Last Updated: July 13, 2020

Keens Vs. Chacos

keens vs tevas

It is almost summer! And if you are as excited as me, then you know it's time to get some decent sandals and let your feet breathe for a little while. But which ones should you get - Keens or Chacos?

I am here to help you answer that. By the end of this comparison you will have all the information you need to make a purchase that you will never regret. We'll talk about the main differences between the sandals from these two brands, and then we'll take a look at some of their bestsellers. 

If you are ready to find yourself a pair of sandals for this summer (and the next one) then you are in the right place. All you have to do is keep reading and maybe take a few notes, so you can remind yourself exactly why you chose them. 

Keens or Chacos? It's time do find out. 

The Main Differences Between Keens And Chacos

I will tell you all about the main differences between Keens and Chacos in this section. Stuff like, why are ones better for hiking and others for underwater. Or which ones will offer you better ankle support, which ones will last you longer etc. 

If those are the same questions you are asking yourself, then good. I have the answers and I am dying to share them with you! So, let's get to it. 

Keens vs Chacos

  • Keens are made with toe protection in mind. Most models are strong rubber toe protection
  • Keens also enclose and support the whole foot (around, and uner) and are great for hiking or walking long distances
  • Chacos have super-adjustable straps which can easily be tailored to your foot
  • Chacos are usually more stylish and more open (less straps) - so better for warm weather and wearing out in town
  • Chacos have more options for sandals to wear in the water and will dry faster (Keen has the Whisperer, which is meant for water though)

What Purpose Do You Need Them For?

Do you need sandals just to get around town, or do you need a pair that you can wear hiking? That is the most important question that you need to ask yourself, because there are plenty of different types of sandals from both of these manufacturers.

For example, look at these two pairs:

KEEN Womens Whisper Sandal, Summer fig/crabapple, 10 M US
KEEN Women's ANA Cortez Sandal-W, Black/Black, 10 M US

The sandals on the right are perfectly fine for walking around the town (mostly on concrete) but you would have a hard time hiking in them. The ankle strap is very thin and it won’t provide much ankle support. Also, this type of outsole doesn’t offer as much grip as you would need to take on rocky terrain.

The Whisper sandals, on the other hand, are perfectly suitable for hiking. In fact, they were built for it. They will hold your entire foot in place, and the chances that you are going to slip and sprain your ankle are incredibly slim.

But then again, if you are looking for sandals that you can safely submerge underwater, you would be better off with Chacos. Why? Because almost all of them were built with rubber soles and are actually intended to go underwater. And yes, the Whisper sandals are actually meant to be worn underwater, but the straps on them will dry much slower than the ones on Chacos. But we will talk a little bit more about that in the next section, since it is dedicated to materials. 

Materials Are Important!

Different materials influence almost everything about the sandal. They influence their purpose, durability, fit and simply the overall quality of the shoe.

Both of these brands use high quality materials, which is precisely why their shoes aren’t really cheap. But that’s a good thing; it means that the sandals from both brands will be very durable, and that you will wear them for years.

But, compare these two sandals:

KEEN Women's ANA Cortez Sandal-W, Black/Black, 10 M US
Chaco Women's ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal, BOOST BLACK, 8 M US

The Keens (on the left) have a leather upper and a cork midsole – materials that you don’t want to get underwater for longer periods of time. After all, you don’t want your new and fancy sandals to fall apart, do you?

The Chacos, however, are built from rubber, which holds up pretty well in water. And they have a non-slip footbed, which ensures that you will have plenty of stability. Plus, the upper part of the sandal is made of thin straps, which will dry really quick, especially in the sun.

Don’t get me wrong – Keen also makes sandals that you can wear underwater. But, it is important to know the difference between the ones you can submerge and the ones you can’t. Otherwise, you are just going to throw away money, and neither of us wants that.

The Keen Whisper sandal from the previous section is also an underwater shoe. But, the straps on it are much wider, which means that it will dry more slowly. And water adds weight to the shoe, which is why Chacos have an upper hand with their thin straps.

