The 5 Best Flip-Flops for the Beach (Summer 2019)
Whether you’re heading down to the beach or along a river bank, the best flip-flops offer comfort, secure footing, and style. Before we look at the list, though, I’d like to tell you a little more about what makes a flip-flop worth getting.
What Separates Different Flip-Flops From Each Other?
Flip flops fall into two major footwear categories. The basic flip-flop is what most people think of when they hear the name – a simple sandal with a Y-shaped piece of string to put your toes through. However, studies have found that basic flip flops are bad for your gait. Now, to be clear, they’re not a problem if you’re only wearing them for a few minutes.
However, if you plan to be out and about for several hours, it’s better to look for orthopedic flip flops that offer arch support, cushioned surfaces, and a better grip on your foot. Every other consideration – from style to material – is secondary to this.
Things To Look For In Flip-Flops
Aside from the basic/orthopedic split, there are several attributes to consider when picking out a flip flop.[toc]
Flip-flips are made from a wide variety of materials. Basic flip flips tend to be made out of rubber, polyurethane, or plastic foam. These materials aren’t particularly durable, but they are cheap, and you can often pick up several pairs of basic flip-flops for the same price as one pair of high-quality flip-flops.
Higher-end flip-flops may be made from vinyl, cork, or other durable options. Some companies even go so far as to recycle car tires, using the durable rubber to create an inexpensive but sturdy shoe.
If you’re only going to be walking along a sandy beach, any material is suitable. However, if you’ll be going over rocky or otherwise dangerous areas, make sure your flip-flops are tough enough to handle them. Personally, I like the recycled car tire flip-flops the most – nothing gets through those soles.
Most flip-flops consist of two pieces – the sole and the straps. How they’re put together determines how reliable the overall product is. From worst to best, the most common construction methods include:
In rare cases, flip-flops have additional pieces. These may include orthotic soles, heel straps, size adjusters, or anything else a manufacturer thinks people want.
Sandals are built a little differently. Instead of having a strap that goes between the toes, sandals are sewn to each side. More sewn length is better – this helps to distribute the force of your foot and prevent the straps from tearing away. The best connections on something that can still be called a sandal run from the balls of the feet all the way back to the start of the heel.
All of the flip-flops and sandals on our list below use the partial puncture or side-sewn method.
Price is strongly correlated with quality in these products. A $5 pair of flip-flops may only last you a few trips, while a $50 pair could last for several years. The long-term costs are surprisingly similar, so you’ll have to decide how often you want to replace your water shoes / flip flops.
Now that we’ve talked about the things to look for, let’s take a look at the best flip-flops and sandals currently on the market.
Clarks Women’s Brinkley Jazz Flip-Flops
This deceptively simple-looking flip-flop is one of the better choices on the market. The sole is made from sturdy synthetic rubber, while the thick EVA fabric strap is inserted with the Partial Puncture method. The velcro strap helps it fit feet of almost any size.
The most noticeable trait, however, is the distinctly curved profile. Rather than being flat, as many flip-flops are, this product was designed to be more like a shoe and place most of the support on the heels and balls of the feet. As such, they’re one of the best flip-flops for women.
Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect, and there are a few points to keep in mind. First, the sizing on these shoes is a little off, and you may want to order them slightly smaller than usual. Next, there’s no heel strap to keep them in place – admittedly, most flip-flops don’t have heel straps, but they do matter.
Finally, the synthetic rubber doesn’t have the best grip when wet. You may need to walk more carefully than usual.
Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip-Flop
These instantly stand out, and it’s no surprise – they don’t have a heel strap so much as a full-on ankle strap, which is extremely rare in flip-flops. It’s not a simple piece of string, either – there’s some serious fabric here.
Aside from that unusual feature, this flip-flop features a two-part sole. The exterior is made from a synthetic rubber sponge designed to improve its durability. It does succeed at that, but it’s not as tough as a flip-flop made entirely from rubber would be. The curious part is the insole, which is made from the same materials as padded yoga mats.
