Choosing the best pair of flip-flops can be overwhelming with thousands of models to choose from. To help you, we researched over 100 top models you can buy in 2019 and handpicked 13 of the most promising pairs. We then took them on three months of adventures over miles of seriously varied terrain. From urban bike rides to muddy mountain trails, we flipped and flopped all over the place while scrutinizing everything from comfort and style to traction and water resistance. Read on to learn which pairs were our favorites and which ones fell a bit short.
The Best Women's Flip Flops of 2019
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|Pros||Attractive, supportive, comfortable, adjustable strap||Excellent traction, built in orthotics, very stable||Ankle strap, water resistant, durable, lightweight||Comfortable, grippy footbed, stable||Comfortable, well-made, attractive|
|Cons||Stiff, breaking in takes time||Runs big, arch support can hurt||Contouring by toes is oddly placed, ankle strap can slip||Sportier look, runs a bit big||Expensive, narrow|
|Bottom Line||The Gizeh is a beautifully unique sandal that provides amazing support and, after breaking in, some of the most personalized comfort a shoe can offer.||The Tide II is a seriously impressive flip-flop with pronounced arch support and excellent traction.||The Rosa is a fantastic choice for anyone that loves both flip-flops and sandals and wants everything together in one shoe.||If you're looking for a durable flip-flop that feels amazing, the Ohana is an all-around great shoe to own.||The Lala is a beautiful and durable sandal that feels luxurious and is easy to break in.|
|Rating Categories||Birkenstock Gizeh||Vionic Tide II||Astral Rosa||OluKai Ohana - Women's||OluKai Lala|
|Support & Stability (20%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Birkenstock Gizeh||Vionic Tide II||Astral Rosa||OluKai Ohana - Women's||OluKai Lala|
|Sole material||EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate)||TPR (thermoplastic rubber)||Granite Grip rubber||Non-marking rubber or gum rubber||Non-marking molded rubber with traction pods|
|Footbed material||Cork lined with suede||EVA||Dual-density EVA||Molded EVA with soft ICEVA drop-in footbed||Molded polyurethane wrapped in full-grain leather|
|Strap Material||Birko-flor (PVC) lined with fleece||Woven textile fabric and leather with foam lining||Cushioned synthetic leather with knit liner, ankle strap: polyester webbing||Water-resistant synthetic nubuck leather lined with quick-drying jersey knit||Full-grain leather with microfiber lining|
Best Overall Women's Flip Flop
The Birkenstock Gizeh snapped up our Editors' Choice award after excelling in every rating metric and test we put it up against — even some that surprised us. This supremely well-made women's flip flop became more comfortable the longer we wore it and also offered the most support and stability of all our tested models. While the aesthetic of the Gizeh doesn't do it for some people, most found it to be among the most stylish in our test suite, and we were repeatedly impressed by the traction while hiking around on all manner of terrain.
This shoe is an investment, and you may need to be prepared for a breaking-in period while the footbed molds to your feet. The toe post is also quite stiff and takes some getting used to. But those that are patient will be rewarded with a comfortable, durable, and supportive friend for all kinds of situations.
Read review: Birkenstock Gizeh
Best Buy for Sporty Adventures
The North Face Base Camp Lite
The North Face Base Camp Lite is fun, functional, and reasonably priced — how could we not give it a Best Buy award? The cozy footbed has just enough texturing to both help with traction and provide extra comfort. Between the padded, jersey-lined strap and the nice squish of the footbed, this women's specific flip flop requires no breaking in — it's ready to hit the crag, pavement, or beach right out of the box.
As is the nature of light EVA shoes, this model isn't as durable as others in our review. That being said, it's well made and as long as it doesn't get hit with rockfall or become a dog toy, we have little doubt it will last you for many a season. For those who need to be conscious of the weight in their pack but still want to have a cozy slipper along for the ride, this is one of the best choices you could make.
