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When I first saw FlipRocks sandals, I knew I was going to have to get a pair of them. I’m a total slacker when it comes to dressing lately. A T-shirt, shorts, and sandals is my daily wear at the office, at the range, and nearly everywhere in between. At least until the snow starts to pile up. Of course, most sandals or flip-flops are not exactly ideal for some of the places I go. Which is why I’m pretty stoked to have spent the last month or so putting some hard miles on my new FlipRocks. And while FlipRocks are definitely high quality, some may question my use of the word “Tactical”, so I need to clear that up before proceeding.
The definition of tactical
Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Tactical” means “Adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose”. Of course, “Adroit” is defined as “Clever or skillful in using the hand or mind”. In this case, I’m going to sum it up as “Smart thinking to make some seriously purposeful footwear”. If you spend time at an outdoor range, and prefer sandals, these are worth a closer look. Also, I got mine in black, which is of course the more tactical version. They are available in tan as well. I think the tan looks better, but knowing how beat up and dusty they were going to get, figured I would stick with black.
What are FlipRocks?
The official product description uses words like “Ultimate Sandal” and “Extreme Footwear”, and that’s no hyperbole. They’re pretty much the Chuck Norris of open footwear. Highly durable, massive grip, plenty of comfort, and incredibly flexible (soles) make FlipRocks stand out from today’s crowded footwear options. Their rugged good looks let everyone know that while you like to let your feet get a little sun, you’re no hobbit. They’re designed to protect your feet while engaging in real outdoor adventures, not just a walk from the car to the beach. They’ve got the traction of a monster truck, with the versatility of a modular firearm. No joke, you can swap parts (soles) on the FlipRocks as easily as you can swap parts on your favorite AR or Austrian Tupperware®. More on that in a bit.
The $99.99 sandal itself is a blend of rubber that balances durability with comfort. No doubt, the first thing you notice is the big protective toe guard. Never fear another rock, log, or alligator. Okay, maybe watch out for alligators. But now your precious toes are shielded from the obstacles that invariably jump out at the last moment and ruin a good hike. That’s not even the biggest functional feature of the FlipRocks. The real fun is underneath, where the GripToeNite gripping pads hide. That’s the feature that really sets them apart from everything else.
So GripToeNite is a thing. Really.
This is the genius part of why I like FlipRocks. The GripToeNite grips are replaceable pads on the outsole (that’s the bottom-most part, for you non-footwear nerds). Each GripToeNite pad offers traction for different environments. And they can be swapped out without tools, as they use a super strong industrial hook and loop fastener. Note that the pads are swappable between the FlipRocks sandals and flip-flops. Here’s a breakdown of the current options:
The $29.99 Water Trekker has high-traction aggressive rubber bottoms paired with stainless steel cleats. Ideal for sketchy trails and water crossings. Swap them before you hit the trail, or keep them in your pocket or pack until you need them. Best for fishing, hikers tackling rough terrain, and anyone else looking for some adventure, while rocking sandals.
My personal choice for EDC (Everyday chilling). Aggressive enough for some outdoor shooting range time, but fine for the office, driving, and mowing the lawn. I walk every day on my lunch break, and every weekend in Utah’s dry, rocky terrain. And they’re not showing any wear yet. A good balance of traction, protection, and durability. If I manage to wear them out, it’s only $24.99 to refresh my FlipRocks.
An ideal companion for the paddle sports enthusiast. With a large felt panel, there’s no need to fear that slick algae found growing on rocks along your favorite waterway. Not only do they make it safer to get in and out of the water, but they can open up more opportunities to traverse spots you may have previously avoided. See more and do more in that space between the water and dry land for only $24.99.
Be the envy of the yacht club! Or at least don’t be the noob leaving scuff marks on the deck. Instead of black rubber that can mar or otherwise mark up a boat’s deck, this one utilizes a gum rubber with awesome grip. Its wave sipe tread offers traction whether wet or dry. And at only $24.99, it’s probably the least expensive part of owning a boat or spending an afternoon on one.
