Reviews You Can Rely On

The 10 Best Sandals of 2023

We tested sandals and flip flops from Chaco, Bedrock, Teva, Birkenstock, and more to bring you the best options for men and women
Best Sandals of 2023
A portion of our test lineup in the field. From left to right: Xero Z-Trail EV, Bedrock Cairn Adventure, Chaco Z/1 Classic, Keen Targhee II, Teva Universal Trail.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Our Top Picks

By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday December 22, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Are you still searching for your sandal "sole" mate? Our teams of footwear experts have spent many years testing hundreds of pairs of adventure sandals, flip flops, slides, and more to find the best footwear for every summertime adventure. In this article, we sifted through our four subcategories and over 65 pairs of currently available GearLab-tested sandals to bring you the top 10 contenders. We've worn them on 27-mile hikes and multiweek rafting trips, trekked across dozens of countries, and spent years keeping it cool all summer. Every pair of sandals was worn extensively and compared rigorously to its competitors to bring you the best and most affordable pairs around.

There are tons of different sandals out there. If you already know what type of sandals you're searching for, read our comparisons of men's adventure sandals, women's adventure sandals and slides, men's flip flops, and women's flip flops.

Editor's Note: This article was updated on December 23, 2022, to include the best models from our latest rounds of testing men's and women's flip flops and sandals.


Best All-Around Sandal


Chaco Bodhi - Women's


Weight per pair: 14.1 oz (size 7, women's) | Sole: ChacoGrip rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Superior traction and stability
Great fit for wide feet and arch support
Lighter, thinner, and simpler to adjust than other Chaco sandals
REASONS TO AVOID
Not as many color options
No half sizes

A newcomer to the Chaco lineup, the Chaco Bodhi surpassed all the rest with their rugged performance, adaptive fit, and versatile look. A simplified strap design makes the standard Chaco adjustment process so much easier to get right the first time and adjust on the fly when needed. The Bodhi is comfortable for narrow and wide feet without any straps along the outsides of your feet. With all the appearance of a minimalist sandal, this model keeps that classic Chaco toe loop, which makes all the difference in maintaining impressive stability and serious security. Add that to one of Chaco's thinnest, lightest, most flexible soles yet, and you've got an excellent set of footwear.

As an underdog in the Chaco lineup, the Bodhi doesn't (yet?) come in the wild and varied array of colors and patterns that their classic Z sandals do. And, like all Chacos, they don't come in half sizes. Yet, our lead tester regularly wears a half-size shoe, and she had no problems finding a comfortable size of Chacos. With nearly no complaints about the Bodhi, they quickly became our number-one choice for everything from kayaking to backpacking and cities to beaches, keeping us comfortable, secure, and stylish all day long.

sandals - best all-around sandal
There's almost nothing we wouldn't wear the Chaco Bodhi to do.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Secure Adventure Sandal


Chaco Z/Cloud 2


Weight per pair: 18.2 oz (size 7, women's) | Sole: ChacoGrip rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Superb traction in challenging conditions
The toe loop adds unmatched stability
A plethora of colors and patterns to choose from
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy and bulkier than most
Challenging adjustment process

When searching for a tried and true adventure sandal that can go the distance, it's hard to go wrong with the Chaco Z/Cloud 2. This longtime fan-favorite pair provides the best traction on any surface we have yet experienced. One of our lead testers has been wearing these sandals to guide backpacking and white water trips for over 15 years and has yet to find a situation where these don't hold up. Getting the right adjustment of the toe loop takes some time and effort. Still, once it's dialed in, this seemingly simple addition adds so much stability and security doing everything from swimming rapids to hiking 25+ mile days.

