The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

OluKai Lala Review

The Lala is a beautiful and durable sandal that feels luxurious and is easy to break in.
Olukai Lala
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $110 List | $109.90 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable, well-made, attractive
Cons:  Expensive, narrow
Manufacturer:   Olukai
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2018
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support & Stability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Style - 10% 10

Our Verdict

In our months with the OluKai Lala it never ceased to impress, all the while keeping us at the height of fashion. Because this flip performed so well across all our rating metrics and was also the style favorite of all our tested models, we awarded it a Top Pick for Stylish Adventures. We felt comfortable, stable, and confident on slick terrain and the shoe was barely worse for wear despite our rigorous testing. Initially, we were worried about taking such a lovely sandal and dousing it with water, but even then the Lala rose to the top, repelling water and drying incredibly fast.

The shoe is an investment (it was the most expensive in our review), and it also runs quite small and narrow — so plan to size up if you're in between sizes. If you have a wider foot, maybe look to our Editors' Choice, the Birkenstock Gizeh, or our other roomier OluKai models, the Paniolo and the Ohana.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Olukai Lala
This Product
OluKai Lala
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $109.90 at Amazon$60.10 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$64.80 at Amazon$74.95 at Amazon$63.94 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable, well-made, attractiveAttractive, supportive, comfortable, adjustable strapExcellent traction, built in orthotics, very stableAnkle strap, water resistant, durable, lightweightComfortable, grippy footbed, stable
Cons Expensive, narrowStiff, breaking in takes timeRuns big, arch support can hurtContouring by toes is oddly placed, ankle strap can slipSportier look, runs a bit big
Bottom Line The Lala is a beautiful and durable sandal that feels luxurious and is easy to break in.The Gizeh is a beautifully unique sandal that provides amazing support and, after breaking in, some of the most personalized comfort a shoe can offer.The Tide II is a seriously impressive flip-flop with pronounced arch support and excellent traction.The Rosa is a fantastic choice for anyone that loves both flip-flops and sandals and wants everything together in one shoe.If you're looking for a durable flip-flop that feels amazing, the Ohana is an all-around great shoe to own.
Rating Categories OluKai Lala Birkenstock Gizeh Vionic Tide II Astral Rosa OluKai Ohana - Women's
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
10
Support & Stability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Durability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Style (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs OluKai Lala Birkenstock Gizeh Vionic Tide II Astral Rosa OluKai Ohana -...
Sole material Non-marking molded rubber with traction pods EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) TPR (thermoplastic rubber) Granite Grip rubber Non-marking rubber or gum rubber
Footbed material Molded polyurethane wrapped in full-grain leather Cork lined with suede EVA Dual-density EVA Molded EVA with soft ICEVA drop-in footbed
Strap Material Full-grain leather with microfiber lining Birko-flor (PVC) lined with fleece Woven textile fabric and leather with foam lining Cushioned synthetic leather with knit liner, ankle strap: polyester webbing Water-resistant synthetic nubuck leather lined with quick-drying jersey knit
Width of Strap (inches) 1.5" at side of foot, 3.5" vertically from top of foot to toe post Varied: .75"-2" across top of foot, vertical strap starts at .75" and finishes at 1.5" over toe post 1" Main: .625"-1", add-on webbing strap: .5" 1"
Length of size 9 (inches) 10.375" 10.625" (size 39) 10.25" (size 8) 10.5" 10.75"
Length of toe box (just above toe post) (inches) 1.75" 1.25" 2" (size 8) 1.75" 1.75"
Weight (pair) (ounces) 14.3 oz 13.5 oz 12.8 oz (size 8) 12.7 oz (11.8 oz w/o ankle straps) 13.7 oz
Dry time after being fully submerged Footbed 4 min, straps 25 min Damp but very wearable at 26 min, underside of strap over an hour to fully dry Footbed 4 min, straps only slightly damp after 30 min Footbed dry to touch at 7 min but damp with weight until 15 min, main straps dry in 22 min, webbing straps damp but good at 30 min Feels damp but good by 11 min, fully dry in 40 min
Unique features Hand-sewn toe post for comfort Adjustable strap, contoured footbed that molds to feet Built-in orthotic Extra strap converts flip flop into a hikable sandal ICEVA (soft EVA) drop-in footbed
Animal products? Yes Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Looking for a sandal that will feel great on your feet, easily last you for years, and also turn some heads? Our Top Pick for Stylish Adventures, the Lala, has you covered on all fronts. While it has a very narrow fit and is also quite expensive, on the right foot and the right person, this is an incredibly impressive shoe.

