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Chacos vs. Keen

I'm still on the hunt for the best shoes to wear to Europe (Ireland, London, Paris, Rome) this September and I'm stuck between two styles of sandals. For those who will insist it'll be too cold for sandals - I've lived in Florida, Alaska, and a few places in between and I prefer not to wear close-toed shoes whenever I can get away with it! Right now I'm only looking for opinions on sandals! ;) The two I've currently got are the Chacos Z/Cloud X and Keen Rose. They were both purchased from Amazon with free returns so I plan to return the one I don't use, but I'm interested in hearing from people who've worn one or the other!

I've never worn either of these and it's my understanding that Chacos take some getting used to. Right off the bat, the Chacos are less comfortable, but I've heard from many people that once they're broken in they're the best shoes you'll ever own. The sides around my heels feel a little weird but not necessarily uncomfortable. The Keen sandals are pretty comfortable, but I don't love that they aren't open-toed. Both leave marks on top of my feet from the straps, but they don't hurt and I know I can readjust the Chacos.

I've worn both for a few hours (mostly in the house) each and neither really hurt my feet, which is why I'd like outside opinions! Thanks in advance!

Posted by
2525 posts

One vote for Chacos, as I have a similar pair purchased a few years ago. Decent arch support is a plus.

Posted by
3829 posts

I've never owned a pair of Chacos, but I can definitely give you two thumbs up for the Keen Rose sandal. I've worn them on several European trips and during the summer. I just ordered a replacement pair - not because the previous ones look worn, but I thought they should probably be replaced by now. One feature that I've come to really like is the closed toe front. I didn't think much about it either way until I bumped the top front of my foot really hard one morning on a marble threshold walking into our Avignon hotel bathroom. Fortunately, I had my Keen's on because that definitely would have broken my big toe!

Posted by
73 posts

Another vote for Keen Rose! I've worn Keens traveling for years, but this year's tour through France was my first in "Rose". Loved them! 18 days total - part Paris, 13 days RS tour. Only 2 days I didn't wear them. Great on my feet and look cute, too!

I have 3 colors - almost my exclusive sandal at home, too!


Posted by
200 posts

Another vote for Keen Rose. They are my go to sandal for walking. Wore them in the Heart of Italy tour three years ago. Wear them at least a couple of times a week super comfy.

Posted by
9 posts

I am on my third pair of Keen H2 sandals. I wear them with and without socks. They do have a closed toe. Wonderful since I am clumsy and am want to smash up my toes unless I have the Keen tow "bumper" for protection. Comfortable as can be. Good for walking on smooth surfaces as well as cobble stones. Keens have plenty of adjustment to tighten and loosen. As for marks on your feet - can't you loosen them by by letting out the little elastic elastic cords - but the product you looking at may be designed differently.
Caution - the Keen men's sandals are horrible at sizing. I have to buy 1 and even 2 sizes too big to get loose airy fit. My feet are a 11½. If I buy on a 12 it takes me and 2 sales clerks to get them off, if I can get them on. My last two pairs have been 14s. Keen makes a some really pretty women's sandals in lots of colors. I have heard Chacos are super comfy; have never owned a pair. And I wouldn't worry about too cold. Too wet is probably the real fear. When I go to Europe I take water proof oxfords and a pair of flip flops or Keens.

Posted by
5689 posts

I own 3 pairs of Keen sandals. Hike in them. Love them but love ALL my Keens. Have 7 pair. Obviously my preferred brand of shoe. Love the support and durability.

Be sure to buy and use Smart Wool socks. No better brand of socks for warmth, comfort, durability and the best thing....virtually odor free!

Posted by
928 posts

I've worn my Keen's Rose sandals on two RS trips and already have them packed for my upcoming Portugal trip. I own them in two colors and love them, Personally, if you have to wear the Chacos for awhile to see if you can break them in, that's a red flag to me. You'll love those reinforced toes the first time you stub your foot on a rock or cobblestone.

Posted by
62 posts

I see all the votes for Keens here, but I cannot wear them at all unless I put both feet in one shoe (which would make it difficult to walk!). Keens are way too wide for my feet. I have 2 pair of Chacos and the adjustment is wonderful for those of us who cannot wear wider shoes. i see Chacos every where while on vacation and at home. I read that folks wear Keens, but only know one person who actually wears them. The Keens are not nearly as attractive as the Chacos to me, but they do look like they would protect your feet better.

Posted by
208 posts

I've worn Sports Sandals since they started makings them, around 30 years ago. I found Chacos to be too darned heavy. They weigh a ton! . I've had many Keens, and they became my Go-to (including Rose-- my favourite Keens) until I came across Teva Tirra. I LOVE these. I had had Tevas in the past but had moved to Keens for their arch support. But, two years ago I got a pair of the Teva Tirra and ended up buying two, and now I can hardly bear wearing my Keens Rose.

These Tevas had much better arch support, and have a more cushioned heel strike. I get bouts of plantar fasciitis, so a soft heel feels so much better. They're fully adjustable and cute enough for casual dresses. I've even snorkelled in them! Check them out. They are the ones I take on trips, now.


Posted by
348 posts

Footwear is pretty subjective and when it comes to sandals, you're either an open-toe or, closed-toe wearer.