Read review: The North Face Base Camp Lite
Best Stylish Buy on a Tight Budget
The Teva Olowahu is a sassy and stylish shoe for a very sweet price, making it an easy pick for one of our Best Buy awards. The squishy foam footbed molds to your feet over time and the unique strap pattern makes it an ideal candidate for everything from shorts and leggings to a cute dress for a night on the town.
No surprise, this isn't the most durable flip-flop we reviewed, and the straps took longer to dry when wet than other tested models. The crisscrossing straps also meant this wasn't an easy shoe to slip into and go, and they weren't a good fit for some foot shapes. But aesthetically this was a crowd favorite, and for the price, we think the Olowahu is a beyond a steal.
Read review: Teva Olowahu
Top Pick for Stylish Adventures
We had a group of women rate all our tested flip-flops from most to least stylish, and the Lala was the definitive crowd favorite. But this isn't just a pretty sandal to look at — it's also a well-constructed and durable shoe that performed excellently across all our metrics. It felt secure on steep terrain and dried quickly when wet, all while looking gorgeous and feeling luxurious.
The Lala's footbed was quite slippery when wet, but it also wicked away the water very quickly, returning us to confidence in no time. This shoe runs small and narrow, so it's not for everyone, but for narrow-footed fashionistas that also want to be ready for all the adventures of summer, this is a great shoe to consider.
Read review: OluKai Lala
Top Pick for Hiking and Scrambling
The Astral Rosa is a game changer. Say goodbye to the days of needing both flip-flops AND sandals — now you can have it all in one. Wear the Rosa without the ankle strap for a simple flip, add the strap for more stability and security. From your campsite to the trail to the water, this well-tractioned and versatile shoe will become your go-to for every warm-weather activity.
An issue of concern for us was the fact that the ankle strap would sometimes loosen while walking. We saw this complaint voiced in several online customer reviews as well. We also felt that the molded contour line between the ball of the foot and toes was awkwardly placed for some people. But all in all, we loved this women's flip flop so much we had to award it a Top Pick. No other model in our review was as well-suited for the true adventurer who wants gear that can go the extra mile.
Read review: Astral Rosa
Notable for Style
The OluKai Paniolo deserved mention here because it's just downright beautiful. The saddle-inspired stitching on the footbed elevates a simple flip to something elegant and classy — and also helps provide footbed traction! This shoe goes beyond aesthetics in other ways too: it's well made, surprisingly water friendly, and provides decent support. Just like a horses saddle, you can put this piece through the ringer, and it just keeps on giving, looking better with age and love.
While these maybe aren't the ones to choose for those that lead a 100% rugged lifestyle, they strike a great balance between fashion and function for the right person. The Paniolo is not cheap, and the leather straps get looser as they break in, but overall we found this flip-flop to be a winner that will appeal to a lot of women.
Read review: OluKai Paniolo
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is spearheaded by the multi-talented Penney Garrett. From her base in Colorado, you can find her climbing, practicing yoga, and backpacking, to name just a few of her pursuits. She is also an Executive Board Member of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance, a certified nutritionist, paleo chef, and clinical herbalist. Testing the simple, versatile footwear that is the flip flop meshed well with Penney's lifestyle, whether around town, collecting wild plants, or approaching a climb.
Before any feet were slipped into these flip flops, we went to considerable length researching the market and selecting 13 of the best models available from an initial pool of over 100 models. Once we decided which ones to test, we put them on order and wore them on many outings during the course of a spring and early summer in the Rockies. We did everything from wade across rivers with fresh snowmelt to dusty trails and desert walks to scrambling to the climbing crag. We paid attention to how comfortable, supportive, and durable they were, in addition to water resistance, traction, and style. All-in-all, you should be well equipped to get a great pair of flip flops with this comprehensive review at your disposal.
Analysis and Test Results
For many of us, it is a joyous time of year when socks go from cozy to stifling, and it's time to break out the flip-flops. If you're in need of a new pair, you could go grab something simple and plastic and cheap that will last a season or two, but we think your feet deserve better! Admittedly, choosing the right sandal is less important than finding the right trail running shoe or the best fitting hiking boot, but opting for something with extra support, traction, and comfort can help keep your feet and joints healthy — especially if you spend a lot of time in open-toed footwear. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of the 13 pairs we rigorously tested for months in the Rocky Mountains — an area known for its variable weather and beautifully rugged landscapes — and beyond.
