Chaco Classic vs. Cloud: A Review of Chaco's Two Popular Hiking Sandals

Some subtle but important differences exist between the two hiking sandals

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Chaco testing

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Chaco first launched its Classic hiking sandal almost 35 years ago. And since then, not a lot has changed. But it's also created other models, including the popular Cloud. At first glance, it's tough to tell the difference between the Classic and Cloud. But there are two main differences between the two: comfort and style. And while the cost is the same, one version goes on sale more than the other.

Below we take a look at the pros and cons of each model and which might be best for your hiking needs.

The Key Takeaways

Chaco Classic
  • Retails for $100

  • Sizes available: 7 to 15 in medium and wide width

  • Weight: 1 pound, 13.8 ounces

  • Lug depth: 3.5 millimeters

  • No extra cushioning

Chaco Cloud
  • Retails for $100

  • Sizes available: 7 to 15 in medium and wide width

  • Weight: 1 pound, 14 ounces

  • Lug depth: 3.5 millimeters

  • 5 millimeters of ultra-soft PU

Chaco Men's Z/1 Classic Sandal

Chacos Z/1 Classic Sandal


Price at time of publication: $30 to $100 depending on the style

Who should buy this: The Chaco Classic is for anyone who likes to feel a little dirt on their toes and feet while they hike. It's a proven sandal that's been around—and basically gone unchanged—since 1989. It's super rare that you could say that about any piece of outdoor gear with all the newfangled tech going into products nowadays. But the Classic is a classic and will serve you well for many miles and years of hiking.

Materials: Polyester Jacquard webbing (upper) and Luvseat dual-density polyurethane (topsole and midsole) | Sustainability: Vegan-friendly construction | Weight: 1 pound, 13.8 ounces

Chaco Men's Z/Cloud

Chaco Men's Z/Cloud


Price at time of publication: $100

Who should buy this: The Chaco Cloud has nearly the exact same look, construction, and feel as the Classic, with one slight modification most will see as an improvement: an extra 5 millimeters of cushy polyurethane or ultra-soft PU. That extra layer, while slight, is noticeable. So anyone who's tried the Classic model of Chacos and was left wanting more cushion or a more comfortable ride should go with the Clouds.

Materials: Polyester Jacquard webbing (upper), Luvseat dual-density polyurethane (midsole), and polyurethane (topsole) | Sustainability: Vegan-friendly construction | Weight: 1 pound, 14 ounces


Winner: Cloud

The number one difference between the Classic and the Cloud is the 5 millimeters of extra cushioning found on the Cloud. Chaco literally mimicked a cloud mattress topper by slapping an extra ultra-soft polyurethane onto its classic model. Not surprisingly, this layer boosts the comfort of the sandal.

Chaco traction

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen


Winner: It's a tie!

Not surprisingly, considering both models employ the same ChacoGrip outsole, which includes 3.5-millimeter lugs, there's virtually no difference between the traction of the two. While the traction is fine enough, I definitely wouldn't consider the traction of Chacos excellent. Compared to most hiking boots, the traction is less. And even compared to a pair of Merrell's hiking flip-flops, the traction isn't great. I've had my fair share of slide-outs while walking across loose rocks on top of hard surfaces and steep pitches. But the traction is definitely enough for non-steep slopes or while walking on solid surfaces.


Winner: It's a tie!

We're putting this as a tie because we haven't had any more or less durability issues with one pair or another. That said, the Cloud has more parts, giving it more opportunities to break. Over the past decade-plus of wearing Chacos and having close friends and family members wear Chacos, I've only seen two break. One was my own, and it involved the straps pulling out of the bottom of the Chaco after years of hiking and walking and multiple thousands of miles. The other was when a buddy had the bottom fall almost entirely off while backpacking out of Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison. While not ideal, we were able to tape it back together enough to get him—and his 30-pound pack—up the last 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Chaco style

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen


Winner: Classic

The Classic and Cloud are basically identical. (You can slightly see the extra cloud cushioning on the Cloud model if you look very closely.) But the Classic offers more strap styles and colors, so we'll give the style points to the Classic.


Winner: It's a tie!

Both sandals retail at $100. That said, the Classic frequently goes on sale as Chaco moves colorways through a bit more often. On the other hand, the Cloud is a more comfortable sandal with a tad more complex construction and materials. Either way, we see both as good values. Both should last many years, and Chacos are just nice to have around to wear for hikes and errands.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. For many years, he only hiked and backpacked wearing the Chaco Classics. Nathan is a huge fan of feeling the dirt around his toes and feet and prefers sandals and flip-flops when possible. He currently has five pairs of Chacos sandals and shoes he often rotates between.

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