Reef Phantoms Review
Cons: Questionable durability, limited traction
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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