In short: Some people think Chacos are the worst because their arch is too high. They’re not great for people with flat feet or low arches since the high arch footbed HURTS a lot.
The footbed of Chacos is also very firm, the models with the toe strap can rub a blister between your toes, and if you don’t get the right size the arch support will bruise the bottom of your foot.
Here are a few reasons why some people think Chacos are the “worst”.
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Some people think Chacos hurt their arches (arch too high)
Chacos sandals are known for their LUVSEAT™ Footbed, an extremely contoured arch support that is built into every pair of Chaco footwear, no matter the model.
I think this is amazing because every single style of Chaco footwear is accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association. However, some people think the arch is too high.
It’s not something that would make Chaco sandals the worst. In fact, it’s rare to find outdoor sandals that provide a good amount of arch support. It’s just not for everyone.
If you do not have arches, or your arches are low, Chaco sandals will hurt A LOT. The amount of arch support is surprising and took my feet a month to get accustomed.
I have both Tevas and Birkenstocks as well.
Comparatively speaking, my feet got used to Tevas the first week I wore them. Birkenstocks took my foot about 2.5 weeks to become comfortable (not pain really, more discomfort).
Chaco sandals by far took my feet the longest to get used to, which is about 1 month and a half, and I did go through pain from long wear to get to where I am now.
I think it all depends on the shape of your feet. If you have high arches, you’ll find the arch support of Chaco sandals the perfect hardcore sandals designed for your exact needs.
This is why I don’t recommend buying your first pair of Chacos online. Go to a store and try some on. If that’s not possible, order several sizes and return the ones that don’t fit.
Length and width are both crucial when buying Chaco sandals in order to get the supportive arch into just the right position. If you get the correct size these are the best shoes ever.
If not, they’re the worst and most uncomfortable.
The footbed is firmer than most sandals
One reason why Chacos may be the worst is due to their firm footbed. Chaco makes all of its footbeds out of Polyurethane (PU) compounds, which is a harder foam material.
Unlike disposable foam, PU doesn’t break down or compress with wear. This makes for a durable, long-lasting pair of outdoor sandals that are better for the environment.
And it’s true, Chaco sandals are not the soft, cushy sandals that you expect when you hear the way current owners talk about them, especially if you’ve been wearing soft sandals all your life.
Here’s what one Chaco customer had to say about the sandals:
“I just got a pair and I’m not sure I like them. They are NOT comfortable. I’m used to real soft, cushy soles. These are not exactly soft and cushy.”– Chaco customer from Utah
When I first got my Chaco sandals, I noticed that the balls of my feet felt rubbed raw, but I realized that was because the texture of the sole surface is kind of “knobbly”.
They do get better the more you wear them. Once you build up a little callous layer, the firm footbed of Chaco sandals shouldn’t bother you at all.
After breaking them in, I wore my Chacos hiking on the Kalalau Trail in Kauai and they worked great even with the muddy trails. I’ve had them for 2 years and they are still in great shape.
Although they may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, I think the firm footbeds of Chaco sandals last much longer than regular sandals. Think of it as an investment.
One last footwear fact: Soft and cushy is NOT the way to go when you’re looking for shoes and/or sandals to hike or otherwise exert yourself in.
Although everyone’s foot is different, the human foot was designed to walk on dirt, not sand (but also not concrete), so it needs a forgiving yet sturdy surface to support it.
Chaco sandals are heavy
Although I wouldn’t say they’re the worst, Chaco sandals are notorious for being heavy. Just to give you an idea, the Z1 sandals weigh 14.9 oz. (422 g) per sandal.
I think that’s quite heavy for sandals, almost as heavy as some light hiking boots. Not everyone is a fan of the weight, but I can see why; they’re made for serious hikes.
Chaco sandals are comfortable, but man are they heavy. They need to make a lighter-weight version for people who don’t need all that mountaineering toughness in my opinion.
The straps can feel too tight for some people
Chaco sandals have two strap designs, the one with a toe loop and the one without. Depending on which type of Chaco sandals you have, the straps may feel uncomfortable in the beginning.
The straps without the toe loop can cut the tops of your feet. On the other hand, Chacos that feature a toe strap can cause you to have serious blisters between your toes.
This is why it’s important to make sure the straps are properly adjusted when breaking into a new pair of Chaco sandals, otherwise, you’re going to feel uncomfortable.
If you’re wearing the toe loop design, make sure the toe strap portions are loose enough to fit two fingers. Any tighter than that, and it can cause some bad circulation to your toes.
You can learn more about adjusting Chaco straps right here.
Although the toe straps can feel restricting, I wanted them for hiking. In the case of hiking, this kept the sandal closer and more attached to my feet, even when going downhill.
If you dislike having your toe restricted, this is not the sandal for you. You’d have a much better time wearing Chacos fitted with straps that do not have a toe loop.
Some people also dislike the buckle placement. It can end up on the top of your foot, which for me isn’t much of an issue, but some people might not like the look.
Chacos can become stinky
It’s normal, as every piece of footwear will create excess odor over time. I’ve created a specific article about this issue, so if you’re dealing with stinky Chacos, you can fix them.
If you agree with all of the points I’ve mentioned so far, maybe what you need is a cheaper Chaco alternative. These options don’t break the bank but are very comfortable.