the Chaco Z1’s would hold up to light hiking or if I would be back to wishing for the perfect pair of hiking sandals.

My feet liked the sandals even after some pretty serious afternoons out and about with a lumbar pack on. I liked them even more because most of my sandal-hiking fears were washed away by two good hikes.  The Z1s fit great and I only had to tighten them once or twice on each hike. The fit was good enough that I did not suffer through rocks and other debris getting between my feet and the sandals. Now my feet were a bit dustier than they would have been with boots on, but there were no blisters or sore spots anywhere on my feet.  When the weather warms up again I am going to put some serious hiking miles on these sandals. My hope is that I have finally found the footwear to keep my on the trail and comfortable in the hottest weather that Texas has to offer.

As the weather cooled off it was not that practical for me to continue wearing the sandals for prolonged periods, but I found ways to keep them on my feet. I will say that my wife laughed a bit, but wearing the sandals with hiking socks not only helped me keep the sandals on my feet in the cold weather, but it was pretty comfortable too.  The only thing that kept me from wearing the sandal/sock combination on a lot of trips was the fact that the winter here was not only cold, but wet.  I could not find a really good way to wear the Chaco Z1s and keep my socks/feet dry and warm.

The good news is that since my overnight hiking trips tend to be close to home during this part of the year, it was not a big deal to strap the Z1s to the outside of my pack with a carabiner and carry them along.  They are a bit over built for simple camp shoes, but they were nice to slide my feet into and deal with issues outside of my tent during the cold weather because I could keep my socks on. My normal camp shoes are a cheap pair of flip-flops, but because of the ‘between the toes’ part of the flip-flops it is almost impossible to wear socks with them. The Z1 sandals were a great replacement even if they are way more ‘shoe’ than even I need for camp shoes.

I was very excited to get a chance to test out a pair of Chaco sandals and the last three months have been a great experience. The Chaco Z/1 sandals were so far beyond anything I had ever experienced in a casual or outdoor sandal that I understand the reasons why people rave about them so much.  The good news for me is that I do not have to wander around with sandal envy anymore.  My only issue at this point is that it is still a few months till I can really put these back on my feet and wear them every time I hit the outdoors.

If you want to ask questions about the Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals or discuss sandals in general, hop on over to THIS forum and chime in.

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