Free your toes and slip on our favourite flip-flops to stay cool, comfy and stylish on the beach, in the garden and by the pool
Flip-flops are the ultimate footwear design classic, first appearing in Egyptian murals 6,000 years ago. The Western world was slow to catch on – soldiers brought them back from Japan after World War 2 – but now we’re addicted, and the unmistakable flip-flop “schlop” is one of the sounds of the summer.
Today’s flip-flops come in a surprisingly wide range of styles for different needs. There are sassy designer slip-ons for summer parties, ergonomic support flip-flops for hiking, and soft rubber soles for pool and beach.
You can get super-budget flattie flip-flops from the pound shop if you’re not fussy, but for our round-up we’ve looked for comfort, style, durability and genuine value for money. In a moment we’ll reveal our top eight, but first here’s a quick buying guide.
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Best flip-flops: At a glance
- Best women’s beach flip-flops: Havaianas Slim Animals Flip Flop | From £22
- Best sliders: Nike Benassi Slides | £38
- Best men’s flip-flops: Teva Mush II | From £19
- Best flip-flops for walking: Oofos Sandals | From £40
- Best ergonomic flip-flops: FitFlop iQushion | Check price of men’s | women’s
- Best waterproof flip-flops: Crocs Crocband Flip | £21
How to choose your ideal flip-flops
What type of flip-flops should I buy?
Flip-flops for the beach: You may be tempted by glitzy glam flatties to show off on the beach, but remember they’ll soon get covered in sand and mud – and you may end up spending hours a day in them, with swollen, sweaty feet (sorry, but it’s true). So the key is to balance looks with practicality. Go for a light pair (or two) that won’t weigh down your luggage, made from featherweight rubber that rinses easily and dries fast, with a soft toe post to keep your ’flops secure without rubbing. Mahabis meet all these demands spot on.
Flip-flops for wearing at home: You can afford to go for style over substance for mooching around the house, since your ’flops won’t have to cope with sand, pavements and trails, after all. Comfort and fit are still paramount, though, so look for a supportive footbed (not too thin) plus a soft, secure toe post or strap to stop them falling off your feet, especially on the stairs (eek).
Flip-flops for wearing around town: Super-cheap flip-flops will be murder for your feet on pavements. As well as falling apart fast, they’ll be slippery and unsupportive, leaving you with aching arches and ankles. So, invest in a supportive footbed and soles with decent depth and traction. Great-looking urban flip-flops such as the Teva Mush offer style and substance.
Flip-flops for the swimming pool: Whether the pool is outdoors on holiday or indoors at your year-round sports centre, you’ll need soles with good traction to stop you slipping, plus quick-drying lightweight material for slipping into your gym bag.
Flip-flops for hiking: Yes, there really are flip-flops that you can walk miles in without rubbing the skin off your feet, torturing your toes and wrecking your arches. ’Flops from companies such as FitFlop, Reef and Oofos offer the kind of support and cushioning you’d normally expect from trainers. Even if you’re just off on a city break, your feet will thank you for packing a pair of unconventional Oofos over diamante flatties, believe us.
Flip-flops for water sports: A foolish flip-flop fan and his or her surfboard are soon parted. But if you’re determined to join the legions of flip-flopping surfies, then look for excellent traction when wet, quick-drying material and soles thick enough to protect your feet from sharp objects. The new Reef Fanning ’flops in our lineup will do just nicely.
What materials are best for flip-flops?
Synthetic rubber, usually moulded polyurethane, is the most common material for flip-flops. Cheap polyurethane lacks durability and absorbency, but it’s OK for the swimming pool as long as the sole is textured for traction. Polyurethane is a good choice for straps and soles without breaking the budget.
Gum rubber is the perfect material for beach flip-flops. It’s a natural product made by harvesting sap from Hevea brasiliensis (aka rubber trees) without the need to chop them down. It’s durable, supple and waterproof without being so non-absorbent that it makes your feet clammy.
EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a rubber product, and can be made from synthetic or gum rubber. It’s supportive but much softer than plasticky polyurethane, making it ideal for inner soles, ergonomic footbeds and comfy toe thongs.
