NeedBo NDB Review
Cons: Low arch, not suitable for hiking
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The NeedBo represents the most affordable pair of flip flops we tested this year. Our expectations were low considering past experiences with bargain-basement flip flops. We had visions of sandy blisters and toe strap detachment within the first 48 hours. To our surprise, this was absolutely not the case. The NeedBo proved to be the most functional flip flop for the price that we have tested.
These are certainly not the most comfortable flip flops we have tested, but keep in mind that they are being tested alongside flip flops that cost upwards of five times what you can scoop these up for. Even though the Needbo is significantly more affordable than other flip flops, it has a soft compliant footbed, (albeit quite flat), that offers enough comfort for all-day wear as long as you aren't doing any actual hiking.
The biggest surprises were the ample sole width and wide soft straps. Whereas most bargain flips are far too narrow for our main testers' feet, the EVA footbed on the NeedBo is completely adequate. Also in a departure from the typical bargain flop, the strap system is wide, soft,and snug keeping everything in place when dragging the cooler to the lakeside and keeping the flip flop from snagging on rocks and folding underfoot.
Support and Stability
While the NeedBo doesn't have the most elegantly sculpted footbed, the low to moderate arch support is certainly better than a completely flat flop. It did score near the bottom in this test, but keep in mind that we're testing these flip flops alongside highly ergonomic footwear that often costs as much as a nice pair of specialty shoes. The low profile and grippy footbed of the NeedBo performed adequately to offer some support and a relatively stable platform.
A high point of the design on the NeedBo is the perfectly adequate width. Past bargain flip flops that we've tested have typically been far too narrow for our main testers big fat feet, but these are wide enough to keep his waterskis completely contained. This goes a long way in providing a stable feel, as having feet slipping off the sides isn't only uncomfortable, it can be a bit dangerous. Additionally, the footbed is grippy enough that our feet stayed planted even when wet.
Despite utilizing inexpensive materials, the NeedBo does manage to maintain decent traction. The soles feel more like a dense foam than rubber and are quite lightweight compared to other tacky high friction soles we have tested. However, differences were immediately noticeable on smooth granite and wet surfaces. The traction isn't that bad but it is a far cry from the grippy soles some high-end flips are equipped with. There are a few other points to consider as well when making the choice to opt for these lower price point flip flops: the material of the sole is definitely not mark free and will scuff black marks onto your flooring.
Now for the good stuff… some bargain flip flops don't even have rubber soles much less sticky rubber. The NeedBo does indeed have a multi-layered construction with a rubber, albeit low density, sole. The overall grip is adequate but noticeably less tacky than higher density rubber. If you're heading to the lake for a weekend trip and need something that will keep your feet planted on a wet dock or boat deck, however, these will get the job done.
If we completely ignore the current retail price and simply look at the NeedBo for its functional ability, it is not extremely versatile and ended up near the back of the pack. This subpar performance is mostly due to the lack of traction and support. You would certainly struggle if you opted to wear these on a hike of any substance or on slippery or technical terrain.
That being said, we really did enjoy using these flip flops in a wide variety of situations. They are extremely lightweight, which is a saving grace when you want to have something along as a lightweight pair of camp shoes or something to slip on at the crag. They also don't look half bad for such a bargain pair of flip flops, giving you the opportunity to blend in with the bougie flip flops crowd at the next backyard barbie. Ultimately, however, the NeedBo isn't the most durable, grippy, or fancy option, which greatly detracts from its overall versatility rating.
The durability scale for flip flops is as radical as the political divide right now. On one end we have emergency "oops I forgot my flip flops and need to get a pair at the gas station" flip flops that will disintegrate in hours, and on the opposite end are heavy hitters that will literally last for decades. While the NeedBo is certainly closer to the disintegration end, they are still worlds more durable than cheap flip flops from the grocery store. Through our month-plus of testing, these flips held up. No straps breaking, no worn through heel, just some appropriate break in and molding to our foot.
There is no doubt that these will break down much quicker than flip flops with high-density rubber soles, leather straps, and the like. After our month plus testing period, the lower density rubber sole is showing more wear than other flip flops indicating they just don't have the staying power of other footwear. If compared to other bargain flip flops, however, these are impressive.
Surprisingly, the dirt-cheap NeedBo is quite handsome. Seeing the affordable price tag alongside such good looks is like finding out that Brad Pitt was born in Springfield, MO. While we enjoyed the forest green color scheme of our pair, there are literally 17 different color schemes and strap options available currently. This is another significant boost in styling as you can really dial in your look, if you're into that kinda thing.
While there are a lot of options for style and colors with the NeedBo, ultimately it is a pretty generic flip flop and should be reserved for flip flop appropriate events e.g. the lake, hanging out at home, or casual camp footwear. (We don't want to be implicated in your decision to wear flip flops and jorts to your sister's wedding, ok?) That being said, maybe with the right color selection and pant hem, you could sneak into your sisters wedding wearing these flip flops, but you didn't hear that from us.
As our Best Buy Award winner for Bargain Basement flip flops, we absolutely believe the NeedBo represents good value for the money. There are so many terrible flip flops at this price point, that to find a pair that holds up to months of use and has decent grip and a comfortable footbed is unique. These might not hold up as long as some of the heavy hitters in this review, but you could literally buy five pairs for the retail price of the name brand flips. Yes, they're made of lighter materials than the big boys, but these are certainly a tier above "disposable" flops and are a great choice if you're looking for something that won't break the bank.
Anyone looking to scoop up a pair of functional, lightweight, and affordable flip flops should take a long look at the Needbo NDB. The huge variety of colors available and relative functionality compared to similarly priced flip flops make it unique in the flip flop market and a clear Best Buy Winner in our book. Previously, we felt pigeonholed into purchasing something expensive and durable or really cheap and ultra fragile. The NeedBo is ultimately quite functional, decently durable, and won't break the bank.
— Brian Martin