This photo shows the Chacos Lowdown Sandals and Slides.

Chaco Lowdown Sandals Review: ‘Lighter Zs?’

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The new Chaco Lowdown Sandals are lightweight adventure sandals designed for easy packability and life on the go — from pavement to the trail.

To get us a closer look, Chaco sent Man Makes Fire a men’s Lowdown Sandal, a women’s Lowdown Slide, and a men’s Lowdown Flip. This is what we learned during our testing and review process:

Chaco Lowdown Sandals Review

Chaco, which many people commonly refer to as Chacos for both the company and the product, has been known for its popular trail-ready Z-series Chacos for years, and for good reason: The Chaco Z/1, Z/2, and Z/Cloud sandals are rugged and feature a super secure strap system. The footbed is supportive with great arch support, and Chacos fans are fanatic about their Z-series Chacos. They wear them around town, to the beach, on hiking trails, out camping and on the river as water shoes. They go everywhere. But there is a downside to the Z-series Chacos: They’re heavy.

Enter the new Chaco Lowdown Sandals. They’re much lighter — about 40% lighter. That’s a huge difference on your foot, and the first thing our gear testers noticed and appreciated was how light they feel.

This review photo shows the Chacos Lowdown Sandal and Lowdown Slide.
The new Chacos Lowdown Sandals (top) and Lowdown Slide (bottom) are about 40% lighter than Chacos Z-series sandals.

Plus, they’re comfortable. The footbed isn’t quite as shaped as the Z-series, but it still offers good support. There’s a bit more cushion and flexibility in the sole. The overall result is improved everyday comfort.

Basically, if you’ve been looking for a Chaco sandal that’s lighter on your foot as well as lighter to pack, Chacos designed the Lowdown Sandals for you.

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The New Chaco Lowdown Sandal Design

The new Chaco Lowdown Sandal uses the same secure Z/Straps system as the Z-series, but it now attaches differently to the sole. Where other Chacos sandals have straps that pass into and between the layers of sole in the shoe, the Lowdown straps attach to the sides of the sandal.

Our testers reported that while the straps provide good adjustment and security, they don’t tighten down quite the same way as the Z/1 Classic, Z/2 Classic, and Z/Cloud straps. The Z-series sandals have straps that go over the foot and then angle back in around the foot before entering the sole. Think of it this way: The Z/Cloud-style straps feel like they wrap more around your foot rather than just hold it down onto the sole.

Still, our gear testers say the Lowdown strap system feels secure and comfortable — just not quite as locked down as you get with the Z/1, Z/2, and Z/Cloud.

Of course, the popular Z/2 Classic has the famous toe loop, which also increases the Z/2’s lockdown power. Fans of the Chacos toe loop should know that a toe loop isn’t offered on the Lowdown series (because the straps don’t go through the footbed the same way).

Fit and Finish

The Chacos Lowdown fit is a bit different from Chacos Z/Strap sandals — but its very close. Our longtime Chacos-wearing gear testers found the fit to be spot on. However, our men’s version wearer reported what seemed like a bit more room in the toe-box area. For some cold-weather rafting, for instance, he could easily fit a pair of fleece socks on under the straps.

Here is our fit recommendation: Most wearers should order their normal shoe size, but if your existing Chacos are a bit big, you might be able to size down on the Lowdowns depending on the shape of your foot. In addition, because of the different strap attachment, the Lowdowns might feel slightly bigger than Z/1 Classic, Z/2 Classic, and Z/Cloud sandals — but the true length is likely the same. For instance, a size 8 women’s Lowdown was exactly the same length as a size 8 women’s Z/2 Classic.

Both of our gear testers felt that the men’s and women’s versions were spot-on for their feet and their past Chaco experiences.

As for Chaco quality, the overall finish is excellent. Because this is a first-look review, we don’t have a long-term wear and tear report yet, but initial impressions are good. We expect the Z/1 and Z/2, for example, to last longer due to the stiffer construction, but we expect great wear out of the Lowdowns, too.

Don’t Forget the New Chaco Lowdown Flip

This photo shows the Chacos Lowdown Flip flip flops.
The new Chacos Lowdown Flip.

In addition to the Lowdown Sandals and Lowdown Slide, Chaco is offering a Lowdown Flip. Our Flip tester appreciated the blend of stability and cushion, and liked the overall design. “Basically, you get a rugged, low-profile, do-everything flip flop with a great blend of comfort and stability,” he says. “Hard to go wrong.”

The Verdict

All-in-all, our gear testers thought the new Lowdown Sandals, Slides, and Flips are a great addition to the Chaco lineup. If you’re an existing Chacos fan who wants a lighter option, the new Lowdown series is for you. And if you’ve previously skipped the Z/Strap series because they were a bit too heavy and rugged, the Lowdown series is for you, too. Highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

Check shipping/pricing: Amazon | Moosejaw | REI | Zappos

Check shipping/pricing: Amazon | Moosejaw | REI | Zappos

Chacos Lowdown Sandals
40% lighter than other Z-strap style Chacos!
Straps offer a secure fit
Lower profile footbed has great cushion
New strap system is not quite as secure as the straps in the Z/1, Z/2, and Z/Cloud sandals

Still here? Check out our guide to the Best Water Shoes.

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