Purchasing flip-flops can mean spending from very cheap to as much as shoes, so it's important to consider your priorities and lifestyle when making a choice. Spending more money doesn't always mean a better product, though when it comes to shoes there does tend to be a correlation. That being said, certain materials and features that are crucial for one person may not be for someone else. And while some women will gladly pay a bit more for a fashionable piece, others want something comfortable for the crag or the campsite. No matter what angle you're approaching this from though, we realize that price tends to be a major determining factor.
Ah, feet. Unique, tough, strange, sometimes smelly, and without question worthy of our respect and admiration. The requirements for keeping these workhorses healthy and happy are different for each person, so assessing this metric was a multifaceted and involved process. Comfort is highly subjective and, as such, the scores we awarded in this category reflect some factors observed over time. We took note of how comfortable each pair of flips felt straight out of the box, how cozy they became over time with some breaking in, and how the materials felt on foot in a variety of situations and terrain. Our top picks for comfort showcase some very diverse shoes, each with their own appeal depending on your foot shape and needs.
None of the flip flops for women we tested were uncomfortable by any means (we test the cream of the crop here at OutdoorGearLab!), but some were more luxurious than others. Our winner in this category, the OluKai Ohana, provided the "ooooh ahhh" factor more than any other shoe. With a super soft molded drop-in footbed inspired by the feeling of bare feet in wet sand, the feel of these flips is pretty unique and delightful. Almost every single tester had a moment when first slipping them on where some pleasurable noise was uttered. The Ohana was also one of the more comfortable shoes to walk around in when wet.
A close runner-up to the Ohana was our Editors' Choice, the Gizeh, but for pretty different reasons. The Gizeh, as with all Birkenstocks, molds to its owner's feet over time. When the shoe is new, it can feel quite stiff and unfriendly, but with some patience and perseverance, you will be rewarded. The contoured footbed and upturned sides hug the feet snugly, and the brushed leather on the footbed and the underside of the straps is soft and supple. The hard rubber toe post was the one thing that might turn people off to this shoe, as it can be quite painful at first. But, at least for us, after a few long days of wear, it ceased to be an issue.
We also really loved the easy comfort of the Base Camp Lite, our Best Buy for Sporty Adventures. Squishy but without sacrificing all its support, this was a super comfortable shoe to love. We honestly can't think of a single reason someone would dislike it, especially for the price.
Not far behind these frontrunners, we had several options that also offered satisfying and comfortable wearing experiences. Our Top Pick for Stylish Adventures, the Lala, with its wide, supple straps and smooth footbed, was a crowd favorite for those with narrow feet. The Sanuk Yoga Chakra has a footbed made out of real yoga mats, so every step feels plush and squishy. And the Tide II has built-in orthotics, giving it the best arch support of all the models we tested. Another favorite was the Rainbow Premier, a simple design made from soft, supple leather that was super comfy right from the get-go.
Support & Stability
It's easy to think that support and stability aren't particularly important with a simple summery shoe, but a well-constructed flip-flop with a better fit means happier feet and less potential for pain and injury over time. Just because sandals are minimal shoes doesn't mean you have to sacrifice proper support. On top of that, many of us spend a good portion of the year in this kind of footwear and, with the nature of warm weather adventures, you never quite know where the day might take you and what you might want to be able to navigate. Better to be ready for anything than cursing your feet with every step!
To properly test this metric we went for some very rigorous hikes that many people would grab a pair of hiking boots or shoes for — not flip flops! We climbed rocks, trudged through mud, and navigated some treacherously steep downhills. We also walked on a lot on hot hard pavement, rode bikes, and even waded around in a river. All in all, we put these shoes through an intense testing process, learning a ton about their strengths and weaknesses in the process.
