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Reef Fanning Review

A great, durable flop that will handle any terrain.
Reef Fanning
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Price:  $55 List | $29.83 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, good traction, bottle opener on sole
Cons:  Heel "airbag" feature seems unnecessary, bottle opener is slippery if you hit it just right
Manufacturer:   Reef
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 6
  • Versatility - 25% 7
  • Durability - 25% 6
  • Style - 10% 6
  • Traction - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Reef Fanning is a good all-around flip flop offering decent durability, comfort, and grip on slippery terrain. The materials feel like quality synthetics without being unnecessarily heavy, and the straps are wide, ergonomic, and comfortable. On top of being a good all-arounder, the Fanning keeps a nice party trick hidden in the sole in the form of a bottle opener. Maybe it's gimmicky, but it sure is fun as long as you haven't stepped in any yard snickers recently. Gimmicks aside, the Fanning is a comfortable and functional flip flop at a reasonable price. If you're like our testers and want to spend every appropriate moment and some inappropriate moments in your flip flops, these are certainly a fine option.


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Price $29.83 at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, good traction, bottle opener on soleComfortable, durable, good in waterLightweight, great for hikingComfortable, versatile, stylish, great arch supportComfortable, durable, classy
Cons Heel "airbag" feature seems unnecessary, bottle opener is slippery if you hit it just rightHeavyExtra straps can get in the wayHeavy, expensiveExpensive
Bottom Line A great, durable flop that will handle any terrain.The Olukai Hokua flip flops are made for the ocean but are capable in any environment except maybe snow.These flops have serious staying power. Strap them to your feet and forget about them.These versatile flops are like first class seating for your feet! Leave them on all summer.This model looks and feels good, but are too expensive to be our top choice for live-in beater flops.
Rating Categories Reef Fanning Olukai Hokua Astral Filipe Olukai Ohana Chaco Marshall
Comfort (30%)
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6
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9
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8
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8
Versatility (25%)
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7
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9
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7
Durability (25%)
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6
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9
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8
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8
Style (10%)
10
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6
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9
Traction (10%)
10
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7
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9
10
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9
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7
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8
Specs Reef Fanning Olukai Hokua Astral Filipe Olukai Ohana Chaco Marshall
Weight (ounces) 17 oz 19 oz 14 oz 17 oz 16.6 oz
Footbed Material Injection molded EVA ICEVA EVA ICEVA Leather
Sole Material Icon Herringbone rubber outsole Gum rubber Rubber Gum rubber ChacoGrip rubber
Strap Material Synthetic nubuck upper Leather Polyester webbing Synthetic Leather
Sizes 4 - 17 7 - 15 8-13 7 - 18 7-15
Return Policy Free returns if not worn/used One year warranty against manufacturer's defects Free returns One year warranty against manufacturer's defects Free returns if not worn/used

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you're loyal to Reef, the Fanning is a nicely-priced model to consider. There are certainly cheaper options available, but if you like the idea of a built-in bottle opener and can tolerate the odd high-heel configuration, this might be your dream flop.

Performance Comparison


The Fanning is a great overall flip flop at a reasonable pricepoint.
The Fanning is a great overall flip flop at a reasonable pricepoint.

Comfort


To start with the negative attributes of the Fanning first, the arch support and high heel angle weren't our favorite. While doing a close examination, we noticed the heel is almost an inch higher than the rest of the footbed — seemingly to accommodate the special "airbag." This put us on the balls of our feet a little too much, and we found ourselves doing a fair bit of shifting from the extra pressure. The arch support is of a low/medium height and doesn't offer quite the support of some of the other flip flops we tested.

Now for the good. The wide straps and footbed of this flip offer a snug and comfortable fit. The Fanning has visibly wider straps than most other models in our review and, in turn, spreads the pressure out across a large area. Additionally, these straps are made from a synthetic nubuck upper that is comfortable, vegan, and quick-drying. Compared to others, the quick-drying upper helped keep the wet chaffing to a minimum.

