'Performance' Flip-Flops

The proverbial flip-flop sandal just barely passes for a shoe. It offers little support and no toe protection. It’s made to be worn casually, for comfort, convenience and little else.

But a new breed of flip-flop sandals designed by companies like Keen, Chaco, Teva and Mion have upped the ante. Indeed, these sandals, which include toe guards, Vibram rubber soles and adjustable webbing straps, provide admirable performance without losing on comfort.

Of the four flip-flop models I put to the test last month, the Keen Antigua Slides were my top pick. They are tight on the foot, yet comfortable, with stationary webbing straps and an oversized rubber toe guard. It’s a simple, effective design.

The Antigua Slides (www.keenfootwear.com) have compression-molded foam midsoles for comfort and support. Rubber outsoles provide good traction on wet and dry surfaces. At $40, the Antigua Slides are also the bargain of this batch.

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Second in line in my test was the $80 Slack Tide Thong from Mion. Though the sandal’s space-age look was not my favorite, its overall comfort and performance was on par with the Keen Antigua Slides.

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Like Keen, Mion includes a generous toe guard to protect your piggies from errant rocks and roots. It has an outsole that grips well when wet. The company’s unique “Ergomorphic” footbed molds to the shape of your foot after a few hours of use.

Chaco’s $75 Zong flip-flops have adjustable webbing straps, a toe loop and a buckle to cinch the sandal tight. The Zong is essentially a full-blooded Chaco sandal, with a rugged Vibram outsole and a solid, supportive footbed, just without the heel strap.

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The Zong is the most heavy-duty sandal in this review. It is built to last for years, and like other Chaco sandals the Zong can be re-soled if the traction wears down. Fans of Chaco sandals (www.chacousa.com) will immediately love this model.

Finally, the $60 Guide Thong from Teva is a basic flip-flop design equipped with an over-the-foot strap that is tightened with a spring-loaded metal buckle. This sandal, unfortunately, did not fit my foot very well. The top strap did little for my particular foot shape, and the sandal slipped off too easily as I trotted along.

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Regardless, the Guide Thong is worth considering. Just be sure to try it on at a store to see if it fits. Teva (www.teva.com) includes a tacky rubber footbed and a high-friction outsole for increased traction on sand, mud, pavement and turf.

Posted by katherine - 01/04/2008 05:46 PM

The Guide Thong is a really great sandal. It’s basically my weekend sandal because I’m out playing all weekend long and it holds up with whatever I’m doing. I was out last weekend with my boyfriend and his uncle had a pair of flip flops on. They were called Deckers. He said he had them since the early 80s. I googled it and learned they were around back then and are coming back soon. His looked in great shape and he was playing just as hard as I was. Looking forward to getting a pair when they’re available if they have them for women… they look like durable sandals.

Posted by Anonymous - 05/03/2010 07:05 AM

Flip-flops are very common, and this study began with the observation that most people appear to be wearing them beyond their structural limit. It’s also apparent that individuals alter their gait while wearing flip-flops. Based on this, we expected to find that flip-flops may be a cause of pain in the leg or foot, and if so, would be counterproductive to alleviating that pain. The study compared flip-flops to sneakers to assess the angles at which they impact the floor and the force at contact with the ground during walking. Researchers analyzed the gait of flip-flop wearers compared to their gait while wearing sneakers.

Posted by Billy - 07/21/2010 09:09 AM

Having flat feet the arch support is excellent. After realizing that my Tevas were nothing but a piece of foam with a strap and offered no support for my aching feet, I switched to the chaco flip

I really don’t think i’ll ever find a better sandal, I’ve been hiking in them, climbing around rivers and wear them around the house.

Recommended to all who need a quality flip.

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