Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $63 - $65 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Amazing arch support, Classic styling, Grippy footbed
Cons: Expensive, Toe post can cause agitation
Best Uses: All-around warm weather wear – from beach to light hiking
Whether you are someone who literally lives in flip-flops, or you only bust them out on summer weekends, the OluKai Ohana women's sandal will change the way you think about warm weather footwear forever. This ultra comfortable and supportive product easily won our Editors' Choice Award. From the instant we tried on the Ohanas, they became the first sandals we reached for day in and day out. Although they are the most expensive product in our review, once you try them on, you may find yourself asking why you ever even considered paying *less* than $65 for a pair of flip-flops (and this comes from some very thrifty women!).
The OluKai Ohana is comprised solely of synthetic products and has a classic look that is casual enough to pair with shorts and a tank, or attractive enough to dress up with a casual sundress. OluKai designed this sandal with a molded midsole and footbed that provides excellent arch support and has a cushy inset ICEVA lining that is sure to make you feel pampered. The sole has great traction and the materials dry quickly. Need we say more? Read on to see just how our Editors' Choice winner stood up to its competitors in each of our metrics.
Not quite in the market for a $65 pair of sandals? Consider the our Best Buy Award winner, the Teva Women's Mush II. This $25 piece still offers a fair bit of support and plenty of comfort.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the women's OluKai Ohana, excelled in almost all our metrics. Of all the products in our review, this piece is far and away the most supportive, and offers such great arch support that we could confidently hike in it. Although not quite as cushy as the Sanuk Yoga Mat - Women's, the Ohana still earned top marks in comfort thanks to its plush footbed.
Stability & Support
If we could only say one thing praising the women's OluKai Ohana it would be that this sandal provides incredible support and stability for a flip-flop. Most of our testers found that the anatomically contoured midsole offered just the right amount of arch support. Honestly, when we slipped the Ohana on for the first time, it was like we'd died and gone to foot support heaven. We'll talk more about the footbed as we move into the comfort section, but the grippiness of the ICEVA inset footbed also helps keep the foot in place; this makes the flip-flop's curves more comfortable and increases the overall stability.
Additionally, the sole is stiffer and heavier than many of the other models we tested (but not as stiff as the Reef Women's Fanning or the Chaco Flip - Women's). While walking over rough and rocky terrain, we noticed that the Ohana kept its shape and continued to provide support where other sandals would have literally folded under the pressure. We liked that this product offered some flexibility in the forefoot, but provided more stability toward the heel. To put the OluKai Ohana to the ultimate flip-flop test, we hiked several miles uphill on a rocky trail, and were psyched to find that this sandal kept our feet happy the whole time. The only other product we tested capable of this feat is the Chaco Flip, which has even more arch support.
If you're looking for stability, but don't want or need a lot of arch support, be sure to consider our Top Pick Award winner, the Reef Fanning.
The OluKai Ohana has a pretty high level of "Ahhhh" effect when you first put it on. Although this is due in large part to the incredible support you instantly feel, it's also thanks to the cushy inset ICEVA footbed. This liner somehow manages to be both grippy and soft at the same time. It simultaneously absorbs shock and helps keep the foot in place, so you can enjoy that luscious arch support without slipping around. The other miraculous thing that we noticed about the OluKai Ohana was that even in super dusty/sandy environments, very little grit and grime got up in between our toes thanks to the slightly upturned front edge. This sandal's synthetic nubuck leather straps are wide enough that they don't dig into the foot, and they have a bit of padding underneath for added comfort.
The one negative comment we must make about the Ohana's comfort is related to the toe post. Initially, the thong between the first and second toes caused a lot of agitation for one of our testers. We think that this is primarily due to a slight sizing issue (she is a 9.5 and was in a size 10), so be sure to take a quick lap around the shoe department/around the house before you purchase/take the tags off. That said, we did eventually break this piece in after an uncomfortable week or so of wear, so if you can't sacrifice on length, know that these shoes will become more comfy over time.
Are you solely seeking comfort, but aren't too concerned with stability and support? Check out the Sanuk Yoga Mat.