Performance Comparison


This sandal is a solid performer across all our metrics  all while feeling great and looking even better.
This sandal is a solid performer across all our metrics, all while feeling great and looking even better.

Comfort


The molded polyurethane footbed of the Lala is wrapped in full-grain leather, giving it a slick and smooth finish that feels nice underfoot. The wide, supple straps are also full-grain leather with a microfiber lining and, while slightly stiff at first, they soften and break in quickly.


When you slip on this sandal, you can't help but notice how well constructed it is. The gracefully contoured footbed and wide straps feel both pleasant and secure, and the hand-sewn leather toe post is comfortable and easy to get used to. Unfortunately, this shoe won't be super appealing to many wide-footed fashionistas, as it runs very narrow. The footbed also runs quite small, so if you have a half size foot be sure to order up. Oddly enough this OluKai is sized quite differently than the other ones we tested: the Ohana, our favorite model for comfort, and the Paniolo, another highly stylish choice.

Despite both being a size 9  the OluKai Ohana is substantially longer and wider than the Lala.
Despite both being a size 9, the OluKai Ohana is substantially longer and wider than the Lala.

Some of our other favorite models for comfort were the super supportive Editors' Choice Birkenstock Gizeh and the cushy Base Camp Lite, our Best Buy for Sporty Adventures.

Support & Stability


The firm molded footbed, and wide straps on the Lala combine to produce a very stable and supportive shoe. While the footbed material can be a bit slick at times, and the narrowness of the design isn't ideal for anyone with wide feet, overall we found this to be a very well-conceived sandal.


This flip-flop has one of the more dense and firm footbeds, an element that added to its stability. However it's super narrow, and the edges don't curve upward very much, so there is the possibility that longer toes or wider feet will spill off the sides. Unless you have very narrow feet, this is a good one to try on in person before purchasing.

The clear winner in this category was the Birkenstock Gizeh. With features like multiple arch supports, a deep heel cup, and a raised footbed edge, we felt incredibly secure. The Astral Rosa, our Top Pick for Hiking and Scrambling, was also impressively stable due to its ankle straps, as was the Vionic Tide II with its built-in orthotic arch supports.

Both the Gizeh and the Lala are stable and supportive sandals  but the Gizeh with its upturned edges and broader footbed scores much higher in this category than the overly narrow Lala.
Both the Gizeh and the Lala are stable and supportive sandals, but the Gizeh with its upturned edges and broader footbed scores much higher in this category than the overly narrow Lala.

Durability


OluKai knows how to construct a durable shoe and this one is no exception. Despite putting this beautiful sandal through mud pits and cold rivers, it still looked great at the end of our testing period. The shiny footbed got a bit scuffed up by the toes, and the leather straps darkened and softened after being wet, but that only made them feel softer and more broken in.


Both the Lala and the Gizeh are highly durable shoes that can handle a lot of use and should easily last you for years. However they are expensive enough to warrant a bit of extra care, and both are made with materials (like leather and cork) that require some additional attention to keep nice for the long haul. While some abuse short term for our testing purposes barely put a dent in these sandals, if you continued to use them in this manner they would deteriorate relatively quickly. So our scores for this metric reflect the level of durability we feel these sandals have if you take proper care of them. If you want something you can use and abuse without a care in the world, check out the bombproof rubber and webbing of the Chaco Flip EcoTread, Astral Rosa, or Vionic Tide II.

You can see a few scratches on the straps and a bit of scuffing on the toe end of the footbed after the months of abuse we put the Lala through. It goes right along with those callused climber toes!
You can see a few scratches on the straps and a bit of scuffing on the toe end of the footbed after the months of abuse we put the Lala through. It goes right along with those callused climber toes!

Water Resistance


We were initially nervous to put a shoe as nice as the Lala into a river and under a hose. But, as with every other one of our rating metrics, this sandal was up for the challenge. The smooth, molded footbed repelled and wicked away water super effectively, drying after a full soaking in just 4 minutes. The leather straps, despite their width and thickness, only took about 25 minutes to completely dry. When walking around with a wet footbed, we noticed that it was initially very slick — our foot slipped off the side once — but within only about 20 seconds the water was wicked away and we were back to being secure.


