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12 of the top sandals we reviewed for our list of the best mens sandals.

These were the sandals that rose to the top of our list. Photo: Dylan Heyden


The Inertia

Flip flops, slippahs, sandals. Call them what you will. There’s something absolutely liberating about footwear that lets your toes see the light of day. Not to mention having something comfortable to slide those tootsies into after a surf or beach hang without having to fumble with socks and laces. Here in the northern hemisphere the weather is quickly beginning to warm up and there’s sunshine in abundance, which means less time for your feet in closed-toe sweat boxes and more foot freedom. So, for those looking to upgrade their sandal game or build out their quiver, we took it upon ourselves to test some of the best out there. To see how they compare to each other, check out our Comparison Table and Ratings Chart, below. For more information on getting the perfect pair of sandals, look no further than our Buyer’s Guide.

Here are our favs:

The Best Men’s Sandals of 2023

Best Overall Sandals: Olukai Tuahine
Best Budget Sandals: Crocs Classic
Most Comfortable Flip Flop: Sanuk Ziggy
Best Hiking Sandals: Chaco Z/1 Classic
Best Post-Workout Sandal: Hoka Ora Luxe
Most Eco-Friendly Flip Flops: KLLY Sandals


Best Overall Sandals

Olukai Tuahine ($100)

men's sandals
Pros: Waterproof, premium materials, comfort that improves with time
Cons: Price

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, we recommend sizing at least to the next size up.

Olukai’s Tuahine takes the timeless design and comfort of the ubiquitous leather flip flop and gives it the major upgrade it deserves. For years, I’ve been a hopeless devotee of the tan leather flip flop because they get more comfortable over time and are incredibly durable. Some major drawbacks of leather flip flops, though, is generally you want to avoid getting them wet. This isn’t always possible when spending days at the beach or near the pool. The fact that Olukai’s Tuahines are made with waterproof leather is a huge durability upgrade for those accustomed to leather sandals that only get better with time. The second enhancement is in the Tuahine’s sole that features a wet-grip rubber that is also non-marking for boaters and fishermen among us. In testing we found that the Tuahines also offered the best arch support of any flip flop we tested, and featured a cupped heel for optimum fit with no break-in period needed. The only knock on the Olukais is they seemed to run a bit small, so we’d recommend sizing up. That, and they’re some of the priciest on the list.

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Best Budget Sandals

Classic Crocs Clog ($49)

the crocs classic clog was our choice for the best budget sandal.
Pros: Soft spongey comfort, easy on and off, price
Cons: Heel slides around

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, we recommend sizing up if you have wider feet as the toe strap can be a bit tight. But for regular or narrower feet, sizing down will give you a more secure fit.

The silhouette of Crocs iconic clog is as divisive as it is ubiquitous these days. Likely because the comfort of Crocs’ foam footwear is pretty undeniable. For those looking to experience Crocs comfort without going full clog, the Classic Crocs Sandal is a great entry point. They feature the same foam Crocs are known for in a two-strap slide that’s fully waterproof, and highly durable. Unlike other sandals on the list, the spongey feel of the Classic Sandal did cause our heels to slip around a bit and the foam outsole lacks any sort of real traction — so definitely not the sandals you’d want for anything remotely strenuous or with any sort of variable terrain. Still, for the price point the Classic Crocs Sandal offers great comfort and versatility.

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Most Comfortable Flip Flops

Sanuk Ziggy ($30-$35)

the sanuk ziggy sandals was picked as the most plush flip flop on our review.
Pros: Squishy, plush feel for max comfort
Cons: Not a ton of structure

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, size up to the next full size.

Sanuk’s Ziggy Soft Top flip flops fit the bill for anyone looking for a spongier, plush feel with every step. Compared to other flip flops on the list, Sanuk’s Ziggys were definitely the most padded, due to the bouncy high-rebound midsoles and EVA footbed, which felt like walking on clouds. The Ziggys are also fully water-ready, which gives them an edge on leather flip flops that may not handle water well. Worth noting is that because the Ziggys don’t mold to your foot like leather flip flops, they don’t develop a heel cup that holds your foot in place while you walk. Not a huge issue, but in testing we found that this made the Ziggys feel a little less structured as the foot could slide around a bit during normal wear.

