Flip flops are not typically something that I give a lot of thought to. I usually get myself the cheapest pair I can find, and when they wear out (3 months or less) I toss them and repeat. My thought process behind flip-flops has changed, and it all happened by chance.
I had a Ranger buddy visiting me and he wanted to go visit 2nd Ranger Battalion. We were both shocked at all the changes that 2nd Battalion had undergone since we left the Army. All new buildings to include: barracks, work-bays, athletic facilities, and memorials. The memorials were profound for me. It’s not that we didn’t care when I was in Battalion, we were in the middle of the conflict, and there just wasn’t the time necessary to give something like that the attention that it deserved. They did an excellent job.
After we finished exploring, we decided to go visit the S5 shop. Basically, this is where you get: sweaters, hats, coins, posters, books, kids clothes, and anything even remotely associated with 2nd Ranger Battalion. Like kids in a candy store we bought everything, almost everything. When we were leaving, the NCO that had been running the shop told us to go check out Tactical Tailor’s re-opening.
Anyone who has been in the Military, (in WA State) knows what, and where Tactical Tailor is. If you can dream up a piece of gear, or a modification to that gear, they can create it. It has grown from the little sew shop that I used to frequent when I was still in the Army. Nowadays, they are not only creating innovative designs, but they have every gun accessory you could ever need. So heeding the NCO’s advice, we headed to Tactical Tailor.
When we weren’t able to park within three blocks of Tactical Tailor we realized that this might be a cooler event than the NCO had led on. Behind their main building there was a series of canopies set up what amounted to an open-air bazar. There was a beer garden, loud music, girls in bikinis, and anything/everything a barrel chested-freedom fighter could want. We began working our way through the various merchants, eventually finding the combat flip-flops shop.
What initially drew us over was a green shirt with an orange <2> in the middle. The universal symbol of 2nd Ranger Battalion (worn by the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions during WWII). It basically amounted to a bat-light. The small shop had: sarong, shemagh, hats, small bags, flip-flops, and some metal accessories (bracelets, coin wrap). As I walked around, the man running the shop came over and introduced himself as Griff. He worked through the products with me, and told me the company’s story.
[Directly from their website]
As Army Rangers with several Afghanistan tours behind them, Griff and Lee saw a country filled with hard-working, creative people who wanted jobs, not handouts. So you can imagine Griff’s frustration when he visited an Afghan factory slated for closure after coalition troops pulled out. But then he saw a worker wearing flip flops that were hand made out of the factory’s boot treads. It got Griff thinking. Why not use the established workforce to make badass flip flops and apparel right there. And so began Combat Flip Flops, a forward-leaning company that builds production facilities, and jobs, in places others fear to tread”. (combatflipflops.com)
Having been to Afghanistan (one tour), and Iraq (three tours) I could completely relate to his thoughts. It is hard to articulate, and I encourage you to watch the embedded videos above and below for a more detailed view into the company’s mission. They are making footwear from Columbia, textiles from Afghanistan, bomb jewelry from Laos, and bags from home. Everything used in product production is sourced locally, helps support the community financially, and with the help from charities (that they support), betters the lives of those most affected by conflict.
I bought the 2015 Men’s AK-47 flip flops, and the PeaceMaker Coin wrap. The flip flop’s were surprisingly sturdy. They have a combat boot rubber outsole (tread), so If you can walk on it with a boot, then you can walk on it with these flip-flops. The quality, and detail are excellent. The main construction is all leather (cow), and the design includes embossed poppies and 7.62 X 39mm casings.
The PaceMaker Coin wrap is a simple design. A coin shaped piece of metal that is finished with waxed cotton lace that can be attached in a variety of ways. For the ladies there is a bracelet fashioned of the same metal. What is incredible about these accessories is that they are cast from unexploded ordinance. They were literally parts of a bomb at one time. The website explains, “when you buy one you help fund the clearing of 3 square meters of UXO. You literally help save life and limb”.
Having used the flip-flops for some time now, I can say that they are still as good as the day I bought them. Believe it or not, there is actually a small break-in period because of the outsole, and all leather design. Once broken in, the comfort increases and I found myself using them daily. These guys come in at $70 and they are worth every penny. For each pair sold, Combat Flip Flop funds a week of secondary school for an Afghan Girl.
These guys are doing some amazing things, in some dangerous places. Their products are high-quality, and have actually made a difference in the lives of those affected by conflict. If you haven’t gone to their website, take a few moments and check it out.
“Bad for running. Worse for combat” -CFF
Below is a video of their full line by November 2015
Check out CFF here.
– Robert McCartney for LoadoutRoom.com