Reviews You Can Rely On

Olukai Paniolo Review

This is a beautifully designed flip flop that handles water amazingly well and will always keep you looking stylish
Olukai Paniolo
Photo: Backcountry
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $85 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Beautiful colors, ages well, easy to dress up or down, great water resistance
Cons:  Straps stretch out, toe post takes breaking in, pricey
Manufacturer:   Olukai
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 11, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Support - 20% 6
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Style - 15% 9

Our Verdict

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 still minimal. It is indeed an investment, but the Paniolo only looks better with age and should have no problem lasting the right person for many, many years.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Olukai Paniolo
This Product
Olukai Paniolo
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$100 List$44.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
68
84
81
80
75
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Beautiful colors, ages well, easy to dress up or down, great water resistanceAttractive, supportive, comfortable, adjustable strapVery comfortable, grippy footbed, stableFashionable, comfortable, supportive, impressive tractionComfortable, no break-in period, affordable, waterproof
Cons Straps stretch out, toe post takes breaking in, priceyStiff, breaking in takes time, expensiveSporty look, runs a bit bigNot waterproof, tight toe loop, expensiveMaterial doesn't breathe, less durable
Bottom Line This is a beautifully designed flip flop that handles water amazingly well and will always keep you looking stylishA beautifully unique sandal that provides amazing support and personalized comfort by molding to your feet over timeA durable flip flop that feels amazing, offers good support, and handles water like a proThis supportive flip flop offers extreme comfort, decent traction, and looks great with a dressA lightweight and affordable version of the leather original, this flip is fun and functional
Rating Categories Olukai Paniolo Birkenstock Gizeh OluKai Ohana - Women's Merrell Juno Wrap Birkenstock Gizeh E...
Comfort (30%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
Support (20%)
6.0
10.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Traction (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Style (15%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Specs Olukai Paniolo Birkenstock Gizeh OluKai Ohana - Women's Merrell Juno Wrap Birkenstock Gizeh E...
Sole Material Gum rubber infused with burlap EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) Non-marking rubber or gum rubber Rubber EVA
Footbed Material Compression molded EVA, full-grain leather Cork lined with suede Molded EVA with soft ICEVA drop-in footbed EVA EVA
Strap Material Full-grain leather Birko-flor (PVC) lined with fleece Water-resistant synthetic nubuck leather lined with quick-drying jersey knit Leather EVA
Weight (per pair) 12.9 oz (size 9) 13.5 oz (size 39) 13.7 oz (size 9) 18 oz (size 8) 6.5 oz (size 40)
Length 10.75" (size 9) 10.625" (size 39) 10.75" (size 9) 10" (size 8) 11" (size 40)
Length of Toe Box (just above toe post) 1.75" 1.50" 1.75" 1.50" 1.375" (size 40)
Unique Features Saddle-inspired stitching on footbed Adjustable strap, contoured footbed that molds to feet ICEVA (soft EVA) drop-in footbed Toe Strap Adjustable straps
Animal Products? Yes Yes No Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Anyone who wants a beautiful summer shoe that can still handle variable terrain and weather should consider the Paniolo. 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.

Performance Comparison


Who doesn't love a gorgeous summer shoe that will get better-looking...
Who doesn't love a gorgeous summer shoe that will get better-looking and more comfortable the longer you wear it? The Paniolo is an impressive leather flip with artful detailing.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Comfort


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. 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.

While not as plush as other flips in our review, the Paniolo is...
While not as plush as other flips in our review, the Paniolo is still comfortable and gets more welcoming the longer you wear it.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Support


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 by other users online, some people claiming their straps stretched so much as to render the sandal unwearable. That certainly wasn't our experience, but the straps are noticeably looser than many other models we tested.

While the Paniolo provides decent support and stability, it isn't...
While the Paniolo provides decent support and stability, it isn't overly impressive.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Traction


Traction isn't a strong suit for the Paniolo, though it is decent. When compared to some of the more outdoorsy or supportive models in our review, 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 internal traction as well.

Even the sole of this shoe is attractive. It isn't the stickiest...
Even the sole of this shoe is attractive. It isn't the stickiest, but in most situations, it's perfectly adequate.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Versatility


It's easy to look at the Paniolo and think it's a just good-looking sandal without much more to offer, but that's not the case. Don't let the supple leather and fancy stitching fool you; this Hawaiian-based shoe can hold its own around water or rough terrain. We walked through barren New Mexican desert and straight into chilly Colorado streams, and it always came out unscathed. The durability and craftsmanship are highly impressive, and the thick leather becomes more attractive with age. We've worn the Paniolo for years now, and every part of it wears in beautifully. That said, while it's nice to know this shoe can handle whatever you might get into, it's just too lovely and too expensive to buy solely for adventuring. It's definitely more at home paired with a dress in the city, but you can rest assured that if your day takes a turn onto a trail or into some puddles that this flip flop can handle it.

After walking in a cold Colorado river, the Paniolo's footbed was...
After walking in a cold Colorado river, the Paniolo's footbed was dry to the touch in under 2 minutes.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Style


No surprise the Paniolo scores well here. Simple yet 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.

Classically beautiful and well-made, the Paniolo has an easy...
Classically beautiful and well-made, the Paniolo has an easy elegance that's a wonderful addition to any wardrobe.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Value


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.

Conclusion


All in all, the OluKai 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 and be ready for almost anything, year after year.

The Paniolo will keep you looking good wherever you may wander.
The Paniolo will keep you looking good wherever you may wander.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Penney Garrett