Last Updated: September 8, 2020

Chacos Vs. Birkenstocks (Best Sandals For Summer)

chacos vs birkenstocks

Summer is just around the corner, and we can finally take off those heavy annoying boots and switch them out for something lighter. It’s time to pick up a pair of sandals and let those toes wiggle around and breathe! So today we will check out two brands that make awesome sandals  - Chaco and Birkenstocks.

You’ve probably already heard about them. Chacos are your sporty sandals, whereas Birkenstock are basically the signature hippie footwear. But many other people also wear them, because they are sooo comfy. And I will tell you exactly why they are so comfy – you just have to scroll down to find out.

If are tired of boots and as excited about summer as I am, you’re going to love this review. So join me in this detailed comparison of the best Chaco and Birkenstock sandals for this summer!

Chacos Vs. Birkenstocks

The Birkenstock Sandals

First thing to note is that most Birkenstocks are actually slip-ons, with a small number of products that have a back strap. Because of that, I think they wouldn’t be such a good choice for hiking – you wouldn’t want to strain your ankle because of lack of support.

But there are some sandals that might be just fine for hiking, and I will show you those. There are also Birkenstocks that are water-friendly, and that you can even swim in. That will come in handy if you are anything like me, and dread the thought of all those sea creatures and algae touching your skin.

So, I’m going to show you some sandals that I loved, but first, let’s talk about what sets Birkenstock apart from their competition – their footbed. Because, let’s face it, they aren’t the best-looking sandals that you can find, but they certainly are among the most comfortable ones. And that is precisely why people keep buying them.

The Birkenstock Footbed (Mold)

It is the main reason why Birkenstocks are so different than sandals from other brands. They use their own molded footbed for every sandals they make, which is orthopedic and extremely comfortable. And there are two main materials that the footbed is made from.

With water friendly sandals, they footbed is made of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate). This is an elastic material that gives excellent cushioning. With their leather sandals they use the more natural cork footbed (from the bark of the cork oak). And the sandals with the cork footbed aren’t meant to be submerged in the water.

So, what is so special about the original Birkenstock footbed? Well for one thing, it offers both longitudinal and transverse arch support. The former runs along the sides of the footbed, and ensures that your feet are cupped with each step, so that you have stability on any surface. The latter helps to give you a solid stance and make sure that your sandals are properly aligned with your feet.

Birkenstock Arch

And there is more. The toe bar is raised, so that it mimics the natural gripping motion of your feet. That actually stimulates the blood circulation in your feet, which is a big plus. And there is more wiggle room for your toes, which means that they can move naturally and also gives you better balance.

Birkenstock Toe Bar

And finally there is the heel part of the shoe. The deep heel cup will cradle your heel, which will also give you better stability with each step. And it also provides cushioning right underneath the heel bone, so that you always stay comfortable.

And there you have it; that’s what you need to know about the original Birkenstock footbed. Now we’ll check out some sandals that have this awesome footbed, and that we absolutely loved.

Sandals We Loved

So, because the different materials mean different purposes, I’ve divided this part into three sections. Depending on what types of sandals you are looking for, you can just scroll to the part that interests you the most.

And one more thing to note about Birkenstocks is that there is rarely a distinction between men’s and women’s sandals. Yes there is difference in sizes, but most models are usually available both for men and women. Well with the exception of a few wedges that remain exclusive to the female population. :>


With Back Strap (Okay For Light Hiking)

There are some Brikenstocks that actually have an ankle strap and that would be okay for some light hiking. However, for any more serious hiking adventures, I would strongly advise you to check out the Chaco sandals, as they are much more suitable for those activities.

These sandals are made of leather, with a synthetic sole and highly adjustable straps. You can make them fit perfectly, and you will love the comfort and support that they provide.

Here are a few Birkenstocks with back straps that I absolutely loved, and I’m sure you will too!

Leather Slip-On Sandals (Out And About)

These sandals are a classic, and they are basically what everyone thinks of when they hear the word Birkenstock. The classic Birkenstocks are great for daily errands in the summer, as they will provide you with a ton of comfort and stability for your activities.

And you can drive in them without an issue. The outsole is not slippery, so you don’t have to worry about your feet slipping of the pedals. So if you are looking for a fine everyday sandal, definitely consider getting one of these styles.

I even wear a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals every day and have reviewed them here.