We had two winners for this category but, again, for different reasons. The Birkenstock Gizeh, with its strategically contoured footbed, was a clear choice. And the Astral Rosa offered an ankle strap that prepared us for anything from a raft trip to a steep mountain trail, landing it a Top Pick for Hiking and Scrambling award.
Even before it molded to our anatomy, we noticed how well the Gizeh hugged each foot and supported the arch. The upturned sides kept us cradled in place so there was never a worry that we would slip off the edge when on varied terrain or when the shoe was wet. As the Gizeh got broken in and personalized, these qualities only improved. Whether on a hiking trail or strolling through town, this shoe did not disappoint.
The Astral Rosa, on the other hand, gave us something no other flip-flop did — an optional and removable ankle strap that converted a basic flip into a full-on adventure-ready flip flop for women. No matter what you have in store for the day, this shoe will be ready. Without the strap, the Rosa wouldn't have scored so well, but with it? It became almost unbeatable.
The other model that offered some of the best support and stability was the Vionic Tide II. This shoe has built-in orthotics and, when fitted correctly, holds the foot snugly and securely (it does run quite big, so if you're in-between sizes be sure to size down, as we did). Even on steep and unpredictable hikes, we felt completely confident in each step. The embedded orthotics do create a very high arch support, something important to keep in mind when considering this flip flop for women — it's a feature that can feel amazing on some feet and quite painful on others.
Another notable contender is this metric was the Merrell Around Town, an exceedingly stable shoe. With wide adjustable straps and burly traction, we often felt like we had hiking shoes on, not sandals! The footbed is very smooth and isn't quite as contoured as the pairs that scored higher in this category, but we felt no loss in security and were ready for whatever adventure the day threw at us.
As mentioned previously, you can certainly get a pair of flip-flops for less than buying a cocktail, but they likely won't last you very long or make your feet feel particularly good. When you invest a bit more in your purchase the hope is that they will be with you for years to come — depending on how hard you are on them, of course. Some manufacturers even offer resoling, strap replacement, and more, which is a great thing to investigate if you're someone prone to wearing through sandals quickly.
While we only tested these flips over the course of several months, not years, we felt this was an important metric to include and take note of. We can't be entirely confident how continued exposure to the elements and everyday wear and tear will affect these summer accessories, but some things were evident to us right from the get-go. We scored each pair by assessing the materials used in their creation and by noting small bits of damage that occurred in our short, but intense, testing period.
No surprise, the Chaco Flip EcoTread was among the most durable of all the flip-flops we tested. With a sturdy rubber sole and high-quality webbing straps, this flip can take some serious use before showing hardly any wear. As with all webbing, over time it softens and frays a bit, and rubber soles eventually wear off their tread, but it's clear that the EcoTread is made for longevity and can handle all manner of environmental elements. Chaco also offers strap replacement for many of their shoes.
The Tide II was another high scorer in this category, showing itself to be a shoe that can be worn for many years without hardly a dent. With robust soles and padded webbing straps, the construction of this shoe isn't that different from the Flip EcoTread, though we found it to be a bit more sturdy. At the end of our rigorous testing period, this impressive sandal still didn't look a day past brand new. This is an excellent flip-flop to invest in for the long haul.
And, once again, the Astral Rosa was at the top of the pack. The footbed is made from tough EVA and rubber and the additional ankle strap from nylon webbing, a match made in adventure heaven. Dirt, mud, sand, water, this shoe took it all in stride and then washed away leaving us looking almost new and ready for the next round.
And, once again, the Gizeh also rose to the top of the pack, keeping up the impressive reputation that Birkenstock has earned over the years. Like them or hate them, you can't help but notice when you pull them from the box how well-made they are. Pegged as a more urban, less sporty shoe, the Gizeh had no problem keeping up with or surpassing many of the more outdoorsy models. After trudging through mud and wading in rivers, the Gizeh barely showed any signs of our adventures other than softer more supple leather. Granted, this attractive leather shoe isn't the one to pick if you plan to spend every day in mud and dirt, but you can feel confident that if your day does lead you into a rainstorm or down a dusty trail that your Gizeh won't be the thing holding you back.
