The OluKai Paniolo is an elegant flip-flop with saddle-inspired stitching covering the footbed. It's a head-turner and can easily be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. Despite the expensive leather, this shoe (like the other OluKai options in our test suite) handles water with ease, the footbed drying amazingly quickly. While it took some time to get used to the hand-sewn toe post, the break-in period for this beauty was minimal. The Paniolo is indeed an investment, but it only looks better with age and should have no problem lasting the right person for many years.For other highly stylish options that are a little more comfortable and supportive, both our Editor's Choice Birkenstock Gizeh and our Top Pick for Stylish Adventures, the OluKai Lala are fantastic, albeit more expensive, choices.
Olukai Paniolo Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Beautiful colors, ages well, easy to dress up or down, great water resistance
Cons: Straps stretch out, toe post takes breaking in, expensive
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|Pros||Beautiful colors, ages well, easy to dress up or down, great water resistance||Attractive, supportive, comfortable, adjustable strap||Excellent traction, built in orthotics, very stable||Ankle strap, water resistant, durable, lightweight||Very comfortable, grippy footbed, stable|
|Cons||Straps stretch out, toe post takes breaking in, expensive||Stiff, breaking in takes time||Runs big, arch support can hurt if you're not used to it||Contouring by toes is oddly placed, ankle strap can slip||Sporty look, runs a bit big|
|Bottom Line||The gorgeously stitched model is durable, water resistant, and comfortable - a real treat for classy feet!||Stylish, comfortable, and highly supportive, it's an amazing and durable sandal that can handle all manner of activities||Highly stable with impressive traction, it even has built-in orthotics for some of the best support you can get from a flip flop||With great stability from its ankle strap, good water resistance, and decent traction, this is a must-have for the versatile summer adventurer||A superbly comfortable flip flop that handles water well and provides good support|
|Rating Categories||Olukai Paniolo||Birkenstock Gizeh||Vionic Tide II||Astral Rosa||OluKai Ohana - Women's|
|Support & Stability (20%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Olukai Paniolo||Birkenstock Gizeh||Vionic Tide II||Astral Rosa||OluKai Ohana -...|
|Sole material||Gum rubber infused with burlap||EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate)||TPR (thermoplastic rubber)||Granite Grip rubber||Non-marking rubber or gum rubber|
|Footbed material||Compression molded EVA, full-grain leather||Cork lined with suede||EVA||Dual-density EVA||Molded EVA with soft ICEVA drop-in footbed|
|Strap Material||Full-grain leather||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)||.625" -1"||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)||10.75"||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)||12.9 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||Dry footbed at 2 min, straps mostly dry in 9 min, only slight dampness in spots at 20 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||Saddle-inspired stitching on footbed||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|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For anyone who wants a beautiful summer shoe that can still handle variable terrain and weather, the Paniolo is a great one to consider. The saddle-inspired stitching on the footbed is eye-catching and also helps supply some internal traction. This flip flop dries quickly, breaks in easily, and is highly durable — a reliable option for the fashionista in all of us.
The Paniolo isn't the kind of shoe that's squishy and welcoming right from the get-go. The toe post takes some breaking in, and the footbed takes time to mold to your feet and get soft. And even then, this won't ever be a pillowy-feeling shoe like the OluKai Ohana, our Best Buy for Comfort. But for those that like a firmer footbed and can be patient with the time that leather takes to get lush, this flip will mold to your feet and heart.
Support & Stability
This isn't an overly supportive sandal, but it's decently firm and stable. We would have awarded it higher scores if the straps had been more snug instead of stretching out a bit with wear. This issue is mentioned often in other buyer reviews online, some people claiming their straps stretched so much as to render the sandal unwearable. That certainly wasn't our experience, at least in our time with the Paniolo, but the straps are noticeably looser than many other models we tested.
OluKai always impresses us in this category. High-quality materials and good craftsmanship do add up to a durable final product. Despite the intricate stitching and soft leather of this flip flop, it came out looking just fine even after all manner of rough adventures from our testing team. Though our testing process was just over a matter of months (intense though they may have been), we've seen other Paniolo models after many years of wear and the leather wears in beautifully. Our only issue is the fact that the straps seemed to stretch a bit.
This is the other category that OluKai shoes always seem to excel in. Don't let the supple leather and fancy stitching fool you; this Hawaiian-based shoe is no stranger to the water. After walking through a river on a sunny day, the footbed of the Paniolo was dry to the touch in just under two minutes. The straps took about 20 minutes to dry, and you could still feel slight moisture with weight on the shoe until around 30 minutes. This shows more water absorption and wicking than true resistance, but the entire leather shoe was still dry in an impressive time.
Traction isn't a strong suit for the Paniolo, though it is decent. When compared to some of the more outdoorsy or supportive models it doesn't quite measure up, but on its own merits, this flip did just fine and will serve you well for any urban adventure or simple trek in the outdoors. The stitching on the footbed provides a bit of additional footbed traction as well.
No surprise the Paniolo scores well here. Simple but classy and elegant, this is an easy flip to dress way up; in reading user reviews online, we found someone even bought them for her wedding. Our testers love this shoe as well and think that it would be a welcome addition to almost anyone's closet. The only model that scores higher is the Lala.
This lovely flip is best suited for more mellow excursions, from the beach to the bar to a nice dinner. It will certainly fare well camping and jaunting around in the forest as well, as we saw in our time with it. But there's no reason to use such a pricey showpiece for more serious outdoor adventures — there are better models in our review for that. This is the kind of shoe to buy so that you can dress up and still be wearing a flip flop.
This flip flop is pricey, it's true. But if you're looking for something beautiful that will retain its elegance and integrity over the years, then it might make sense. The full-grain leather and stitching wear gracefully and the footbed molds to your feet over time. The price tag on this isn't so outrageous as to not be reasonable for the right individual.
All in all, the Paniolo is a well-constructed flip flop that is easy on the eye and comfy on foot. It's pricey but handles water well, feels stable, and is quite durable. This is a special flip flop that will surely dress up your summer wardrobe.
— Penney Garrett