The string is attached with the Partial Puncture method, and that’s more important than usual – the added force of the ankle strap means some serious power gets put on the strap.
Overall, this product is quite solid, but there are a few drawbacks. The ankle strap is just fabric and has no way to be tightened, so women with small ankles may find that it slips down a lot. The fabric is also quite bulky at the puncture point, and wider toes may be necessary to get the right fit. In short, this is a quality product, but fitting issues mean it’s not right for everyone.
Gold Pigeon GP5931 Light Weight Adjustable
Outdoor Water Sling Back Sandals
That’s a long name, but don’t let it fool you – these are some of the best sandals you’ll find. Gold Pigeon’s option here is connected at four points: two in the front and two in the back. Thick fabric backs the adjustable Velcro straps and helps them fit better on feet of different sizes, while the heel and front-ankle straps ensure they stay in place.
Below that, these sandals offer a synthetic rubber sole with a thick tread, making them suitable for wearing into deep water. The top of the sole includes a geometric pattern that improves their grip while wet and encourages a faster dry.
Overall, I was quite impressed by the construction of these sandals, and they’re definitely among the best flip-flops for men and women alike. My biggest complaint here is the lack of full arch support – these shoes are suitable to wear for an extended period, but not if you’re going to be on your feet the whole time.
The other problem is the placement of a plastic connector near the little toe. It won’t be a problem for most people, but in some cases, the connector may rub uncomfortably against your foot. Finally, there is no fashion or style to these, despite the many colors available. They’re a thick sole with some sturdy straps, and they don’t even pretend to be anything more.
Skechers USA Men’s Fray Cotton Thong
These flip-flops feature a foam-on-rubber sole that offers a decent blend of comfort and stability. Skechers has been in the shoe business for a long time, and despite the deceptively worn-looking appearance, these are solidly put together. The best part of these is the grippy outsole, which has a tread pattern suitable for both sandy and rocky areas.
The straps are sturdier than they look. While the exterior is made of fray cotton (to give it that distinctly well-used look), the real strap is a stronger fabric that the cotton was sewn on to. The dual layer is rare for flip-flops, but it does provide a fashion choice without compromising the strength of the product.
That said, these flip-flops are intended for short-term use, like getting to your car from the beach. They have no arch support, no heel strap, and aren’t particularly suitable for wearing into the water. To be clear, I don’t think that its niche makes this a bad product. Not everyone plans to wear their flip-flops all day, and these are an excellent choice if you’re looking for limited protection. Just don’t expect any more than that.
Ecco Women’s Jab Toggle Sandal
Truthfully, this product is less of a flip-flop or sandal and more of an incredibly open shoe – but it’s unique enough to consider getting. This is by far one of the sturdiest designs you’ll find, with the supports on each side running from the balls of the feet to just shy of the heel. The fit is adjusted by a toggle that can be tightened or loosened with only a few movements.
To support the overall design of this sandal, Ecco added a thick heel strap. When you add in the firm arch support, the result is a shoe that’s ideal for long-term use in warm areas.
The bottom of this sandal features a synthetic rubber outsole topped by a polyurethane insole. The upper supports are made of leather, and that leads to one of the leading drawbacks of this sandal – it’s not very good for going into the water. Moreover, these sandals need care and cleaning on a regular basis, or they could wear out much faster than intended.
Still, they’re a solid product, and there’s a lot to like about them if you need sandals that offer long-term support.
People buy flip-flops and sandals to fill different needs, so there’s no universal winner. That said, we can pick winners for each of the categories.
For toughness, I feel that the Gold Pigeon CP5931 is the best choice. It’s a solid option for men and women alike, and there’s a lot to love about sandals that won’t be shredded in a few trips.
For style, the Skechers USA Fray Cotton Thong (men) and the Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 Flip-Flop (women) are the best bets. Both of these products are sturdier than they look and offer a solid balance between looks and comfort.
Whatever you order, make sure to carefully test your choice before you head outside to use them. If there’s a problem (with sizing, etc.), it will be much easier to return them if you haven’t worn them outside.