Tread Labs Redway vs Chaco Z/1 Classic

Sandal Comparison: Tread Labs Redway vs. Chaco Z/1

by Mark Paigen 5 minute read

Searching for the perfect adventure sandals often means looking for a balance between support and comfort. In this comparison, we're focusing on two outstanding options: Tread Labs’ Redway sandals and Chaco’s Z/1 sandals, both representing top-quality choices from renowned brands. Let's explore their features and see how they stack up against each other.

The Basics: TL;DR ---

  • Both the Tread Labs Redway and Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals feature open-toe, adjustable designs.
  • Chacos are geared towards rugged use and quicker drying times. Tread Labs offers a sportier, more adaptable style.
  • Chacos are heavier with less cushioning, whereas Tread Labs are lighter but slower to dry.
  • Both sandals cater to active individuals who value comfort from arch support and need versatile sandals for both water and land activities.
Shop Men's Redway

Table of Contents

  1. What are the differences between Tread Labs Redway and Chaco Z/1 Classic?

  2. Should I buy Chaco Z/1 or Tread Labs Redway?
    1. Versatility
    2. Fit
    3. Durability
    4. Maintenance
    5. Value
    6. Style
    7. The Bottom Line

What are the differences between Tread Labs Redway and Chaco Z/1 Classic?

Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals next to Tread Labs Men's Redway Sandal

This chart shows Chaco Z/1 Classic (left) head-to-head with Tread Labs Redway (right). It’s based on information taken from each company’s website and our own direct observation.

  Chaco Z/1 Classic Tread Labs Redway
Company History

In 1989, Mark Paigen, a rafting guide, developed a new outdoor sandal that would meet the demands of his profession and provide excellent foot support. The first Chaco sandal featured a unique design with a single, continuous strap and a buckle closure, replacing the traditional Velcro system.

In 2015, Chaco founder, Mark Paigen, established Tread Labs. This venture was born out of his extensive experience with Chaco and a desire to advance the biomechanical principles that defined Chaco's success. Paigen's goal with Tread Labs was to craft sandals that epitomized exceptional comfort, drawing upon his 30 years of expertise in the field.
Product Description (from website) “Streamlined and dependable since 1989, our Classic series is comprised of only 8 component parts, making for the simple, timeless sandal design that made our name. Every pair comes standard with adjustable straps that custom-fits to your foot, plus our podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT™ PU footbed for all-day comfort and support. Now featuring ChacoGrip™ rubber for our best performing Classic outsole to date. Designed with repairability through ReChaco” "Rugged, supportive, and capable, Redway sandals support your leap of faith into the unknown, promising a secure takeoff and a soft landing. The anatomical footbed supports your arches and the sturdy straps and unbreakable buckles keep you locked down. Climb off the fence and go all in."
Best Use Rugged Trail + River Casual, Everyday, Light Trail
Style/Adjustment A single, continuous strap allows excellent adjustment with a single plastic buckle. Dual strap design with a heel strap. Closes with dual adjustable aluminum buckles.

Arch Support

1 = Flat

5 = High Arch Support


Contoured arch support with a raised ‘wings’ on either side of your heel.


Contoured arch support with a moderate heel cup.

Footbed Surface Polyurethane Microfiber suede
Midsole Medium density polyurethane Ultra-Lightweight Polyurethane
Outsole ChacoGrip™ rubber compound. Resoleable at Chaco. Durable Rubber, 13% recycled content. All Tread Labs Sandals are resoleable.
Upper Polyester jacquard webbing 3D knitted uppers (Made from 100% recycled polyester)
Closure Single injection-molded buckle Dual aluminum buckles


Polyurethane and rubber are durable and long lasting


Polyurethane and rubber are durable and long lasting

24 oz/pr 

20 oz/pr

Break-in Time 1-2 weeks Nearly none
Water-friendliness Polyurethane footbeds dry almost instantly. Polyester straps dry more slowly. Machine washable. Polyester uppers dry at the same rate as Chaco straps. Microfiber footbeds dry more slowly than Chaco polyurethane footbeds. Machine washable.

