Fanning-02 Sandals by Reef

An airbag integrated into the sole of these flip-flops provides the ultimate in comfort. "Gear Up" from our August 20, 2009, /SW eNewsletter/

If you spend time standing around regatta parking lots, you owe yourself a pair of Reef's Fanning-02 flip-flops, which feature an airbag sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole.

If you spend time standing around regatta parking lots, you owe yourself a pair of Reef's Fanning-02 flip-flops, which feature an airbag sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole.Courtesy Reef

Some people associate sailboat racing with wind, water, and excitement; I associate it with standing around in parking lots.

It seems the more regattas I attend, the more time I spend loitering on the blacktop that seems to surround every yacht club and pave every boat park in the land. I've forged many fond memories in regatta parking lots, but all that time hitting the pavement in flimsy flip-flops has made my feet hurt.

This summer, I embarked on a quest to find the world's most comfortable flip-flop, and my search directed me to Reef's Fanning-02. A custom airbag sandwiched between a compression molded EVA midsole and a durable rubber outsole makes the Fanning-02 the Cadillac of sandals-albeit, the 1982 Cadillac Seville of sandals, for what it lacks in good looks it makes up for in smooth-riding comfort.

While the airbag provides superior cushion for extended parking-lot standing, it also makes the Fanning-02 look a little clunky. In defense of the Reef designers, though, how are you supposed to conceal a half-inch thick airbag inside the sole of a flip-flop? I, for one, am perfectly willing to trade style for comfort, as is the sandal's namesake, world-champion surfer Mick Fanning, who is-I think we can all agree on this-way cooler than me.

I chose the black/grey color scheme, the most subtle option, but if you're going to wear air flip-flops, you might as well go all out and sport the black/turquoise variation. The Fanning-02 also includes a synthetic leather upper and Reef's signature gimmick, a church key embedded into the sole.

My wife made a deal with me: I can wear the Fanning-02s in public, but I may never open her beer with my flip-flop. Done.