Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Flip-Flop Sandals

Friday July 9, 2021

How do you find the best flip flops out there? First, you find some diehard enthusiasts and load them up with the best, most highly rated options on the market, make sure they have good health insurance, and let them go wild. We focussed our testing on five metrics: comfort, support, traction, versatility, and style.

Our testers agreed almost unanimously, testing flip flops and...
Our testers agreed almost unanimously, testing flip flops and getting some air beneath your feet was the best!
Photo: Brian Martin

Comfort


How do they feel out of the box? Are the straps abrasive or soft? How do they feel after months of wear? These are the questions we lose sleep over. While comparison is the thief of all joy, it is a helpful tool when looking at subjective attributes such as the comfort of a flip flop. We took a deep dive into comparing each flip flops footbed comfort and arch support as if there was any rubbing or discomfort when walking. We put each pair through a host of environmental conditions such as rivers, sandy beaches, and even did a bit of cycling.

Excellent arch support, deep molded footbed, and adjustable straps...
Excellent arch support, deep molded footbed, and adjustable straps make the Arizona really supportive, like a therapist for your feet.
Photo: Brian Martin

Support


To make a long story short, OSHA wouldn't approve of our testing methods for flip flop support and stability. Slippery granite waterslides, cobbled hiking trails, crag approaching, and chopping wood were all on the menu. Just kidding about the wood chopping… except not really, because seriously, we did. Please don't do this. The point we're trying to make is anyone can buy a three-dollar pair of flip flops, but you're taking your life in your hands. After our stringent testing, we have found several flip flops that offer off-the-charts support and stability for all types of situations and environments.

Thick and squishy is the name of the game. While the Ora Recovery...
Thick and squishy is the name of the game. While the Ora Recovery isn't extremely versatile, it does feel good after taking a beating out on the trails.
Photo: Brian Martin

Traction


Steep granite slabs, hardwood floors, poolside tile, and smooth lakeside boulders all have specific traction requirements. All of the models we tested did pretty well in at least some of these situations, but some are more appropriate for sticking close to civilization. Some have subtle grooves made to channel water out from under the sole while keeping lots of rubber in contact with a surface, while others offer big chunky treads for trails around camp. We did in-depth testing of each flip flop in a wide variety of environments so you can match the tread to your needs.

The NeedBo did a decent job scrambling up banks, especially when you...
The NeedBo did a decent job scrambling up banks, especially when you consider how flippin affordable this pair is.
Photo: Brian Martin

Versatility


To get our finger on the versatility pulse of each pair of flip flops, we made sure to test them all exhaustively in all kinds of environments and situations. This meant taking models designed for the beach out on rocky trails and vice versa. Taking each flop out of its comfort zone gave us a solid idea of the versatility rating. While our testing for each individual flip flop doesn't span the necessary years to determine overall durability and longevity, we took into account the materials used and wear and tear through the months of testing. This shallow dive into durability also contributed to the overall versatility of each flip flop.

Reef has an insanely large offering when it comes to flip flops, and...
Reef has an insanely large offering when it comes to flip flops, and typically they are pretty excellent. The Cushion Phantom is one of the most comfortable out-of-the-box pairs we tested.
Photo: Brian Martin

Style


Probably the most subjective metric in this review (but still important! ) is style. It's often an indicator of where a flip flop will feel most at home performance-wise — though not in every situation. Several models in our review are styled in a way that allows for high performance as well as casual get-togethers. The finely crafted leather models can often even feel appropriate for nicer gatherings, depending on your comfort level and religion. We, much to our friend's chagrin, asked nearly everyone we ran into what their thoughts were on the styling of each flip flop. Polling close to 20 people throughout the process we feel that we have our finger on the pulse of the current style.

A picture is worth at least several hundred words. These flip flops...
A picture is worth at least several hundred words. These flip flops look good even on our model, sasquatch.
Photo: Brian Martin