Versatile and packable, the Chaco Low Down provides a lightweight choice to its mighty predecessor

Chaco takes a next step with the Lowdown Sandal and Slide. I first wore Chaco sandals in 1990. I was heading out for a Southwest triple float: for us that meant the San Juan, Dolores and Green rivers. I’d lost one of my Teva’s on the Salt River, outside of Phoenix, the week before—the water had been crazy fast and literally pulled the sandal right off my foot. 

I knew I didn’t want to wear heavy tennis shoes on the raft. Fortunately, a friend who frequently guided on the Grand Canyon had the answer. He handed me what I thought was a somewhat odd-looking sandal. There were all these straps that criss-crossed the upper foot. Nothing like what I was used to. But as they say, beggars can’t be choosers, so I wore them. 

And I was hooked. 

For the next 30 years I was a “Chaco Girl.” And I raised three “Chaco Girls.” The strappy, waterproof, adjustable sandals followed my family through many beach, river and lake adventures. Once, all three of my girls actually swam from the United States to Mexico in their Chacos (totally accidentally) but that’s a story for another day. 

Chaco Lowdown
With a thinner sole and a lower profile, the lean and light Chaco Lowdown Sandal can hit the trail or a night on the town.Chaco

When Chaco mentioned that they had a new model, the Lowdown, I was intrigued. Brand representatives sent out two pair … one in a sandal version and the other a slide. What I liked is that the over-the-foot straps are adjustable, so even narrow, lower-volume feet get a secure fit. 


The first thing you notice about the Lowdown is that the EVA sole is thinner and lower profile than previous models. This makes them more packable. If you’re like me you bring both tennis shoes and sandals along on river trips. The thinner sole also makes them lighter. Which, after nearly 50 miles of stand-up-paddling on the John Day River (Oregon), and an equal amount of hiking, helped me preserve valuable energy. 

Chaco Lowdown
For fans of the Chaco Classic model (below), this side-by-side comparison with the Lowdown (above) shows the difference in sole thickness, construction and strap configuration.Chaco

The sandal’s outsole features a nice, rugged tread. The tread felt as at home on the floor of the SUP as it did on some of the rocky trails I traversed for prime sunset spots and better views of the intricate geological formations along the river. 

The choice

I’ve added both the Lowdown Slide and Sandal to my everyday gear rotation. If you’re debating about which one to get, I’d go with the Sandal for river and lake use. Its adjustable heel strap locks in the fit like duct tape. But for everyday wear around town, you can’t beat the Slide for its easy-on, easy-off convenience and low-profile, urban-friendly elegance.

Mens and Womens, $85