Flip Flops! We humans have been wearing these things since before recorded history. 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. 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 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.
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. 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?
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.
Both the Olukai Hokua, our Editors' Choice, and the Olukai Ohana offer superb comfort along with some serious durability. Additionally, the Olukai Hiapo checks these boxes but does it with a lot of extra style to boot. These three flip flops also illuminate another critical consideration because of their different weather tolerances. The Hiapo, being leather, isn't as suitable to regular dousings in the water and thus should be relegated to dry days, though a bit of moisture won't damage them. The Ohana and Hokua are well suited for basically any environment.
For our flip flops enthusiasts whose priority is water sports, look for the version with the best traction and stability when wet. The Astral Filipe and Hari Mari Dunes II are some of the top performers in the wet because of strategic water-specific modifications. The Dunes II, for example, have a sole that puts tons of rubber in contact with any surface while channeling water away. The Filipe has additional straps that keep it on your foot even if it gets sucked down into the mud when you're getting out of your boat.
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 with your flip flops, then you're going to want to pay special attention to this category. 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 Ohanas have pretty grippy footbed, as do the Chaco Marshalls, but the Astral Filipe takes the cake, featuring a removable strap that secures your foot snuggly inside, even if the footbed gets wet or sweaty.
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. The Chaco Marshall and Hari Mari Scouts come in many great colors, letting you dial in that perfect flop, or even buy multiple pairs to go with different clothes (advanced, we know). Our favorite in the style category is the Olukia Hiapo, our Top Pick for Classy Occasions.