Combat Grade Flip Flops?

In all its glory.

Flip flops are a controversial subject for many shooters, in fact, I have taken a talking to in the comments section before for doing gun reviews in such. But what if I told you a combat grade sandal really does exist? Because it does, and today I’m gonna tell you why you might need it.

Reaching way back into my early military career as a Reconnaissance Marine, two pieces of footwear were universal. Green jungle boots, and Teva sandals. The Teva sandal, despite being a bit of a hippie corporation, was the gold standard for amphibious commandos of the USMC. Why you may ask? Because we spent an ungodly amount of time in the water, both the ocean and the swamp. The proper name of the school for Recon Marines is actually Amphibious Reconnaissance School (on the East Coast at least), and they mean it.

Front strap

When you spend perhaps a week plus with wet or semi-wet feet, taking your boots off only to change socks once in a while, you gotta air them dogs out. The same goes for hours and hours in the ocean. An over the horizon zodiac ride, 3-4 hours doing a landing beach survey, and back again takes its toll.

Mid strap

But, for reasons especially true to young men, you might need to fight and/or run even when you are relaxing after a mission. And if you have ever tried to do either in a Dollar Store shower shoe, you know it isn’t going to work out well. Which is the key difference in Teva Sandals, and I would assume the various knock-offs. They are designed to be both incredibly durable and stay on your feet in the worst of conditions. With some secure Velcro straps front and rear, you can do near anything a sneaker can. It might not be the most comfortable way to put a couple of miles on the asphalt at Myrtle Beach Bike Week, but it beats the pants off of barefoot.

Heel strap

War stories aside, how does this apply to you? Well, the obvious, it’s summer. Carrying a gun and being prepared for trouble shouldn’t mean you have to dress a certain way. Just like you might switch over to the Scandium J frame for the board shorts, you don’t need to wear steel toes to the beach. If things do go pear-shaped, it is still nice to have footwear that will get you out of Dodge.

Chuck Norris spin kick capable

The second applies to perhaps long-term tactical situations. If you find yourself out in the bush for a very long time, hygiene for your feet becomes a big issue. Even without the ability to bathe properly, just a little sunlight and air for your soles can work wonders for avoiding trench foot and or fungal infections. This was a big deal in OIF 1 when water was very hard to come by. If you don’t even have enough to drink, you aren’t gonna waste it washing your toes. But since we said tactical, you also can’t be laid up barefoot daydreaming. Slapping on a set of Teva’s out of your ruck is a pretty decent compromise. Not my first choice to do the Mogadishu Mile in, but far, far from my last.

Perfect for water sports

Teva, in my mind, makes the absolute best of the offroad, outdoor, SHTF good to have sandals. They are commonly found amongst not only Recon Marines, but SEALS, SF Dive teams, and of course Air Force CCT/JTAC types. I’ve attended a firefight in Teva’s, ranger panties, and armor only, which is also not exactly rare among SOF from this war. On my 4th or 5th set now, this is one I can highly recommend. If you prefer partial nudity for your toes but don’t wanna be completely lacking, TEVA is the weapon of choice.

Highly recommended combat grade flops

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Petrushka August 27, 2021, 10:00 am

    These are not flip flops. In order to flip and flop the sandal must be held only by a thong between the first two toes allowing the back part of the sandal freedom to move and flip against the sole of the foot. These are just cheap looking TEVAS. Made for decades TEVAS are stronger and more supportive than these ugly things.
    Interesting historical fact: flip flops came from Hawaii in the fifties. They were called Go Aheads because without a heel strap one’s feet would slip out when walking backwards.

  • Michael Merola August 25, 2021, 4:47 pm

    Actually, I’d be more interested to know if anyone is making a copy of the Ho Chi Minh sandals . I’ve been told they’re pretty much indestructible

  • mrpski August 25, 2021, 3:36 pm

    between both coastal and creek areas sandles beat any other kind of footwear when the feet are wet most of the time. I am old enough to remember when Tevas first came out and for most of us at the time were the sandle of choice in a variety of one style and one choice. Made life easy squeezy. For probably 20 years or more however Teva quality has gone down as aesthetics overtook utility as more and more yuppies when to Tevas. Lots of better selections out there now for us AZ river people.

  • Lee Burkins August 25, 2021, 9:51 am

    ‘Ho Chi Minh’ sandals are an impervious combat footwear used by the Viet Cong in Southeast Asia. Made with used tires and inner tube rubber this foot gear has adjustable straps and form-fits your feet after a little use. I still have a usable pair made fifty years ago.
    Sneaky Pete, 5th SFG, MACV-SOG, CCC, OneZero, ’69-’70. De Oppresso Liber
    Author of ‘Soldier’s Heart: An Inquiry of War’ (Lee Burkins)

  • NGQ3 August 25, 2021, 8:07 am

    After blowing out a pair of Tevas when launching on a Grand Canyon raft trip in 2003, I have worn Chaco sandals. I believe Chacos are more durable because the nylon straps are not glued to the sole. Instead, the straps pass between the footbed and the Vibram sole. The strap is adjustable and tightens at a single point – it also dries out very fast. The Vibram sole is durable and can be replaced (along with the straps). One pair of Chacos that I am wearing now is over 10 years old and I have returned to Chaco to replace the straps & Vibram sole 2 times – the footbed has molded to my foot over these 10+ years and is extremely comfortable.