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Best Hiking Sandals

Chaco Z/1 Classic ($100)

the chaco z1 classic sandal is on our list of the best men's sandals.
Pros: Supportive, comfortable, and stable
Cons: High profile, heavy, strange tan lines

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, Chaco recommends sizing down. We found this to be right for the Z/1 Classics.

A decent walk — say, over a mile — is when even the most comfortable sandals begin to show their quirks. A sore heel here, an uncomfortable strap there, or a sloppy loose feel that’s just not designed to be worn over an extended period. Not the case for Chacos Z/1 Classics. In testing, we found the Chaco Z/1s to stand high above the rest in terms of comfort for more demanding physical pursuits where we wanted the breathability of a sandal and the comfort of a capable shoe. With a polyester webbing strap that threads through the footbed, a couple tugs to loosen or tighten creates for maximum dialed-in fit. Chaco’s proprietary Luvseat midsole felt springy but not overly so and provides adequate support for all day wear. And finally, the Z/1 Classics feature a 3.5 mm lug that’s ideal for splashing through wet trails. Chacos Z/1 line are among the few sandals on our list that are accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting proper foot health. However, a major trade off is they did ride a bit high and were heavier than some of the other sandals on our list, which contributed to a clunky feel that took some getting used to. Some may find the features of the Z/1 Classics to be a bit much for just kicking around town. But, for those looking for a highly versatile adventure-ready sandal for all day use, look no further.

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Best Post-Workout Sandals

Hoka Ora Luxe ($80)

the hoka ora luxe recovery slide sandals were our pick for the best post-workout sandals.

Pros: Super light, most comfortable on the list
Cons: Not ideal for sandy beach days

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, size down to the nearest size at least.

Hoka’s Ora Luxe sandal was the most comfortable sandal that we put through testing. Full stop. And while definitely not conventionally cool in terms of appearance, the Ora Luxes quickly became the sandals we’d throw on at home to give our dogs a break after a full day of wearing other sandals. Billed as a “recovery” slide by a shoe company known best for its premium and cushy running shoes, the Ora Luxes wouldn’t be our first choice for a day at the beach. But, they’re ideal for throwing on at home after a marathon surf session, after hiking, running, or to and from the gym. They’re fully waterproof and feature two velcro straps to dial in fit. Speaking of fit, compared to other sandals on the list, these seemed to run a little big. Being that they don’t come in half sizes, we’d recommend sizing down rather than up if you are typically between sizes. All the cushy padding does give them a bit of a bulky feel, too.

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Best Eco-Friendly Sandals

KLLY Sandals ($124)

klly sandals won best eco-friendly flip flop on our review of the best men's sandals.
Pros: Perfect balance of comfort and support
Cons: High profile and limited color and style options

Sizing recommendation: KLLY recommends sizing down a full size. However, for those in-between sizes, sizing down a half-size worked well.

One of the occupational hazards of surfing on the championship tour for over thirty years is you spend a lot of time in flip flops. So, when the greatest surfer of all time slaps his name on a pair designed to fix some of the common complaints associated with the classic flip flop silhouette — namely lack of support and discomfort for all day wear — you pay attention. Slater developed the KLLYs for all day comfort and to promote healthy alignment. And out of the box, the KLLY Sandals absolutely achieve this. No break-in period needed.

We found them springy and snappy in all the right ways, yet with sufficient arch support for all-day wear. The strap was also extremely comfortable when properly sized. We did find that it fit a little tight if you sized the sandals down too far. And while we don’t know how much we buy into the connection between the moon and sea turtles that inspired some of the design elements, the texture of the footbed inspired by the surface of the moon offered good traction and was a nice touch. The KLLYs are also made using rPET and BLOOM foam made from algae, making them some of the most sustainable sandals on our list. One of the only knocks we had on the KLLYs was they did have a higher profile feel than other flip flops on the list. Though, that’s the tradeoff for better support. That, and only one color way currently available that’s not for everyone.

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Best of the Rest

Timeless Style

Rainbow Single Arch Sandal ($71)

men's sandals
Pros: Timeless style, durable
Cons: Not great around water, avoid leaving in the sun

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, size up to the next full size.