While the bottle opener on the sole of the Fanning is novel  we could do without it if it meant a better-formed arch and lower heal height.
While the bottle opener on the sole of the Fanning is novel, we could do without it if it meant a better-formed arch and lower heal height.

Versatility


The Fanning is a middle-of-the-road performer in every metric we tested this year. It offers decent performance over a variety of terrain from rocky trails to the beach volleyball court. The synthetic uppers dry quickly and don't gather an uncomfortable amount of sand between foot and footbed, which is a nice bonus.

The Fanning also has a leg up on the competition in the versatility category as it has built-in bottle openers on the bottom of the soles. We especially liked kicking off our flop and popping the top on a kombucha. It may sound ridiculous, but it is strangely satisfying to open a brew with the bottom of your shoe.

The Fanning is quite versatile. The grippy soles  comfortable straps  and bottle openers let us cruise beaches  trails  and backyard parties.
The Fanning is quite versatile. The grippy soles, comfortable straps, and bottle openers let us cruise beaches, trails, and backyard parties.

Durability


After ripping the Fanning out of its box like a kid on Christmas, the first thing we noticed was the durable feel. It's not excessively heavy but does have a nice, confidence-inspiring heft. The entire sole is rubber except for the hard plastic that surrounds the recessed bottle opener. We were initially worried about the bottle opener getting pulverized on rocks and concrete, but it held up quite well over our months of testing — though it did get scratched and worn. The synthetic upper straps, injection-molded footbed, and sole all held together excellently, illustrating quality bonding.

The Fannings got us to the top of a burly Indian Creek approach. Well done!
The Fannings got us to the top of a burly Indian Creek approach. Well done!

Style


The style of the Fanning lands somewhere on the spectrum between Gisele and Quasimodo, but hey, we all do. It doesn't have the styling of a retro head turner, and it doesn't seem to be trying to make any statements except that you don't want to be caught without a bottle opener. The muted earth tones look good with pretty much any casual clothing or swimwear.

Killer tread pattern on the Fanning. Also  church-key bottle openers!
Killer tread pattern on the Fanning. Also, church-key bottle openers!

Traction


With some seriously chunky treads showing up this year, the Fanning looked like it might not stack up. This was absolutely not the case. The relatively plain-looking tread design on the sole channels water extremely well and provides great grip in the wet. The wide straps are snug enough to keep your feet secure even when walking on steep granite slabs around Yosemite. The raised microgrid on the footbed also channels water and sweat well enough to keep the foot solidly in place when on the move.

The one big negative regarding traction is the hard plastic cup that contains the bottle opener. While it rarely connects with anything, when it does, it kicks off balance and is quite slippery. This isn't a constant issue — mostly just when connecting with larger rocks while on trails — but it is worth keeping in mind if you plan on wearing these flip flops on anything but smoother surfaces.

Even though the sole doesn't have huge rubber lugs like other models  the Fanning grips onto even the smoothest granite slabs.
Even though the sole doesn't have huge rubber lugs like other models, the Fanning grips onto even the smoothest granite slabs.

Value


While the Fanning isn't exactly cheap, they do represent a decent value. Offering everything more costly flip flops do at a significant discount, they also dish out a fun bottle opening party trick. At this price point, there are many flip flops that fall apart quickly, offer little or no traction, especially in the wet, and just aren't comfortable. The Fanning exceeded our expectations, and we feel it offers a lot for a little.

Conclusion


If you aren't put off by gimmicky additions like heel airbags and bottle openers, the Fanning is a great flip flop. It offers versatility, traction, a reasonable level of comfort, and isn't too flashy. Our biggest frustration is the raised heel putting a bit too much weight onto the ball of the feet, but that is a relatively small concern compared to the positive vibrations these flops give off.

The Fanning doesn't climb splitters  but we know they want to
The Fanning doesn't climb splitters, but we know they want to


Brian Martin