The Best Slippers
We recommend the $90 Haflinger AT slippers for keeping your feet warm and sweat-free when it’s cold out. After 40 hours of research and looking at 14 different slippers across two rounds of hands-on (or rather, feet-on) testing, we found the Haflingers had the best combination of comfort, warmth, support, and moisture wicking compared to top competitors. And they get better and better the more you wear them in. Made of breathable boiled wool, they’re soft but not stifling, super comfy, easy to keep clean, and, thanks to their latex hardsole, you can wear them for a quick jaunt outside to the corner store or the mailbox.
The Haflingers may not look like the soft, fluffy things you think of when you think slippers—soft, cloud-like piles of fleece, freshly shorn from a baby sheep. But we found that boiled wool is still warm, plus it’s a lot more breathable and easier to clean. Sure, in terms of pure warmth, you just can’t beat wool fleece, but for balancing warmth, sweat-wicking, and overall comfort, you want boiled wool—more specifically, you want Haflinger. If you’re sure you never want to wear them outside, you can save $20 and get the Haflinger AS, which is the same, breathable, supportive slipper, but with an exposed felt sole as opposed to a rubber-coated one.
If the Haflingers are unavailable, or if you value looks over versatility, get Glerups Model B. While the German Haflingers are the best in terms of functionality, the Danish Glerups are simply delightful. They look great on men and women, are made of super soft wool that feels like kitten fur, and have a calfskin sole for added durability. Unfortunately, the calfskin sole, while handsome, is not good for outdoor use and provides no support, which keeps them from being a top pick. But unlike the Haflingers, they are available in “shoe” and taller “boot” versions that cover your heels and ankles (partially and fully, respectively) if that’s important to you. They’re now also available with a rubber sole, but at $135, it’s a hard sell considering the Haflingers are just $90.
But if you’re a diehard fluffy-slippers fan, you should be well-served by the L.L.Bean Wicked Good Moccasins, which cost $70 (women’s, men’s). They’re made of real sheepskin shearling that’s more breathable and stays fluffier for longer compared to their closest competitors. If you’re unsure of sizing, you’ll definitely want to go up (even a full size) in order to make room for socks when necessary. We like the moccasins because they provide good all-around coverage of your whole foot while still being easy to slip on and off without your hands, but if you want more warmth, the booties (for men and women) are also a good option.
Finally, if you prefer something cheaper (though you’ll have to replace them at least annually) or if you’re a vegan, Dearfoams (for women and men) made from microsuede and EVA foam are decent for $20, but are not comparable to slippers made from natural materials. Artificial slippers in general tend to get smellier faster, breathe poorly, and are not as durable, but the Dearfoams are pretty comfortable if you’d rather not use animal products.
Table of contents
How we picked and tested
To narrow our contenders first from all slippers to our 24 finalists, then to our 12 testers, we looked at ratings and reviews from Amazon and Zappos in addition to blog articles and editorial roundups. By far the most exhaustive slipper overview can be found at Good Housekeeping. But beyond this, editorial is mostly based on style, not comfort, warmth, or sweatiness—and the latter details are what we wanted to measure most. So we had to do some work of our own.
We started with the basics: The point of a slipper is to keep your feet comfortable. That means insulation isn’t enough—a good slipper needs to be breathable too, which is why the best slippers are made from natural materials. I tested a few synthetic microfiber selections during my research for the back-to-school article, but after experiencing uniformly disappointing results, we dismissed (almost) anything with faux fur, microsuede, or microfiber. While they can be every bit as soft as their natural counterparts upon first touch, they breathe poorly in comparison and get sweaty and smelly much quicker. That said, we know that many people object to animal products of all types, so we looked into a few vegan options as well.
As far as which natural materials to look for, boiled wool and sheepskin shearling in particular are especially popular slipper materials because they excel in both breathability and warmth. They also wick moisture well and resist odors.
Boiled wool is made by shrinking knitted wool until it’s felted into a consistent toughness. This makes for a tight and dense material that is very warm, yet breathable.