In terms of comfort, durability, and no-frills style, Rainbow’s Single Layer Premier Leather flip flop is the sandal by which all other sandals are measured. It’s especially telling that after testing so many different styles — made of a variety of materials — the Rainbows still rose to the top. Molding to your feet with rich nubuck leather and varying densities of super-soft sponge rubber, the advantage is that the more you wear them, the better they feel — they also last a really, really long time. If you treat them right, that is. We’ve had friends learn the hard way what happens to a pair of Rainbows that get left directly in the sun at the beach for a day.  Or, what happens to them if they get overly soaked. The bottom line being, if you treat them right, they’ll treat you right.

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Runner-Up Best Hiking Sandals

Teva Universal ($55)

the teva universal sandals made our list of the best men's sandals review.
Pros: Go anywhere, adventure/offroad ready
Cons: Not a ton of structure

Sizing recommendation: For half sizes, size up to the next full size.

During a surf trip to Panama a few years ago, a few friends got caught hiking through the jungle to a surf spot we had been told about in the kind of mud that eats regular flip flops alive. The worst of the trail was literally a graveyard of abandoned poorly-made flip flops, and hidden razor-wire along the edges of the trail made things especially dicey. While Teva’s Universal sandals aren’t the most popular in California coastal towns that prioritize fashion over function, a hiking trail coated with six inches of Panamanian jungle mud with a 1-in-10 possibility of a foot laceration may be the perfect use case for a shoe originally designed to meet the demands of rafters on the Colorado River.

We’d argue that for the traveling surfer who enjoys exploring remote corners of coastline in equatorial climates, a fully off-road capable, waterproof sandal like Teva’s Universal is a necessary part of the quiver and totally worth the weird tan lines. Unlike flip flops, Tevas can also be worn with socks which adds to their versatility. At the end of their lifecycle they can also be recycled through Teva’s TevaForever recycling program so they never see a landfill.

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Most Supportive Sandals

Birkenstock Atacama ($135)

the birkenstock atacama made our list of the best men's sandals.
Pros: Birk comfort in an adventure-ready package
Cons: Adjustment/break-in period, clunky

Sizing recommendation: Birkenstock recommends adding 33 to your US men’s size to get to your European size. For half sizes, we recommend sizing down.

The legendary comfort of Birkenstock’s cork footbeds is well-known at this point. But one of the main shortcomings of cork, like some of the leather sandals on our list, is moisture. Something that’s difficult to avoid if you spend any amount of time near the ocean. So, when Birkenstock unveiled its new adventure-ready Atacamas that boast the same footbed mold as its cork offerings in trail styled and water-friendly materials, our interest was piqued. Under foot, the Atacamas may have been the most unique pair of sandals in all of the styles we tested. This was because there’s a lot going on under the hood, (er, foot?) with the sandal’s anatomic footbed. From an exaggerated super deep heel cup and a big toe bar to longitudinal and transverse arch support, these sorts of bends and curves are designed to hold your foot in its most natural position.

The problem is that if your feet, like ours, have grown accustomed to less-supportive footwear this sort of “training” your feet doesn’t result in the most comfort straight out of the box. Once our feet got used to them, though, they were very happy. But it did take some time. In addition, unlike Birk’s cork offerings, the PU footbed of the Atacamas doesn’t mold to your feet over time. Again, it’s more a matter of training your feet and getting used to the sandal. We loved the adjustability and rugged look of the Atacamas velcro straps and lug sole that made them ideal for variable terrain. And without a heel strap, they were easy to slide in an out of.

For everything from a light hike to longer walks and even a full day out and about in town, the Atacamas absolutely excelled. But the Atacamas are definitely two-wheel drive sandals. For those looking for Birk comfort in a four-wheel-drive option that’s ideal for more strenuous hiking on all sorts of terrain, we’d recommend the Tatacoa that is similar to the Atacama but features a heel strap.

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Best Non-Sandal Sandals

Vans TRK Mule ($55)

vans trk mule were on our list for the best mens sandals.
Pros: Fully hose-downable, waterproof, and practical
Cons: Hard rubber feel isn’t the most comfortable

Sizing recommendation: Sizing up felt a bit big and without a heel cup, felt a bit sloppy. We recommend sizing down unless you plan to wear often with socks and prefer a looser fit.

