We've been testing and refining our metrics for flip flops for 11 years, with 14 of the very best in this review. In order to understand the nuances of each pair, we tested them in various scenarios, paying close attention to their fit, comfort, support, style, and overall performance. We hiked valley trails, scrambled up escarpments, walked around town, and waded through rocky rivers. We then compile all the data to give you a thorough and detailed perspective on which models might be the best fit for you. With such minimal footwear, quality and comfort are paramount to enjoying your days out on the lake, river, beach, or lounging at your local haunt.
The OluKai 'Ohana flopped its way into our hearts by being one of the most comfortable flips we have ever tested. Not only does it hug your foot like a sea glass slipper, but it held up well despite our rigorous testing due to its heft and durability. Rather than deteriorating with wear, the 'Ohana conformed to our feet and continued to perform with style. With enough grip to keep you solidly on your feet, a comfortable footbed to provide support, and a wide range of colors and patterns, you really can't go wrong.
The 'Ohana is certainly not cheap, and we know not everyone is psyched to fork out the big bucks for casual footwear. Additionally, the use of dense and durable materials makes this one of the heaviest flip flops we tested. That said, if you're looking for a stellar combination of comfort, support, and traction without sacrificing style, this shoe is more than worth its price tag.
Teva, which means "nature" in Hebrew, has always sought to help people connect more intimately with the natural world. Since 2020 they've committed to making all their straps from recycled material. With the Teva Reflip, they decided to go a bit further by incorporating recycled materials into the whole shoe. The straps are recycled polyester, and the top, mid, and sole are made from a minimum of 70% recycled EVA. All this means that you'll have some peace of mind along with comfort while you trek around in these lightweight, comfortable, and very affordable slips.
The nylon straps on the Reflip are comfortable whether wet or dry and help hold the flip flops on foot. The footbed is extremely light and buoyant (this is the lightest flip we've tested) and has light molded support. The sole does not absorb water, so no matter how much time you spend with wet feet, they'll still be as light as when you went in. In this way, the Reflip outperformed other lightweight contenders that tended to absorb water and become squishy. The primary drawback of this shoe is that the dry traction leaves a bit to be desired. These were some of the least stable on steep, slippery slopes. That said, they got us to all of our favorite swimming spots without any major slips — the rubber's high surface area performed well on slippery river rocks. Check out this model if you're looking for an affordable, lightweight flip flop that will provide superior comfort while you saunter between town and your favorite water spots. (If you're looking for a shoe that excels in and around water, check out our favorite men's water shoes.)
It's rare to find a bargain basement flip flop that will hold up to any abuse, but the NeedBo NDB is just that. While these certainly don't have the durability of the burlier models in this review, they are pretty comfortable and worlds better than your average cheapo flip. They will surely hold up for your next vacation, and if you lose them, it's not that big of a deal because they cost about as much as taking your significant other out on a cheap date.
While the NeedBo is surprisingly good, there are some clear downsides to purchasing a budget flip flop. The lightweight materials are bound to break down quicker than other more durable options, such as dense rubber or leather. Our main tester found that the nylon toe post is not as soft as those on more expensive contenders; therefore, it's not as comfortable over a long distance. Also, the footbed is a bit slippery when wet. Taking all that into account, you could realistically purchase three pairs of NeedBo's for the cost of most others in this review. So if cost is your primary factor, then these popularly priced slippers will do the trick.
The OluKai Hokua is similar to the 'Ohana, but a few exceptions make it stand out. For one, the liner of the strap is made from a synthetic textile that feels similar to neoprene. This provides extra grip when wet, so much so that it caused a blister on a particularly long, wet hike. The footbed is also lined with a synthetic fabric that provides more grip than any other competitor. Despite the blister, our testers were blown away by how well these flip flops adhere to the feet, even when running up steep trails. They were, in fact, the only ones to do so.
This was one of the heaviest flip flops that we tested, but with that heft comes durability and protection. This slipper stayed on our feet no matter the trail conditions, and the contoured footbed provided excellent support over the miles. The stylish rubber sole gripped gravel and slick rock and kept us right side up whether rock hopping or navigating slick river rocks crossing to our favorite beach. You may have to work to build some callouses under the straps, but if you need maximum grip and traction whether wet or dry, this is our top choice. With several stylish colors to choose from, you'll be able to cruise between the beach and the bar without skipping a beat.
