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.
How do they feel out of the box? Are the straps abrasive or soft? Is the toe post rubber or nylon? Is the footbed hard and molded or soft and conforming? How do they feel after months of wear? These are the questions we lose sleep over. While comparison may be "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 model's footbed material, noting things like arch support and whether or not there were hot spots or rubbing with wear. We also put each pair through a host of environmental conditions, such as rivers, sandy beaches, and even did a bit of trail running.
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, slick sandy descents to our fave beaches, crag approaches, 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 when venturing out on backcountry adventures. After our rigorous testing, we narrowed it down to the flip flops that offer superior support and stability for all (or many) types of situations and environments.
Steep granite slabs, hardwood floors, sandy trails, poolside tile, and smooth river 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 rocky backcountry adventures. We did in-depth testing of each flip flop in a wide variety of environments so you can match the tread to your needs.
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 our months of testing. This shallow dive into durability also contributed to the overall versatility of each flip flop.
Probably the most subjective metric in this review (but still important) is style. 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 culture. We, much to our friends' 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.