When Vans introduced their Trek Slip On a few years ago, we swooned. Finally, a waterproof summer-ready alternative to a certain brand of foam clogs that is embedded with the DNA of the slip-ons we’re so fond of. Recently, Vans took their innovative rubber shoes and chopped the heel cup down for easy on-and-off. The result is a flexible, durable beach shoe that’s easily hosed down and features an oversized reversed waffle sole for extra traction. In testing, we found that the TRK Mules were super practical for the day-in-day-out of heading to the beach for a surf session. However, the dense rubber was definitely heavy and offered less padded comfort than other sandals on our list which made them tough to wear all day.

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Birkenstock Honolulu ($40-48)

Birkenstock honolulu sandals for our list of the best sandals
Pros: Extremely light, Birk comfort at affordable price point
Cons: Not the most stylish, tricky sizing

Sizing recommendation: Definitely size up from your typical Birks size.

If you had no idea that Birkenstock was in the flip flop game, welcome to the club. The German footwear giant’s appropriately named Honolulu takes Birk’s famous footbed mold into a pair of fully water-ready flops that were insanely comfortable. Unlike other Birkenstocks on the list, the Honolulus required no break-in or adjustment period. The injection-molded EVA construction also made the Honolulus the lightest pair of sandals that we tested. You could literally forget you were wearing them.

What was a bit tricky about the Honolulus, though, was getting the sizing right. While we tested all Birks at our recommended Euro size, these felt a bit smaller and narrower than the Atacamas and Bostons. In addition, unlike other flip flops, the Honolulus have a strap that sweeps further back toward the heel that made for interesting style and fit. Like their cork brethren, the Honolulus aren’t plush or squishy. Still, the level of comfort they achieve for the price point is super impressive.

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Crocs Mellow Recovery Slides ($49)

The crocs mellow recovery slide was on our list for the best sandals
Pros: Light spongey Crocs comfort, price, waterproof
Cons: Not the most sturdy or supportive

Sizing recommendation: Size up for looser fit and down for tighter fit, depending on preference.

For the uninitiated, sandals that fall into the “recovery footwear” category may best be described as the sandals you never knew you needed. Sure, any pair of sandals could be your post-gym or workout go-tos. But, why rob yourself of plush airy comfort? Like most sandals in this category, Crocs Mellow Recovery Slides are built on a thick foam sole that offers the kind of cushioning our tender feet need (nay, deserve) after a surf, trip to the gym, or run. This offering from Crocs lacks the adjustability of the Hokas, for example, but at this price point, they absolutely deliver.

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Birkenstock Boston ($158)

The Birkenstock Boston clogs were on our list of the best Men's sandals.
Pros: Classic Birkenstock comfort in iconic silhouette
Cons: Break-in period, and not water-friendly

Sizing recommendation: Birkenstock recommends adding 33 to your US men’s size to get to your European size. For half sizes, we recommend sizing down.

Between the legendary comfort offered by Birkenstock’s cork footbed and the ability to dress them up or down, it’s no wonder Birkenstock’s Boston clogs have become so sought after in recent years. A suede closed-toe upper with a single buckle is both high on style points and versatility. However, as most Birkenstock devotees will tell you, to give any pair of cork footbed Birkenstocks a fair shake takes some level of commitment. A week or two of constant use, at least. We found that to be about right. Out of the box, there was some strange feelings underfoot. But over time the cork molded to the foot and the comfort and support was idyllic. One drawback of the Boston, if you could call it that, is that the suede and cork construction felt a bit too nice to be kicking around the beach.

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Chaco Classic Leather Flip Flop ($29)

The Chaco classic leather flip flop was on our list for the best men's sandals.
Pros: Great style, supportive footbed, nice price
Cons: Tricky sizing

Sizing recommendation: Chaco recommends sizing down for half sizes on these, but we found that the sizing was actually better when sized up.

It’s worth saying again. There’s arguably no more classic sandal silhouette than the humble leather flip flop. Many brands today have their unique take on the style – but we were definitely impressed with how Chacos balanced fashion and function in their Classic Leather Flip Flop. The supple full grain leather upper and strap were insanely comfortable, and the Luvseat footbed offered ample arch support for all-day wear. Chaco’s unique tread pattern on these, something they call their wave fin traction design, was also a nice touch that felt grippy on slick terrain. We will say that compared to other Chacos the sizing was a little off. While we’d follow Chaco’s recommendation to size down Z/1s, for example, we’d highly recommend sizing up on half sizes in their flip flops.

