There are more important things going on in the world but this summer, Re: News Head of Content Anna Harcourt needs to share her opinion that jandals are the worst shoe.

Here is just a small list of what makes jandals terrible:

  • Blisters on the side of your foot and between your toes. And then the blister fills with sand and salt water and street dirt.
  • They’re very easy to trip over while trying to walk or run during beach games.
  • No arch support so they’re horrible to walk in for longer than an hour, and the sole is so thin and flimsy you can feel hot concrete through it.

A podiatrist agrees with me

“Yes, jandals are bad for your feet,” podiatrist Rachael Harper says.

She says while they have their uses, like in showers at campsites or walking on hot sand, they’re “not something you want to wear if walking very far”.

“They offer no support for the arch or ankle, they cause your toes to grip and overwork to keep them on your feet and have very little cushioning.”

While she wouldn’t go so far as calling them the worst shoe, saying stilettos and Roman sandals were her pet hate, she said jandals “do cause their share of problems”.

You’re more likely to hurt yourself while wearing jandals than high heels, according to ACC data

New Zealanders are nearly twice as likely to hurt themselves while wearing jandals than heels, ACC data shows.

There were 4200 jandal-related injury claims made to ACC between 2018 and 2022.

Injuries involving high heels had 2500 claims, and injuries involving Crocs only had 140 claims in that period.

The end of jandals’ reign?

The Warehouse Group head buyer Marina De Wet says jandals are still the most popular summer slip-on shoe, making up a third of their sales in that category over the past year.

But close behind were clogs and slides, which have seen “a massive increase in popularity”, she said.

And sales of their ‘Recycled Frog Clogs’, a Croc-lookalike, have doubled over the last year.

What am I supposed to wear instead?

There are so many better options: pool slides, Crocs, rubber Birkenstocks.

For the last two or three years my favourite beach shoe has been a rubber Birkenstock.

They are the perfect shoe: a nice cushy sole and arch support so I can wear them on long walks.

They have thick straps over the top of the foot so they don’t fly off while running during games on the beach.

They’re made of rubber so they’re perfect for the river or garden or the gross floor of the campground shower.

They also last a really long time – I’ve worn mine nearly every day of summer for the last two or three years and they haven’t broken or worn down. Show me a jandal that can do the same!

And unlike my jandal era, when every summer I would need to spend a few weeks taping plasters over my blisters, these have never given me a single blister.

Crocs offer all the same benefits and more, as their covered front stops you from stubbing your toes, the backstrap keeps them on while floating down a river, and you can also get into fights with children about Jibbitz.

Or why not try velcro-strap Tevas, which used to make you look like a German dad in a DOC hut, but now make you look cool.

As an added bonus, all of these are in fashion – look at the feet of any stylish teenager or fashion influencer this summer and there is a 100% chance they will be wearing Crocs, Birkenstocks or pool slides.

But Anna, the good thing about jandals is they’re cheap

I hear you! A pair of jandals ranges from as low as $1.75 from Kmart, through to about $25 to $40 for well-known brands like Havaianas.

My recommended shoes are definitely expensive by comparison – I got my rubber Birkenstocks for $80 but they’re currently selling for $120, which I admit is a very high price for a jandal-alternative, and a classic Croc goes for $90.

But places like Number One Shoes, Kmart or the Warehouse sell knockoffs for anywhere from $8 to $40, so you don’t have to spend much more than you would on jandals to treat your feet to some comfort.

A jandal-lover’s defence

“I would never wear a pair of pool slides, I’m not a big fan,” says Dane Winter, sales manager for Summer Supply, who are the official distributor of Havaianas in New Zealand.

“Even prior to working for Havaianas I was anti-pool slides. I feel like it’s a trend that comes and goes.”

“It's part of being a Kiwi, you do have to push through the sensation of having rubber between your toes for a few days,” said Dane Winter, sales manager for Summer Supply, who are the official distributor of Havaianas in New Zealand.

He says he loves jandals because they’re “not pretentious. It’s comfy basic footwear”.

“Once it gets proper hot, there’s nothing much better than a jandal, just for its simplicity, it doesn’t sweat and it’s light.”

He says pool slides and other sandals make your feet sweat, but jandals don’t because of their small straps.

Jandals are “definitely a comfortable shoe”, Dane says.

“It’s part of being a Kiwi, you do have to push through the sensation of having rubber between your toes for a few days,” he says.

“Some people tell me they do get blisters but after pushing through it they never look back.”

My closing argument: I bet you hate jandals too – you just don’t know it yet

Some further points to convince you:

  • They break so easily: the little circle connecting the strap to the sole always pops out.
  • Hell to wear at a festival or fair because everyone will stand on your toes.
  • They float off your feet when you try to wear them in water.
  • You can’t wear socks under them when it gets cold at the campground. Or you get a disgusting sock-toe-wedgie like in the photo above.

Look after your feet this summer, my friends, and throw this national icon in the bin.

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