All this ruggedness comes with some trade-offs. This level of traction and stability also means these are some of the bulkiest, heaviest sandals we tested. And the adjustment process required to find the right fit for your big toe is far more complicated and demanding than any other. But if you've the patience and the persistence, the Chaco Z/Cloud 2 is the ideal adventuring sandal.

sandals - best secure adventure sandal
The Chaco Z/Cloud 2 are a secure, stable adventure sandal, built to handle just about anything.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Minimal Yet Supportive Sandal


Bedrock Cairn 3D PRO II Adventure


Weight per pair: 17.1 oz (size 9, women's) | Sole: Vibram Megagrip
REASONS TO BUY
Simple adjustments
Good for wide feet
Great traction and good stability
REASONS TO AVOID
Run very small, especially for long-toed folks
Few color options

The Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II sandals inhabit a unique middle ground between full-on adventure sandals and minimalist footwear, offering many benefits of both. The footbeds are nearly flat, with just a few key ridges at the base of the toes to add security to your step. The minimalist strap design is simple to adjust and more secure than they appear. They offer above-average traction and have no width restrictions in their design.

We struggled quite a bit with determining the correct size of these sandals. Our main female tester typically wears a size 7.5 and needed a 9 to accommodate her slightly longer toes. When fully tightening these sandals to add security, some of our testers also found that the strap seams were a bit uncomfortable, though not enough to rub or create hot spots and blisters. Though the Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II can't quite match the security and stability of the cross-toe and cross-foot strap sandals, they do a great job in dry conditions. If you're after the benefits of minimalist footwear but still want rugged protection for your soles, the Cairn 3D Pro II is the sandal for you.

sandals - best minimal yet supportive sandal
The Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro straddle the line of minimalism and support, offering a little bit of each.
Credit: Joanna Trieger

Best Barefoot Sandal


Xero Z-Trail EV - Women's


Weight per pair: 8.0 oz (size 8 women's), 11.7 oz (size 10, men's) | Sole: FeelTrue rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Good traction even on uneven terrain
Secure without being tight and accommodating of wide feet
Very light and packable
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited colors
Thin sole lets debris under feet easily

For the true barefoot enthusiast, the Xero Z-Trail EV sandals are a dream come true. These ultrathin shoes provide as close to a barefoot experience as possible while letting you enter establishments with "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" policies. The soles are impressively flexible yet still have a robust pattern across the bottoms, providing excellent traction even on steep gravel trails and slippery granite slopes. Their Z-style straps look classic but offer more freedom than you'd think. Their outward-angled anchors maintain tension without transferring it to your foot, keeping you blister-free over miles of wear.

If you're not already an avid barefoot adventurer, jumping straight into a pair of the Z-Trail will likely leave your feet tired and sore. But once you've strengthened your foot muscles to wear these ultra-comfy sandals all day, they have a few downsides. They're offered in very limited colors if having your favorite shade is important to you. But suppose you're on the barefoot bandwagon and are wondering what sandals are the best for maintaining that feel while you explore thorny environments or venture indoors. In that case, the Xero Z-Trail EV sandals are your answer.

Read more: Men's Xero Z-Trail review

sandals - best barefoot sandal
The Xero Z-Trail bring all the things we love about walking barefoot, with the traction of a solid pair of adventure sandals.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Value Adventure Sandal


Teva Katavi 2


Weight per pair: 21.8 oz (size 9, men's) | Sole: Durabrasion rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight compared to similar models
Plush and comfortable
Solid performance for their price
REASONS TO AVOID
Unimpressive traction when wet
Not as stable or supportive as others

The Teva Katavi 2 offers a competitive all-around performance with a thick, comfortable sole and a surprisingly low price. Though they're only available in men's sizes, these adventure sandals could feasibly be worn by just about anyone. They feature a soft contoured footbed with plush suede straps and a durable rubber sole. Compared to similar models, these kicks are lightweight with a simple design that's easy to adjust.

They don't have the best traction when wet, as we experienced some foot slipping in the footbed and on wet surfaces. The strap system, though easy to use, isn't as customizable or accommodating to different shapes and widths of feet and ankles. And yet, the Katavi 2 offers great value, with a versatile and comfortable performance that outstrips its price.