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Teva ReFlip ($29)

Teva reflip were a pick for our list of the best men's sandals.

Pros: High on sustainability, low on price
Cons: Tight fitting webbing strap, hard to slide on

Sizing recommendation: Size up to nearest size for half sizes.

Teva calls their Reflip flip flop their most sustainably minded sandal to date, which is an impressive claim from a company with such a strong environmental ethos. Both the EVA top sole and EVA outsole are made of 30 percent recycled content and the quick-dry webbing is made from recycled plastic. We loved these particular flip flops as a no frills friendlier-to-the-planet alternative to the leather flip flops on this list as these felt sturdy, could hold up to abuse,  and were water friendly. A downside was these required some time to break in properly and during that time the webbing strap would rub on the instep of the foot which wasn’t ideal. Like most Tevas, at the end of the ReFlips lifecycle, they can also be recycled through Teva’s TevaForever recycling program.

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Oofos Men’s Original Sandal ($58)

Pros: Extreme comfort, fully waterproof
Cons: Not the best looking, very high profile

Sizing recommendation: Size up to nearest size for half sizes.

The competition for most comfortable sandal on the list was a tight race between the Oofos Men’s Original Sandal and Hoka’s Ora Luxes, with Hoka gaining a slight edge in style and versatility being that they’re slides and work well with or without socks. That said, the Oofos were incredibly impressive for all the same use cases as the Hokas – post-surf comfort at home, the gym, etc. Virtually any pre or post physical activity where comfort is a premium. The Oofos were a bit lower profile than the Hokas, though still bulkier than a traditional flip flop.

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Sanuk You Got My Back Soft Top Hemp ($40)

The Sanuk You got my back was listed in our best mens sandals.

Pros: Easy on and off, can be worn with or without socks
Cons: Feet slide around, not much structure in footbed

Sizing recommendation: Size up to nearest size for half sizes.

Are they sandals? Are they slippers? Sanuk’s You Got My Backs take Sanuk’s well-known Sidewalk Surfers and remove the heel for slide-in and get going comfort. Like Sanuk’s Ziggys, the You Got My Backs featured the same Soft Top foam midsoles which were squishy, spongey, and super comfortable. We liked them for being able to seamlessly transition from the beach to the bar while maintaining maximum zen vibes.

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Freewaters Treeline ($40)

the freewaters treeline made our list of the best men's sandals.

Pros: Eco-minded, Thermarest footbeds
Cons: Not the most stylish

Sizing recommendation: Size up to nearest size for half sizes.

As global citizens who love to travel, surf and chase waterfalls, co-founders Martin and I have a longstanding and deep respect for the healing power of water. At Freewaters, we believe access to clean drinking water should be a fundamental right, not a privilege.” – Freewaters Co-founder Eli Marmar. You can feel good about this flip-flop in more ways than one. With super-soft Thermarest footbeds (yes, the same Thermarest that makes amazing sleeping pads), the Freewaters Treeline Sandal is like a mattress for your foot. The Inertia staff can attest. They. Are. Comfortable. That soft, perforated texture feels nice on the bottom of your feet. Adding durable webbing straps and a grippy rubber outsole, its entirely free of animal products, plus a percentage of Freewaterstotal sales goes towards grassroots organizations providing clean drinking water to Haiti, Kenya, and the Philippines.