Sheepskin shearling1 is made by removing both the skin and fleece of a shorn sheep, then tanning and sueding the skin with the wool still attached. It is then trimmed to a consistent height. This means the fleece is naturally attached to the leather. This is preferable to fleece slippers, which attach sheep’s wool to the outer layer—usually some kind of leather or faux suede—using a netted webbing. Fleece will have many of the same wicking powers as sheepskin, but we found that the vast majority of fleece-only slippers fluffed up the fur with synthetic fibers, which just don’t have the same breathability.
Beyond warmth and breathability, a comfortable slipper should be supportive. A little arch support goes a long way when it comes to slippers because a lot of them have none. This wasn’t easy to evaluate based off of product descriptions and spec sheets, but differences in quality were glaringly obvious once we had them on our feet. Some, like the Cabela’s slippers, were made of a hard, unbending rubber that was hard to walk on. Others, like our well-loved Minnetonka slippers, had a softer, more pliable rubber sole that bent with your feet and made walking comfortable.
Additionally, we narrowed down to pairs of slippers that are easy-on, easy-off, like clogs, mules, and moccasins. They’re easier to put on quickly when you have to run to the door or the bathroom in the middle of the night, and they do a better job of balancing ease of use with warmth. Booties with cuffs are warmer, but if your house is so cold that you need ankle coverage, you might do better to spend a bit more on heating than slippers.
So with that in mind, we set out to figure out which slippers fit our criteria. After sifting through dozens of slippers and reading user reviews, we settled on a sweet spot for pricing of around $60-$100. There’s no need to pay $110 for a pair of slippers when you can get high-quality materials and construction for less than $100. Similarly, you don’t want to go too cheap: Drop too far below $60, and you’ll get slippers lacking in support with synthetics mixed in, which can make them flimsy or hot.
We had two testers (one male, one female) try on all of the slippers in our final list. After eliminating the ones that had obvious flaws—very flimsy, quick to overheat, or terribly sized—we were left with six brands for more serious consideration: the Haflingers, the Giesswein Ammerns, the Ugg men’s Scuffs and women’s Scuffette II, the Minnetonka Mules for women and Moccasins for men, the L.L.Bean Wicked Goods, and the Acorn Ewe Collar for women and Romeo II for men.
After narrowing down the field, both testers wore each pick on both bare and sock-covered feet for at least a week—often longer, for our top picks. While doing so, we noted fit issues, whether they stayed on our feet while walking up and down stairs, how warm they were both indoors and out, whether we experienced any unusual pain or discomfort, and if they showed any signs of wear and tear.
Not much changed in the year since we first looked into slippers, and that includes our longterm test pair of Haflingers, which have held up remarkably well. In a subsequent round of testing in late fall 2014, we added Glerups into the mix upon commenter request, and checked out L.L.Bean’s updated Women’s Camp Moccasin, which forgoes the fluffy collar for a more subdued look.
In our testing, the Haflingers outshone all their competitors by being good at first and getting better over time. While the initial lack of fluffiness is a turn-off, the benefits of these boiled wool beauties ultimately made them the favorite of everyone from the cold-footed to the sweaty. They’ll keep your feet warm without causing a puddle of sweat; they fit great (go off of your Euro size or size up if you want to wear thick socks), offer supple support to keep you comfy while standing, and break in super comfortably over time; they’re simple to clean and don’t trap dirt and dust; and they have a grippy, durable sole that’s hard enough for a quick jaunt outdoors.
What sets the Haflingers apart from most slippers is that they’re made of boiled wool—also often called felted wool or just felt. We admit that it’s a far cry from the fluffy fleece the word “slippers” might call to mind, but ultimately, we found boiled wool a far superior slipper material. While fluffy fleece feels better at first touch, the boiled wool feels more comfortable when worn for extended periods of time due to its superior breathability, and stays nicer for longer thanks to its odor and dirt hiding ability. It’s also softer than it looks, especially after a little breaking in. Indeed, there’s very little downside as renowned crafter Maddy Cranley explains at MaddyCraft.com (PDF warning!), “Felt is a warm, windproof fabric that despite its matted texture remains remarkably lightweight and soft to the touch.”