And one more thing; if you are in need of sandals for hiking or just walking around town, comfort should be your main priority. If that’s the case, then you should look for some other, more comfortable materials. For example, the Keen Newport sandal has a microfiber footbed cover, which is much softer than rubber and will be much more comfortable to walk around in on dry land.

Bottom line: Once you’ve figured out what you need the sandals for, be sure to check out what they are made of. It’s the only way you can ensure that they are built for that purpose, and that you will be comfortable in them.  

Are They Adjustable?

Once you have figured out the previous two things, you need to ensure that the sandals will in fact fit your feet perfectly. 

I know a lot of people who have issues with finding proper-fitting footwear. It's usually because they have high arches are really wide feet, and so rarely anything fits just right. And this part of the comparison won't be as long. 

If you often have issues with shoes fitting properly, then I strongly suggest you get a pair of Chacos. Their sandals are adjustable all around - the strap(s) can be loosened and widened as much as you need them to, and you can see how in these photos. 

Chacos Adjustment

That's if you are loosening the sandal. If you want to tighten it, it's going to be easier if you put it on, and then just pull on the straps. 

As for the Keens, some are adjustable and some aren't. But one thing is for sure; none of them are as adjustable as Chacos.

Traction, Support And Grip Make The Sandal

Just like the materials, all of these go hand in hand with the purpose of the shoes. If you are looking for sandals to wear everyday, then you won’t need as much traction as you would for hiking.

Now, it is a little bit hard to talk about these things without a particular sandal in mind, because every pair is different. But there are some general tips I can give you that will help you ensure you get everything you need.

Sandals that have very thin straps will give you lousy ankle and arch support, and you are more likely to hurt yourself while wearing them, even on concrete.

Sandals with completely smooth outsoles have terrible traction, and you don’t want to wear them hiking. Maybe for a night out, but definitely not on rocky terrain.

Also, if you want to take on really difficult terrain, you will want toe protection. Keen has several sandals with closed toes, and they are a better choice for more demanding terrain.

But in general, regarding grip and traction, neither of these brands will disappoint you. Almost every sandal they make has a non-marking outsole, with plenty of thick lugs. Hence the higher price tags. 

Keen Sandals Review

Now that I've told you everything you need to know about the differences between the two brands, it's time to look at some of their products. I'll show you some of their best selling pairs for different activities - everyday wear, hiking and for water. And we'll start with some Keens!

KEEN Women's ANA Cortez Sandal-W, Black/Black, 10 M US
KEEN Women's ANA Cortez Sandal-W, Black/Black, 10 M US

These sandals are stylish! That makes them an awesome addition to your closet, because you can wear them with anything. They go with skirts, dresses and jeans, and they will keep you pretty comfortable throughout the day. And that is the most important thing. 

The KEEN.CUSH footbed is the reason why they are comfy. It consists of memory foam, PU and cork, all of which work together to perfectly conform to the shape of your foot. That is one of the main reasons why I suggest these sandals for everyday wear. 

Another one is the non-marking rubber outsole. They won't leave any traces, and they will give you excellent grip and traction on pavement. And since they are rubber, you are also okay to drive in them. You foot won't slip off the pedal, as it would in some other sandals. 

In terms of fit, an upside is that these Keens are available in half-sizes. A downside is that the toe strap isn't adjustable, which might be a problem if you have wide feet. However, the ankle strap is very adjustable, and you can get it to fit you perfectly, so that it provides you with plenty of support. 

KEEN Womens Whisper Sandal, Summer fig/crabapple, 10 M US
KEEN Womens Whisper Sandal, Summer fig/crabapple, 10 M US

There are a couple other models of Keens that are safe to wear underwater, but they all look alike. So, let's go with the Whisper. 

The good thing about these sandals is that they are versatile. They are good for both hiking and wearing underwater, and you will have more than enough support and traction in them. They also offer toe protection, and have enough straps to hold your feet in place whatever you step on. And the multidirectional lugs on the outsole guarantee great traction anywhere. 