Water Friendly Sandals

These sandals are completely made of EVA, which is a very elastic and lightweight material. As such, they are perfectly fine for water, and you can even swim in them. Because they are so lightweight, you will barely even feel them on your feet. 

So here are a few water friendly Birkenstocks for everyone – literally. The shoes below are available in both men’s and women’s varieties, and some models are even available in children’s sizes.


The Chaco Sandals

Chacos are much more appropriate for hiking and similar activities than Birkenstocks. And they were also designed to be suitable for water sports, and will provide you with plenty of traction grip even in the water.

With Chaco sandals, the differences aren’t as big as with the Birkenstocks. Or in other words, there isn’t as much variety you can choose from. The main thing that differs across Chaco sandals is that some have a toe loop, while other don’t.

The Z1 models are sandals that don’t have a toe loop, and the Z2 models have one. I will show you some really good sandals from both of these categories. But, I think that we should first see what is it exactly that sets Chacos apart from Birkenstocks, and so many other brands on the market.


What Sets Chacos Apart From Other Brands?

The first thing that is specific to Chacos is the adjustability of the strap(s). Chaco sandals have a 360 degree strap, which I like to call the unistrap. It is a single piece of fabric, which you can adjust to fit you perfectly from all sides.

When you want to tighten the sandals, it is best to wear them while adjusting them. That will ensure that you don’t tighten them too much, but rather just perfectly. But when you want to loosen them, it’s best that you take them off first. That way the process will be much easier, and it will last shorter.

Chacos No Loop

Another thing that you won’t find in sandals from other brands is the Chacogrip outsole. It is made from durable rubber, and offers excellent grip and stability. The outsole was developed with water sports like rafting in mind, and with the intent of giving the wearer as much traction as possible.

So if you are looking for footwear that will perform as well in water as it does on dry land, look no further than Chaco. And apart from the Chacogrip, this brand also has an eco-friendly version of their outsole– the Ecotread. These outsoles are made from 25% recycled rubber, and they perform just as well as the Chacogrips.

Additionally, both outsoles are really thick, which will help a lot if you hike in them. You won’t be able to feel the ground that much, and your feet will stay comfortable.

Chacos Toe Loop

And there’s one more thing that is very Chaco in these sandals –the Luvseat footbed. It promotes healthy alignment, and it will give you plenty of arch support. However, the Birkenstock original footbed is hands down the best one for sandals, because of its unique design. But the Luvseat does come pretty close to it.


Chaco Sandals That We Loved

One thing to note about Chaco sandals is that, unlike Birkenstocks, there is a distinction between men’s and women’s shoes. Naturally there is a sizing difference, but there is also a difference in design and color, even though we are talking about the same model of the sandals. For example, there is a Zcloud sandal for both men and women, but in completely different colors. 

And there’s something else; there is much less variety with these than with Birkenstocks. The so-called unistrap really limits their design options, so all sandals basically look alike. There is that toe strap – noe strap difference, so I will divide this part according to that feature.

In addition to that, there are some sandals that feature criss cross straps and double, and they are called the ZX models. But I’m sure that that sounds a little confusing, so why don’t we move on to the photos? I’m sure everything will fall in place then. :>

Chaco Z (No Toe Strap)

Sandals For Women

Sandals For Men

Chaco Z2 (With Toe Strap)

Sandals For Women

Sandals For Men

ZX Sandals (With Double Straps)

Sandals For Women

Sandals For Men


Chacos Vs. Birkenstocks: Which Sandals Should You Get?

You know, I always hate this part because everything is not always so black and white. But it is what it is, and I will try to help you make that decision as much as I can. So, let’s talk about the purpose of the sandals.

Overall, Chacos are the better choice if you are going to engage in sporty activities. They will provide you with better grip and traction both on dry land and underwater, which is perfect for hiking or even rafting. If those are the things that you are most likely to be doing this summer, Chacos will be the perfect companion.

Chaco J106163 Men's Z/1 Classic, Covered Navy - 12
  • Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit
  • Adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers
  • Injection-molded ladder lock buckle
  • LUVSEAT PU midsole, Antimicrobial application for odor control, Vegan-friendly construction
  • Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber compound, 3.5mm lug depth in Outsole
Chaco Women's Zcloud Athletic Sandal
  • Double-strapped polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit with ajustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers
  • Injection-molded ladder lock buckle
  • Antimicrobial application for odor control
  • Women's specific LUVSEAT dual-density PU midsole
  • Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber compound with 3mm lug depth

If you are looking for the biggest amount of support you can get, I would advise you to go for a Z2 model – the one with the toe strap. They will definitely keep your entire foot in place and support you throughout all your adventures.

