The Ultimate Shower Shoe Round-Up

Shower shoes… the all important item  for any backpacker planning on staying in hostels and using communal showers. They protect your feet from the inevitable gross-ness that resides at the bottom of those showers. Certainly not the most exciting item needed for travel, but a necessity.

Before we departed on our journey I was in need of some new ones. In the past I’ve made do with your run-of-the-mill flip flops, but I knew there had to be a better option out there. So I searched. Below are seven pairs I came across that, on paper, met different criteria I had in mind.

Creative Commons LicenseWhat I was looking for.

Because we would be traveling carry-on only, I needed a shoe that would be attractive enough to be dual-purpose, or compact-able to a point where the space it took up was so minimal it didn’t matter that they would only be used while showering. The best would be a pair that fulfilled both of these criteria. I tried and tested each pair and rated them based on the following categories:

Quality: gaging the sturdiness of the product, will it hold up over many months of long-term travel?

Appearance: can they be taken from shower to sightseeing without a second thought?

Compact-ability: for top marks they need to be lightweight and take up as little space as possible, obviously

Comfort: do you want to walk around in these all day?

Traction: will they keep you from falling on your ass in the shower? A fate far worse than simply standing in your fellow dorm mates shower filth

Quick drying: self-explanatory, because no one wants wet shoes in their pack

While searching for contenders, my main criteria beyond “cute, compact shower shoe” was price – I was able to get all pairs of shoes listed below for under $30. Now, here’s the break down. Each shoe is rated in each category on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being very poor and 5 being the best.

EZ Flops

$4.99 on Amazon

Quality – 1

Appearance – 1

Compact-ability – 4

Comfort – 1

Traction – 2

Quick Drying – 3

Overall Score – 2

I was excited about these flip flops. They’re cheap, supposedly recyclable, and have an interesting puzzle piece folding design. Unfortunately these did not live up to my expectations. To begin with, they were too small. I hate when companies try to save money by merging two shoe sizes. In what world does that actually work? I am a hard 10, so I ordered a 9/10. As I said, they were too small.

The thong between my toes pinched and was uncomfortable, which may have to do with the sizing issue. Furthermore, they did not stay connected at the break, so they were difficult to walk in. The puzzle piece closure separated with every step I took, whether that is a design flaw in all of them or if that is a consequence of wearing too small a size, I do not know. The straps are a synthetic material and absorb water, but dry overnight.

Flipsters

$9.95 on Amazon

Quality – 3

Appearance – 4

Compactibility – 5

Comfort – 5

Traction – 5

Quick Drying – 4

Overall Score: 4.3

These totally lived up to my expectations. They stayed on my feet great and have a gel cushioned heel strap so they were comfy. Each flop has two creases in a diagonal pattern and fold to fit into a tear drop pouch included with every pair.

My only concern was the fabric of the straps – they absorb water and took about an afternoon to dry out.

Havaianas

$19.99 on Amazon

Quality –  5

Appearance – 5

Compactibility – 1

Comfort – NA

Traction – NA

Quick Drying – 5

Overall Score: NA

I was surprised at the size and inflexibility of these when they arrived. They are super high quality and look fantastic, but I didn’t even test these out based solely on the fact that they would take up too much space in packing. They are completely inflexible and that is not what I was after. I have always heard such high praise for Havaianas but had never owned any, so I wanted to include a pair in my search. I picked the wrong pair. 

Ipanema Cleo Gladiator Sandal

$27.24 on Amazon

Quality – 5

Appearance – 5

Compactibility – 2

Comfort – 5

Traction – 5

Quick Drying – 5

Overall Score: 4.5

These are first and foremost an adorable daily sandal. They just happen to work as shower shoes as well. They don’t have a built in design for making them compact, but they are fairly flexible and fit into tight spaces easily. Bonus, they dry out in no time because the entire shoe is made of rubber. 

Salvatos

$16.99 to $19.99 from Salvatos website.

Quality – 5

Appearance – 4

Compatibility – 5

Comfort – 5

Traction – 5

Quick Drying – 5

Overall Score: 4.8

These were a total surprise. Scouring the web for foldable flip flops brought me to two small businesses with basically had the same product. This was the first of them, and I wasn’t expecting much. I wanted options, so I ordered a pair. They were delivered late, and I had to follow up two times in order to get them shipped, but I am glad I did. They are good quality, come in lots of colors, are comfortable and fit into a cool silicon pouch. 

Fold Flops

$20.00 from Fold Flops website.

Quality – 4

Appearance – 3

Compatibility – 3

Comfort – 3

Traction – 3

Quick Drying – 5

Overall Score: 3.5

These fell a bit flat. They are basically the same concept as the Salvatos, but the heel is much thicker and the shoe is all around a bit bulkier. They do fold in half, but they are stiff and folding it doesn’t seem like it would impact packing all that significantly over a standard flop. And personally, the color, which was supposed to be champagne, is more of a taupe/brown – not very appealing. Not a bad shoe, but if you are looking specifically for a flip flop that packs up small and is dual purpose, I would ditch these for the Salvatos. UPDATE: It appears that this company is no longer in business… go figure.

Xero Shoes

$24.95 from Xero Shoes website.

Quality – 4

Appearance – 4

Compatibility – 5

Comfort – 5

Traction – 5

Quick Drying – 4

Overall Score: 4.5

These shoes were a fun addition to the challenge. They are marketed towards barefoot runners, but they work great as lightweight shower shoes. They don’t have a predetermined method of compaction, like the perforated flip flop options listed above, but the sole is so flexible and thin that it rolls up or bends to be just as efficient. To get a better price, you can order a DIY shoe kit, which I had never come across before. It saved a few dollars and was kind of fun.

The soles come in a range of colors and the laces even more so, and finally, there are endless tying options for the laces – so you can really make your own shoe here. They’re great quality, as they are made for long range runners, and they look pretty cute when out and about. My only qualm is that the nylon laces absorb water, so they take a little extra time to dry – but not much. They take up the least amount of space of all the pairs I tried out.

And there it is, the ultimate shower shoe roundup.

Despite Salvatos getting the highest overall score, they would have to be my 3rd choice in reality, strictly because I don’t like wearing flip flops outside of beach towns or nail salons. If staying in warm weather and traveling more in cities – for example, Europe in Summer – I would definitely take the Ipanema sandals. They look the best and are worth the extra space when considering the location and travel style. For warmer climates in less fashion conscious areas, I would stick with the Xero shoes. They still look cute, take up less space and are a bit more rugged. If you know you will be spending a lot of time at the beach, then Salvatos would be my pick. If you don’t know your travel plans or know you will be going through many different climates and styles of travel, I would stick with the Xero shoes.

And there you have it.

 


 

What’s your go-to shower shoe? Did I miss one out? Let me know in the comments below.

 


 

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