The one place that Birkenstocks quickly do start to show wear is on the footbed. As the light-colored suede molds to your feet, it darkens in color, leaving a nice footprint of your appendages. When the shoes are on foot, you can't see this unique personalization.
Our three OluKai contenders, the Ohana, Lala, and Paniolo are also worth mentioning here. OluKai has built a reputation for knowing how to make great sandals, and all of these models easily lived up to the hype with bomber construction and high-quality materials.
How a warm weather shoe deals with getting wet is a pretty important aspect to consider when assessing its overall performance because it's bound to come up. From spring puddles to summer rainstorms, sprinklers, and beaches, the sandal you choose should be able to handle moisture without making your feet feel gross or insecure. We put our tested flips through some serious tests for this metric, everything from light waterings while walking to full immersion and saturation in a river. While almost all the shoes handled small amounts of water well, fully soaking them revealed more variability and divisions in performance than in any other category.
The Rainbow Single Layer Premier soared to the top of this metric. These minimal flips, despite being made out of leather, are meant to be able to handle watery conditions. After being thoroughly submerged in water, the Rainbow took a mere 20 minutes in full sun to be completely dry. The footbeds also quickly absorbed and wicked away water, making them effortless to walk in when wet because nothing stayed pooled on the surface. The primary division we saw between these this model and the rest of our contenders was the time it took the straps to dry — while some flips dried on the footbed quickly, the straps held on to water for much longer.
The Astral Rosa, Flip EcoTread, and Tide II also easily came out near the top of this metric. All of them have a nonporous footbed that dries exceedingly quickly, especially if there's some air flow. Laying out in full sun after walking in a river, the footbed on these flips took a handful of minutes to dry fully. If you continue to walk while a lot of water is present, the Flip and Tide II briefly feel a bit slippy and make some farting noises, but this doesn't last long. If you're wearing the ankle strap on the Rosa any slippage due to water is a non-issue. The straps on all of these models took considerably longer to dry, right around 30 minutes, but none of them felt unpleasant on the skin to wear while damp.
Being that OluKai is a Hawaiian-based company, it was no surprise that all of them also handled water quite well. Though what did surprise us was that the fancy Lala and Paniolo outperformed their more rugged counterpart the Ohana by a fair margin. The footbed on both the Lala and Paniolo wicked water away from the surface incredibly fast, and while the leather straps stayed damp for longer, they felt cool, soft, and pleasant on the skin. The Ohana took longer all around to dry, but the main thing we noticed with all of these sandals was that the materials, even when very wet, felt comfortable and pleasing to wear.
Often people fail to think about traction when purchasing footwear they don't equate with hiking, running, or climbing. But if you're anything like us here at OutdoorGearLab, you'll end up using your flip-flops for crag approaches, impromptu hikes, and various random scrambles. If that sounds like your lifestyle as well, then it's to your benefit to have a shoe that won't leave you slip-sliding all over the place and fearing for your ankles. All our tested sandals did decently, but a handful rose to the top and impressed us with their extra stickiness.
There's a second piece to this as well: it's easy to think about traction as only a bottom-of-the-sole thing, which, to be sure, is how most people think about it. But in actuality, a leading cause of slipping and sliding, mainly while wearing something like flip-flops, is due to lack of footbed traction. This was something we took note of during muddy hikes and river walks, as well as when we were walking around town looking for a bite to eat.
The Astral Rosa was our Top Pick for Hiking and Scrambling mainly because its optional ankle strap made for the best and most secure footbed traction. This is almost unfair because a sandal with a backstrap will always feel stickier than a regular flip-flop, but hey — it's a great shoe that can act as both a flip and a sandal, and we gotta give credit where credit's due.
The Merrell Around Town, with its burly sole and supportive adjustable straps was another top performer for this metric. Consistently it made us feel as secure as though we were in a much more substantial shoe; the single exception being a hike that involved lots of watery mud puddles. This obstacle rendered all of our flips (except the Rosa!) more than a bit unstable (and also caused other hikers in high-top boots to look at us as though we'd lost a few marbles), but the footbed of the Around Town became particularly slippery. Suffice it to say, outside of a few swing season edge cases, we would be quite happy to have the Around Town on our feet for most all easy-to-moderate hikes.
