While Chaco made its name producing rugged, supportive sandals, the company’s continued foray into producing hiking shoes should be equally successful as long as it continues to crank out products like the Canyonland Low.
Comfortable and tough as nails, the Canyonland Low gave us plenty to crow about. And the first thing we noticed was the substantial Biocentric insole. While many shoe manufacturers continue to outfit low-cut hikers with flimsy insoles that offer little to no support, the Canyonland’s well-constructed insole eliminates the need to purchase an aftermarket footbed. A rigid platform spans three-quarters of the length of the insole, and this is topped with a cushioned platform that is contoured to cradle the foot. We especially liked the deep, padded heel cup, which keeps the rear of the foot seated and absorbs shock when bounding down boulders. Overall, the insole played a key role in making this shoe feel great, even after 10-mile days on the trail.
Adding to the cushy feel of the Canyonland is the thick layer of cushioning at the throat, which forms a padded wall around the ankle. As we were negotiating a ravine, this protective wrap prevented the shoe from biting into our ankles.
Beyond the comfort factor, this shoe is a good scrambler due to its excellent traction. The outsole is comprised of grippy rubber that’s soft, but not too soft, so it won’t wear down quickly. After months of wear on trails, boulder fields and sidewalks, the diamond-shaped lugs on our Canyonlands remain in good shape.
While the Canyonland is suitable for kicking around downtown, it’s truly built for walking in rugged terrain. To shield the foot from hard knocks and scrapes, there is a seemingly indestructible skin of synthetic material wrapped around the heel, forefoot and toe areas of the upper. Fortunately, we found that the material was not stiff and allowed the shoe to flex well. An overlay of plastic running from the midfoot to the heel serves as an extra layer of armor and adds some stiffness to make the shoe perform more like a true hiker, rather than a sneaker. The sturdy materials of the upper do add weight, and each shoe tips the scale at about 1 pounds, 2 ounces, but that’s not bad for a high-functioning, low-cut light hiker.
An interesting aspect of the shoe is its split lacing system, which allowed us to secure the lower laces and upper laces with separate levels of tightness. Also, lace loops extend to the toe area to provide a bit more security and response on sketchy footholds. If there was any knock on the shoes, it was the laces themselves. The thin, round cords were a bit slick and prone to becoming loose or untied—an area that we hope Chaco will address.
As for the overall fit, out tester with low-volume feet reported that the shoes were a bit roomy, and he had to crank the laces to the max. But, a tester with a medium-volume foot reported that the shoes fit well, and the laces are widely adjustable to accommodate a variety of foot types.
Aside from the concern with the laces, the Canyonland Low is a solid choice for those who want a shoe with a little more muscle to handle rough and tough trails.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $100
For more information:www.chacousa.com