Read more: Men's Teva Katavi 2 review

sandals - best value adventure sandal
The Katavi 2 are lightweight and comfortable, at an affordable price.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Best Adventure Sandal on a Tight Budget


Teva Original Universal - Women's


Weight per pair: 11.1 oz (size 8, women's), 13.4 oz (size 10, men's) | Sole: Rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Very simple to adjust
Good stability and solid traction
Tons of colors and patterns
REASONS TO AVOID
Not accommodating for wide feet or arch support
Straps can be scratchy

Another classic pair that's proven its worth over the years is the Teva Original Universal. These unisex-sized sandals cost less than half what many others retail for yet offer reasonable security and dependable traction for many adventures. Sturdy velcro straps everywhere make them so simple and easy to adjust to your perfect fit. They're thin, lightweight, and packable, making them a great "just in case" addition to your vacation suitcase. And they come in a ton of colors and patterns to suit your style.

For most everyday adventures, the Teva Original Universal will carry you through, but when it comes to extreme and rugged conditions, they can't keep up with some of the more robust models. Particularly in water, we found ourselves slipping in the footbeds, and when tightened, the edges of the straps can be a bit scratchy. The flat footbeds don't provide arch support if that's important to you. But if you're a modest adventurer looking for a solid option at a reasonable price, we're big fans of the simple, affordable Teva Original.

Read more: Men's Teva Original Universal review

sandals - best adventure sandal on a tight budget
The highly affordable Teva Originals are a solid choice for moderate adventuring on a budget.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Recovery Slide


Hoka Ora Recovery Slide


Weight per pair: 10.1 oz (size 7, women's), 12 oz (size 10, men's) | Sole: EVA Foam
REASONS TO BUY
Very lightweight
Squishy and plush
Simple slip-on design
REASONS TO AVOID
Rocker sole shape is less stable
Poor traction and no adjustability

If you've ever experienced feet so sore that you don't want to stand up, the Hoka Ora may be your savior slides. These ultra-thick sandals are lightweight, squishy foam, and have a curved construction to help massage your feet with every step. They're the epitome of simple, with no moving parts at all and most of our testers easily wore them with and without socks.

Such a niche sandal like the Hoka Ora can never compete with the many sandals that are built for every day exploring or hardcore adventuring. They lack the traction and stability required for the type of regular wear most shoes are designed to handle. Their rocker-shaped soles are unstable, and they're not adjustable at all. But if you have tired feet that need a break, these slides are our favorite pair for getting us back up and moving sooner.

sandals - best recovery slide
When your feet just need some time to recover, slide into the Hoka Ora.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Best All-Around Flip Flops


OluKai Ohana - Women's


Weight per pair: 13.7 oz (women's), 18.7 oz (men's) | Footbed material: EVA/ICEVA
REASONS TO BUY
Impressively comfortable
Supportive contoured soles are great for wide feet
Good arch support
REASONS TO AVOID
Takes a long time to dry
Heavy compared to similar models

If you're sick of having tired feet after wearing flip flops all day, or throwing away your summer sandals because they don't hold up, check out the OluKai Ohana. These contoured flips were comfortable right out of the box and only got more comfortable the longer we wore them. They offer plenty of width for just about anyone, further adding to their impressive comfort. While so many flip flops aren't known for their security or traction, the Ohana provides great grip, solid security, and good traction even on wet surfaces.

Though these sandals are on the pricey side, they are built to last, giving them long-term value that makes it easier to justify the initial purchase. They're also heavier than many other flip flops, which can take some getting used to. And though they perform well in the water, they also take a long time to dry out afterward. But even when soaking wet, our testing team loves wearing the super comfortable OluKai Ohana.

Read more: Women's OluKai Ohana review

sandals - best all-around flip flops
The Ohana is well-made and highly comfortable.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Best Flip Flops for Women


Birkenstock Gizeh


Weight per pair: 13.5 oz | Footbed material: Suede-lined cork
REASONS TO BUY
Great all-around foot support
Very cute and stylish
Contoured footbed molds to your foot over time
REASONS TO AVOID
Toe post is quite stiff
Break-in time is long

We weren't expecting to be blown away by the Birkenstock Gizeh, yet they performed excellently across all our tests. They're very well-made, with the best support and stability of any flip flop we've tried. Though they're instantly comfortable, they continue to conform to your feet, growing even more comfortable the longer you wear them. We're also impressed by how much traction we had while hiking across a wide variety of terrain. And though it's not everyone's style, most of our testers find them stylish enough to wear with a sundress and a pair of board shorts.

