So, we’ve all been there: your friend goes on and on about finding the “best flip flops ever” and you soon find yourself going to buy a pair, anticipating the ultimate flip flop experience. You search the shelves for what seems like an eternity before you find what is reportedly the best flip flops known to man. You find a color you love (Yessssss!!) and a pair in your size (Double Yessssss!!) and slip them on with ease. You do the shoe-trying-on-promenade up and down the aisles. Your feet feel like they are nestled upon clouds, and you swear you’ve never been this good to them. You continue your promenade, shaking your head at the other flip flops in hopes of shaming them into bettering themselves. You reluctantly take off the best flip flops your feet ever met so you can buy them. You text your friend thanking her for the recommendation and head home, excited for your first public appearance with the best flip flops to ever walk the Earth.
Two weeks later, you want to set fire to what you now dub the “best flip flops never“. They have given you blisters from the toe piece rubbing your toes and the soles have worn to near invisibility. You sprained your ankle wearing them during a surprise rain storm that turned the best flip flops ever into the slickest flip flops ever. You stubbed your toes when the front folded under while walking around an amusement park, leaving your poor skin and do-it-yourself pedicure a mess.
It turns out, your feet are not identical to your best friend’s. (Or anyone else’s for that matter.) What she claims are the best flip flops for her may not be the best flip flops for you.
Know the flip flops’ purpose.
Will you wear these for long walks or just around the house? Do you plan on getting them wet or perhaps wearing them on rocky terrain? Do you need a lot of arch support or are you flat footed? Maybe you are like me and think that the best flip flops are comfortable and durable, yet a reflection of your own style.
While searching for the best flip flops, it is helpful to keep in mind where you will most likely be wearing them and what your feet will be most comfortable in. One brand may be known for being excessively slippery when wet, making them non contenders for the water park or rainy afternoons. Another brand might have a history of being painful, small, foam torture devices if you dare to walk in them for more than an hour. Other flip flops are known for their superior arch support, which is great for a person with a high arch or foot problems, but may be troublesome for someone with a low arch. Knowing what you want out of your flip flop will help you narrow your search and keep you from wasting money on a pair that just isn’t right for you.
Decide what type of footbed and sole you want your flip flops to have.
The sole of your flip flop has a huge responsibility. It should be strong enough to keep the toe piece intact and designed to not slide on slick surfaces. It should provide protection to your foot and not slowly deteriorate with each step. It is the only barrier between your foot and all the ouchy things on the ground. It was created for the sole purpose of being caretaker to your feet. (See what I did there?)
Soles can be made from a single material or a mixture. They can be made from materials such as foam, rubber, leather, plastic, recycled materials, hemp and even yoga mats. Aside from comfort, the material used also affects the weight, durability, appearance and shape of the flip flop.
The footbed of a flip flop is also very important. You want your foot to feel comfortable and also supported correctly. You also don’t want your foot to slide around because of the material or fit of the footbed. The footbed can be thin, thick, moldable, flat, high arched, shiny, matte, waterproof, textured…well, you get the point.
The footbed and sole may be made from the same materials or from different materials, affecting the fit and feel of the flip flops. Figuring out which combination you prefer will get you closer the the best flip flops for you.
Like the soles and footbeds of flip flops, a variety of materials are used to make flip flop straps and toe pieces. The straps and toe piece on your flip flop can make a big difference in comfort and fit. Some models offer adjustable straps, which can help if you have wide or narrow feet. However, most flip flops have a fixed strap with varying widths.
The best flip flops have straps that are tight enough to hold your foot in place, but not so tight that you can see an imprint on your foot when you take them off. If the strap is too loose, you will find your foot slipping around, upping your chances of injuring your foot or ankle. You also want to avoid irritation to your foot caused by a loose strap rubbing against it continuously. The width of different straps can also vary quite a bit and a wider strap is usually sturdier and better at keeping the flip flop in place than a thinner one.
The most common complaints people have about toe pieces are that they pull against their foot or rub their toes uncomfortably. If the straps are fitted to your foot correctly, the toe piece should fall into place and not pull against your foot or move enough to rub your toes.
Narrow down the style of flip flop you are looking for.
Some times I couldn’t care less about the outfit I’m wearing – let alone whether or not I have the best flip flops on for the occasion. For times when I do put effort into my choice of apparel, there are a lot of flip flop styles to choose from. Whether I’m bumming with a beer at a BBQ, going out for date night or attending a Springtime wedding, I believe there is a flip flop out there for every occasion.
In reality, I may find a pair that looks great, but they don’t feel that great. So, when you are looking for a pair of flip flops, decide whether you value style or comfort more. I’m not saying the two can’t exist in one flip flop, but realize the most likely scenario will involve a little compromise. (Tip: I have found that if you order flip flops online, manufacturers often have a larger variety of colors than you would find at your local retailer.)
Unless your butler is reading this page to you on a gold encrusted computer while you sit atop a pile of money Scrooge McDuck style, price is an important factor to consider before buying anything. Flip flops are no exception. They can range from a buck to a couple hundred dollars, depending on things like their brand name, features and lifespan.
If you are looking for a pair that will last long enough to wear on a weeklong vacation or while gardening for a season, going the cheaper route is probably your best option. You can find a flip flop that is inexpensive and (temporarily) comfortable that will meet your needs and not break your budget.
On the flip side, if you are looking for a flip flop with numerous features and a long lifespan (in flip flop years), you should be prepared to spend more than a couple of dollars. One pair can be water friendly and have amazing arch support, while another one has adjustable straps that are comfortable on the skin and great for wide feet. You may want a pair that has all of the above. If you find that pair, then spending $50 on them will be well worth the feeling your feet will have while wearing the best flip flops for them.