US Gender Specific Sizing

Whole Sizes

Women 5-12

Men 7-15

US Gender Specific Sizing

Whole Sizes

Men 8-13
Fit Guarantee

Chaco accepts unworn merchandise within 30 days of delivery. A return shipping charge of $5.00 will be deducted from your refund.

Tread Labs sandals can be returned in new condition for free within 30 days. Tread Labs pays return shipping.





Standard FedEx Shipping $8, free on orders over $74

USPS First Class Shipping (2-3 Days) = Free


Chaco Z/1 Classic

Men's Redway Sandal


Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal next to Tread Labs Redway sandal (viewed from the side)

Should I buy Chaco Z/1 or Tread Labs Redway?

Both Tread Labs and Chaco sandals are designed with a focus on arch support and lasting comfort through their contoured footbeds. The key distinction lies in their intended use. While the Chaco Z/1 is built for rugged outdoor activities like river and trail adventures, the Tread Labs Redway is more suited for everyday town and light trail experiences.


The Chaco Z/1 stands out as a durable, water-friendly sandal tailored for adventurous activities. Its firm midsoles offer stability for off-trail use, but with a trade-off in weight and cushioning compared to the Redway. It's well-suited for backpacking and extreme outdoor pursuits.

Conversely, the Redway is designed for comfort, boasting a lighter weight and a running shoe-inspired midsole. Its microfiber footbed enhances comfort, though it dries slower than polyurethane. Fashionably sleek, the Redway offers a more modern aesthetic suitable for a range of casual to semi-active settings.


Both the Chaco Z/1 and Tread Labs Redway are open toe sandals designed with durable polyurethane midsoles and offer robust arch support. The Redway's arch is slightly higher, while the Z/1's arch extends further forward.

The Redway design is inspired by Tread Labs' innovative insole design. Redway sandals feature significant toe and heel spring, similar to running shoes, that will enhance your natural stride.  The midsoles on Redway sandals are topped with a soft microfiber suede, while the Z/1's midsoles lack a top cover so your feet will directly contact the firm polyurethane of the midsole.

The Z/1 features a unique, single forefoot strap system, which securely anchors the foot but will require some adjustment for the perfect fit.  This system may not accommodate people with very narrow feet.

On the other hand, Redway sandals have a straightforward system with two adjustable buckles, ensuring a stable and personalized fit without the risk of straps self-adjusting. Both models provide excellent support, but their design caters to different user preferences in adjustability and foot support.



Firm polyurethane underfoot vs. soft microfiber suede underfoot

Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal next to Tread Labs Redway sandal (viewed from the top)



Both the Redway and Z/1 sandals are constructed from long-lasting PU and robust rubber. Both brands also offer services to repair and resole their products. This ensures both styles of sandals are a durable choice for extended use.


Chaco advises a gentle machine wash with mild detergent for cleaning their Z/1 sandals. To prevent strap sticking and odors, "flossing" the straps is recommended due to potential sand and grit accumulation.

Tread Labs' Redway sandals can also be machine washed and should be air-dried. Regular washing is suggested by Tread Labs to maintain the sandals' freshness.


Both the Z/1 and Redway sandals are made from high-quality materials and come from reputable brands. The Z/1 is priced $25 lower, offering affordability. The Redway, while costlier, includes the perk of free shipping and returns when purchased online, adding value to the slightly higher price point.


The aesthetic appeal of each sandal varies based on personal preference. Chaco's distinctive style, with its variety of colors and patterns, has attracted dedicated fans and garnered some criticism.

On the other hand, Tread Labs presents a minimalist, streamlined design that is characterized by simple lines and rich colors, offering a more modern and sporty look. As a newer brand, Tread Labs lacks the long history and tradition associated with Chaco.  Style-wise, Chaco vs. Tread Labs is up to you.

The Bottom Line

While we have a preference for the lighter weight and softer feel of Tread Labs' Redway sandals, we also recognize the remarkable adventure-focused products from Chaco. Choosing between the Z/1 and Redway, or any other supportive sandal, ultimately benefits your feet by providing necessary support. The best way to decide is by trying both styles and letting your feet decide.

Shop Men's Redway
Chaco Z/1 Classic v. Tread Labs Redway Sandal Durable Rubber Outsoles
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