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- Mari Mari/Business Insider
- Flip flops are the unofficial footwear of summertime. Wear them to the beach, backyard barbecue, or anywhere that calls for casual attire.
- But this type of open-toe sandal has a reputation for being plasticky, flimsy, and uncomfortable.
- Sanuk’s flip flops for men and women are soft as a cloud and made of cushy yoga mat material.
You know the person who shows up for beach day in leather sandals with like eight buckles and makes everyone wait around for 20 minutes at the edge of the boardwalk while she takes them off? Yeah, that person is me.
I never have the right footwear for the beach, because I’ve never found a pair of flip flops I really love, and flip flops are really the only appropriate footwear for the beach. Some people live in them from June through September, and I think they are onto something. Flip flops are so versatile – you literally don’t have to think about them. Depending on the material, you might not even need to worry about sudden summer rainstorms while wearing them.
When most of us think of flip flops, we think of slim, inconsequential shoes with no real arch support that we mainly buy because they are cheap and simple. But these days there are plenty of comfortable options appropriate for more than just lounging poolside. Maybe you won’t wear them to the office (or maybe you do, if you’re lucky to work in an ultra-low-key office), but these picks are suitable for exercising, outdoor showers, and even lunch with friends on a hot day.
Here are the best flip flops you can buy:
- Best women’s flip flops overall: Sanuk Women’s Sling Flip Flop
- Best men’s flip flops overall: Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip Flops
- Best colorful women’s flip flops: Havaianas Women’s Slim Flip Flops
- Best colorful men’s flip flops: Havaianas Men’s Top Sandal
- Best poolside flip flops: Vertico Shower and Pool Sandal
- Best budget men’s flip flops: Old Navy Classic Flip Flops for Men
- Best budget women’s flip flops: Old Navy Classic Flip Flops for Women
- Best stylish flip flops: Hari Mari Flip Flops
- Best comfortable flip flops: Oofos Sandals
- Best rugged flip flops: Keen Kona Flip
- Best women’s flip flops for travel: Birkenstock Arizona Essentials
- Best men’s flip flops for travel: Birkenstock Arizona Essentials
Updated on 5/24/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Added best rugged flip flops and best flip flops for travel.
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best flip flops overall
Sanuk is reinventing the flip flop with unique designs for men and women made of yoga mat material for maximum comfort and ultimate style.
When you do yoga, there’s a moment when you press your hands into the mat during downward dog or sink into child’s pose, and the world melts away. That sense of relief and comfort is in large part due to the mat itself. Yoga mats, though relatively thin, make you feel cushioned and supported even on top of a hardwood floor. Sanuk makes flip flops that mimic that experience.
The footbeds are made of actual yoga mat material. It’s a cool, unique concept that translates well to real-life comfort. The brand’s most popular style for women is the Yoga Sling 2, which has well over 6,000 Amazon reviews and one of The Strategist’s picks.
A stylish wrap-around silhouette that is clearly yoga-inspired, makes these art-gallery-owner-chic. While not a true flip flop due to a piece of fabric that secures around the ankle, it still gives you that thong sandal look.
For men, there is the cleverly named Men’s Beer Cozy Flip Flop. With more than 1,500 reviews and a 4.1 Amazon rating, these are popular. This is more of a traditional flip flop with thick straps, Sanuk’s signature yoga mat footbed, and a curve for additional arch support.
Pros: Cushy footbed made of yoga mat material, cute styles that work for a variety of occasions, comfortable for walking long distances
Cons: May want to size up, material isn’t waterproof
The best colorful flip flops
Havaianas are the most iconic flip flops around, with a huge selection of rainbow colors, fun prints, and simple designs for men and women.
Havaianas are the ideal beach sandal – durable, colorful, and able to withstand rough conditions. Even if they get a little scraped-up and windswept, they’ll still look cool after the fact.
The sandals come in a wide variety of color and style combinations. The most iconic styles – the ones you think of first when you hear the brand name – are probably the Havaianas Women’s Slim Flip Flop and the Men’s Top Sandal Flip Flop.
Basically men’s and women’s versions of the same shoe, they both have a slightly curved footbed and slim rubber straps stamped with the Havaianas logo. The Slim Flip Flop comes in more colors and has almost 2,000 reviews on Amazon, while the Top Sandal Flip Flop has about 500.
Both are highly rated and raved about by fans. “I don’t think you can ever go wrong with Havaianas! They’re so comfortable, cute, durable, and last forever!” says one reviewer. Even though they look more appropriate for the beach than the hiking trail, another shopper says they even held up while camping.
