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So you’ve narrowed the search for the perfect summer sandal but now can’t decide between Chacos vs. Birkenstocks? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Having owned both Chacos and Birkenstocks, we’ll give honest feedback to provide a detailed comparison of both Chacos vs. Birkenstocks to help you make up your mind.
We’ll discuss the pros and cons of both brands, the styles on offer, and the price difference so you can decide which sandal is right for you: Chacos or Birkenstocks.
Overview Chacos vs Birkenstocks
|Key Features||•Hiking Sandals|
•Use of natural materials
|Waterproof?||✔||✔ Only EVA styles are waterproof|
|Vegan styles available?||✔||✔|
|Hiking sandals available?||✔||❌|
Chaco Footwear is an American brand founded in Colorado in 1989 by a rafting guide determined to create the perfect sandal for outdoor adventures.
In the 30 years following, the brand has constantly innovated and updated its range to include sandals, boots, flip flops, sneakers, and clogs.
Chacos builds its shoes to last for years and offers a repair program Rechaco which will resole and repair your shoes if they ever get damaged.
Birkenstock is a German company founded in 1744. The company is considered one of the top five biggest shoe producers globally and is a brand recognized worldwide.
Birkenstock sandals are well known for their contoured footbed, which Birkenstock first created in the 1930s.
Today, Birkenstock manufactures hundreds of shoe styles in its factories across Germany, including sandals, sneakers, and boots.
Chacos Best Selling Sandals
|Chaco Z/Cloud||Chaco Chillos||Chaco Flip||Chaco Z/Cloud 2|
|Key Features||•Recycled plastic straps, •Supportive sole||•Slip on style|
|•Supportive sole||•Added toe loop|
|Suitable for hiking?||✔||❌||❌||✔|
|Price?||from $79.99||from $29.99||from $40||from $100|
|Where to buy?||Shop at Chacos.com,|
|Shop at Chacos.com,|
|Shop at Chacos.com, Zappos.com||Shop at Chacos.com,|
Birkenstock Bestselling Styles
|Birkenstock Arizona Sandal||Birkenstock Gizeh|
|Birkenstock Madrid Sandal||Birkenstock EVA Sandals|
|Key Features||•Classic double strap|
|•Flip flop style|
|•Stylish single strap|
•Available in all classic styles
|Suitable for hiking?||❌||❌||❌||❌|
|Price?||from $110||from $99||from $79.99||from $49.95|
|Where to buy?||Shop at Birkenstock|
|Shop at Birkenstock,|
|Shop at Birkenstock, Zappos.com||Shop at Birkenstock,|
It’s important to note that vegan styles are available for all Birkenstock classic styles.
The Birkenstock EVA sandals aren’t made with animal products. However, they are not listed as Vegan because they are produced in the same factory as the Birkenstock leather products. The production of the Birkenstock vegan range is in a separate factory.
If you’re looking for vegan sandals, take a look at our vegan sandals guide.
Key Features of Chaco Sandals
Chacos Z strap sandals and Z sliders are waterproof, making them perfect for the beach, rafting, or days by the pool. Plus, the sandals float, so you won’t lose them sinking to the bottom of a lake.
Chacos also offer hiking shoes and boots created from waterproof suede, including the Panoia range.
One great initiative about Chaco footwear is its ReChaco program, which repairs damaged shoes and sandals to keep them out of landfills.
Repairing damaged shoes prevents waste from being sent to landfills and prevents overconsumption. So far, Chacos has prevented over 250,000 shoes from landfills.
With sustainability in mind and recognizing the need for change, Chaco now creates its classic Chaco webbing from REPREVE®. Repreve is a strong and durable material made from recycled plastic water bottles.
You can adjust the fit of the Chaco straps by pulling the toe strap and ankle straps and adjusting the buckle. Chacos have a detailed tutorial on correctly adjusting the Z/Strap sandals here.