It does take quite a bit of time to fully break in the Gizeh though, so you'll want to be prepared for the commitment. The toe post is initially quite stiff, though it becomes slightly softer and less apparent over time. With cork and suede footbeds, the Gizeh isn't the best in-water shoes, but their all-foam cousins, the Birkenstock Gizeh Essentials EVA, are waterproof and cost a lot less. If you're willing to invest the time and money into a stylish, versatile, extremely comfortable pair of flip flops, the Gizeh is worth it.

Read more: Women's Birkenstock Gizeh review

sandals - best flip flops for women
The Gizeh are a very comfortable flip flop with great style.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Best Value Flip Flops


Teva Reflip


Weight per pair: 9.7 oz (men's) | Footbed material: EVA
REASONS TO BUY
Very lightweight
Made of recycled materials
Great fit, wet or dry
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor traction
Not very supportive

Made of recycled materials throughout, the Teva Reflip are comfortable wet or dry. They're extremely lightweight and hold easily to your feet. With nonabsorbent soles, the Reflip is one of our favorite flips to wear when we know our feet are going to get wet. They're squishy and offer an easy level of comfort — all for a pretty affordable price.

As a simple sandal, the traction of the Teva Reflip isn't great. They have just minor tread on the bottom that we found lacking on steep and slippery slopes. Though soft, these flops are lightly molded, offering no real arch support. Still, if you're after a lightweight, affordable flip flop that can take you from the water to the beer garden, the Teva Reflip is an easy choice.

sandals - the teva reflip are simple, lightweight, and easy to like.
The Teva Reflip are simple, lightweight, and easy to like.
Credit: Jon Oleson

Why You Should Trust Us


We've been testing the best sandals and flip flops for men and women for the past seven years. Each season we research and purchase the latest, greatest, and most promising pairs to put through our rigorous side-by-side comparisons. We literally live in these sandals — biking across town, backpacking through mountains, kayaking rapids, walking the dog, hanging out at the beach, exploring international cities, and so much more. We pull in as many of our friends and family as can fit these sandals to help us determine which are the most comfortable, the squishiest, have the best arch support, allow for just the right amount of foot movement, retain traction on uneven and wet surfaces, and so much more.

We test flip flops using the following five performance metrics:
  • Comfort (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Support (20% weighting)
  • Traction (20% weighting)
  • Versatility (15% weighting)
  • Style (15% weighting)

As the sandals and slides we tested are designed for slightly different activities, we alter our testing methods accordingly, rating them across the following five performance metrics:
  • Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Traction (25% weighting)
  • Stability (20% weighting)
  • Adjustability (15% weighting)
  • Versatility (15% weighting)

The many sandals and flip flops we have tested over the years have been worn and scrutinized by a robust team of GearLab Senior Review Editors. Maggie Nichols heads this team and is a lifetime sandal enthusiast. She started professionally guiding backcountry trips (backpacking, rafting, canoeing, and more) in 2007, wearing a pair of sturdy adventure sandals that she still wears today. Hayley Thomas lives in and travels around the country in her van, wearing flip flops and sandals at every possible opportunity. She and Penney Garrett are both avid climbers, hikers, and yogis. Penney is a self-professed "flip flop freak" who seeks out every excuse to remove her socks and feel the sun on her toes. Nick Bruckbauer is an experienced outdoorsman who travels the world seeking out new adventures — always with a trusty pair of sturdy sandals in tow (toe?). Jacob Clark is a former climbing guide and route setter who spends much of his days exploring the California Central Coast beaches and hiking and running through Los Padres National Forest. Jon Oleson recently jumped right into flip flop testing, bringing his perspectives and expertise as a sandal-wearing, outdoor-loving father. Matt Bento is a former member of Yosemite Search and Rescue who's no stranger to relaxing and exploring the great outdoors in sockless footwear.

