Hands-on Gear Review

Reef Women's Fanning Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $52 List | $39.35 at Amazon
Pros:  Wide ergonomic straps, Integrated bottle opener
Cons:  Bulky, wide sole
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Sole material:  Molded rubber
Footbed material:  EVA
Strap Material:  Synthetic nubuck
Manufacturer:   Reef

Our Verdict

Our Top Pick Award winner for our women's flip-flop review, the Reef Women's Fanning offers stability and support as well as excellent traction. We also loved its wide comfortable straps that run ergonomically across the top of the foot. Designed by pro surfer Mick Fanning, this sandal has a specific style that seems to be more geared toward a younger audience. Overall, our testers agreed that this broad, sporty piece (complete with an integrated bottle opener in the sole) is perfect for college students headed to the beach, which is why we've declared it our Top Pick for Spring Break!

Aside from its athletic styling and bottle opening capacity, this flip-flop earned top scores in traction and water resistance, making it ideal for beach-side pursuits. Although we wished this product offered just a little more comfort, it still provides enough support to be suitable for all-day wear. Bottom line: whether you're headed to the beach to check out the surf, or just planning to lounge in the sun, the Reef Women's Fanning has you covered for your next spring break rendezvous.

Read on as we break down the differences between our Top Pick and other award-winning competitors like our Editors' Choice, the OluKai Ohana - Women's.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Flip-Flop Sandals For Women Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amanda Fenn

Last Updated:
Monday
March 17, 2014

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Great for a day at the beach or an afternoon strolling the boardwalk, the Reef Women's Fanning has a youthful, sporty look and wide, thong-style straps. This flip-flop features a heel airbag for added support, but it misses the mark on the ultra-comfy footbed found on products like the Sanuk Yoga Mat - Women's.

Performance Comparison



Relaxing creekside in the Owen's River Gorge in California. The Reef Fanning has wide straps and a broad footbed. Its athletic styling makes it perfect for more casual wear.
Relaxing creekside in the Owen's River Gorge in California. The Reef Fanning has wide straps and a broad footbed. Its athletic styling makes it perfect for more casual wear.

Stability & Support


The Reef Women's Fanning has a molded rubber sole and a structured EVA footbed that is more stable than competitors like the Sanuk Yoga Spree 2, but it doesn't offer nearly as much arch support as the Chaco Flip - Women's. That said, this flip-flop does have a very subtle contoured arch, so if an exaggerated arch like the one on the Chaco model is too high for you, this Reef product may be a great compromise. Some of our testers experienced slight foot cramps after a long day wearing this lower-arched sandal, but realistically it takes a pretty unique sandal to keep the feet comfortable all day long.

Additionally, the Fanning has one of the stiffest soles of any flip-flop we tested. The added stability makes it easier to take this sandal off the beaten path and over obstacles. Although it does not have a distinctive heel cup like the Chacos, which help keep the foot in place just a little bit better, the Reef Fanning does have extra heel cushion for added shock absorption. We should also note here that the contoured footbed is not designed to mold to your foot over time like the Teva Women's Mush II.

Wearing the Reef Fanning between climbs. This sandal offers enough stability (not to mention traction) to handle rocky terrain.
Wearing the Reef Fanning between climbs. This sandal offers enough stability (not to mention traction) to handle rocky terrain.

Comfort


The Fanning earned extra points in comfort for its remarkably comfortable straps. These wide, thong-style straps sweep back along the tops and down the sides of the feet. Thanks to their width and slight padding, they don't dig into the foot at all. Aside from the straps, the molded EVA footbed isn't especially comfy in that "Ahhhhh" kind of way, although it does offer a fair bit of shock absorption. We should also mention that this piece has an extremely wide footbed, so if your feet love having lots of room to sprawl, you may find this sandal even more comfortable. On the other hand, the wide sole means more bulk and weight, which can sometimes decrease comfort. If you like the extra heel cushion that this flip-flop provides, but you're looking for something a little bit different, consider the Crocs Capri IV.

Getting comfy in the Reef Fanning flip-flop. The straps on this sandal are wide and comfortable. Although the footbed isn't especially cushy  the Fanning still earned decent scores in comfort.
Getting comfy in the Reef Fanning flip-flop. The straps on this sandal are wide and comfortable. Although the footbed isn't especially cushy, the Fanning still earned decent scores in comfort.