Key Features Birkenstock
One of the biggest key features the Birkenstock sandal is famous for is the molded footbed, which conforms to the shape of your foot over time.
The footbed features carefully placed contours, including a deep heel cup to hold your heel in position. Built-up arch support for stability and built-up toe support allows your toes to rest in their natural position and supports the natural rolling motion.
Adjustable strap buckle
Like the Chacos, Birkenstock sandals can also loosen and tighten the straps through the buckle mechanism.
Narrow and Regular fits
Birkenstock styles are available in narrow fit and Regular fit, denoted by the shaded and unshaded foot mark on the footbed. The Regular fit is suitable for those with wider feet, while the narrow fit is better for those with narrow feet. Try the wider style if you experience blisters along the sides of the feet with the narrow fit.
Until recently, I was unaware of how to tell the difference between the styles, but having had a pair of Birkenstocks that caused blisters for years across the arch of my foot, I opted for the wider fit and haven’t experienced the same problems. However, I recommend measuring your foot to ensure you select the correct footbed to prevent blisters.
Drawbacks of Chacos Sandals
Can cause blisters
One of the biggest drawbacks customers mention is the possibility of Chacos sandals causing blisters caused by the straps when worn for long periods.
To prevent blisters forming, Chaco footwear recommends that you wear the shoes in for a short time for several days and weeks before wearing them for long periods.
Drawbacks of Birkenstocks
Can cause blisters
While Birkenstock sandals get great reviews online, some reviewers say that the sandals can cause rubbing and blisters. Having experienced this first hand, I would say to make sure that you select the correct fit and don’t opt for the narrow sandals if you have wider feet.
Not all styles of sandals are waterproof
One drawback of the popular Birkenstock Arizona style is that they aren’t waterproof. I have gotten my Birkenstocks wet before and they took days for the footbed to dry out, meaning I couldn’t wear them again without having a damp foot.
Birkenstock does create a waterproof EVA version. However, they don’t have the same classic cork sole and soft footbed like the traditional style.
Slippery soles on sandals
A drawback I’ve experienced from the Birkenstock Arizona sandals style is that the soles don’t provide much traction on slippery surfaces. Having worn the shoes during a Lisbon holiday, I slipped on the tiles downhill.
Can you hike in Chacos?
Chacos design its Z sandal, especially for hiking, and make variations of the Z strap sandal, for example, with a toe loop or without, depending on the required support. The Z-strap sandals also feature a Chacogrip sticky outsole to give traction on rough terrain.
The straps can cause blisters during the break-in period, so the brand recommends wearing them for a couple of weeks up to 3-4 hours per day to break in the shoes.
Ecothes editor Georges owns the Chaco Z sliders. However, he would not recommend hiking in the sliders as they don’t offer support on the ankle. Instead, the Z-strap sandals are the best option if you’re looking for specific hiking sandals.
Can you hike in Birkenstocks?
While some styles of Birkenstock offer a back strap for added support, we wouldn’t recommend hiking in Birkenstocks. The soles can be slippery on smooth surfaces, and the leather straps can rub in hot weather.
Birkenstock have recently released an outdoor style, which features improved sole traction and adjustable straps.
If you’re looking for hiking sandals specifically, the Chacos Z/ strap sandals are the best option as they are designed for hiking.
Overall Opinion Chacos vs Birkenstocks
There are pros and cons of both Chacos and Birkenstocks, and both shoes have a supportive footbed with added arch support for comfort.
If you’re looking for a waterproof sandal that can cope and outdoor activities like hiking, then Chacos is the best sandal option. In addition, Chacos offers a repair program and will repair your Chaco sandals to ensure they last for years.
If you’re looking for a stylish summer sandal for everyday walking, then the Birkenstock styles may be better suited.
If you’re not sold on either Birkenstocks or Chacos, take a look at our guide on Birkenstock alternatives here, or check out our other sustainable sandal recommendations.