Leather is more durable than rubber, and can be treated to be super-soft or tough and waterproof enough to outlive you. Animal lovers will be pleased to hear that Birkenstock now uses cruelty-free faux leather (“Birko-Flor”) for many of its uppers.
Fabric flip-flops are usually a mix of synthetic (such as polyester) and natural (such as cotton) fibres, flat-woven for optimum stretch and lifespan. Fabric straps are a popular choice for beach flip-flops, giving a classy, masculine look that provides stability and comfort.
Will I need to break in my flip flops before my holiday?
Yes, you should. Flip-flops, like slippers, will expand after a few wears, so it’s best to err on the tight side when buying. Slip-ons shouldn’t constantly be slipping off.
Unlike most shoes, flip-flops are built to get drenched, so help them along by filling a bucket with water and giving your ’flopped feet a good dunking. Also go for short walks so you can spot and fix any sore spots before you jet off on your hols.
The best flip-flops you can buy in 2022
1. Havaianas Slim Animals Flip Flop: Best women’s beach flip-flops
Price when reviewed: From £22 | Check price at Havianas
Havaianas hand-makes all its flip-flops in Brazil using natural gum rubber, so you might expect them to cost a pretty penny. But they’re more affordable than we’d have assumed – and a lot more durable than they look.
Havaianas’ lightweight cushioned footbed is comfy enough for schlepping around the house and mooching up and down the beachfront, and they’re hard-wearing enough not to lose their shape after one season. There’s also a fab rice pattern tread to stop you slipping. However, they’re not designed for a lot of walking, so if you’re planning to explore a city you’ll want a more supportive ’flop, such as a FitFlop. Havaianas are as affordable as a really good-quality pair of flip-flops can be, though, and they look fabulous.
We’re partial to this funky animal print in the women’s classic Slim range, but Havaianas come in a huge selection of designs, with ranges for men, women and kids, including the vibrant Farm Summer design on the Havaianas website (UK size 7+ only, alas).
Key specs – Material: Gum rubber sole, polyurethane strap; Colours available: 2; Sizes available: 3 (UK 2-9)
2. Nike Benassi Just Do It Slides: Best sliders
Price when reviewed: From £38 | Check price at Nike
There’s no mistaking who made these lightweight sporty sliders, thanks to the large Nike swoosh that takes up nearly the whole single strap. That may put you off if you prefer your clothes to look a little less corporate. But they’re a joy to wear, and probably the most comfortable flip-flops in our lineup. The padded strap has a soft jersey lining to cuddle the top of your feet, while the foam midsole is supportive enough for walking in comfort.
Nike’s Benassi Slides aren’t waterproof. They dry off fast enough, but will feel a bit soggy if you submerge them in the pool or sea. On the upside, their EVA (or “Phylon”, to use Nike’s branding) rubber is much softer than waterproof plastic, so they won’t rub your feet or make you sweaty like a pair of old-fashioned jelly shoes would. They also mould to your feet over time, which means it’s worth putting up with a slight pinch at first.
Amazon also has Nike Women’s Benassi Slides in a limited range of women’s sizes (UK 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5), priced from £26.
Key specs – Material: Synthetic leather strap, EVA “Phylon” foam sole; Colours available: 5; Sizes available: 6 (UK 3.5—17)
3. Teva Mush II: Best men’s flip-flops
Price when reviewed: From £19 | Check price at AmazonTeva’s Mush flip-flops offer comfort and durability without compromising on style. The strong canvas strap feels sturdy and looks fantastic, but it’s the thick mushy sole that users can’t get enough of. It isn’t ergonomically shaped, but instead has a supportive foam midsole that moulds to fit your foot. One buyer was even moved to claim he wanted to run a marathon in them (note: he would regret it).
Underneath there’s a grippy sole to prevent skidding and slipping, but there’s also a big Mush logo that sticks out enough to feel it, at least at first. Some users also complain that the canvas toe post chafes, but again this is likely to ease after you’ve worn them in.
Key specs – Material: Cotton strap and EVA rubber sole; Colours available: 3; Sizes available: (UK 7-11)
4. Reef Fanning: Best beach flip-flops
Price when reviewed: From £30 | Check price at Amazon
Surf dudes and dudettes, look no further. Mick “White Lightning” Fanning is the three-time world champ surfer who survived an encounter with a great white shark during a televised competition in South Africa in 2015. The more dramatic reports claimed that he punched the poor fish in the face. Fanning remains very much alive. No word on the shark.