Pros: Simple, comfortable, comes in many colors and designs, holds up well over long periods of time, good for the beach
Cons: Super-casual style probably won’t work for less-casual settings
The best poolside flip flops
Maybe the Vertico Shower and Pool Sandals won’t be the most stylish shoes in your closet, but they’re comfy and you can get them soaking wet.
Vertico Shower and Pool Sandals are great for wearing in water. They’re more of a slide than a flip flop, but they will still give you that satisfying slapping-sound when they hit the base of your heel.
Considering these rubber shoes are pretty orthopedic looking, they are very popular: They have almost 2,500 Amazon reviews and a 4.4 rating. I came across them in The Strategist and was surprised to find out they had such a rabid fan base.
They’re chunky and a little bit ugly but in a cool sort of way that reminds me of Everlane and Crocs at the same time. The sandals are so comfortable you may not even want to take them off when you’re no longer poolside. Unlike regular flip flops, there’s traction at the bottom to prevent slipping.
“I use [these shoes] in the sauna, steam room, and shower,” writes one Amazon customer. “I do not know what the product quality consistency is like since I have only ordered one pair. However, given how frequently I have used them, and what I use them for, I find them to be durable, comfortable, and much better than some other types and brands of shower shoes.”
Pros: Water-resistant for shower or pool, able to float, vented for comfort in the heat
Cons: Not the most attractive shoe
The best affordable flip flops
- Old Navy
Old Navy flip flops come in a rainbow of colors that go with every summertime outfit, from sundresses to cutoff shorts.
If you’ve never owned a pair of Old Navy flip flops, we probably didn’t go to high school together. I strongly associate their simple designs and rainbow colors with days spent at the public pool or the mall with my friends.
The signature thing about Old Navy flip flops is that they are cheap – not affordable or inexpensive, but cheap. Most pairs are normally $3.99 when not on sale, but they are seemingly always discounted. If you like the look of Havaianas but don’t want to spend a lot of money (especially if they may become sand-logged), check out the Old Navy Classic Flip Flops.
They come in men’s and women’s sizes that look the same aside from minor adjustments to accommodate different foot shapes. Old Navy offers the Classic style in tons of colors, including some fun pastels. The women’s version has nearly 15,000 online reviews on the Old Navy website and a 4.7 rating.
“I love Old Navy flip flops,” writes a customer. “They are durable and super comfortable. I literally have a pair that I have had for at least 5 years. And if you can catch the $1 flip flop sale it’s a major score. Very good quality for such a low price!!!”
Of course, being so cheap, you sacrifice some quality and comfort. Don’t be surprised if you have to replace one each year. But, Insider Picks Guides Editor Les Shu wears the Men’s Old Navy Classic flips flops to the gym showers regularly, and find that they hold up nicely. He does recommend actively replacing them often if you do use them for the gym, to prevent bacteria buildup.
Pros: Cute, less than $5, perfect for the beach or casual wear
Cons: Not as comfortable as flip flops with cushioned insoles
The best stylish flip flops
- Hari Nari
Hari Mari makes flip flops that even people who hate flip flops will love because of the luxe materials and sleek, sporty design.
I don’t have the kind of life that requires me to own “boat-safe” shoes, but Hari Mari makes me wish I did. “Boat safe” in this case essentially means nonslip, so they’re suitable for just about any slick terrain. These are flip flops for everyone, even people who don’t normally wear flip flops. They’re cute and sporty, but more attractive than your average pair.
What really makes Hari Mari flip flops unique is the memory foam toe, designed to minimize the awful chafing you get from other thong sandals. It’s described by the brand as “a formidable cylinder of memory foam encased in soft nylon to help grip toes, reduce abrasion and do away with painful break-in periods.”
The brand has been featured by Fast Company and Insider Picks writer Amir Ismael recommends the Fields Flip Flop. At $60, they’re on the pricier side, but many of the styles have 5-star ratings on Zappos and cost less than $40.
“This is an amazing leather flip-flop that just keeps getting better every day!” says one Fields Flip Flop reviewer on Zappos, “If they get wet they dry beautifully. They wear perfectly. These are the flip-flops I look to put on every day!”
Pros: Made of luxurious materials like nubuck leather, memory foam toe, boat-safe sole
The best comfortable flip flops
Oofos’ sandals are beyond comfortable, machine washable, and come in several colors and styles.
Oofos reinvented the flip flop to make the most comfortable sandals we’ve tried. The special foam is built to absorb even more shock that your average sports shoe.
Oofos specifically markets these sandals as recovery shoes for people who need more arch support and impact absorption than others. Many athletes and people with feet problems swear by them.
