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How to Choose Flip Flops for Men

How to Choose Flip Flops for Men
Olukai flip flops typically offer high arch support and excellent footbeds that slowly conform to your foot over time.
Credit: Brian Martin
Friday July 9, 2021

Flip flops! We humans have been wearing these things since before recorded history; you can fact-check us but since it wasn't recorded, good luck. The first flip flops we know about appeared on Egyptian murals around 4,000 BC, but you can bet folks were rocking this simple, elegant footwear way before they figured out how to write or chisel or whatever. Constructed from wood, papyrus, rawhide, and even palm fronds, flip flops were, and remain, the most egalitarian footwear out there. Everyone from princes to paupers loves a comfy pair of flops. Little has changed, except now you can spend as much frankincense and myrrh as you can manage on a pair of kicks that will feel more comfortable and last longer than the papyrus thongs of yore. Fortunately for us, there are many brands mindfully producing quality flip flops for every situation imaginable and most budgets too.

Choosing Your Activity

Consider what you'll be doing and where you'll be going in your flip flops. Are you going to be using them more in an urban setting, wandering miles of foreign streets while tasting strange foods and getting lost on purpose? Or will you be taking your flops beyond their recommended applications (as most of us do), using them on rocky trails or granite slabs? If you're into water sports, your flops will need good traction to prevent you from slipping all over the deck or falling on wet rocks. (Or, check out our picks for the best men's water shoes.) Flip flops that are good for hiking might not be your cup of tea stylistically, as they sometimes have padded straps or thicker tread. If you spend most of your time in town, narrowing in on the more stylish flops probably makes the most sense. Be honest with yourself about what you really plan to get after the most. We know making a decision is hard, but as the saying goes, a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. So what's it going to be?

flip flops men - flip flops are a requirement for summer comfort.
Flip flops are a requirement for summer comfort.
Credit: matt bento

Urban Use

If you find yourself wearing flip flops every day, be it after work, before work, out on the town, or just around the house, you might fit into this use category. Regardless of the activity, comfort should still be high up on your list of demands. There are several flip flops in our review that offer all-day comfort and the durability necessary for everyday use.

flip flops men - the hokua has it all. excellent looks, durability, traction, and can...
The Hokua has it all. Excellent looks, durability, traction, and can handle a wide variety of environments.
Credit: Brian Martin

Water Activities

For our flip flops enthusiasts whose priority is water sports, look for the version with the best traction and stability when wet. Strategic water-specific modifications like a sole that puts tons of rubber in contact with any surface while channeling water away is ideal.

flip flops men - the dunes ii is a water specialist that performs decently in other...
The Dunes II is a water specialist that performs decently in other environments too. We were excited about the 80's styling, but even more psyched about the wet environment performance.
Credit: Brian Martin

Another significant concern with water activities is the likelihood of losing your flip flop! We're not sure how many flip flops have been lost at sea, but it has to be in the billions. Considering the flotation of a flip flop along with the overall cost might be pertinent as you set sail.

flip flops men - while most flip flops are quite buoyant, it's worth double-checking...
While most flip flops are quite buoyant, it's worth double-checking before you hit the high seas!
Credit: Brian Martin


Whether it's carrying a surfboard to the break or a backpack to the crag, you're going to need a flop that offers some arch support and actually stays on your foot if you're looking to get off the sidewalk regularly. Traction, stability, and durability are all super important to those looking to use flip flops for purposes slightly more extreme than recommended. Flip flops that excel in this category should be durable, rugged, and packable, whether that be in a backpack or clipped to a harness. Several of the flops we tested did well in this category. The 'Ohana has an aggressive tread and maintains great traction on a variety of surfaces. Its thong straps hold the sandal in place well but are not the tightest we tested, allowing for a little bit of slip. Remember, even if your flops have great traction, they're worthless if your foot doesn't stay in place. The Astral Filipe takes the cake in this area, featuring a removable strap that secures your foot snuggly inside, even if the footbed gets wet or sweaty.

flip flops men - the filipe is an excellent pair of flip flops with the added...
The Filipe is an excellent pair of flip flops with the added security of a unique strap system. This keeps them on your feet even when in a hurry.
Credit: Brian Martin