One upside of the Whisper sandals is that they are highly adjustable, with elastic bungee cords. You can tighten it as much as you need to get the sandals to fit you just right. However, people with wider fit might still experience some issues with fit, and I would advise them to check out some Chacos instead. 

A downside of these sandals is that they have too much straps. Hear me out; when you step into water in these, all of those straps will absorb water. That will make the sandals heavier, and it will also mean that they'll make that slushy sound when you walk on dry land after that. And because there are so many different straps, they will dry slowly

Overall, I like the versatility of these sandals. If you want to get one pair that you can wear for multiple purposes, then these are an awesome choice. But, if you want sandals just for water, then you should check out the Chacos. 

KEEN Women's Newport EVO-W Sandal, Sand Trap/Provincial Blue, 9 M US
KEEN Women's Newport EVO-W Sandal, Sand Trap/Provincial Blue, 9 M US

You can probably tell from the photos that the shape of these is pretty similar to the shape of the Whisper sandals. The only difference is that the Newport sandals have even thicker straps, that will do a better job of keeping your foot in place, and providing you with arch (and also ankle) support. 

Also, these Keens will give you excellent traction on dry land. Just look at those lugs on the second photo! That outsole is non-marking with razor siping, and it promises great grip on pretty much any surface. 

In theory, you could also wear these underwater, but I wouldn't for two reasons. One is that the footbed is somewhat slippery when wet, and you could easily slip and fall. Another reason is that they are kind of heavy, and swimming in these wouldn't be enjoyable. And just imagine how long it would take them to completely dry off...

But for hiking, I doubt you'l find a better sandal. The Newport sandals also offer toe protection, on top of everything else. And the metatomical footbed covered with micro fibers will definitely keep you comfortable throughout your adventures. 

Tip: Another great option that is slightly light is the Clearwater CNX.

Chaco Sandals Review

We've checked out some Keens, and now it's time to check out some Chcos.

In general, you will prefer these sandals if you are looking for something that you can wear underwater and swim in, since Chacos were designed for that. They are also more adjustable then Keens, and if you usually have a hard time finding footwear that fits, these are the perfect choice. 

Chaco Women's Fallon Sandal, Sand, 7 Medium US
Chaco Women's Fallon Sandal, Sand, 7 Medium US

Leather sandals are always great for everyday. They look cool and stylish, and they go well with pretty much every outfit in your closet. You will get a lot of use out of them, and your feet will still stay comfortable. 

The Fallon sandals feature a full-grain leather upper, and a suede footbed. So, definitely avoid having these underwater, as suede is a material that you can't really wear if there's any sign of rain. But it's more than suitable for summer, and it definitely feels comfy on your feet. 

These Chacos feature the Luvseat footbed, which promises comfort around the clock. It conforms perfectly the shape of your foot, and the thick platform ensures that you won't feel like you are walking barefoot on concrete - which is most common problem with sandals for everyday wear. 

And the rubber outsole also helps with that. It's non marking, and it's good for walking around the town on flat surfaces. I'm also pretty sure that you can drive in these sandals, as the outsole doesn't look slippery at all. But definitely avoid using these for hiking, both because of the materials and because of the lack of lugs on the outsole. 

Chaco Women's ZX3 Classic, XOXO Black, 5 W US

Just like pretty much any other Chaco sandal, the ZX3 is great for walking underwater. First, the non slip footbed means that it won't be too different from walking on dry land, in terms of stability. 

Second, the straps are very thin, which means that they will dry off pretty quickly. But, there is also enough of them that you don't have to worry about the sandal holding your foot in place - it most certainly will. And the toe lop is a bonus for me, as it offers even more stability. 

The outsole of these sandals is rubber, with 3mm deep lugs. Also, it is non-marking, with ChacoGrip technology that promises great traction underwater. 

They aren't the lightest sandals ever, but at least they won't be much heavier when they are wet, and that's a plus. That also means that they will be more comfortable for swimming, as you won't feel like they are dragging you down. 