I was a bit skeptical at first as to whether these slippers would be warm enough due to the lack of fleece, but these concerns dissipated early in testing. I found that I could comfortably go outside in frigid weather amidst one of NYC’s many snowstorms this winter with ten toasty toes and no cold spots. And when my landlady cranked up our radiators to an ungodly, hellish temperature, I barely sweat (and what little I did was quickly swept away—no uncomfortable lingering wetness). That’s a big departure from fleece slippers, which caused uncomfortable sweatiness in even the best ones. In these, my feet breathed easily.
While we originally tested these in the cold of winter, we’ve since had a chance to use them in summer and found them to be quite pleasant. I haven’t had any complaints in terms of heat retention or loss, and they don’t feel sweaty or clammy. On the other hand, L.L.Bean’s sheepskin slippers, despite being more breathable than other sheepskin competitors, still get uncomfortably warm in no time at all.
As far as fit goes, the Haflingers fit well out of the box and only get better over time. Due to the nature of the boiled wool they’re made from, they stretched and adjusted to fit my feet. At first there was a little squeezing to contend with, but after about a week, they’re form-fit. I can slip them on easily while blind in the middle of the night and head at a rapid clip towards the bathroom. And don’t think that just because the wool isn’t fluffy they won’t be comfortable; sure, they’re not fleece, but the insides are soft and never irritating—even against bare feet.
If you wear your slippers every time you’re home, you’ll wear them a lot, which is why it’s crucial for them to be supportive and ergonomically friendly. The Haflinger AT ranks highly in this regard thanks to its molded latex footbed, which has arch support. The Plantar Fasciitis Resource calls the Haflinger AT the best slipper with arch support for women (though they’re actually unisex). In the review, they write that the Haflingers “may not have the health industry notoriety or name brand that companies like Vionic has, but it offers plenty of support to those who have given them a ride… especially for the plantar fasciitis crowd. The insole comes fitted with a molded arch support to help adjust for proper alignment.” Basically, you’re getting a slipper that’s comparable to orthopedic slippers in terms of support, but without the dorky styling.
The good fit translates into good walking mechanics too. They don’t really flop around compared to lighter, looser-fitting scuffs (like Dearfoams), nor have they ever slipped off my feet unintentionally in a year of use. They do make a bit of noise with each step due to the rubber sole, but far less than other hard-soled slippers. That’s because the flexible latex outer sole is much softer than the thick, solid rubber soles found on more shoe-like slippers like L.L.Bean’s Wicked Good Moccasins.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $67.
We don’t necessarily recommend wearing slippers outside (such a good way to track in dirt) but the Haflinger’s waterproof soles mean that you don’t have to trade shoes just to get the paper. But if you don’t foresee a need for waterproof latex soles, you can save $20 by getting the $70 Haflinger AS. These have many of the same benefits as the AT, including a supportive, molded insole, but the uncoated felt sole can’t be taken outside.
The boiled-wool Haflingers are also easier to clean compared to fluffier competition. Unlike fluffy slippers, the Haflingers didn’t have the obnoxious problem of dirt getting trapped between fibers deep in the fleece pile (because, of course, there’s no pile to speak of).
Granted, if you’re using your inside shoes properly, your bare feet should never touch the ground—but let’s be realistic. Accidents happen. Removing dust, dirt, and liquid stains from these is miles easier than it is with piled fur. Since the exterior is also made from boiled wool, it’s simple to clean. Unlike delicate sueded sheepskin slippers, the ATs are completely machine washable, which means you can easily and deeply clean them even if disaster strikes, like cat puke or spilled ketchup. According to the Haflinger website, you should wash them in warm water with mild detergent on gentle cycle for five minutes. To dry, stuff them with newspaper overnight and air dry. You can touch up with a hair dryer to finish if need be.