Finishing just below the Rosa and Around Town was the Tide II. This is more of a traditional flip-flop design with narrower straps and no fancy features, but when fit correctly (see below) it has impressive traction that made us feel confident on all kinds of loose gravel and uncertain terrain.
It's important to note that this is contingent on having the proper size, as the Tide II does seem to run quite large. We ordered all our flip-flops in the same size, but the Vionic was so much bigger than all the others it looked like a random men's shoe had been thrown into the mix. We ended up returning it for one size smaller which provided a far superior fit. If you have a half size foot (as our chief tester did) and want to enjoy all the benefits this flip has to offer, we recommend sizing down.
And once again our trusty Gizeh finished toward the top of the pack. The brushed leather footbed provides fantastic internal traction, and the raised footbed edge, which is exceptionally high at the front to protect the toes, helps cup the foot for added security. This shoe had the best footbed traction which is why it received the highest scores for our support and stability metric. The bottom sole is not as sticky as the models mentioned above, but it still effortlessly imparts a feeling of security and confidence in all kinds of environments.
The flip-flops in this review represent a wide array of styles, from rugged and athletic to delicate and feminine. We polled a sizable group of women to generate our style scores as objectively as possible. The data we gathered revealed a broad spectrum of opinions, but not surprisingly the more athletic flips ended up lower on most everyone's list.
This type of footwear typically only comes in whole sizes, and since our chief tester was a half size, we have some helpful information about whether to size up or down. Fit is an extremely personal and critical aspect of finding the perfect shoe, and you don't want straps in weird places or toes falling off edges. We assessed length, width, strap volume, and toe box features so that you can make an informed decision based on the shape of your unique feet.
The clear winner out of our 13 contenders for this category was the OluKai Lala. The Lala isn't just a pretty thing to look at though; it impressed us across all our rating metrics, which is why we awarded it a Top Pick for Stylish Adventures. With wide attractive straps, a unique hand-wrapped toe-post, and an overall sleek design, it's no wonder people loved this shoe. Throw in the fact that it also had decent traction, handled water well, and was quite comfortable, and you have a winning combination. The Lala does run quite narrow and small though, so definitely plan to size up if you're a half size, and possibly even if you're not. If you have wide feet, this may not be the best choice for you, so consider trying it on in person before purchasing.
The Paniolo was another high scorer in the style category. The beautiful stitching on the footbed, hand-wrapped toe post, high-quality materials, and vibrant colors combined to deliver a truly lovely shoe that our testers appreciated.
The Olowahu, our Best Stylish Buy on a Tight Budget, was also right up at the top. With cute interlaced straps and a cushy foam footbed, this was an easy sandal for people to love. Whether you're sporting shorts, jeans, or a cute dress for the evening, this shoe can easily be dressed up or down. And when you consider the modest price tag, owning the Olowahu is practically a no-brainer. Fit-wise we found that on some shapes of feet the pinkie toe tended popping out the side, so be aware that these straps, cute as they are, won't work for everybody.
It's probably no surprise at this point that the Gizeh also finished very high in the style department. While the look of Birkenstocks, and especially the Gizeh, doesn't appeal to everyone, most people find it to be a classy shoe that looks beautiful with a lot of different kinds of outfits. Be aware that a quality leather shoe like this one will take some breaking in - don't get frustrated if they hurt in the beginning, the longer you wear them, the more dreamy they will become.
Finding just any pair of flip-flops for warm weather is by no means difficult, but finding a pair with appropriate support, traction, and comfort for your lifestyle is a different story. Our expert team of testers put 13 contenders through many thousands of steps on all kinds of terrain to gain a deep and comprehensive understanding of each pair. And we did it all to ensure that you can make the best choice possible for your feet, your environment, and your personal style. Maximize your spring and summer experience with some open-toed shoes that can handle every facet of a well-lived life!
— Penney Garrett