Overall, since Chacos are generally built for water sports, these won't disappoint you. And if you don't really like them, you could go for any other model - toe loop, no loop, one strap, two straps - it doesn't really matter. What matters is that all of them will keep you comfortable and stable in your underwater adventures. 

Chaco Women's Z2 Classic Athletic Sandal, Lavender Diamond, 6 M US

Technically, you could wear any one Chaco sandal for hiking, because almost all of them have the same rubber outsole and non-slip footbed.

But, my concern is that they are too open to protect your feet as well as Keens do. You know, if you encounter some high grass, or terrain where there are rocks pocking at you, Chacos won’t really protect your feet from cuts and bruises. Or from bugs.

That is why I strongly recommend Keens for hiking. But, if you are asking me is it at all possible to hike in Chacos, the answer is yes. But, they wouldn’t be my first choice, that’s all.

They have pretty much the same outsole as the ZX3, so they will provide you with good traction and grip. And I think that the single thick strap of these particular Chacos will do a better job of providing you with stability and arch support on a more demanding terrain. 

And there is the obvious upside - the versatility. You can get these for some light hiking, and they are perfectly fine for underwater. So overall, you get a 2-in-1 sandal and actually save some money in the long run. 

Keens Vs. Chacos: Favorite Sandals

I'll try to make this quick. I'll tell you what I think the best sandal is for each category, and why. 

For hiking, I think you are much better off with a pair of Keens. Pretty much any pair of Keens would do, because all of these sandals were made for sporty and outdoorsy women. But we talked about the Newport sandals in this review, and so I suggest you get those. They will protect your feet no matter what, and they will keep you very comfortable at the same time - regardless of what you step on. And they are also good for some light submerging - you know, creeks, river, maybe the edge of the sea. Just don't try to swim in them!

KEEN Women's Newport EVO-W Sandal, Sand Trap/Provincial Blue, 9 M US
  • Washable polyester webbing upper
  • Compression molded Eva midsole
  • Non-marking rubber outsole

If you are looking to get a pair of good sandals that you can wear to run around underwater, then Chacos will be your best friend. In particular, I think you will love the ZX3 sandals. Who said you can't be stylish even underwater? And you can get them in a variety of different colors, so be sure to choose one that will go well with most of your closet. Plus, you can also use these to do some light hiking - around the beach or on some easy terrain. Just don't wear them if there is a lot of tall grass or sharp rocks - you could cut your feet, as these are really open sandals. 

Chaco Women's ZX/3À Classic Scatter Black/White 8 B US
  • Triple-strapped polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit, Injection-molded ladder lock buckle
  • Toe loop for secure fit
  • Adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers
  • Women's specific LUVSEAT PU midsole, Antimicrobial application for odor control
  • Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber compound, 3mm lug depth in Outsole

And if you want something to wear to school or work, or just walk around town running errands or for coffee dates, then I think you should choose them yourself. Both the Chaco Fallon and the Keen Ana Cortez sandals are incredibly comfortable and made from premium leather. They won't let your feet tire easily, and you will feel like you are walking on pillows, and not hot concrete. Plus, both of these sandals are very stylish, and they go great with both day and night outfit. I think you should make this decision, as the preference ultimately depends on your personal style. 

KEEN Women's ANA Cortez Sandal-W, Black/Black, 10 M US
  • Synthetic upper
  • Metatomical EVA footbed
  • Non-marking rubber outsole
Chaco Women's Fallon Sandal, Sand, 7 Medium US
  • Premium full-grain unlined leather upper with suede footbed
  • Antique finish metal buckle
  • Leather wrapped Women's specific LUVSEAT PU midsole
  • Non-marking rubber compound

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this thorough comparison of Chacos and Keens, and I really hope that you learned something new and found a pair of sandals for this summer. The only thing left to do is to head over to Amazon, to check out the prices of these sandals and get that pair that you know you need! :> 

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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