Associate editor Michael Zhao bought these at our recommendation and had nothing but good things to say about them: “I was skeptical at the $90 price tag at first because I’ve never been a big slipper person—not that I haven’t had them—they tend to make my feet too sweaty. For the first time in my life, I actually prefer wearing slippers to being barefoot. They’ve quickly become one of my most-loved possessions.”
Online reviewers are also big fans. At Zappos, 77 percent of their 128 reviewers gave the Haflinger AT five stars. At Amazon, it has 4.5 stars with 191 reviews. And Angie at You Look Fab says most slippers “either stretch out, lack support, tear, make my feet perspire or feel slippery. Haflinger has found the formula that is perfect for me.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Depending on where you buy them, the ATs might cost you a pretty penny. At $90, they’re definitely on the higher end of the price scale. But we think they’re worth it—too much cheaper and you run into dealbreaker after dealbreaker.
We also found some reviewers complaining they aren’t snug enough—and it’s true, they do break in to fit your feet and have a roomy toe box to begin with. For us, that made them more comfortable, but if you want them super-duper snug, either size down or wear socks with your slippers (which isn’t a bad idea either way). Also, pick your size based on your European size if you know it because conversions can vary from store to store and company to company.
It would also be nice if Haflinger had a version that provided full foot coverage, including the heel. While we never had issues with slipping out accidentally, additional coverage would make for a warmer slipper. For now, if you want that, you should look into our runner-up pick.
The design is also nothing to write home about. While the AS model without rubber soles is available in a number of fun designs (including a number of cat-themed pairs), the more practical AT is relegated to mostly boring neutral tones and just a couple of other solid color schemes.
And finally, as previously touched upon, the boiled wool isn’t as instantly soft and comfy as sheepskin fleece. For the first couple wears, the shoes might feel a little rough against bare feet—similar to quality short pile carpeting— but we’ve found that stops quickly once you start wearing them in.
Long-term test notes
The Haflinger ATs just survived their second winter. I made good use of my ATs for warmth and for short jaunts to the mail, trash, and garden plot in the warmer months. The Haflingers remained sturdy and strong despite going through the wash several times, and I found myself preferring them over sheepskin slippers because they just get less dirty.
However, more intense daily wear might cause them to wear out a bit quicker: Another person on staff here wore a pair of them almost every day, include all day in the winter, and after five months found the insole on one of them had came out–which he says happens to all of his slippers.
Glerups were recommended to us by a reader, and after testing the Glerups Model B, we are recommending them to you (if the Haflingers are unavailable). At $95 a pair, they’re not cheap, but you can feel the quality of materials and workmanship when you take them out of the box. While the Haflingers use a very sturdy wool, Glerups opted for a softer, thicker blend. It sheds a bit in the beginning, but once it settles down, these slippers combine all the good characteristics of boiled wool with the softness of sheepskin fleece.
Overall, there are few quantifiable or technical reasons to get them over the Haflingers—they’re not as supportive or versatile—but they just make us smile in the same way a cup of perfectly prepared hot cocoa does, and that’s worth something.
Unfortunately the calfskin sole isn’t on the same level as the Haflinger in terms of support or durability—though it is completely silent on hardwood floors, which might appeal to parents of small children. Whereas the Haflingers have a separate sole and upper construction, the Glerups are more like a thick, inflexible sock with a leather patch on the bottom. That’s why the Haflingers remain our overall top pick. But if you can live with these shortcomings, your feet will love the Glerups.
The Glerups are also a good choice for people who want whole foot coverage from their slippers. We think slip-ons are better for most people because they’re easier to get in and out of, and you can always add socks for colder days. But if you’re willing to sacrifice convenience for warmth, Glerups are available in “shoe” for the same price, as well as a taller “boot” version that adds ankle coverage for $10 more.
The Glerups are now also available with a rubber sole for outdoor use, but they cost $135, which is simply too expensive. Besides, the black rubber dominates the once-playful aesthetic, which is a big part of the appeal of these slippers in the first place.