The tread and comfort let these sandals take you over any terrain...
The tread and comfort let these sandals take you over any terrain you may encounter.
Testing sandals along the coastal cliffs of California.
Testing sandals along the coastal cliffs of California.
These sandals have decent traction for being such a minimalist shoe.
These sandals have decent traction for being such a minimalist shoe.
We tested dozens of flip flops and sandals for both men and women (or both) to bring you the best options on the market.

Finding Your Ideal Footwear


You probably already know what type of sandal you're looking for. A pair of flip flops to wear to the beach, some adventure sandals for camping trips, or a set of slides for running errands. We're not here to convince you what type of sandal you should own, we're here to help you figure out what makes an adventure sandal fit for canoe trips or a flip flop that won't fly off as you chase the dog across the sand. We prioritize comfort, support, and traction, no matter what type of sandals we're testing. With your experience actually wearing these shoes at the forefront of our minds — not just looking at if they match your outfit — we give you our favorites of each type of sandal and how to figure out which ones will be the best option for you.

sandals - if you want to wear socks with your sandals, we're down with that.
If you want to wear socks with your sandals, we're down with that.
Credit: Miya Tsudome

Choosing the Right Full-Strap, Adventure Sandals


If you know right off the bat that you want a pair of full-strap sandals, meant to stay securely on your feet all day, you're looking at a ton of excellent options. The first thing you should consider is what type of adventures you'll be going on. Perhaps your adventuring involves exploring cobblestone streets and paved paths through a new city and you're looking for a pair of comfortable walking sandals that still go with your khakis or sundress. Or maybe you'd like to let your feet breathe as you head up a long trail through the woods to get to your favorite climbing spot and you need a pair of sturdy sandals with good traction for loose trails and hills. Or you could be seeking a pair to wear on a leisurely kayak paddle and solitary lunch spot, and you need a set of shoes that can get wet without letting you slip or rubbing your feet raw.

All Day Water Play
If your ideal pair of footwear is meant to stay on all day while you're in and out of the water (or just in the water), you may also consider a pair of water shoes. These offer more protection for the tops of your feet, whether from rocks while canyoneering or from the cold on a whitewater adventure. We've scoured through over 100 of the best water shoes for men and for women, to keep you covered and ready no matter how wet you'll get.

For every type of adventure, comfort is key. To figure out what you'll find comfortable in a pair of sandals without having to suffer through blisters all day, start with a pair of shoes you already own. Maybe it's an old pair of sneakers with just the right-shaped footbed, or a pair of boots with support in all the right places, or even some tennis shoes with perfect flexibility. Whatever your most comfortable pair of shoes is, start with those and figure out what you like about them to understand what you'll enjoy in a pair of sandals.

sandals - do you prefer your shoes to have flexible or rigid soles?
Do you prefer your shoes to have flexible or rigid soles?
Credit: Miya Tsudome

If you find your favorite pair of shoes are flexible, with a wide toe box and plenty of room for your toes to breathe, consider sandals with thinner soles that are wider than average or lack straps on the sides. The Bedrock Cairn are a great choice, with their flexible soles and plenty of room for your feet to spread out and take up space. If your favorite shoes take it one step further and are already rather thin-soled, the minimalist Xero Z-Trail EV may be what you're after. These ultralight sandals are extremely pliable, with a spacious toe area that helps them to mimic the experience of walking barefoot, without forcing you to feel all those pokey rocks.

sandals - the xero z-trail have the most flexible soles of any model we've...
The Xero Z-Trail have the most flexible soles of any model we've tested.
Credit: Miya Tsudome