The Teva Pajaro is more akin to a hiking sandal than a flip flop. The sole is made for all-terrain traction. The wide straps are made from textile and leather and comfortably hug the foot, whether wet or dry. We hiked miles and miles in these hybrids and concluded that they are the most comfortable and versatile when it comes to long hikes, or even backpacking. The wide straps were the best at protecting our feet against pokey brush, making them more versatile than your average beachwear, all without rubbing.
One drawback to the Pajaro is that the sole isn't as thick as the more durable rubber soles on other options. During testing, these provided less comfort on particularly sharp rocky terrain than some of the other competitors. They were comfortable enough, though, and the raised lip and wide straps help protect the foot where others fail. Overall, these not-so-stylish flip flops performed great in all trail conditions, including steep technical terrain. Just make sure you bring some more fashionable footwear to don before you go dancing.
Why You Should Trust Us
Before we wore any of the flips in our lineup, the work of this review began with market research. Each season, we look at nearly 50 models from various manufacturers before deciding on the strongest and most promising contenders to include in our review. Once we've narrowed it down, we thoroughly test each pair by wearing them through water, scrambling across rocky slabs, and through all manner of cityscapes. These warm-weather kicks got passed around to multiple testers for various opinions over several iterations, with key performance areas identified and scrutinized in the process. The result is this comprehensive review, which you can now use to get into a pair of comfortable and functional flops for yourself.
Our testing of flip flops is divided across five different metrics:
Comfort (30% of overall score weighting)
Support (20% weighting)
Traction (20% weighting)
Versatility (15% weighting)
Style (15% weighting)
We've been expanding on our expert opinion of flip flops for many seasons now. This most recent round was led by Jon Oleson, who spends his days in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Jon frequently wears his flips to go between the garden, his favorite rocky river spots, and evenings on the town. We chose some past favorites and new intriguing additions to ensure this year's review gives you a fresh look at the latest options.
Also lending a hand to this review is Matt Bento. Matt was a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue for several action-packed seasons, and before that, he spent a lot of time on the road, driving all over the US to different climbing destinations, usually with flip flops on his feet.
Analysis and Test Results
Footwear is a critical point of interface between your body and the earth. The quality and comfort of the flip flop you choose will affect your whole body from the ground up. To help you zero in on the pair that best suits your body and needs, we have broken our review into multiple sections. Some folks wear flips from their bungalow to the surf break, while others bring them for critical foot respite during long thru-hikes. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, there are things that every pair should do well. Below you will find a breakdown of the metrics by which we judged each model, making it easier for you to find the perfect match.
Value can differ depending on perspective, so we did our best to boil it down to a price-to-performance ratio. This round, the Teva Reflip stood out as the best value for our pocketbooks and the planet. This well-priced flip flop is made almost entirely from recycled materials and does nearly everything the other contenders do, just maybe not quite as well as the most expensive options. The Reflip has held up very well to our rigorous testing despite being so light that they almost feel like you're not wearing shoes at all. One more upside: this flip is super buoyant, so you won't lose them if they fly off the boat while you're bumpin' through the waves.
Truth be told, there is a lot of value found in almost every pair we tested. For example, the OluKai slips are so comfortable and durable that it isn't unreasonable to expect them to last many, many seasons, if not a lifetime. When couched in this light, these expensive flippers may be worth the investment.
If you don't need a super high-performing option, the NeedBo NDB is a fantastic bargain-basement choice. Having tested them now in several separate cohorts, we can safely say these are surprisingly good. They break in nicely and offer a lot of comfort for the price of a classy burger and fries.
Types of Flip Flops
Throughout this review, we'll use the terms flip flop and sandal interchangeably, although it is important to know the difference. Every flip flop is a sandal, but not every sandal is a flip flop; it's a bit of a square/rhombus situation. It's easy to find sandals that look like flip flops (in that they have a thong between the big and second toe), but they will also have auxiliary straps meant to add stability or style. For this review, we're not interested in those. We just want the free flipping and flopping slip-ons.