Water Resistance


Like many of the products in our review, the sole and footbed of the Reef Fanning dried in about 15 minutes, but the straps took significantly longer to dry out. The wide, padded straps unfortunately absorbed quite a bit of water and didn't completely dry for more than two hours. If a quick-drying flip-flop is really important to you and you like the wide Reef design, by sure to take a look at the Reef Sandy Sandal, which has a single-layer strap that doesn't absorb nearly as much H2O. Both of these pieces have toe boxes that measure four inches across (on a size 10, measured just above the toe post placement).

One of favorite flips for water activities  the Fanning dries fairly quickly.
One of favorite flips for water activities, the Fanning dries fairly quickly.

Traction


The Reef Fanning does not have notably deep treads, but the molded rubber sole offers great traction across wet surfaces. In fact, the only flip-flop that rivals it in traction is the Chaco Flip EcoTread. Even our Editors' Choice winner, didn't provide as much sole traction during our tests. However, the Fanning just missed the mark on footbed traction. Unfortunately, its footbed isn't particularly grippy, so it's possible to experience some slipping and sliding around in this sandal. That said, the wide straps do a good job of helping to keep the foot in place, as do the subtle curves throughout the footbed.

Like some other Reef sandals, this piece has a bottle opener built into the sole just under the arch. We found that this bottle opener isn't the easiest to use, but it's certainly a fun party trick and will eventually get the job done. Our one complaint about the bottle opener is that it easily collects mud and other debris. Overall, the bottle opener didn't affect the shoe's traction, and we were pleasantly surprised at how much grip this sporty sandal offered.

The Fanning offers superior sole traction. Here you can see its molded rubber treads  as well as its integrated bottle opener!
The Fanning offers superior sole traction. Here you can see its molded rubber treads, as well as its integrated bottle opener!

Style & Fit


As we mentioned at the start of the review, this flip-flop seems more suited to a younger demographic. Its broad, sporty design definitely gives it a "surfer chic" vibe ideal for beach-side wear. Don't get us wrong, though, you can definitely rock the Fanning inland as well. We found this sandal more difficult to pair with anything other than super casual outfits, but we did like the way that the patterned lining underneath the straps (in our case: leopard print) peaks out just enough to give the Fanning a little sass.

This piece has the widest sole of any product in this review, which also gives it a distinctive look and fit. We tested a size 10 and our size 9.5 tester found it to be a bit big. You may want to try sizing down in this model, especially if you don't have a particularly wide foot. If you are looking for an athletic looking sandal, but have a more narrow foot, be sure to consider the Nike Comfort Thong.

We liked the subtle leopard print lining on the women's Fanning. This broad (somewhat bulky) sandal didn't earn great style scores  but if you're going for an athletic look  our Top Pick might be perfect for you.
We liked the subtle leopard print lining on the women's Fanning. This broad (somewhat bulky) sandal didn't earn great style scores, but if you're going for an athletic look, our Top Pick might be perfect for you.

Best Application


Thanks to its traction, stability, and sporty appearance, the Reef Women's Fanning is ideal for beach-side wear. It's also great for women with wider feet.

Value


This flip-flop rings up at $50, which is towards the higher end of the price range; however, it's also what we would expect to pay for a sandal that offers as much stability and support as the Fanning does. Although this piece didn't earn top marks in comfort or style, we definitely found the straps to be super comfy and the sporty look may be just your style. This piece is also worth the asking price if you're looking for support for a lower arch, or if you have a wider foot…or if you're just really psyched on the integrated bottle opener.

Although it's a little more expensive  we recommend investing in a flip-flop with a contoured footbed. The Reef Fanning will help keep your joints healthier and arches happier.
Although it's a little more expensive, we recommend investing in a flip-flop with a contoured footbed. The Reef Fanning will help keep your joints healthier and arches happier.

Conclusion


This sporty sandal provides great traction and has the added bonus of an integrated bottle opener. Its wide straps maximize comfort, but its footbed doesn't have the "Ahhhh" effect that other competitors offered. Our Top Pick for Spring Break, the Fanning will put you in a beachy mindset - whether you're headed to the coast or not!
Amanda Fenn

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Most recent review: March 17, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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