A fluffy sheepskin pick
If you’re a diehard fluffy-slippers fan, we have a pick for you: the L.L.Bean Wicked Good Moccasins, which cost $70 (women’s, men’s). There’s also a new Camp version for women that does away with the fluffy collar if you prefer a more subdued look. However, in testing, we found that it is a bit narrower in the toe than the normal, fluffy-collar moccasin, so size up if you have wider feet.
Of all the sheepskin slippers we tested, we found these were comfortable, super soft, warm, and not terribly sweaty. That’s because they are made from genuine shorn sheepskin shearling, as opposed to the fleece-lined-leather commonly found in this price range. Shearling is a 100 percent natural material whereas the fleece-lined-leather uses synthetic fibers to increase fluffiness and insulation. But the L.L.Beans also stand out when compared to other genuine shearling slippers. For example, Minnetonka is another popular shearling slipper brand, but they quickly lost their fluffiness after a week or two whereas the L.L.Beans remained fluffy throughout several weeks of testing.
It’s a trade-off between this and the Haflingers: These are indeed warmer, but that warmth comes at a price. Even though they were the least clammy of all the slippers we tried, they still weren’t nearly as breathable as the Haflingers.
So if your feet get crazy cold in the winter and you don’t tend to sweat a lot, these might be a better pick. (And if your feet get freezing, even cold to the touch, consider upgrading to L.L.Bean’s Wicked Good booties [women’s, men’s], which provide just too much overall coverage for most people, but will do an exceptional job of keeping the coldest feet warm.) But be warned: Our sweaty-footed male tester found the moccasins just barely more tolerable than the rest of the fleece slippers tested (which he uniformly disliked).
Wearing the L.L.Beans feels like a warm hug for your feet. The sheepskin shearling is soft without being over-processed—it still feels and looks like natural wool fleece, unlike, say, Uggs, which feel almost artificial. They’re comfortable, soft, and fluffy—in short, they feel just like a slipper should feel—and the fleece beats all other materials out there (including boiled wool) in terms of pure warmth.
We’ve found the best sheepskin slippers, like the L.L.Bean, manage to keep you warm while still wicking away most of the sweat. “Even though the wool felts down, there is still air space in the fiber mesh that allows for the free circulation of the air,” Rick Hege told us. Hege runs Shepherd’s Flock, which creates handcrafted sheepskin slippers, ear muffs, cat beds, and more. He compared these slippers to wool car covers, which are still comfortable and cool, even in the summer.
The L.L.Beans offer enough arch support to ensure your feet are comfortable, though not quite as much as the Haflingers. The bottoms are made of an indoor/outdoor, thick, waterproof rubber good for short outdoor excursions, and topped with a memory foam inner. That makes them super comfortable, though the thick rubber soles basically sound like outdoor shoes when walking on hardwood floors.
Like any sheepskin slippers, their suede outside requires very careful cleaning and dirt tends to get caught within the fibers (unless you’re especially cautious). The fur below your feet will get matted down over time, so don’t expect it to continue feeling quite as fluffy as it will right out of the box. And in terms of lifetime longevity, these shoes likely won’t last as long as the Haflingers: Over time, consistent usage of any sheepskin slippers will eventually cause fleece to rub off, creating holes in the fur. Luckily, user reports indicate L.L.Bean’s lifetime guarantee is as good as it sounds, and if your shoes do wear out, they’ll happily replace them.
Budget pick (and a good option for vegans)
As we mentioned earlier, $90 might be a lot to spend on a pair of slippers—although I’d argue that the Haflingers are more than worth the price. But if you really don’t want to spend much on your slippers, we recommend Dearfoams Microsuede Clog Slippers for women, which cost around $20 (and apparently you can get them in-store at Costco for $10). Their DM634 slipper is the most similar men’s option, available on Amazon (although if you’re a man with small to medium feet, we’d recommend just going with the women’s shoes). Good Housekeeping rated Dearfoam’s Quilted Clogs (all the same except for the name and outer style) highly, applauding their indoor/outdoor sole, comfort, and ease of cleaning.
