So, you have a brand new pair of Chacos – you paid top dollar for these sandals as they’re something you’ve always wanted to have.
However, your backcountry escapade is taking place soon and you’d really like to avoid having to deal with blisters. In fact, you may even be panicking right now, with a bunch of questions running through your mind.
And the biggest of these questions is: how do I quickly break in my new Chacos? Is it even possible to do something like that? For a blister-free experience in your new Chaco sandals, keep reading – here’s everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
What are Chacos?
As you can already guess, “Chacos” is how most people call sandals designed, manufactured, and sold by the Michigan-based company Chaco.
These minimalist sandals are designed to be worn on trekking trails, which is precisely why they’re durable and lightweight – they’re a phenomenal alternative to sneakers and boots, especially when it comes to summertime adventures in the Great Outdoors.
Each pair of these sandals is manufactured to be long-lasting and to provide superb comfort, which is precisely why Chacos became so popular in the last couple of decades.
Another reason why this company has thousands of loyal followers all over the country is its repair program. In other words, once you get yourself a pair of these sandals, you’ll never have to throw them away.
Just like boots, sneakers, and other types of footwear, Chaco sandals are designed to provide your feet with comfort and support no matter what kind of terrain you use them on. And that’s precisely what turns them into the world’s best lightweight sandals one can use for traveling, both in and out of the city.
Features of the Chaco Sandals
For the last three decades, the Chacos have been made to be a kind of breathable, lightweight footwear that people can wear for hours on end without feeling any discomfort.
The thing that makes these shoes so good is the design that combines repairability and sustainability all in one footwear. These are the three primary features of most Chacos available on today’s market:
- An adjustable buckle, which makes fitting into these sandals exceptionally easy. A buckle won’t loosen as quickly as your standard Velcro fastener.
- A Z-strapped design, whose job is to increase the lifespan of the sandals and improve the comfort they provide.
- A hard sole, which supports the wearer’s arch and foot while he or she is trekking. This part of the sandal allows easy movement over all types of terrain, including slippery bottoms of streams.
With a pair of sandals made by Chaco, one never has to worry about the safety of his or her feet. Whether you opt for a pair with or without a toe loop, you’ll be covered.
The straps, on the other hand, are always well-placed and keep the wearer’s feet firmly on the ground without causing any discomfort. And finally, most of the outsoles found on Chacos are made out of Vibram, which greatly contributes to the low weight of these sandals.
Do I Have to Break in Chacos?
If you ask this question any owner of Chaco sandals, he or she will probably tell you that their shoes were comfortable and cozy right from the start – people rarely remember the discomforts that come with the break-in period.
But in reality, yes – new Chacos do need to be broken in, just like any other type of footwear.
That’s why talking to a person who has just bought a pair of Chacos is completely different than speaking to someone who has been using these sandals for years. When talking with the former individuals, you tend to hear comments such as these:
- These hurt my feet so much!
- Will these sandals ever become comfortable?
- Are the footbeds of Chacos supposed to be this hard?
- After wearing these sandals for a time, I am limping around the house!
Truth be told, a brand new pair of Chacos looks and feels completely different than the one that has been used for years. New Chaco sandals are far from cushy, soft shoes that most of the people who have been wearing them for some time usually call them.
The footbed can feel quite firm. Chacos that feature a toe strap can cause you to have serious blisters between your toes. And lastly, not getting these sandals in the right size means risking having the arch support bruise the bottom of your feet.
All of this brings us to a simple conclusion – yes, these sandals have to be broken in. In other words, the only way to make them feel comfortable is by, well, wearing them.
Even though it’s not the most fashionable thing to do, pairing your Chacos with a good pair of hiking socks may make everything easier.
How Long Does the Break-In Period Last?
If you’ve just got yourself a pair of brand new Chacos and you can’t wait to wear them during your big backcountry adventure that is taking place next weekend, you probably won’t like what you’re about to hear next.
In order to reach the point where a pair of new Chaco sandals become comfortable, one needs to wear them every day for a couple of hours over the period of two weeks. The usual reaction to this stark reality is – “I don’t have that much time!”
An obvious way to speed up this process would be to wear them all day long for a period of four to seven days.
However, there’s a major disadvantage to this method – you are almost certain to experience horrible blisters and your feet are guaranteed to be sore at each day’s end. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to embark on an outdoor adventure with achy feet.
In conclusion, the wisest thing one can do in this regard is to simply get a pair of brand new Chacos at least two weeks before actually using them on the trail. This provides the buyer with enough time to break these sandals in and make them comfortable enough for the upcoming trip.
Can I Make my Chacos More Comfortable by Stretching Out the Straps?
When it comes to breaking in a pair of Chaco sandals, one very important thing you’ll have to do is ensure that your straps are properly adjusted. Failing to do so means suffering unnecessary pain, and that’s something I can guarantee – I learned it the hard way.
Luckily for all those who decide to buy a pair of Chaco sandals, the company has a strap adjuster guide on its official website. This should assist you in getting the perfect fit from the straps on your Chaco sandals.
Comfort-wise, I’ve noticed that the Chacos from the company’s Z/Cloud lineup have significantly more footbed cushioning than the other models. So, if you’re looking for a genuinely comfortable pair of Chacos, I would suggest getting a pair from the Z/Cloud range of sandals.
If you’ve been searching online about how to quickly break in your Chacos – and you probably have, since you’re here – there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen people recommending other people to put their sandals into an oven.
According to these individuals, leaving a pair of Chacos in an oven for a couple of minutes can soften up the footbeds of these sandals and force them to conform to the owner’s feet sooner than they usually would.
Is this something you should try as well? It absolutely isn’t – never expose your Chacos to extremely high temperatures! Putting this kind of footwear into an oven can easily dissolve the adhesive that is present between the outsole and the footbed.
Doing something like this could cause you to end up with a pair of broken Chaco sandals that you won’t be able to wear at all. Don’t throw your money away!
When it comes to making a pair of these sandals cozy, getting the arch support in an appropriate place for one’s feet is crucial. And that’s also why it’s so important to pay close attention while shopping for Chacos and get them in the correct size – otherwise, you’re bound to have issues with breaking into your brand new sandals.
While you should definitely avoid putting your Chacos into an oven, there is one other trick that’s completely safe and that you can do – stretching their straps with the help of water. To soften the straps, you will have to stretch them out, and that’s something you can do by getting them really wet as soon as possible.
Do this by purposefully walking through crashing waves at the beach or through forest creeks whenever you can. And if you’re still unable to leave your home at the moment, simply use a garden hose on your sandals or wear them whenever you’re taking a shower.
If your Chacos are uncomfortable even after a couple of weeks, it might be a good idea to go with some other hiking sandals. Check out my Teva vs Chaco sandals comparison. And if you come to the conclusion that hiking sandals aren’t for you after all, check out my post on the best hiking shoes.
With Chaco sandals, one needs to be patient – that much is sure. It takes a couple of weeks for them to be appropriately broken in.
Keep in mind that dealing with some pain and blisters while wearing a brand new pair of Chacos is completely normal.
In any case, it’s a small price to pay for owning and using the world’s best trekking sandals that will become extremely comfortable once you break them in.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.