Chaco's I've never found a style that's felt comfortable underfoot. Much too firm for my feel, heavy and frankly unattractive; I do know that folks who are heavy-set or have high-volume feet like Chaco's for their level of support. I've owned Keen Newports when they first came out, I championed them for about two years, ignoring the stone or, pine needle that would always work itself between the sole of my foot and my Keen's. I stopped wearing Keen's after that.

Wear what's comfortable and looks good with your attire. Keen's being closed toe would be more appropriate in certain settings, however just depends where you're going.

Posted by
486 posts

There is a line of Chacos sandals that have a softer footbed than the others called the Cloud. I have had Keens and Chacos and personally could not wear either in Europe for a lot of walking. The Keens I took on a trip to Italy and they are what I was wearing when I developed plantar fasciitis. My foot requires a much softer footbed with more cushion than either of those shoes provide or I have a lot of problems. Unfortunately no matter how many people recommend or suggest which shoes are great, only YOU and your feet can answer which will be best.

Posted by
2834 posts

Agree with Jean. Never think about my feet even on days where I walked 7 miles.

Posted by
50 posts

I love my Chacos. My mom loves her Keens. However, I took Naot sandals with a cork footbed instead of my Chacos on my last trip because the Chacos are heavy and the rubber foot bed was less comfortable. I am one of those Chaco wearers for whom a break-in period was necessary. It took me about a month of intermittent wear for me to feel comfortable in them. Now I'm happy with them. I've had mine 3.5 years and they are still going strong. I think your choice is a very personal one. Listen to your feet.

Posted by
3897 posts

I'll echo Vivian on the Teva Tirras. I got a pair in 2014 and pretty much live in them all summer...and the darn things are still going strong. And I can get them wet without worrying about them stinking or taking forever to dry. Naot used to be my go to...but when these Teva's wear out, I hope I can find another pair.

I sold shoes for 12 yrs and I can say - the Keen were very popular. I never owned a pair personally, but people who did loved them. I found them a little 'clunky' looking after wearing Naot for years. And they were def too casual for me to wear at work, so I never invested.

As for being cold in Sept - uh...nope! My biggest folly on our 2010 trip in Europe was not taking sandals. We started in Paris, went thru to Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and other places and I only took my Blundstone boots. This was mid-Sept to early-Oct. By the time we got to Germany I was going to buy myself a pair of Birkenstocks but didn't want to break them in on vacay, so I suffered thru. If my feet are hot, I'm hot...and cranky. Even in Switzerland in early Oct I could have worn sandals.

Posted by
427 posts

I thought the Keen Rose was very comfortable when I tried it out at home, but my big toe just kept pushing up against the big rubber toe part and I didn't like that.

Posted by
4620 posts


Have you decided which sandals you'll be taking on your trip?

Here's another vote for the Keen Rose sandals. I got my first pair in 2014 & they've been my travel sandal since.
They are very comfortable & great for walking as they have arch support.

I had a similar event as Jean (I tripped while stepping onto a sidewalk curve) and my Keens saved my toes!

I also found out that the Keen Footwear Company offers a great warranty on their shoes. My first pair of sandals had a problem with the stitching around the Velcro ankle strap, so it started falling apart. I called the company, spoke with a nice young woman who directed me to their website (where I sent a photo of the defect & a brief description) & I received a voucher for a new replacement! I really like companies that stand behind their products!

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you, everyone!! I ended up returning the Chacos and keeping the Keens - it didn't seem worth the $109 risk! I'll probably also end up taking my Rainbow flip flops. I know most people don't wear them in Europe, but I realized I regularly walk 5+ miles in them at Disney World and they've never hurt my feet. I guess it's best to have multiple pairs anyway!

Posted by
35 posts

I took a pair of Chaco sandals on a long weekend to New Orleans. Worse decision I ever made. The surface of the sandal was like walking on sandpaper when your feet were hot. Literally the most painful shoe I have ever had. Ruined the first day of the trip. I had to stop and go to a shoe store and buy another pair of shoes —and the bottom of my feet continued to hurt from the Chacos all weekend.

Posted by
19160 posts

About those flip-flops: I'll bet the 5 miles at Disney were on smooth sidewalks, weren't they? The historic areas of European cities often have uneven pavement, up to and including cobblestones in some places. Choose your flip-flop days carefully.

Posted by
10 posts

I recommend Keen Versago shoes. I can walk the whole day, even during boiling hot summer days.
And they are very long- suffering. Especially, that I'm like a child, I destroy quickly all the shoes. But those ones are really difficult to destroy. I also have Keen WHISPER sandals but honestly I prefer closed shoes, because you can use them in any condition. But I guess both of them are comfy.

Posted by
395 posts

If you're trying out a new shoe style/maker you might try REI. They have a very generous return policy, which would protect you from buying a shoe in good faith that you later find you simply can't wear. I was hesitant about Merrell trail runners a few years ago and they encouraged me to take them home, try them out 'for a couple of months', and if I'm not satisfied just return them. You can return for a replacement or refund within one year of purchase. I would never want to use that option, but on the other hand spending $100+ on pair of shoes for a trip and finding that they're not comfortable enough for all day wear would be a big disappointment. I have narrow feet so not everything fits me well. BTW the Merrell trail runners (not a sandal so off topic) are fantastic for everything except serious hikes on very rough surfaces.