  • Mont Schroeder August 24, 2021, 12:01 am

    You’ll keep your feet from letting jungle rot set in, but they wont keep the leeches out!
    Touching your toes with a burning cigarette to get the leeches to release, is not a good thought either……………………….!

  • Green tip August 23, 2021, 12:55 pm

    I’ve recently gotten a new set of sandals..Tevas. I really like ‘em BUT I was after more “Crocs’…a specific style they were dumb enough to get rid of I suppose. Cabela’s DID have them..not anymore. Anyway, I NEED the “gel”-type sole/support for my back and these Tevas do a decent job..BUT STILL not Crocs. They’re fairly rugged, especially the soles and the straps across the arch are fine. How ‘long’ will they last? Probably not but a couple years I suppose..hopefully @ LEAST 2 summers. We’ll see. The great thing is they were only about $50 bucks so there’s THAT..

  • Nobiden August 23, 2021, 12:37 pm

    Too many fire ants in my turf for sandals, got to stay with socks and shoes!

  • Tim August 23, 2021, 12:10 pm

    I read the title and thought you have to be kidding me, pimping flip flops. After reading the article with great bias. I began wondering if something like this could have helped me from countless bouts of fungus infections and trench foot. I was plagued with infections even after I got out. I now see the author’s point.

  • Steve G August 23, 2021, 12:06 pm

    …that….which may not be unseen…. Thanks Clay. No really.

  • Mauser6863 August 23, 2021, 10:43 am

    Nice Shoes – Do they come in a Men’s Style. Perhaps they are an appropriate match for your pajamas?

  • Kurt Rominger August 23, 2021, 10:16 am

    You have hammer toes from combat boots.

  • YankeeDespot August 23, 2021, 9:36 am

    I have a 25 year old pair of Tevas (never worn in combat, natch) that are very worn and oft repaired. I was looking at replacements, and the new ones, as modeled by Sexy Clay, don’t have the padding under the toe and mid straps. That’s where the blisters get yah. It doesn’t look like they make a pair of nylon strap ones with the padding now.
    I’ve also read lots of reviews that the quality has gone way done, so maybe I’ll try Keens.
    But as long as I have access to a Shoe Goo and inner tubes, I’ll keep my 1990s Tevas rockin’.

  • Randy Rowley August 23, 2021, 9:35 am

    Teva and Keen make great sandals, except if you have a wide foot you won’t be able to get your foot in them, and they don’t make a version for wide feet. I tried on every pair of Keen’s that Bass Pro Shop had and they were all too tight. I ordered a pair of Teva’s and had to send them back last week. I ordered a pair of Nunn Bush and they fit great!

  • AguynamedJoe August 23, 2021, 7:28 am

    I’ve had a pair of very similar ones, in leather, with velcro, in brown for decades. They’re very comfortable, are still in great shape, and I wear them from Spring to when Fall starts getting chilly. I like these, but the multi-colors are (to me at least) not appealing.

    • MikeJ. August 25, 2021, 12:40 pm

      Leather gets very slippery when wet. I could also do without the fashionable colors. Don’t know why I’m always looking at footwear since I lost both feet. It used to be so important I guess.

  • Scott B August 23, 2021, 7:03 am

    I’d have to disagree here. Tevas are great for kicking around in the man cave but for serious amphibious field use in steep terrain, I find them lacking. Once they get wet (for instance a river crossing) and then you try to navigate steep terrain, my feet slide around in the footbed and want to hang off the side..very uncomfortable and distracting. The strap system is inadequate for keeping the feet in place. Also, they lack support and cushioning (the Shoc-Pad equipped models are the best for a big man). Try Chacos instead… thick, rugged bottoms combined with a strap system that slides around your foot like a constrictor and holds your foot in place. Get the ones with a loop that goes around the big toe. They are the only ones I trust on a hike. Not as comfortable as the Tevas but superior for rugged field use. My .02

    • clay martin August 23, 2021, 7:23 am

      its a sacrifice, but I’ll grab a set. for science.

  • Michael August 23, 2021, 5:21 am

    If you really like those Tevas for said reasons and potenial; you’ll love these:
    KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal.
    In my opinion and experience, far superior to the Tevas. YMMV.

    • clay martin August 23, 2021, 7:23 am

      that is two votes for KEEN. I’ll grab some and give em a shot

  • jimbo August 23, 2021, 1:14 am

    I’m partial to Keens. I’ve got f’ed up ‘Land of the Lost” Sleestack toes so I need cover for my digits. And the open toe style grabs the ground on occasion. Keens hold up but they do get pretty funky. YMMV

  • Matt Kartozian August 22, 2021, 5:43 pm

    Yes! Pants and shoes are stupid!

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