Perhaps your favorite shoes have contoured footbeds that offer arch support, and sturdy soles with plenty of traction. If that's the case, we'd recommend checking out the Chaco Bodhi or Chaco Z/Cloud 2. They have excellent arch support and thicker soles that are still limber. They also have excellent traction to help you cover all kinds of terrain from slick city streets to loose gravel trails. The Teva Katavi 2 also have plush, comfortable footbeds that offer great support for all-day wear. Their traction falters a bit when wet, but we still love wearing them for our many dry adventures.

sandals - the chaco bodhi (left) and z (right) are both great adventure...
The Chaco Bodhi (left) and Z (right) are both great adventure sandals, offering security, support, and excellent traction.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Sandal strap systems also play into their comfort, but typically in a lesser way than their soles. Everyone prefers different tightness levels and numbers of straps for security, so there's no single answer here. Pay attention to how adjustable a potential new pair of sandals is. Many are fully adjustable all over, letting you change them again and again to find the right fit. No matter if they have simple velcro or an integrated lacing system that requires a diagram and patience to figure out, become intimately familiar with your sandals' system.

Sizing Matters
With most shoes, the walls of the shoe help to keep your foot in place while you walk. In a pair of sandals, your feet will slide a lot more than you may expect. When trying on a pair of open-air footwear, walk around the store or your home. Jump up and down and pounce from side to side to get your feet to slide. If your toes or any part of your foot slides over any edge of the sandals, they're not the right size or fit for you. Make sure you can stay securely in your new kicks before you commit to taking them home (or check the return and exchange policy before you buy online).

Depending on where you want to wear your sandals can help you figure out how secure and stable they should be and what kind of traction you'll need. In general, sandals that include an over-the-toe strap — whether that's over all of your toes or just the big one — are more secure but also more challenging to adjust (and readjust as conditions change). If you'd like to wear your sandals walking over loose materials, up steep slopes, or when wet, carefully consider their traction. But don't just flip them over to look at the tread! Though this is very important, equally as important is the traction of your foot on the footbed. Sandals that are smooth on the top tend to easily let your feet slide, as do loose sandals and those with less secure straps. The robust diamond grid on the tops of the Chaco Cloud family of sandal soles provides the best traction under trying circumstances that we've found.

sandals - whether you need to cross the desert or cross a stream, there's a...
Whether you need to cross the desert or cross a stream, there's a pair of sandals for that.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Flip Flops That Won't Flop Off


Just because you're a die hard flip flop fan, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice security and stability. If you're used to cheap flips that mainly function to deliver a logo to your friends and family, you'll be stoked to know there's a whole wide world out there of trail-tackling, water-wading, town-trekking flops just waiting to cradle your feet.

Buying on a Budget
Many flip flops and sandals are released in new colors every year. Search in the late fall through early spring to find good deals on last year's colors.

Just like their full-strap cousins, flip flop comfort starts with the soles and footbeds. The OluKai Ohana are one of our favorite pairs in this arena. They're soft and comfortable, contoured to your feet, and feel great right out of the box. Even after wearing them for years of sweaty adventures, they've only gotten more comfortable as they conform to the foot of the wearer over time. They also don't skimp on security and traction. Our whole testing team found their pliable straps to hold securely to our feet and their traction is robust enough we felt comfortable taking the scenic trail through the woods.

sandals - the right flips are comfortable, supportive, and have good traction.
The right flips are comfortable, supportive, and have good traction.
Credit: Brian Martin

The Birkenstock Gizeh are another exceptionally comfortable pair. The classic Birkenstock footbed is concave and cradles your feet comfortably on top of lightweight cork soles. They take longer to break in than the Ohana, but once they've got your footprint embedded in the bottom, they feel like they were made just for you. Their classic zigzag tread pattern offers pretty good traction on dry and wet surfaces. Though with so much suede, we don't enjoy wearing these in the water. Their EVA cousins, on the other hand, are less breathable but totally impermeable to water. The very affordable Teva Reflip also have EVA soles that don't hold water and actually seem to have better traction on wet, slippery surfaces than others we tested with large lugs in their tread.