Unfortunately, some flips are like t-shirts and are just a cheap vehicle for a company's logo. We avoided those, choosing only manufacturers who build flops as a passion for functional use. If you've only experienced the bargain bin version from the beach store, prepare yourself for a veritable cornucopia: sporty models, casual contenders, stylish pairs, ones that are comfy out of the box, and ones that take a while to break in (but are worth it). They are constructed from diverse materials, including rubber polymers, foam, nylon, leather, and plastic. Some are lightweight and cheaper, thus less durable. Others are burly and rugged, built to last, and their price tag reflects that. Regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, we chose them because we felt they were sandals that fit our criteria of being diverse and able to accommodate various needs.
Because everyone has different wants, needs, and radically different feet, comfort is a highly subjective category. Regardless of the subjectivity, we felt that this metric was the most critical of all, and it is weighted accordingly. If your flip flops don't feel good, you're not going to wear them, and isn't that the whole point?
We made a point to assess comfort straight out of the box, as well as how each shoe felt after some time breaking in. The OluKai Hokua and OluKai 'Ohana became more comfortable throughout several hikes. This ability to mold to the foot, combined with solid construction and durable materials, means increased comfort and personalization as time goes on. The Reef Cushion Phantom also impressed us all around and felt good on our feet immediately.
The break-in period reveals important comfort-related data, which is essential to discuss. While the OluKai models we tested have compression-molded EVA footbeds that became perfectly molded to our feet and more comfortable with time, most started to break down as we clocked more miles underfoot. For the most part, outliers aside, sandals that are super comfortable out of the box are not usually the ones that last the longest.
Again, comfort is a subjective topic. Some of the flips we tested were cushy and soft from day one, while others were super stiff and slowly broke down (without ever becoming too plush). Some had good arch support, while others offered a simple, flat shape that took time to break in and mold to the foot. Providing the best of both worlds — out-of-the-box comfort and longevity — the OluKai 'Ohana and Hokua have a soft footbed on top of a more durable supportive midsole.
Other models also scored well in this metric, but for different reasons. The Teva Reflilp was the lightest of the flip flops that we tested. It features a slightly molded footbed but, for the most part, is a simple flat slipper. The lightness and recycled EVA cushioning underfoot made it one of the most comfortable to wear over distances. You may want to choose a more rugged sandal for technical hiking, though, since the tread on the Reflip is minimal. That said, these flip flops performed well on wet river rock due to the high surface area of EVA traction. The same company brings us the Teva Pajaro, which couldn't be more different. It features a thinner, more treaded rubber sole that's highly suitable for technical hiking. The wide straps help hold the sandal on foot, providing protection and comfort on almost any trail.
If you've found yourself here looking for a pair of quality flip flops, you're likely in the same boat as our gear testers, who will often forego "appropriate" footwear for the comfort of a nice flip. What can we say? We're just laid back like that. Because of this, we went out of our way to use and abuse all of the products we tested. We wore them down hiking trails, around slippery lakes and river rocks, and even in some dangerous social situations (where shoes would have been more acceptable). Don't judge us; we did this for you.
The dense and grippy soles of the Hokua seem very well suited for any terrain or situation, while the interior footbed offers fantastic arch support and a comfortable, very grippy strap system. Like a fine wine, the Hokua also only improves with age. The same goes for the 'Ohana, another incredibly impressive and comfortable option. The Chaco Classic Flip offers aggressive, firm arch support that any old river rat will recognize as classic. While Chaco has put countless years into perfecting their footbeds, we wondered why they didn't put the same thought into the straps, which are simple and comfortable but loose in a way that allows the Classic to flip and flop too much on more technical terrain. While it performed well in some categories, we didn't think it performed well enough to receive any rewards.
Another notable contender is the simple but orthopedically designed Vionic Wave Toe Post. This footbed has by far the most aggressive arch in our lineup. Yet it was a bit too aggressive for our testers and didn't feel comfortable over distances. The footbed is also narrower, making this shoe less suitable for those with wider feet. While the Vionic may provide the support that some people need, they weren't supportive in the ways that we prefer while adventuring to our local beaches and hangouts. That said, if you know you gravitate toward aggressive arch support in your shoes, these are worth checking out.
Some flip flops are made for chilling by the beach, stumbling to and from the bar, and back to your Adirondack beach chair, likely not requiring much traction. For others, occasional scrambling in the Sierras or wearing around the crag in-between climbs demand a higher level of grip. Again, we wore each model in situations where we probably could have lost a toe just to help you, the reader, figure out which pair will have the necessary traction to keep your ankles as safe as possible.