We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly this flip-flop dried. Other than the Havaianas Top - Women's, it was actually one of the first sandals to totally dry. The sole and footbed were dry in about 15 minutes and the synthetic leather straps took about an hour and 20 minutes, which is impressive given their slight padding. Moreover, when we walked around in this sandal while it was wet, the grippy footbed acted like a suction cup. Instead of becoming more slippery, the Ohana actually sticks to the foot even better when wet.
As it does in most of our metrics, the OluKai Ohana also excels in traction. Made of gum rubber, its sole allowed us to scramble over rocks and across narrow, wet creek bridges without a second thought. The treads aren't as deep as those on the Nike Comfort Thong for example, but it turns out that the sole is so grippy that it doesn't really even matter.
Throughout our testing process, we also started to notice how different the Ohana is in terms of its footbed traction. While many other products in this review allow the heel to slip off the shoe, this sandal's grippy footbed helps keep the foot in place. Additionally, the Ohana has a slightly upturned lip around the edge of the footbed. This not only protects the toe, but also helps prevent sand and dirt from getting into the footbed and making it more slippery. As soon as models like the Sanuk Yoga Spree 2, get a little bit of dust on the smooth yoga mat footbed, it's game-over for footbed traction. With the Ohana, the grippy ICEVA material will keep your foot in place even when dirt does get into its footbed.
Style & Fit
We really love the understated style that the OluKai Ohana brings to the table. This simple, classic thong-style flip-flop pairs nicely with casual sundresses and denim shorts, alike. Its synthetic nubuck leather straps have high quality stitching that didn't get damaged during our tests, plus some versions have straps that feature darker and lighter color combinations, rather than the monochromatic version that we tested. It may not have the more feminine look of competitors like the Keen Florence Flip, but overall, we think that the Ohana is a timeless sandal that will work for consumers of all ages.
We measured all the products in our review and were surprised to find that the size 10 Ohana was one of the longest sandals (but not quite as long at the Crocs Capri IV). We think this is largely due to the subtle upturned lip around the edge of the sandal, because the Ohana just didn't feel oversized. That said, when our size 9.5 tester tried on a size 9, the length did work for her. As we mentioned above in the comfort metric, we experienced a bit of discomfort with the toe post on the larger size, so if you're a half size, we recommend sizing down so that you can benefit from slightly more narrow straps and hopefully not have to break in the toe post. Additionally, the Ohana is on the narrower end of the spectrum. In fact, it is very similar in shape to the slim profile Sanuk Yoga Spree 2, except that the Ohana has a slightly wider toe box, so it still works for wearers with longer toes.
Honestly, we can't think of too many flip-flop scenarios where we wouldn't want to be wearing the OluKai Ohana. This sandal really does it all (for a sandal, that is) from wet beach wear to dusty trails, believe us when we say that this sandal will make you want to go open-toed 24/7.
Although this piece was one of the most expensive in our review (the Chaco Flip is right up there too at $65), we think that the price tag is absolutely worth it. After spending about five minutes in these flip-flops and then spending about five seconds thinking about how long we've spent abusing our arches in cheapo sandals, we were sold on this high-end flip-flop. If you want your arches to love you all summer long, shell out the big bucks for the OluKai Ohana.
On the other hand, we think that the heavy-duty Chaco Flip would probably out-live the Ohana by a season or two, so if durability is a major concern, you may want to consider this other high-end sandal.
Our Editors' Choice Award winner excels across all our metrics, which isn't always the case in our reviews. Even when choosing a top-performing product, you may still have to sacrifice on one feature or another; not so with the OluKai Ohana. This sandal literally has it all – from support, stability, and traction to comfort, water resistance, and style. Although it's quite expensive, we truly believe that the Ohana is worth the investment and we think that once you try it on, you'll feel the same way.
The OluKai Women's Ohana Wedge, $85, is a synthetic leather wedge.
The Ohana also comes in a few different men's versions:
OluKai Ohana Sandal, $65.
Olukai Ohana Leather, $90.
Olukai Ohana Lace up, $130.
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: March 16, 2014
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