sandals - some flip flops are exceptionally comfortable to wear, like the...
Some flip flops are exceptionally comfortable to wear, like the OluKai Ohana and the Birkenstock Gizeh (pictured).
Credit: Matthew Blake

These are a few of our personal favorite flops, but we've tested a ton of others that may be the right fit for you. Flip flops can be tricky to fit, as they are rarely adjustable. And since we don't all have identically shaped feet, the straps that are secure on your BFF may not be the ones that hit right for you. Look for flexible straps that won't cut into your feet while you walk or rub on wet or sweaty feet. But most importantly, try them on in the store and don't just walk — skip, jump, and dash from side to side like a hockey player heading toward the goal. Too much give in the straps and too much slipping across the footbeds are indicators that the sandals on your feet aren't the right fit.

sandals - look for flip flops with soft straps that fit snugly on your foot.
Look for flip flops with soft straps that fit snugly on your foot.
Credit: Jon Oleson

Simplicity in Slides


By definition, slides lack the features found in other sandals that keep them safely on your feet through all your adventures. They have no toe post or loop and no ankle strap. Without that level of security, we rarely find a pair of slides that we want to hike up a mountain in or wear trekking a new city on vacation. But for hanging out around the house, running errands around town, and even helping your feet to recover, there are plenty of reasons a pair of slides may be a good pairing for you.

sandals - a nice comfy pair of slides may be just what you want on a lazy...
A nice comfy pair of slides may be just what you want on a lazy afternoon or the end of a long day.
Credit: Brian Martin

While we don't have an entire category of testing dedicated only to slides, we've had a fair few on our feet through these reviews. For the most part, these simple slip-on shoes stand out best for their comfort and ease of use, while their security of fit depends on your specific foot shape. However, one pair deserves a special shout-out for their specific function. The Hoka Ora Recovery Slides are designed for exactly what their name evokes: helping your feet to recover after working hard. Made entirely of EVA foam, the Ora Slides are squishy and roomy enough to spread your toes and maybe even wear a nice pair of socks if you'd like. They're not flat on the bottom like regular shoes. Instead, they're shaped like a slight rocker, helping to cradle, cushion, and even moderately massage your sore feet while you shuffle around the house in them. These aren't the slides we'd recommend for everyday use, but when our feet really need a break (but we still have to get up and walk around), we turn to the Hoka Ora.

sandals - the hoka ora feel great on sore feet after a long trail run.
The Hoka Ora feel great on sore feet after a long trail run.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Is There One Sandal To Rule Them All?


We wish! There's so much that goes into the making of a "perfect" sandal that just isn't conducive to a one-size-fits-all approach. And we haven't even touched on style, which is even more subjective than the type of support, tightness of straps, and flexibility of soles all put together. While we can't unanimously agree on a single pair of sandals that all our testers would choose in every situation, there are a few that garnered more votes to wear in more diverse environments, activities, and outfits.

sandals - you don't have to sacrifice style to get a high-performance pair of...
You don't have to sacrifice style to get a high-performance pair of sandals.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

The Chaco Bodhi is one of those pairs. For a full-strap sandal, the Bodhi manage to be secure (thanks to their toe loop and contoured footbed), minimal in their coverage, and offer great traction on both the footbeds and the soles. Though they come in few colors, the solid shades they're available in were widely agreed by our testers to look good and this style is one we feel good wearing dressed up or down, all summer long. If you're more of a flip flop aficionado, the Birkenstock Gizeh fills a similar role. These comfortable flips mold to your feet over time, with a secure fit and solid traction, as well as a style that most of our testing team found versatile and delightful.

sandals - the right pair of sandals can take you around the world.
The right pair of sandals can take you around the world.
Credit: Joanna Trieger

Conclusion


There's a whole wide world out there of sandals for seemingly every activity, outfit, outing, and vibe. Though much of your ultimate choice will include your personal aesthetic and comfort preferences, we hope that our incessant comparisons and intense side-by-side testing have helped you to determine the qualities you want in your perfect pair.

Maggie Nichols


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