Flip-flops, Thongs, Pluggers, Double Pluggers, Toesies or Jandals: A Review

Gear Guide — By Alexi Ueltzen on June 10, 2010 at 11:49 am

Are you going to be on a boat this summer? What about at the beach? Do you live somewhere it ever gets hotter than 65 Fahrenheit  or like, 5 Celsius? Do you have toes? Do you enjoy not stepping on rocks, garbage and hypodermic needles?

Then you should probably pick up a pair of flip flops. Especially, especially if you’re planning on doing some traveling. Following are the reasons you should definitely pack a pair of flip flops on your next trip:

  • Easy to take on and off through airport security
  • Way, way the heck cooler than Tevas
  • Excellent venue in which to show off pedicures (or rugged, manly feet. Whatever.)
  • A reassuring barrier between one’s soles and the diseased floor of the communal shower
  • Much more appropriate to wear with shorts than a pair of Uggs (a look that, quite frankly, is unacceptable)

For the Purist: Havianas.

Havianas are flip flops at their most basic (and haven’t changed much since their creation in 1962). Made of thick but flexible rubber, these Brazilian sandals are internationally known, worn and loved. They run $12-$25 which is a bit more expensive than the average rubber thong, but worth it. They’re sturdier and bendier than the flip flops found at convenience stores, and the vibrant colors, fun patterns and awesome ad campaign just make ’em that much cooler. Havianas also just released a soccer/football team-based line of flip flops for the World Cup that are downright awesome.

Inspired by Hawaii, designed in Brazil and worn by everyone.

For the surfer, beach-goer or anyone who says “Dude” a lot: Rainbows

A lot of people balk at the $40+ price tag on a pair of Rainbows…but shouldn’t. These babies are made to last, and they do; the author of this post can vouch for a pair that have been going strong since 2006. Rainbows are synonymous with the Southern California lifestyle. They were born in 1974 in the garage of creator Jay “Sparky” Longley’s San Clemente home, where he hand-crafted 15 a day. They’re now one of the top three best-selling brands of sandals in the United States. Rainbow Sandals are comprised of layers of sponge rubber, specially-formulated glue and leather; materials that, over time, mold uniquely to the wearer’s foot. In other words, putting on a pair of worn-in Rainbows is like giving your feet a hug. A leathery, slightly-dirty, sweat-stained hug.

Rainbows are like a weather-beaten surfer dude in shoe form. And they’re awesome.

For the “I need Arch Support” Guy: Chacos

Chacos calls their back-strap-less sandals “Flips” …because they don’t flop. The Chacos brand is best known for its line of Teva-like sandals popular among river guides and hardcore outdoorsy types; they’re comfortable, they last forever and they have more arch support than the average plastic shoe. Guess what? So do Flips. With a BioCentric design (yes, sometimes you learn things when you shop for shoes), a polyurethane sole, straps that anchor under the mid-foot (the Flop-preventer) and men’s and women’s styles, Flips have a lot going for them.

People who rarely leave home without their orthotics should also look into Spenco’s Total Support Sandal (and a great review of them at Practical Travel Gear).

For the “None of the Above Flip Flops are Perfect for Me” Individual: Reefs

Reefs manage to be many things at once: cheaper than Chacos, but a bit pricier that Havianas; with the moldability of Rainbows but not the longevity; sporting the vibrant colors of Havianas, but without the international icon status. They truly are the “Mama Bear” of the flip flop world. For ladies, the classic style is the Sandy, although Reef offers lots more fashion forward designs. Men have the Smoothy to fall back on as well as a healthy variety of styles to choose from.

Men: it is worth noting that Reef annually crowns a “Miss Reef” and produces a pretty impressive Reef Girls Calendar.

The last thing you should remember: Flip flop tan lines are sexy.

[photos courtesy of *D a r i n k a*, JVO27, Adam_D_, Nicholas_T]

Tags: don't you ever forget, flip flops, footwear, I got my flippie floppies, I'm on a boat, keep your feet [retty, review, Sandals, summer, thongs, travel, way the heck cooler than tevas


  • Tyler Renaghan says:

    What does it mean if I have multiple havianas, one pair of rainbows, and an old junky pair of reefs? Definitely don’t have Chacos though…

  • Zanni says:

    If you buy your Rainbows in a drunken stupor at 3am in the Wynn gift shop cause your feet hurt so bad in your heels you cant walk, you pay about 65 for a pair and they come embossed on the heel with a Wynn logo. Classssssssssay!

  • Alexi Ueltzen says:

    Tyler: It means you’re a citizen of the world.

    Zanni: Let’s hang out soon.

  • Alex Resnik says:

    I remember like 15 years ago when all Havaianas were the “tradicional” variety: colored straps but always a white bottom. They cost like $2 in Brazil at the time. Recently, I could have spent $25 for a pair in Tokyo, but ultimately decided against it. They do last forever though.

  • jasper says:

    About a week into landing in Australia on my post college year away from home (the UK) a kind Australian offered to loan me a pair of thongs. Unfortunately in the UK a thong is a skimpy piece of underwear, I was quite grossed out until I realized what was really on offer.

  • MonkeyMike says:

    Hmm, flip-flops sounds kinda cool. Maybe I’ll try them out.

  • Alexi Ueltzen says:

    Mike, you might look into a pair of black reefs. They’re a great “starter” flip flop.

  • Victoria says:

    Thanks for that link, Mike. I’m a silver Gizeh wearer myself. My boyfriend calls them ‘abominations’ but, heck, they’re comfy.

  • Roberto says:

    I got my wynn embossed rainbows at the wynn gift shop! Expensive, but I was up. Great investment as they are still comfortable after a year of living in FL.

  • Socket Set : says:

    when i go to a gift shop, i always look for cute little stuffed animals and other cute stuffs:-;


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