Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $65 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros: Amazing! great arch support, smooth and comfortable footbed and straps, durable.
Cons: Heavy, a bit stiff/bulky.
Best Uses: Light hikes, longer walks, coffee runs, biking around town, BBQ’s, beach trips, water sports, out to lunch, stream crossing, scrambling over rocks, standing in line at the DMV.
The OluKai Ohana is our favorite flip flop tested and gets our Editor's Choice Award for its overall quality, comfort, durability, traction, style and versatility. It scored top marks for comfort, support, and performance and performed very well in every category considered. More importantly it passed the ultimate test of a flip flop: we never took it off no matter what we were doing, whether it was bike riding, short hikes, trips to the grocery store, or just lounging around. When each day's flip testing was over and we got to wear any type of footwear, we reached for the Ohanas every time.
How did they compare to others? Check out our complete Best Men's Flip Flop Review.
True, it is the heaviest of the supportive flips we tested, but it makes up for that with its smooth footbed, non-chaffing straps, and superior arch support. If you are sticking to pure water sports, go with the Chaco EcoTread Flip Flop, but for dabbling here and there in the wet, the Ohana is just fine. It’s also practically as comfortable as the Sanuk Yogi 3 Flip Flop with far more support and hence all-day possibility. It is an awesome, versatile flip for almost any occasion. The only reason not to buy this flip is the price. If you want a less expensive excellent flip flop, check out the Reef Phantoms Flip Flop.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Ohana is truly a flip flop for every occasion. It wins our Editor's Choice Award as the best overall flip flop, and performs at the top of the game in every category considered.
Comfort and Fit
There isn’t much that we don’t like about the Ohana from the standpoint of comfort and fit. Out of the box it feels broken in and literally conforms to our feet and feels great immediately. It is incredibly comfortable and super supportive for a flip flop. In addition to having a footbed that molds to your feet instantly, it is lined with something called ICEVA, making it feel like you are walking on suede. Such a welcome change from other flips! We wore the OluKai on almost every occasion and it continued to perform beautifully, feel great, and stay snug on our feet.
From the standpoint of fit we felt the Ohana's were sized very well. I wear a 12.5 and got a 12 which started out snug and stretched ever so slightly, enough to fit well and stay firmly on my feet to stay with me during quicker movement. In reviews on the web we noticed several suggestions to purchase a size larger; however we recommend you stay with your regular shoe size and allow the toe strap to work any tightness out. Unlike the Rainbow Single Layer Flip Flop the toe strap is extremely soft and will not wear a blister in your foot during the very short break-in process.
So what does it mean when a flip flop has anatomical compression-molded EVA midsole with an ICEVA drop-in footbed for personalized fit? We have no idea except that in this reviewers opinion it means you are walking on clouds. The toe strap never rubs or chaffs, the material under foot feels velvety, the strap between your toes is soft and unnoticeable, and the arch is firm and feels supportive yet not too built up to make you feel tilted forward the way you do in the Reef Fanning Flip Flop.
Stability and Versatility
So what can't we do in the Ohana's? To be completely honest there were a few things; however we can't hold it against the Ohana's that they don't perform while bouldering, sprinting, climbing, and doing yoga. What they do do is offer an excellent flip flop which stays nice and tight on your feet and offers genuine stability in any reasonable flip flop certified activity. When pushed to the limits they continue to perform, even when slacklining (although we don't recommend it) or making quick out of control turns at the grocery store. We walked miles and miles at a time in these and never felt they stopped supporting us. On the beach they were great in the sand and even stayed on in the waves. However for river kayaking or other water sport activity we do recommend checking out the Best Men's Sandal Review to pick something more appropriate for the occasion.
If we had to complain about anything it is worth mentioning that the material is not specifically ideal for wet conditions as they soak up water and become slippery where your foot connects to the shoe. Also they have been reported to catch on the toe when walking, making a few friends trip from time to time and feel a bit clumsier than they would be normally. We did not have this issue directly, and guess that it is a result of sizing the sandal on the larger side rather than on the smaller and more snug side of the size spectrum.
While we didn't have years to test this product, in the months we did have we tried to break them - we REALLY tried. In fact this author tried so hard that on one occasion he nearly broke himself, and had to consult with his boss about health insurance only to realize that he's an independent contractor. And after pushing the Ohana's to the limit in everything we could imagine doing in a flip flop and more, we looked over them with a microscope and realized they were in much better shape than we were.
The tread on the Ohana's held up extremely well and showed almost no sign of wear after months of scraping and grinding on rock and pavement. The material in general was also in impeccable shape, with only dirt making them look anything less than new. The one thing we do question, although only time will tell, is whether the thin toe may be the first thing to break or bend to a point where it is no longer supportive. This one weakness could be the demise of this otherwise excellently manufactured sandal.
We hate to defer to our friends on this one, as we have some generally weird friends, but we felt a large survey of the opinion of the outdoor climbing, hiking, slacklining and yoga community would serve to help us identify the most stylish flop flops available. In this respect the Ohana's performed only OK, with a clear preference (although not by me) for the more simple Rainbow design. However that said, I personally believe that a nice clean black or dark brown pair of Ohana's will serve its purpose on any date, coffee shop encounter, or wedding - at least here in San Diego. The OluKai's come in nine color variations, most of them dark which is great for hiding dirt. We recommend you stay strong in this category and don't let your friends push you into buying something because of its consumer appeal.
The Ohana tied with the Chaco EcoTread Flip Flop for the best in traction, which is impressive as its main competitor in this area has the word tread in its name. On a simple test where we placed flip flops on a board and slowly increased its angle until the last flop was standing, the Ohana stuck it out until the end. In another test where we put on each pair and tried to walk as high as we could on an increasingly vertical slab of granite, the Ohana's also beat out their competition. The tread is great, and the fact that your foot remains snug and tight (assuming proper fitting) inside this shoe allows you to control this energy and move it in a desirable direction.
So what are the Ohana's good for? We usually walk around our houses barefoot (and sometimes we walk around the neighborhood barefoot), but it was a welcomed change to instead essentially live in these flip flops. Aside from dog walking, grocery shopping, scooter riding, and general living we also recommend these for climbing approaches (we love to be in a flip flop that slides off and on so easily when it's time to climb), belaying, light hiking (if you want to take it that far), bird watching, spelunking (ok, maybe not spelunking), and, well mostly everything where you won't roll an ankle or get really wet. Basically choose this flip flop for everything dry that you might choose a flip flop for.
$65 is the most expensive of all the models tested, but I’d say it’s worth it if you want to invest in a solid, versatile sandal that will last. An excellent choice especially if you don't have the luxury of being a tester and only want to buy one pair that will last a long time.
An excellent, well-made, enjoyable flip flop for every occasion. The Ohana's win our Editor's Choice Award because we know that no matter how you use them you are going to be happy.
The Olukai Ohana Leather costs an extra $20 but gives you the option of wearing this as a dress sandal. We prefer the standard Ohana for everyday activities. But get the Leather Ohana if you want even more versatility. Or get both!
— Brian Blum, Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: November 26, 2013
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