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Comparison Table

Sandals Rating Style Testing Notes
Olukai Tuahine 9.5 Flip Flop Premium leather feel
KLLY Sandals 9.25 Flip Flop Eco-Friendly, supportive
Crocs Classic Clog 9.25 Clog Easy Drainage, foam cushioning
Rainbow Single Arch Sandal 9 Flip Flop Timeless style and comfortable flip flop
Hoka Ora Luxe 8.5 Slide-On Post-workout recovery comfort
Freewaters Treeline Sandal 8.5 Flip Flop ethical, recycled and comfortable
Chaco Z/1 Classic 8.5 Sandal Great for extended mileage on foot
Sanuk Ziggy 8.25 Flip Flop Plush flip flop
Birkenstock Atacama 8.25 Slide-On Water-Friendly Materials
Oofos Men’s Original Sandal 8.25 Flip Flop Recovery flip-flops
Crocs Mellow Recovery Slides 8.25 Slide-On Thick foam for great comfort
Teva Reflip  8.25 Flip Flop Eco-friendly
Vans TRK Mule 8 Slide-On All-terrain slip-ons
Teva Universal 8 Sandal All-terrain sandal
Chaco Classic Leather Flip Flop 8 Flip Flop Great price, great arch support
Sanuk You Got My Back Soft Top Hemp 7.75 Slide-On Slip-on “sandal” slippers
Birkenstock Honolulu 7.75 Flip Flop Birkenstock’s take on flip flops
Birkenstock Boston 7.75 Clog Birkenstock comfort in a clog shape

men's sandals

Testing the sandals in the best place we know… the sandy beaches of Southern California. Photo: DH

How We Tested

As surfers and adventurers who live a beach-oriented lifestyle, we’ve spent a lot of time in sandals and flip flops. But we didn’t just rely on our institutional knowledge for this review, we went out there and got our hands on long-standing favorites, new and exciting products, and the top rated sandals and flip-flops on the market to provide head-to-head comparisons on comfort, style, durability, price, top features, and more. We personally tested all of the sandals featured here in this review, and a lot more that didn’t make the cut. The above list is the result of our findings.

We first published this article in the spring of 2023, and in our most recent update added three additional sandals (and removed a couple that got bumped out of the rankings), updated some product information based on longer-term testing over the summer, and expanded our buyer’s guide, which you can find below.


Ratings Chart

Model Overall Score Fit Comfort Durability Style
Olukai Tuahine 9.5 10 9 9 10
KLLY Sandals 9.25 10 10 9 8
Crocs Classic Clog 9.25 10 10 9 8
Rainbow Single Arch Sandal 9 9 9 8 10
Hoka Ora Luxe 8.5 8 10 9 7
Freewaters Treeline Sandal 8.5 10 10 8 6
Chaco Z/1 Classic 8.5 10 10 7 7
Sanuk Ziggy 8.25 8 9 8 8
Birkenstock Atacama 8.25 9 7 9 8
Oofos Men’s Original Sandal 8.25 8 10 9 6
Crocs Mellow Recovery Slides 8.25 7 10 9 7
Teva Reflip  8.25 8 7 9 9
Vans TRK Mule 8 8 6 10 8
Teva Universal 8 9 7 10 6
Chaco Classic Leather Flip Flop 8 6 9 8 9
Sanuk You Got My Back Soft Top Hemp 7.75 8 9 6 8
Birkenstock Honolulu 7.75 6 9 9 7
Birkenstock Boston 7.75 8 7 6 10

four different men's sandals lined up against a surfboard.

A few of our faves, the Olukai Tuahine front and center. Photo: DH

Men’s Sandals Buyer’s Guide

What Makes a Good Pair of Sandals?

Like all footwear, the ideal pair of sandals for you depends on where and how you’ll be using them. If you spend any amount of time on a boat, for example, you may want to prioritize a pair that can handle getting wet from time to time. On the other hand, if you’re looking to prioritize comfort and support, leather might be right for you. It may also be worthwhile to consider having a few pairs for specific uses — e.g. every day use, travel, or gym. Another consideration is weighing how much support you need. If you spend days on end in sandals, a more supportive option may be right for you. Unfortunately, the trade off is more supportive sandals tend to have a clunkier look. On the other hand, if you don’t spend hours on your feet you may be able to get away with a more low-profile option that prioritizes form over function.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into some key considerations.

Anatomy of a Sandal

It isn’t rocket science, tbh. But a bit of fluency in the terms sandal makers use to refer to specific parts of a sandal will go a long way when determining what pair is right for you. In general, a typical sandal from the ground up is comprised of a sole (our outsole; the part that touches pavement), a midsole (the material between the part that touches the ground and the part that touches your foot, a footbed (the part that touches the bottom of your foot), and an upper (the strappy part that keeps the sandal on your foot).

