Yes, I know what you were thinking when you read the title — how on earth could Chaco make a waterproof sandal!?  I’m not used to seeing the words ‘Chaco’ and ‘waterproof’ in the same line.  Well folks, it was news to me too, but Chaco actually makes a complete line of traditional footwear and their Holbuck waterproof hiking boot is at the heart of the lineup.

Chaco Holbuck Features:

  • Water-resistant suede and water-resistant PU coated leather upper with gusseted tongue to keep out debris
  • 25% recycled EcoTreat outsole
  • Seam-taped waterproof bootie
  • Durable rubber toe cap and molded rubber heel
  • Polyester mesh lining
  • EVA midsole
  • Mesh-lined LUVSEAT™ PU footbed
  • MSRP: $150.00

Chaco Holdback Hiking Boots Review

These Chaco’s go places

At first glance, the Holbuck is a pretty standard mid-height hiker.  They’re fairly light, feature mesh across the top of the foot and have a nice, luggy outsole.  They’ve been my weekend stompers throughout the damp Pacific Northwestern Fall and they’ve seen their fair share of rock, root and puddle.

The foundation of the Holbuck is really their LUVSEAT polyurethane footbed.  Chaco has put a tremendous amount of research into making their footwear fit great and help your feet stay healthy.  Their LUVSEAT footbed has prodigious arch support and a comfortable heel cup, all of which are on a supple-yet-supportive PU midsole.  To their credit, Chaco has worked with podiatrists to develop sandals that help keep your feet from rolling too far inward (over-pronating) and I was totally confident on tricky terrain in my Holbucks.

I’m particularly susceptible to over-pronating due to some bad ankle sprains from high school soccer, so the fact that I had no trouble in my Holbucks bears testament to their design.  The mid-length rise certainly helps for support, too.

Chaco Holdback Hiking Boots Review

As a mixed leather/fabric boot, the Holbucks sacrifice a little bit of water resistance in favor of versatility.  This makes them ideal for, say, high desert environments where you’re likely to be absolutely hammered with rain for thirty minutes and then enjoying blue skies for the rest of the day.  It did mean, however, that they were somewhat outgunned by the amount of consistent moisture that the PNW was able to throw at them.  The leather and fabric are both treated with various repellent coatings and there’s an inner waterproof bootie (a cheaper alternative to a waterproof membrane throughout the boot). Unfortunately, these layers were simply overwhelmed by a real storm.

The lacing design of the Chaco is a bit of a mix – it features webbing loops at all points except for the heel lock and topmost point, which feature a D ring and a metal catch respectively.  I feel mixed about the webbing loops because, on one hand, they bit into the webbing well and hold good tight tie.  On the other hand, they are definitely not durable – I’ve seen countless boots with busted out webbing.  Overall the design is a bow to economy, but it also shaves weight and, as I said, does a solid job at holding a tight tie.  The other nice thing is that the laces pull more easily from the top and don’t need to be hand-tightened at each point.

Chaco Holdback Hiking Boots Review

The Holbuck features a fairly high cuff which is excellent for supporting the ankle and keeping scree and the like out of the boot.  However, it has a very short gusset so there’s lots of opportunity for grit to get in along the sides of the tongue.  I would have preferred to see a higher gusset for added protection from dirt and water.

Chaco’s EcoTread outsole is one of my favorite points in the boot.  While a Vibram sole might have been a little more popular, the decision to use a 25% recycled rubber mix is definitely a plus for me.  The sole design is nice and knobby and on the whole it’s spacious enough that mud and grit won’t get stuck to be hauled around with you.  The rubber is definitely on the soft end of the spectrum so it grips very well in wet or cold conditions, but this will lead the tread to deteriorate more quickly than a harder rubber blend.

Chaco Holdback Hiking Boots Review

I have size 10.5, width E feet and they definitely take up a lot of space within a boot.  I was quite surprised to find the Holbuck’s had more than enough room to fit my huge feet; since they didn’t have the 10.5 size available I sized up and I think, with the extra room, I could have gotten away with a size 10. Keep that in mind when sizing yourself up. These do run big and are great for high-volume, wide feet.

The Good

  • Leather/mesh blend breathes more easily
  • Eco-friendly outsole is a great feature
  • Chaco’s LUVSEAT continues to treat my feet very well
  • Webbing loop lacing design is easier to pull from the top.

The Bad

  • Waterproof is a stretch – call them water resistant
  • Gusset is too short to offer protection
  • Webbing loops can break with heavy use — mine didn’t

The Bottom Line: Chaco Holbuck

I’m a huge fan of their sandals, but Chaco’s Holbuck boot is taking a little more time to win me over.  At $150 it’s not in the range of top-of-the-line hikers, but at the same time it’s only $30 away from some really fantastic boots from other brands.  I’d recommend these boots for kids who are still growing but need a solid pair of boots, but I don’t think the durability is here for really heavy use, especially in wet climates.

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About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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