THE GOOD:Protective rubber around the toes and heels plus sticky, high-traction EcoTread outsoles make this a great shoe for hiking rocky beaches or trails with lots of creek crossings.
THE BAD:The side openings had a tendency to let in pebbles, and there’s very little ankle support.
THE VERDICT:A water shoe with the soul of a light hiker.
The sneaker-like Outcross is equally at home in water or on land, with a mesh-and-webbing upper that drains water in a hurry. I found it well suited to short hikes, although I opted for a heavier model on trails that required real scrambling.
Weight and Packability
The shoes only weigh 482 grams and the upper packs down flat. This makes them easy to throw in a carry-on bag for a weekend trip, when I used them for everything from short hikes to strolling around town.
The shoes performed well, without snagging or ripping over five consecutive days hiking along the Northern California coast. This included a rough hike over sharp lava rocks (where I appreciated the additional protection around the toe) and a kayaking trip.
After these adventures, and several weeks of testing, the straps are still intact (no fraying!), with the only wear sign being some baked-in mud.
Size and Fit
True to size, the shoes have “barefoot” construction with EVA layers and Aegis Microbe Shield odor control, so you can wear them with or without socks. Adjustable webbing tightens the collar around your ankle, and speed lacing keeps you from having to constantly adjust the fit. The unlined mesh upper is built to drain and breathe, keeping water and perspiration moving away from your skin.
I wore women’s size 8 (U.S.), which fit similarly to the same size and type of shoe from Keen and Teva.
The closest competitors for this water-friendly hiker are Keen’s water series (especially the Newport and Venice models, which both cost around $100), Sperry’s SON-R Sounder Sneaker ($90), and Teva’s Omnium ($85). Here’s how they stack up to the Chaco Outcross Evo 1:
Keen Newport: Super-beefy sole and thick webbing keep you on your feet and the shoes on you. The toe guard is the largest of all these shoes, offering the most protection. Ultimately, they’re sandals, so there’s a high likelihood of pebbles getting in your toes. Lacks the mesh covering for toes and heels included on the Outcross Evo 1.
Sperry SON-R Sounder Sneaker: These shoes aren’t great for hiking. Mesh keeps rocks out of your shoes, eliminating an element of pain and aggravation. This is a good choice for people looking to buy a dedicated watersport shoe.
Teva Omnium: This beefy sandal has the sole to support you on a hike, but the narrower construction may not fit everyone. Good for those looking for a budget version.
When you combine land and water sports, the potential is high for overdoing it in the gear department. But the Chaco Women’s Outcross Evo 1 provides an instantly comfortable footbed and enough solid coverage to take you through a host of activities without needing to change shoes. I liked the colorful prints, which add some extra flare without being too flashy.