And so to Reef’s Fanning flip-flops. These sturdy slip-ons look fantastic and have an actual bottle opener on the sole. But they’re not just for show (and play).The contoured EVA footbed gives anatomical arch support and there’s an airbag – yes, an airbag – in the heel for extra comfort. The strap is made of pretty solid stuff, too, with cruelty-free faux leather and textile to provide maximum durability, comfort and good looks.
Key specs – Material: Faux leather EVA sole, polyurethane strap; Colours available: 8; Sizes available: 13 (UK 3-15, not all sizes available in all colours)
5. Oofos sandals: Best flip-flops for walking
Price when reviewed: From £40 | Check price at Amazon
British-made Oofos are ergonomic to the power of 10. They’re not just comfy, they’re so comfy you won’t want to take them off – and you really will be able to walk all day in them.
The catch is they look a bit weird. The deep shock-absorbing EVA foam footbed (“Oofoam”) gives the appearance of support shoes, but your feet (and legs and back) will be in such heaven you won’t care. And despite their chunkiness they’re very light, so they’re ideal for sticking in your backpack. You can even throw them in the washing machine when you get home, which is not a claim many flip-flop manufacturers make.
Key specs – Material: EVA (machine washable); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 10 (UK 4-12)
6. FitFlop iQushion: Best ergonomic flip-flops
British company FitFlop has spent well over a decade perfecting its recipe for comfortable flip-flops. Many of its products look more like pillowy sandals than flip-flops, but once they’re on, these bronze iQushion flip-flops wouldn’t appear out of place on the beach or at a poolside party.
The iQushion’s ergonomic EVA footbed is engineered to diffuse pressure like a pair of trainers. It’s not as soft as Teva’s foam midsole, but the contoured support will feel blissful if you have high arches or you’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis or back trouble.
The plasticky toe post is a little tight and may rub, but don’t be tempted to buy a size up because the all-important footbed won’t fit snugly – and the straps will give slightly over time.
Key specs – Material: EVA sole, polyurethane strap; Colours available: Men’s: 4, Women’s: 7 ; Sizes available: Men’s: 7 (UK 7-12), Women’s: 8 (UK 3-9) (not all sizes available in all colours)
7. Birkenstock Madrid: Best sandal flip-flops
Price when reviewed: £65 | Check price at Birkenstock
Are they flip-flops, mules or sandals? These Birkenstock classics are the best of all worlds. Instead of a toe post they have an adjustable strap, making them perfect for keeping by the back door to slip on for trips to the garden and beyond.
Like FitFlops, all Birkenstocks have an ergonomic footbed designed to support your feet, so they’re much more comfortable than budget flatties. There’s a rather lovely tread pattern on the undersole to stop you slipping in your flower beds or kitchen.
You wouldn’t want to walk far in them, though, and some users complain that the strap rubs, especially if your feet are on the wide side. But they’re great all-rounders whose classic appearance suits most outfits and occasions.
See the Birkenstock website for the full range, including the waterproof rubber Scuba Madrid, which comes in numerous rainbow colours.
Key specs – Material: Birko-Flor (faux leather) strap, suede lining, EVA sole; Colours available: 5; Sizes available: 12 (UK 2.5-11.5)
8. Crocs Crocband Flip: Best waterproof flip-flops
Price when reviewed: £21 | Check price at Crocs
Love them or hate them, Crocs are seriously comfy and durable – and these sport-stripe ’flops actually look rather fab. The snug-fitting footbed contains hundreds of tiny dimples (made from patented “Croslite” EVA) that massage your feet as you walk, which is surely worth the price alone.
Crocband Flips are designed to be completely non-slip, buoyant, quick-drying and non-marking, which makes them perfect for the swimming pool. And unlike most flip-flops, they’re odour-resistant so won’t get stinky after a few wears. They’re extremely light, too, and come in oodles of colours, so grab a few pairs for the whole family for your next holiday.
Key specs – Material: Croslite (EVA) and polyurethane; Colours available: 13; Sizes available: 10 (UK 4-12)