Knowing what environment you will be using your sandals in is key. Will it be smooth wet granite boulders around Lake Tahoe? Or perhaps sandy shores or the deck of a boat? Whatever the environment, it's worth taking the time to match up your flip with your intended use. That being said, models like the Hokua and 'Ohana are fantastic all-arounders that offer excellent grip in any situation.
Several of the flops we tested have tread patterns made out of foam and, needless to say, do not perform well when the going gets tough. Others have monster truck-esque treads well suited for rocky trails but maybe not ideal for the slippery deck of a boat where you need more surface area traction. In these situations, models like the Teva Reflip or Hari Mari Dunes II are well suited. The tread pattern is not ideal for rocks or mountain trails, but performs well as any other while navigating slick surfaces, e.g., algae-covered river rocks.
If you're heading up a river valley with a backpack full of supplies, you can't go wrong with the Teva Pajaro, as it is highly specialized for all-terrain hiking. The wide straps and rugged tread mean you won't lose them on steep hills or in a strong current. If occasional water, granite slabs, and chilling at camp are on the list, check out the Hokua for its best-in-class grip and durability.
Some might argue that versatility in a flip flop is a bit of a misnomer, but we at GearLab use our flops hard, so knowing how they will perform in different situations is crucial. The ideal flip flop would grip its way up a Tuolumne granite slab, keep us comfortable on a trans-Atlantic flight, and not upset the groom's family at the next backyard wedding, all while keeping our ankles nice and airy. It's a tall order, but some options in our lineup delivered.
All the flips we tested are good in most situations, though some are more specialized in a particular area. If you are the type of person that owns multiple pairs, one for each occasion, this section may be less important. However, for those of us who don't like to change shoes, versatility is a crucial ingredient. To us, the perfect flip looks good enough to wear to a party, is sticky enough to scramble up a rock face while wet, and tough enough to last for years. This may sound like a stretch for a simple warm-weather shoe, but a few of the models we reviewed come pretty close, most notably the Olukai Hokua. This burly flip features grippy material on the strap and footbed, meaning that it'll stick to your feet in pretty much any situation — including running up a rocky hill when wet. It's also comfortable, highly durable, and very fashionable.
The attractive 'Ohana is also a good option when you need a fancy flip to transition between the crag and more formal affairs. It proved to be the best for cruising up moderate to technical hiking trails with ease and proved to be an excellent choice for transitioning between outdoor environments and social situations. The Teva Reflip and Needbo NBD can also handle a wide range of trail conditions and offer a sleek, simple style that doesn't turn any heads but also doesn't invite ridicule over your choice of footwear.
The Rainbow Single Layer Premier is another solid choice for varied terrain and situations. It's highly comfortable (both when brand new and with miles underfoot), provides decent traction, and is moderately durable. It's not quite as stylish as the other two OluKai models in our review, but the sleek, soft leather look will surely impress some. Just don't take this pair with you for your next water adventure, as the soft footbed tends to absorb water, and the leather takes a long time to dry.
Style, probably even more than comfort, can be a very subjective category and thus a personal choice. However, we can make some basic judgments on the style, or at least what the company was shooting for when they developed their shoe.
The flips we tested span the style spectrum from fine-crafted leather to rugged outdoor-specific models that look closer to hiking shoes than casual footwear. A handful of them make for excellent all-around flips — capable in outdoor situations and classy enough for a backyard garden party or even a wedding (or at least the types of weddings we go to). Top in this category are the OluKai models yet again, which can easily be dressed up or down.
Another you may want to consider for classy situations that accept a more casual theme is the Rainbow Premier. These aren't the most adventurous of flip flops, but they offer a classic natural look and feature high-quality leather material married to sandwiched layers of EVA foam. When we unboxed these, it was like looking at a slightly faded polaroid of our father's flip flops, worn in 1987, Coors Light in hand. When a flip flop can transport you back in time (or draw out some deeply repressed memories), you know it has some classic style.
It is difficult to overstate just how many flip flops there are on the market today. Walk into any big box chain store, and you will have hundreds to choose from. Our best advice is to first ditch the idea of using those horrible-for-your-feet-and-the-environment disposable shoes and find something that offers support and will last at least a few seasons. This review is chock full of excellent options, with a few that are highly specialized for certain applications. If you've never had a pair of ultra-comfortable flip flops, you are truly missing out on one of life's great pleasures.