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Reef Phantoms Review

A great cheap flop that'll do you good for a brief time
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Price:  $35 List | $34.44 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, well-made, comfortable, snug, simple
Cons:  Questionable durability, limited traction
Manufacturer:   Reef
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Versatility - 25% 6
  • Durability - 25% 5
  • Style - 10% 6
  • Traction - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Reef Phantom is a tried and true flip flop that will get the job done. It can't compete with flops twice the price, but for the cost, they are comfortable and stylish. Where they are most lacking is in the durability and traction department. Where most of the flip flops we tested had rugged lugged soles, the Phantom is equipped with compression-molded EVA (what most flip flop midsoles are made of). The result is a lightweight shoe with a sole that feels more like plastic than supple rubber. While this isn't an issue at the beach, it does feel slippery on other surfaces like hardwood flooring, carpet, or rock.

Product Updated

Reef released the update to this shoe, the Phantom II. Details to follow.

April 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Phantom vs. Phantom II


Compare the original Phantom we tested (first photo) to the updated Phantom II (second photo). The two models appear largely similar, but the updated Phantom II features some tweaks like soft jersey-lined inner strap material.


We've yet to test the Phantom II; the review below is our account of the previous model.

Hands-On Review of the Phantom


To sum up the Phantoms in a few words, they are light, simple, comfortable, and suitable for anyone who needs to scoop up a pair of affordable flip flops before their beach vacation. They are lacking in durability, but will certainly hold up better than bargain bin flops from wall-e-world.

The Phantom offers simple looks and good comfort  all at a very approachable price point. If you don't need something fancy or specialized  this is a good one to consider.
The Phantom offers simple looks and good comfort, all at a very approachable price point. If you don't need something fancy or specialized, this is a good one to consider.

Comfort


For such an affordable flip flop, the Phantoms offer decent comfort. The injection-molded EVA footbed provides a medium to high arch and is exceptionally plush right out of the box. This plushness, while nice on flat ground, proved less comfortable when walking on pointy rocks. The EVA sole wasn't dense enough to distribute the force of protruding points. If you're looking to take these flip flops along on a backpacking trip as your camp shoes, be careful where you step in the middle of the night.

Overall the synthetic nubuck straps are comfortable and offer the right about of snugness, not being too tight or loose. However, they do retain water for quite a while after getting drenched, which significantly detracted from the wet environment comfort.

On the right terrain  this plush flip is quite comfortable.
On the right terrain, this plush flip is quite comfortable.

Versatility


The comfort, style, and lack of needing a break-in period make the Phantoms decently versatile. Unfortunately, the slippery and compliant EVA sole relegated us to outings close to civilization. If you're wanting to have an all-around flip flop capable of spending time on rocky trails and at the beach, these might not be the top pick. If you're heading to the beach and just want a solid flip flop that won't let the thong rip out of the footbed, then these could be a good option.

Durability


On the spectrum of durability, the Phantoms are on the less durable end. While many flips in our review have solid lugged rubber soles, the Phantom's do not. The EVA sole is only slightly more dense than the injection-molded footbed and isn't capable of withstanding sharp objects or pokey rocks. That being said, if all you're doing is cruising from the condo to the beach and back, it'll be years before they break down. And, despite not being our first choice for rugged environments, it is still a solidly constructed shoe that didn't show any signs of falling apart through our testing period.

EVA foam is not super burly. But if your flip flop activities are casual and non-technical  you will be fine.
EVA foam is not super burly. But if your flip flop activities are casual and non-technical, you will be fine.

Style


What even is style? The Phantoms aren't flashy or fancy. What they are is unassuming and functional. Assessing the style of these flips is like trying to assess the style of no-slip kitchen shoes. They are made to do a job, not to impress. If you're into no-nonsense styling that won't draw attention to your hideous feet, the Phantoms might just be the ticket.

Floppin ain't easy. Well  actually it should be easy. Our testers have permanent flop tans as a result of the sheer amount of time spent cruising around testing.
Floppin ain't easy. Well, actually it should be easy. Our testers have permanent flop tans as a result of the sheer amount of time spent cruising around testing.

Traction


We mentioned it above in the durability category: the soles of these flops are made of EVA foam and not of any sticky rubber compound. If you're looking for an every day flip flop and not a trail munching monster truck, the Phantoms perform decently. While the EVA soles are slippery on smooth rock, they are a significant step up from bargain-basement foam flip flops that have no grip.

Here we perform our traction test among the non-foam flip flops. The Sanuk  Reef Phantoms  and Rainbow slid down the slab  while the others stuck.
Here we perform our traction test among the non-foam flip flops. The Sanuk, Reef Phantoms, and Rainbow slid down the slab, while the others stuck.

Value


This is a well-made flip flop at a budget price. It's going to last much longer than an average no-name version and will provide a higher level of comfort. Compared to some of the nicer flops we tested, however, there are many characteristics (or the lack of) that pale in comparison. The low-density sole and footbed will certainly wear quicker than some of the higher quality offerings we tested.

Conclusion


This flip flop is good all around. It isn't great, but also nothing egregiously poor either. It meets middle of the road scores throughout while offering good comfort, and we enjoyed wearing it for all manner of casual outings.

Brian Martin