We figured that rubber models with webbing straps like the Flip EcoTread and Tide II would have much better dry times than the Lala, but this wasn't the case. The footbeds all dried in roughly the same amount of time, but the Lala's straps took about 5-7 minutes less time to dry. The model that dried the fastest was the minimal Rainbow Single Layer Premier, taking just 20 minutes for the entire shoe to dry.

Some of our top performers in the water resistance test  from L to R: the Reef Leather Uptown  Olukai's Lala and Ohana  the Rainbow Premier  and the Vionic Tide II.
Some of our top performers in the water resistance test, from L to R: the Reef Leather Uptown, Olukai's Lala and Ohana, the Rainbow Premier, and the Vionic Tide II.

Traction


Once again the Lala was poised to surprise us. It's easy to look at this sandal and write it off as just a pretty urban shoe, but don't be fooled — this sandal can hang with the big kids. While the footbed on the Lala is a bit slick, the bottom sole felt quite secure, with traction pods that provided great sticking power.


It was the Lala's impressive performance in more "outdoorsy" metrics like this one that inspired us to award it a Top Pick for Stylish Adventures. It earned this title because we were able to do it all: stick on rough terrain, walk in water, and look highly stylish all at the same time. Granted, this shoe is fancy and expensive enough that it's probably not the one to buy if you need a flip-flop solely for outdoor adventures. But what's nice about the Lala is that you can feel confident that, wherever your day takes you, you'll be comfortable and secure the whole time.

Traction pods on the sole of the Lala will help you stick to all manner of terrain with confidence.
Traction pods on the sole of the Lala will help you stick to all manner of terrain with confidence.

For a more rugged sandal that's a bit less stylish (yet still very cute!) and has a similar strap shape to the Lala, check out the Merrell Around Town. The Tide II also had impressive traction if you want a simpler shoe that's very easy to clean and maintain. And, of course, our Top Pick for Hiking and Scrambling, the Astral Rosa is a fantastically versatile choice that you can feel confident taking into any situation.

Style


And this is where the Lala took the prize, flying past all the other contenders. We polled close to 20 women and had them rate our tested flips, and this sandal was far and away the favorite.


A sleek design and unique straps elevated this shoe above all the others. It looks better and fits better on narrower feet, so that's something to keep in mind, but for narrow-footed divas, this is a clear winner. The other models that scored near the top were the Editors' Choice Gizeh, our Best Buy winner, the Teva Olowahu, and the beautifully stitched Paniolo.

The Lala is a clear crowd favorite - it's a beautiful shoe that looks great with everything from jeans to evening wear.
The Lala is a clear crowd favorite - it's a beautiful shoe that looks great with everything from jeans to evening wear.

Best Applications


While the Lala performed well in even our most rigorous outdoor tests, we still feel it's a better shoe for urban activities. It's such a nice sandal, and quite expensive, so we don't see the point in buying it to purposely beat it up. While it can handle water, dirt, and mud, it's best suited for classy city life where you want the assurance that you'll be comfortable for hours, secure on slippery sidewalks, and dry quickly if you end up in a sudden summer thunderstorm.

Value


This was the most expensive sandal in our entire test suite. The Lala retails for a whopping $110, so you'd better really love it to buy it. We do think it's worth the price, as it's an exquisitely made shoe that will likely last you for many years, but if you don't think you'll like it after more than a season or two than you should perhaps consider something more affordable.

Conclusion


We loved this sandal and found it impressive on almost every level. The durable and well-constructed footbed has a comfortable contour, and the leather straps and hand-sewn toe post are delightful feeling, especially after just a bit of breaking in. The Lala provided good traction, great water resistance, and was the most stylish model of all we tested. Unfortunately, this shoe does run quite small and narrow, so if you have wide feet it may not be a good match. It's also really expensive, so unless you super love it — which is pretty darn easy to do — then you may want to look to a bit more cost-effective model.

Super stylish  well-made  and comfortable - the Lala is a top tier sandal that  while expensive  is easy to fall in love with.
Super stylish, well-made, and comfortable - the Lala is a top tier sandal that, while expensive, is easy to fall in love with.


Penney Garrett