Additionally, there are two general types of construction of sandals out there on the market. The first, which is most common, is a mix of materials that are layered on top of each other either by being sewn or glued (see Olukai’s Tuahine’s, or Chaco’s Classic Leather Flip Flops for example). The second is what’s called injection molding, which means a piping hot liquid form of the material of the sandal is shot into a mold, then it cools and hardens into a standalone sandal with no glue or seams (see Crocs different sandals here or Vans’ TRK). In some cases, these processes can be combined where the entirety of the sandal is injection molded except for the strap, which is added later in the process. This is the case with KLLY Sandals that are made of rPET and Bloom foam with a neoprene/webbing strap.

Which construction process is right for you depends largely on what you’re trying to get out of your sandals. A fully-injection molded foam sandal is going to lack the comforts of a leather upper or the traction of a rubber lug sole. But, a sandal with more premium materials glued to each other commands a higher price and may offer a marginal difference (or maybe less) comfort.

Comfort Versus Support

Speaking of comfort, across the market these days comfort and support seem to be used interchangeably. In our opinion, that’s a major issue because comfort and support are different (occasionally competing) demands. Comfort, on one hand, often refers to a plush bouncy feel that’s great in the short term, but can be murder on your feet over prolonged periods because of limited support. On the other hand, a footbed meant to cradle natural curves in your foot may take some getting used to and feel uncomfortable if you’ve grown accustomed to flat footwear.

One option to consider when shopping for a pair of sandals that prioritizes support and promotes foot health is looking for a Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (AMPA). According to the AMPA, a seal of acceptance is provided to a product after review by a group of APMA podiatrists to ensure it promotes foot health. An AMPA seal of acceptance is definitely not the final word on whether a sandal is supportive or not, but it’s a good start.

A pair of black flip flops resting on a surfboard. The flip flops are from KLLY which won our pick for best eco friendly sandals.

KLLY Sandals are comfortable to wear all day, and made from sustainable materials. We wouldn’t expect any less with the GOAT putting his name on them. Photo: DH

Flip Flop Versus Sandal

Flip flops are by and large the most ubiquitous sandal style in coastal downs during summer months, or year-round for that matter here in Southern California. And while the majority of the styles we tested and that made it to the top of our list fit into that category, flip flops come with major limitations. For one, if you’ve ever tried to sport flip flops with socks, you understand the unique sensation of your footwear forcing cotton between your tootsies while they try to resist. This is a major benefit of a pair of slides or another sandal variety that is sock friendly — convenience, and when it’s cold out your toes don’t freeze. On the other hand, slides can feel less supportive than a good pair of flip flops, and other strapped sandals can be difficult to slip on and off, defeating the purpose of a sandal in the first place. The bottom line here is to consider what activity you’ll be doing in your sandals and what time of year you plan to wear them.

Materials

Another consideration is materials. Classic leather sandals offer the benefit of conforming to your foot over time, whereas a more plushy foam/synthetic material might offer immediate comfort with no break-in period. Leather also tends to be averse to water while synthetics don’t mind it. And then you have waterproof leather that attempts to combine the best of both worlds but at a premium.

Sizing

Arguably one of the most frustrating aspects of purchasing a new pair of sandals is sizing, especially given most sandals are not made in half sizes. If your street shoe, like the author’s, falls between whole sizes, you understand this well. Through testing we experienced just how difficult it can be to get the right fit, finding inconsistencies in sizing across brands and with the same brand from style to style. Obviously, the silver bullet solution to sizing is driving to a brick and mortar and trying on in-person. But when this is not feasible, a quick perusal of a company’s return policy is absolutely crucial. In addition, we would highly, highly recommend avoiding pulling the trigger online on final sale sandals unless they’re a style you’ve purchased in the past. After testing, we included our best recommendations on sizing to aid you in this effort. Still, operating under the assumption it may take a return or two to get it right is a good rule of thumb.

Cost

As a general rule, the more a pair of sandals costs typically translates to better construction and materials. But it’s of equal importance that you don’t get caught shelling out for features that you don’t need. A high quality rubber outsole, the likes of which you might find on the bottom of a hiking boot, is of little importance if your primary use for a pair of sandals is to quickly slide into something after a surf for the drive back home. That said, quality materials and construction often translate to a longer product lifespan, meaning that a higher front-end investment may even itself out after buying the two, three, or four pairs of a cheaper alternative.

Return to Top Picks | Return to Comparison Table

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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