They’re made of microfiber and, like many of the other artificial slippers we tested previously, they got hot and sweaty quickly—although they were among the best at maintaining breathability. They also avoided the tendencies of artificial fabrics to stretch uncomfortably over time, still holding the same shape months after first use, unlike, say, the Minnetonka Cally, which started large and just got more misshapen and uncomfortable over time.
As a general rule, we don’t think artificial fabrics are the way to go for a slipper: They tend to run hot, don’t breathe well, and get dirtier quicker (although they are easier to clean). But if you must, or you’re looking for a cheaper option, Dearfoams is a good alternative.
For a long time we thought the Minnetonka Mules for women and Moccasins for men would be our winners: They rivaled the L.L.Beans for most breathable sheepskin and were incredibly soft and comfortable. Until just three weeks into our test, when the sheepskin wore through to the suede. Sure, sheepskin will do that, but it certainly shouldn’t that quickly.
The Ugg Scuffette IIs are extraordinarily soft and comfortable, and if we were picking a slipper for women who care exclusively about comfort, they would probably be the best. But the men’s Scuffs were rife with problems: First, the dye used on the outer suede rubbed off on our male tester’s feet. Then the cuff running along the upper foot irritated and rubbed the skin, making them incredibly uncomfortable to wear.
The Acorn Ewe Collar for women and Romeo II for men fit very snugly and never loosened up to fit our feet in the time we wore them. This still might not be a dealbreaker—after all, some people really like snug slippers—except that they ranked lowest among the sheepskin slippers in terms of breathability. Each time I wore them, I was soon plodding around in a puddle of sweat. No fun.
The Giesswein Ammerns are very similar to the Haflingers, and they share many of the same benefits that boiled wool provides. But they lack the ergonomic foot support and overall feel much flimsier. For only $3 in savings, it’s not worth downgrading the footbed so drastically.
Mahabis are another felted slipper that’s been gaining a lot of buzz this year in the design and product blog world due to their clean lines and removable rubber soles that come in different colors (they’ve even won some awards). But for $80, we would expect them to be made of real boiled wool felt as opposed to the artificial polyester felt used in these slippers. This means losing out on the natural odor resistance of wool. The insulating lining does contain 30 percent wool, but considering you can get all-wool Haflingers for just $10 more, or L.L.Beans for $10 less, this is not a great value.
The Old Friend slipper we tested—the Ladies’ Scuff—had enough problems to convince me it wasn’t worth testing more. Despite my following sizing directions perfectly, it was so small that only my friend with a shoe size two smaller than mine could fit comfortably inside. In addition, the sheepskin quickly wore down and wasn’t nearly as soft or as comfortable as the L.L.Beans’—which makes sense, considering its low price, which indicates that some artificial fibers are threaded in somewhere.
The Sorel Nakiska slippers have quite the fan base, with a 4.6-star rating on Amazon with 381 reviews. We tested those alongside the equally beloved men’s Falcon Ridge slippers, and found their wool-acrylic blend lining too sweaty and stifling. For the price, they’re decently comfortable, but compared side-to-side with the L.L.Beans, there’s no competition. Plus, user reports of these shoes quickly falling apart make them a no-go.
Wrapping it up
The absolute best slippers for almost everyone—especially the sweaty-footed everyone—are the Haflinger AT slippers, which cost $90 at Amazon. They’re warm enough for winter, breathable for summer, soft and comfortable, and wearable indoors or out. If they’re sold out, or if you prefer a softer fabric and sole, check out Glerups—these are warm but still breathable and nearly silent when walking indoors, but they’re not supportive, nor can they be worn outside. If you really want something fluffy, or your feet run cold, look towards L.L.Bean’s Wicked Good Moccasins (women’s, men’s), which were more breathable than any other sheepskin slipper. And for a budget pick (or if you don’t want any animal products in your slippers), the Dearfoams clog slippers are your best bet.
Originally published: January 6, 2015