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The Chaco Torrent Pro water shoes were co-developed with professional whitewater athletes to create a cross-training water shoe. The Torrent Pro is designed to get in and out of the water, over and over.
To get us a closer look, Chaco sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After testing and reviewing the Chaco Torrent Pro, this is what we learned:
Chaco Torrent Pro Review
After testing and using the Chaco Torrent Pro this spring and summer, the Torrent Pro is my new favorite water shoe. It just barely edges out the Columbia Drainmaker IV, which still leads our guide to the best water shoes, but for me personally, I’m a hardcore fan of the Chaco Torrent Pro.
Why do I appreciate the Chaco Torrent Pro water shoes?
First, the Chaco Torrent Pro is a relatively lightweight but nimble water shoe that delivers full-foot protection. It has a real sole, a great toe guard, and full-coverage mesh. The ankle fits fairly snug to keep most sand and debris out.
At first glance and upon an initial test, I had two concerns: 1) I was worried that the draw stop lacing system might not snug up enough for swimming in rapids, and 2) I was worried that the lack of an insole would wear out my feet over time.
I should not have been worried.
The draw stop lacing do a great job of snugging your foot to the shoe, and when you need to kick and swim in turbulent water, the Torrent Pro stays put.
As for the lack of a dedicated, removable insole, I quickly forgot about it while out on the water. In fact, on one camping trip, my go-to all-day shoe was the Chaco Torrent Pro. I wore them on uneven, rocky terrain in and out of the water while fly fishing and swimming, and my feet never got tired.
This is important because I’m a large guy and I like to wear well-cushioned Hoka One One shoes on most days. Don’t get me wrong: The Chaco Torrent Pros are not cushy, but they provided me with enough support to run around in and out of the water on slick rocks and uneven ground and enjoy doing it.
For the upper, Chaco uses a knitted polyester fabric with synthetic overlaps for added structure and toe protection. When I first considered the looks of the Chaco water shoes in photos, I must admit, I thought they looked a bit goofy. That’s not true in real life, though. The Chaco Torrent Pro water shoes — like the Engel HD30 Cooler — look mediocre in photos . . . but great in person. I don’t know why this is, but it happens sometimes with high-performing gear.
Speaking of performance, the Torrent Pro’s drain water fast, but the dry time is about average for any full-coverage water shoe. Still, that’s not really the point — you choose the Chaco Torrent Pro water shoes because you want to get in and out of the water all day long.
For the sole, Chaco uses a non-marking “ChacoGrip Plus” rubber compound. On slick river rocks, it gave surprisingly good traction, but it will slip over a slime covered rock (which is true for every rubber compound I’ve ever tested). That’s where the toe protection comes in: Even if you slip a bit, when you slide into another rounded bowling-ball river rock, your toes are protected.
Water shoes won’t improve your ability swim — the best water shoes just don’t hamper your abilities too much. I could swim in the Chaco Torrent Pros better than I expected given its full-coverage shoe-like properties.
To put this in perspective, I’d rather swim in Chacos than the aforementioned Columbia Drainmaker IVs. Still, if swimming vs playing is your thing, you probably want to error more toward an aqua sock style water shoe like the NRS Arroyo Wetshoe.
For walking on rocky shoes, beaches and swimming, I like the Chacos.
The Chaco Torrent Pro is an excellent full-coverage water shoe. Chaco designed the shoes for active water play, particularly if you’re scrambling around river banks and getting into and out of water — or into and out of whitewater kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and rafts. Even though it’s designed for serious activity, I also found the Chacos to be excellent on more leisurely hikes to the beach. Like most every comfortable water shoe, sand can get inside, but the Torrent Pros shed most sand due to the relatively snug ankle. I’m a fan. Very highly recommended.