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‘Bubble Slides’ Review: The Ghastly Sandals You’ll Hate to Love

Ethylene-vinyl acetate slides — derived primarily from oil and gas — may not have the sexy appeal of leather or canvas. But they could be the most cost-effective, comfortable shoe out there.

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Temps in the Sierra foothills outside of Yosemite climb well into the 90s Fahrenheit and above throughout the summer. During this time of year, even the thought of wrapping my feet in lace-up, heavy, hot shoes makes my feet swell and sweat. And no matter how supportive, sandals don’t offer foot protection, causing toes to crack.

The solution I’ve found after years of romping around in Yosemite in various footwear — perhaps the most comfortable shoe for the price I’ve used — is the EVA “Bubble Slide.”

Developed in the 1950s, EVA foam gained popularity in the 1970s and has recently experienced a resurgence in interest due to plant-based alternatives that make it a more responsible choice. This versatile material is used in packaging, sports equipment, and as a cushion in various footwear. And its moldable, soft, lightweight, durable properties allow for various sandal styles, from mock Birkenstocks to dozens of options on Amazon.

Now, big-name brands like Puma, Nike, Under Armour, adidas, and more offer their own takes, with prices ranging from under $20 to over $300!

But of the many options on the market, the sweet spot for my budget and convenience is the unmistakable Bubble Slide. Due to their pocked texture and bright colors, they look outrageous — cough: ugly — which makes them great conversation starters. But inside, they are a dream to walk in.

In short: More than anything, the unorthodox Bubble Slides are comfortable — in fact, they feel incredible. After abusing your feet, by smashing them into climbing shoes, ski boots, or trail shoes, these slides out-comfy all other recovery shoes. But they also work well for most short outings, whether it’s e-biking, sliding over your climbing shoes when walking to the boulders — or simply as fun talking points.

PLOVELXN Bubble Slides


  • Material EVA Foam (ethyl acetate sole)
  • Sole thickness 3cm


  • Extraordinary comfort, cloud-like feel
  • Lightweight
  • Washes clean
  • Closed-toe design protects toes from impact


  • Rough against bare skin when new
  • Not stable on slanting ground or for long distances
  • Don’t grip well on steep, loose terrain
  • Ugly as sin

EVA Bubble Slides Review


(Photo/Chris Van Leuven)

While Crocs and OOFOS share a similar feel and texture with EVA slides, they are not made of EVA. Both companies use their proprietary foam-based material, claiming it to be more comfortable than EVA.

However, all three share the common benefit of providing recovery. This is what makes EVA-based sandals and slides stand out. EVA offers numerous advantages, such as increased traction on slippery surfaces, moldability, performance as pool and river shoes, buoyancy, easy cleaning, and a massaging effect while walking.

I’ve found that EVA slides make your feet feel better than walking barefoot, and been surprised (in a good way) with these easy-on/easy-off shoes. They have no straps, don’t chafe my toes, and resist odor, making them my go-to choice for daily wear.

Despite their flashy appearance (not in a good way), bubble slides proved versatile and comfortable, suitable for walking on gravel, coral, sand, pavement, and dirt. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on my e-bike, hiked, and even traveled internationally in them.

And PLOVELXN, the Amazon brand behind the Bubble Slides I’ve come to love, claims they “provid[e] increased friction and slip prevention on dry and wet surfaces.” I’ve even noticed an improved grip on light ice and snow.

That’s ostensibly quite a value for under $20.

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Where to Wear

My progression to wearing bubble slides started with plain old sandals, but I didn’t like how the thong would irritate the space between my big toe and pointer toe. So I switched over to a pair of TNF slides and, after wearing those out, went to cloud slides and eventually ended up on these bubble slides because I wanted something that would protect my toes from sticks and tree stumps.

I’ve worn them on the showroom floor at Outdoor Retailer and in the newsroom when working my beat for the Outdoor Retailer Daily, hiked miles and miles in them, and even bouldered in them.

There’s a blocky rock type in the Sierra foothills called Mariposite, which gets sharp and slippery, and it digs into the EVA soles nicely. And, since they’re in no way technical footwear, I use them on climbs with big footholds.

(Photo/Chris Van Leuven)

I’ve even used bubble slides when ascending fixed lines to bolt first ascents on Makatea — an island of pure limestone — in French Polynesia.

As a life hack, I also wear bubble slides over climbing shoes when walking between boulder problems to keep my sticky soles mud-free.

They’re also perfect for the airport thanks to their lightweight design and easy removal. The more I use them, the more I find them suitable for most everyday activities.

I’m on my third pair now and have put some 5,000 miles on the e-bikes in them. I started with forest green, then sky blue, and now tie-dye blue and white.

Some Drawbacks

The most significant drawback of EVA slides is that they aren’t technical shoes. Walking long distances can cause wear spots and chafing on the upper part of your foot.

(Photo/Chris Van Leuven)

And while I appreciate their vibration-dampening effect while riding, my e-bike pedals tend to shred the soles. Flat bike shoes don’t have this issue, but they’re hotter, more time-consuming to put on and remove, and can cost up to 10 times more. Obviously, how you choose to use them will vary from my use. But the slides’ versatility has its limits.

Also, the EVA is a bit rough on the skin, so it’s best to break bubble slides in by wearing socks.

Finally, the composition; bubble slides look like they came from oil because they did. That’s the nature of traditional EVA foam.

But eco-friendlier options exist, made from sugarcane or other plant-based materials. Personally, I’ve landed on Amazon’s affordable alternatives, but if that’s not your game, there are options.

Bubble Slides for Everyone

Since they’re easy on the pocketbook, they also make practical gifts. I’ve gifted pairs to a naturalist at Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, who loves them for walking around camp, and a world-champion rock climber, among others.

(Photo/Matt Cairns)

Who doesn’t love them? People who must look professional, those without a sense of humor, and sticks in the mud. But if you have a sense of humor and value hedonic levels of comfort, you’d do well to try a pair yourself!

Chris Van Leuven

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