Fact: flip flops are one of the most underrated pieces of gear in the world.
Everybody has heard how important ski boots are, and how you would be wise to spend roughly three times your mortgage payment on them.
But while I ski a lot, I wear flip flops a lot more—every single day, often all day.
Some might say that ski boots are crazy expensive, while flip flops are cheap—so who cares?
Flip flops are cheap by comparison. But that is exactly why it makes no sense to buy a lousy pair of flip flops. Actually, it makes no sense not to buy a great pair of flip flops.
The problem, however, is that most everybody claims that whatever flip flop they happen to be wearing is the best flip of all time.
So we’ve set out to find the best flip flops in the world, and for the sake of transparency, here are the criteria we’ve used:
• Must be a true flip: single strap across the top of the foot that anchors between the 1st and 2nd toe, no heel strap.
• Needs to be able to handle 2–3-mile walks or hikes, whether on pavement, sand, dirt, sand and rock, a little bit of loose rock, stream crossings, etc. (Think hikes to the crag.)
• Needs to dry quickly and maintain good traction when wet, as well as in the conditions listed above.
• No leather. We want these to be quick drying, and, in our experience, nylon straps and rubber footbeds tend to do this more quickly.
• Flip flops should not look like they were designed by this guy:
If your flip flops look like something out of a video game or a sci-fi convention, then you need to realize that:
(1) Your significant other could be doing significantly better.
(2) You’re not in 7th grade anymore.
A Few More Notes
We narrowed our choices down to a top 5 that was determined by polling Blister readers, our friends, and by nominating flips we’ve used. But we will update this list if and when any new flip looks like it could challenge for the title of Best Flip in the World. So this will be an ongoing, King-of-the-Mountain-style review, and we’ll see if anything comes along that knocks off our current top selections.
Feel free to make recommendations, just be sure to name specific models from a particular brand.
Also, if you wear flip flops only when standing around at BBQs, then any of these ought to do just fine.
If you’re between sizes on flip flops, size down. Flips that are too big cause you to “grip” with your toes to keep the sandal from slipping off. That causes you to flex / tension the arch of your foot and tighten your plantar fascia. This may not be a big deal if you aren’t in your flips a lot and aren’t doing a lot of walking, but if you are, it’s something that could lead to foot and Achilles tendon problems.
“Wait, I read somewhere on the internet that flip flops might not be great for my feet?!?!?”
Our advice: if flip flops hurt your feet…don’t wear them.
But this is also why we don’t recommend spending five bucks for flip flops, or wearing ones that have super narrow straps.
This Reviewer’s Feet
Street shoe size: 10.5. Left foot is 27.0 cm long, right foot is 27.5 cm long. Typical ski boot size: 26 / 305 mm. I have a high arch, high instep (on a scale of 1-10, I’m an 8 or 9). C-width. Narrow heel. Fairly stable, solid platform. A bit of a pronator.
The Current Contenders
Reef Fanning; Reef Playa Negra; OluKai Kia’i; OluKai ‘Ohana; Chaco Flip Ecotread; OluKai Kupuna; OluKai Holona
First Up: REEF FANNING