The Gopher (The Golfer ):
My golf experience doesn’t extend much beyond driving golf balls with a .22, or splitting tees with the same rifle. But the folks at FlipRocks Extreme Footwear like to spend an afternoon on the green. So they made sure that FlipRocks can take you from the mountains or lake to the tee box with a quick change of GripToeNite pads. With ten super-aggressive, yet soft golf cleats, these are approved for both playing and teeing up a cold one in the clubhouse. Give your feet tan lines that Jimmy Buffett would appreciate while playing a round of golf.
River Master :
A smart mix of the Kayaker’s felt pad with the Water Trekker spiked pad resulted in the $29.99 River Master. I’m all about fishing from the rocks along the shoreline, and wading out a bit. These are ideal for that, or just walking along a jetty. Sure-footed traction keeps you upright in some of the worst conditions.
The most aggressive GripToeNite currently available. Wet traction turned up to 11. Its felt grabs slime with the aggressiveness of a divorce lawyer. And it sports extra tall stainless steel spikes, the likes of which wouldn’t look out of place on some 80’s heavy metal band’s wardrobe. With a name that harkens back to a big-toothed dinosaur, you’ll roam the waterways without fear. When you need the absolute most traction, these bad boys won’t let you down.
Initial adjustments and fit
Actual flip-flops are known for ease of ingress – just slip your foot in and go. Of course, they slide off just as easily, sometimes expectedly. Sandals have more straps and are generally more secure. FlipRocks goes all out though. I think maybe only space shuttle seats have a more secure system of straps than FlipRocks. With a three-way ankle support system sporting no less than four fastening points, your feet will be comfortably strapped in. A mix of sliding fasteners coupled with hook and loop straps allows for perfect adjustment. So they take a minute or two to set up the first time you put them on.
A hook and loop strap runs across the forefoot, and can be adjusted for a secure fit at the widest part of the foot. That strap then crosses the midfoot twice, terminating in a sliding adjuster that is simply pulled to tighten or loosen. Another hook and loop strap crosses the front of the ankle, secured to a “Y” mount with yet another hook and loop strap wrapping around the heel. I only loosen the strap in front of the ankle to remove them, so it’s not as busy as it may sound. Once on, they are solidly attached to my feet. No sliding, no blisters, no friction. The footbed provides nice arch support, and the heel rests comfortably at the concave rear, with some raised protection behind it. Note that they run true to size, which seems to be a rarity these days.
Life with FlipRocks
Although I didn’t get to put a lot of miles on the additional GripToeNite pads, I definitely gave my FlipRocks a workout. With plenty of time to kill during my lunch hour, I take a walk around our business complex. That takes me from grass to concrete and then across a rock-strewn empty dirt lot. That’s my daily mile or so, and if there were any deficiencies in comfort or fit, I’m confident they would show up during that walk.
Weekends are when my FlipRocks see their real workout. We shoot on BLM land, and setting up targets requires hiking through rocks, brush, and all the crap some folks leave behind. Yet I had no concerns about traction or protection as I stepped on broken glass, sharp rocks, and thorny plants. Things can be a little slippery when climbing around the base of the mountain that constitutes our backstop, but again, no issues with traction. I’ve found that it’s convenient to leave the Water Trekker pads in the center console of my FJ Cruiser, and just swap them when I arrive at our shooting spot. Because driving with the spikes seems awkward, and switching them out is so easy.
These are really great everyday sandals, made even better with the swappable pads. I’ve had some knee injuries, and cannot tolerate bad footwear. My knees will let me know if the soles aren’t supportive yet yielding under some weight. And I’ve experienced nothing but comfort with the FlipRocks. All the adjustability allows for a perfect and very secure fit. My only regret is that I didn’t get to thoroughly test the extra pads. High temps melted our snowpack, and all my favorite river trails have been flooded out. But for everything else, I never had a second thought about comfort or traction. I’ll be a little sad when it starts to snow, and I have to go back to shoes. Until then, I will be rocking these “Tactical sandals” daily. To learn more, and see their full line of sandals, flip-flops, and even boots, head over to the FlipRocks website.
As always, I’d like to thank the folks at FlipRocks for providing their products for my review.