I discovered Oofos sandals at a shoe store about five years ago and I’ve been wearing them at the beach, around the house, and while traveling ever since. These flip flops offer stability, comfort, and durability.
They are formed to fit the curve of your arch, so Oofos’ sandals offer much more support than your average pair of flip flops. They absorb impact and they don’t move up and down as you walk, either.
I’ve bought Oofos for a few different family members and they’re all converts. Even though the sandals are a bit pricey, they are worth it because they will last and last. You can even machine wash or hose them down after a day on the beach to get rid of all the sand they pick up.
They may not be the most beautiful sandals you’ll own, but they sure will be the most comfortable. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: Comfy, machine washable, absorb impact, they float
Cons: Pricey, not that attractive
The best rugged flip flops
Flip flops that wear like rugged shoes? With the Keen Kona Flip, you can traverse on sand, rock, gravel, water, and pavement with ease and comfort.
You go the beach and upon stepping onto the sand, your flip flops start to sink into it and, before long, slip right off and get buried in the flip flop graveyard. Then, the burning sand on your bare feet causes you to convulse in some strange dance. If this sounds familiar, what you need is a pair of rugged flip flops that can tackle rough environments: the Keen Kona Flip.
The Kona Flip has a thin profile that makes it easy to pack, yet the compression molded footbed provides comfort. It has good weight balance: light enough that it doesn’t hold you down, yet heavy enough to help you walk competently on sand, water, muddy trails, rocks, pavement, or wherever your adventure takes you.
I wear the Kona Flip because it’s the flip flop that changed my view on flip flops. I used to think all flip flops were cheap sandals that aren’t designed as footwear and hated wearing them on sand. But since having worn my pair of Kona Flip on a variety of surfaces and find it to be very sturdy, easy to wear, and, in my opinion, stylish. I also find it fits my feet almost perfectly, like a glove (if feet could wear gloves, that is). And, I’ve never lost mine while walking on the beach.
The Kona Flip is available for men and women, and fairly identical. On Zappos, it has a 4-star rating; most customers found it fits true to size and width and offers moderate arch support. Despite the high marks, some complained that it didn’t fit right; some of these customers seem to be loyal Keen fans. Considering the high price, you should try one on before buying or purchase from an online retailer with a good return policy; few dissatisfied customers gave kudos to Zappos’ customer service. – Les Shu
Pros: Comfortable, slim profile, tough molded footbed
Cons: Pricey, small percentage of customers complained of poor fit
The best flip flops for travel
Lightweight and waterproof, the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials blends the walking comfort of a Birkenstock sandal with the versatility of a flip flop.
The Birkenstock sandal is controversial footwear: It divides people, much in the way that pineapple pizza has both its fans and detractors (#teampineapple here). Some find it stylish, while others think it’s an abomination. Whatever your view, there’s no denying that the Birkenstock cork footbed is one of the most comfortable ever developed, which is why the Arizona Essentials is my favorite for travel. It has the comfort of a Birkenstock sandal but wears like a flip flop.
Modeled after the popular leather-and-cork Arizona, the Arizona Essentials is made entirely out of EVA, i.e. plastic. I was first turned off by the thought, but having worn one for some time, I find it to be very comfortable, especially if you’re walking a lot during a city sightseeing tour like I did. No, it won’t have the softness that the regular Arizona offers, but it’s one-third the price.
The Arizona Essentials has some advantages over its pricier sibling. It’s waterproof, so you can just hose it down if it gets dirty. It’s also lighter, making it easy to pack. It functions like a flip flop, but the contoured footbed and buckle-straps provide a secure, shoe-like fit. Best of all: It comes in many colors.
Being that it’s made from a synthetic material, I did worry about odor and heat- and sweat-resistance. I’ve worn these under the hot sun in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur and found it to hold up well.
What really attracted me to the Arizona Essentials is its price of $40. No, you can’t really compare it to a traditional Birkenstock sandal, but it offers a lot of benefits, particularly for travelers (great for airport security). And, it’s made in Germany, so it’s a quality product. Even die-hard Birkenstock haters should give it a chance.
The Arizona Essentials has a 5-star (out of 5) rating on Zappos, with 94% reporting it feels true to width and 78% saying it feels true to size. Dissenters complain that it doesn’t feel like the leather sandals, but that’s because they aren’t.
Take it from Insider Picks Editor Sally Kaplan, who was a huge fan of the leather sandals before converting to the Essentials because she finds the EVA footbed to be just as comfortable yet costs way less. Read her full review. – Les Shu
Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, waterproof, great for walking, flip flop versatility
Cons: If you hate plastic, you probably won’t like this