Chaco Women's Zcloud 2 Sport Sandal, Llama Angora, 8 M US
  • Polyester
  • Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit toe loop for secure fit adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers injection-molded ladder lock buckle
  • Women's specific LUVSEAT dual-density PU midsole Chaco Cloud cushioning for active comfort vegan-friendly construction
Sale
Chaco Men's Z2 Classic, Black, 9 M US
  • Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole along with a toe loop for a secure fit for a customized fit
  • Adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers
  • LUVSEAT PU midsole
  • Antimicrobial application for odor control
  • Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber outsole with 3.5mm deep lug

On the other hand, the Birkenstocks are kind of a classic, and they have one of the most comfortable footbed money can buy. If you don’t plan to go take on some difficult terrain this summer, then these will do just fine. They are incredibly comfortable for walking and very easy to get on and off – they are slip-ons, after all.

BIRKENSTOCK Men´s Kano White Synthetic Sandals 42 EU (M9/L11 US) R 500761
  • Regular width (, W, Normal)
  • Manufacturer: Birkenstock Material: synthetic Footbed: Birko Flor Sole: Alpro-Foam
  • Color: White
  • Footbed: Birko Flor Sole: Alpro-Foam
  • Made in Germany and send directly from Germany
Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Stone Sandals - 45 EU Narrow
  • Narrow width (, S, XN, Schmal, Estrecho, Slim, étroit, stretta)
  • Manufacturer: Birkenstock Material: Birkibuc Footbed: Birkibuc Sole: EVA
  • Color: stone
  • Footbed: Birkibuc Sole: EVA
  • Made in Germany and send directly from Germany

But, as I always say, you should buy the sandals that your heart wants. I know when I have my mind set on something, no amount of facts can change my mind. So head over to Amazon to check out the prices of all these awesome sandals. And even if you regret buying something, you don’t have to stress about anything because returns are free!

Related Posts: Tevas vs Chacos OR Walking Sandals For Women


What To Look For

Materials And Purpose

Sandals of different materials are intended for different purposes. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what you buying, if you want to get the most out of your new footwear.

You wouldn’t submerge your new leather sandals in the water, just as you wouldn’t go hiking in rubber ones. Also, if you are looking for hiking sandals, I can tell you right now that Chacos will be your best option.

Birkenstock doesn’t make sandals that are purely intended for hiking. And while they are incredibly comfortable, you will probably want something more specialized. They do have some sandals with back straps that are okay for some light hiking activities, and I will show you those.

When I show you the sandals, I will let you know in the heading what they are intended for. So, be sure to pay attention to that so that you can buy precisely the shoes that you need.

Casual vs. Sporty

Chaco sandals were designed with water sports in mind. Because of that, they will offer you incredible grip and traction in water, but also on dry land. So if you are looking for something sporty, they are the better option.

On the other hand, the Birkenstocks are more casual, and more suitable for everyday wear. There are a few models that are water friendly, but in the sense that you can safely submerge them. I fear that they won’t provide you with as much traction as the Chacos.

So depending on what you need the sandals for, you can decide on a brand right now. And you can jump that section of the review with the quick navigation above. :>

Pricing

Let’s be clear about one thing; neither of these brands makes cheap footwear. And funnily enough, they are priced similarly. However, the prices largely depend on the type of the sandal, but also on the size that you wear.

So, for example, Birkenstock will be your best choice if you are looking for water friendly sandals that you can wear to the beach or to swim in. they are great for that, and you can buy them for as low as $30. But, they aren’t the better choice if underwater grip is what you are looking for.

On the other hand, the Chacos are cheaper on average. Rarely do they cost more than $100, which is not the case with Birkenstocks. But, as I said before, that depends on a lot of factors, so I can’t really tell you to choose a brand just based on price.

I can, however, advise you to check out all the options. So let’s say you really like a pair of blue Birkenstocks, but they cost $150. Maybe you can get them in a different color for half the price – that is often the case. So keep an open mind, and don’t purchase anything on impulse.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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