Looking Good

Let's face it, we all want to look good, and while style is a subjective and often controversial topic, we bravely dive in with some strong opinions. Clean, simple lines, low-key colors, and leather are all features we find visually pleasing in a flop. Both the Hiapo and Rainbow flip flops define the upper echelon of style in this review. Both utilize beautifully crafted leather though the Rainbow hits more in the retro styling vein and the Hiapo is just plain classy, like Ron Burgandy's leather-bound books.

flip flops men - the hiapos feature a baseball glove-like stitching and a fully...
The Hiapos feature a baseball glove-like stitching and a fully leather-wrapped footbed.
Credit: Matt Bento

Footbed Breakdown

There really isn't anything quite as comfortable as a nicely broken in and molded footbed with the perfect arch support slipped on after a long hike. The open-air against your disgusting feet and the arch support massaging your barking dogs, it's almost too good to be true. If you are on the hunt for this euphoric post-hike foot love, it's important to consider what you want in a footbed and what you need in regards to fit. The flip flops we tested ranged from nearly flat and hard to moldable and high arched. In between this wide range were flip flops offering ultra-plush footbeds and other bargain options that are moldable but firm.

flip flops men - comfortable, good-looking, and versatile enough to go from the...
Comfortable, good-looking, and versatile enough to go from the backyard party to your next beach vacay. Just go ahead and get a pair or read on if you need more convincing.
Credit: Brian Martin

Light Foam Footbeds

While flip flops constructed from this lightweight and squishy foam can be comfortable off the shelf, they are generally of less durable construction, and the low-density material wears quickly. We have found it not uncommon for ultra-cheap low-density footbeds to blow out within a month or two. The affordable price tag is undeniable. You could have five or more pairs of these flip flops for the cost of the heavy-hitting dense rubber-soled options. While we don't have any of these sub-five dollar flip flops in our review, it's important to know where they land on the spectrum of comfort and durability. They land quite far on the not very comfortable and not very durable end of the spectrum.

flip flops men - while the squishy sole is quite comfortable, the straps were sharp...
While the squishy sole is quite comfortable, the straps were sharp and uncomfortable out of the box.
Credit: Brian Martin

Foot Molding Footbeds

A handful of the flip flops we tested fall into this category. While each has a different foam density and feel, the main point is that these are generally more durable than the light foam footbeds but a bit less durable than the chunky and durable contoured footbeds, discussed in the next section. These foot molding footbeds are almost universally constructed from EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate. This polymer can be crafted into an insane variety of density, flexibility, and environmental resistance. Also, the ability to easily mold it makes it ideal for mass-produced flip flops. No, it's not the greatest on the environment, but hey it's summer, and we've been virtue signaling all winter, time to slip on some highly refined Brazilian crude oil and hit the beach.

flip flops men - with such a soft footbed and sole, it would be unreasonable to...
With such a soft footbed and sole, it would be unreasonable to expect the Phantom to last for a long time. The upside is that while they do last, they will be extremely comfortable.
Credit: Brian Martin

Contured Footbeds

This is where the rubber meets the road, or any surface you want it to meet actually. The contoured footbeds seem to be the creme of the crop with ultra-comfortable form-fitting designs and ergonomics that rival the most comfortable shoes. OluKai flip flops seem to have this corner of the market etched out quite well. As a general rule of thumb, these flip flops are ultra-comfortable out of the box and only seem to get better with age. The footbeds come formed with wide and high arch support, decent heel cups, and sometimes a separation for toes. Wearing these flip flops generally gives you the sense that your entire foot is being supported and cushioned. Not only are these usually the most comfortable, to create the necessary contoured structure requires more durable materials, either high-density EVA or leather in some cases. Ultimately, contoured footbeds allow you to find a pair of flip flops that work for you and keep them in your family for a long time versus getting a new pair every time you are headed to the beach.

flip flops men - these offer classic comfort unique to birkenstocks. we had some...
These offer classic comfort unique to Birkenstocks. We had some gripes with the straps, but it's partially because our big toes are hairy. This is not a joke.
Credit: Brian Martin

With all this in mind, remember that even the most thorough review won't tell you which men's flip flop best suits your needs. Read our full review, then go out and try some on!