The Olowahu is plush and fun and just generally a great flip-flop to have on hand to pair with your summer attire. It's a sandal that will easily turn heads whether you're wearing it with shorts or a dress, all the while keeping your feet comfy and cozy. The footbed molds to your feet over time, so this little gem will only get more comfortable and personalized the longer you wear it. All in all, we feel this shoe is $25 very well spent and was a natural choice for our Best Stylish Buy on a Tight Budget designation.
Super cute and super comfy, the Olowahu was an easy flip to fall in love with, especially for the price.
The Olowahu was one of the sandals in our test group that we put on and didn't want to take off. The plush foam footbed is cozy, and it gets even better as it molds to your foot shape.
We did have some issues with the straps though, which is why we couldn't award a higher score. The textured fabric can chafe a bit, particularly when wet. The strap configuration also makes this sandal a bit tricky to put on — it usually required us reaching down to pull the straps into place and adjust them. This issue did lessen with time as the footbed compressed and broke in though. However, the other problem that cropped up was that, for some, the pinkie toe would slip out the side due to the high placement of one of the side straps. Because of these oddities we recommend trying the Olowahu on in person if at all possible.
While we generally found the Olowahu to be quite comfortable, for some foot shapes the pinkie toe would pop out the side due to the strap placement.
The flip-flop we found to be the most comfortable was the OluKai Ohana. Its drop-in ICEVA footbed was downright luxurious and much more durable than the Olowahu. We also loved the sturdiness and contouring of our Editors' Choice, the Birkenstock Gizeh — after getting through the breaking-in phase that is. The Base Camp Lite was another favorite and was comfortable right out of the box.
Support & Stability
With a lightweight foam footbed, it's no surprise that we couldn't score the Olowahu super high in this category. The footbed is indeed quite thick, so it's better than many cheap bargain bin foam flips, but not by a ton. And one of the major issues with foot-molding footbeds is that, if you have any abnormalities in your stance, like pronation or supination, they will get molded into the footbed instead of the footbed helping to correct the issue.
The above issues aside, the extra straps on this flip did add a bit of stability that would have otherwise been lacking. But overall, if good support is a priority for your footwear, we recommend looking into a sandal with a well-executed contoured footbed like the Birkenstock Gizeh or the Vionic Tide II which has built-in orthotics. If you plan to be hiking a lot, consider the Astral Rosa which can convert from a regular flip-flop to a sandal with ankle straps.
The Olowahu is a fun and comfortable flip-flop, but it won't provide you with very much support or stability.
As with support and stability, we weren't able to score the Olowahu very high for durability because the entire footbed is made out of lightweight moldable foam. It's thick enough that this shoe will last you for at least several seasons, but if you're hard on your summer flips — hiking, biking, scrambling, etc. — the foam could get worn and torn pretty quickly.
If your primary focus is finding a warm weather shoe that will easily last for many years no matter what adventures you get into, there are several better options. A rubber footbed with polyester webbing straps like the Vionic Tide II, Astra Rosa, or Chaco Flip EcoTread are all great options for durability. The OluKai Ohana is also a solid choice. Alternatively, if you want something leather that can be repaired, check out the Birkenstock Gizeh.
The Gizeh and Olowahu are both stylish comfortable sandals, but the Gizeh is a much more durable shoe and it can be repaired if and when it gets damaged.
While the footbed on the Olowahu dried decently quickly after a thorough soaking (15 minutes), the fleece-lined polyester straps took a surprisingly long time. Still damp at over an hour, we went for a bike ride thinking the wind would help dry them out. One hour and forty minutes later the straps were still a bit damp, and we found them to be a bit scratchy-feeling when wet, at least during the break-in phase.
Walking around with a wet footbed wasn't super secure either, it felt a bit like the straps were pushing our foot out the back. This lessened later on when the footbed was more contoured and broken in. And, as mentioned above, the footbed does dry pretty quickly. Long story short, this isn't the most pleasant sandal to have on when wet, but as long as you're not trying to use it as a water shoe, all the issues we had were relatively minor or resolved themselves quickly.
The minimal Reef Leather Uptown and Rainbow Single Layer Premier handled water excellently, both drying entirely after walking in a river after just 20 minutes. And again, check out the Flip EcoTread, Tide II, or Astral Rosa for some rubber-soled flips that resist water super efficiently and dry quickly.
The Olowahu (to the right of those fine feet) weren't the best for water resistance, but they performed decently with small amounts of water and will be fine for anyone not planning to use them as water shoes.
Again the Olowahu was decent but not the best. It performed pretty well on steep hills, we only slipped once going uphill, but mostly it was an issue of not quite feeling like we could trust our feet on slick terrain.
Considering this sandal is only $25 and made of lightweight foam, it performed surprisingly well. But let's be real, this just isn't the shoe to choose if you plan to be scrambling up rocks and down steep slopes. It'll do you fine in the city on all manner of concrete, stairs, and dirt park paths, but isn't the smartest choice as your approach shoe or river companion.
For some serious traction in a flip-flop, we recommend the Merrell Around Town and Astral Rosa. The Vionic Tide II was also a very impressive sandal in the traction department.
The Olowahu, while not a super sticky shoe in the traction department, is just fine for the city and decent for simple jaunts out in nature.
Here is where the Olowahu gets to shine. The women we polled loved this sandal, and for $25 how can you go wrong? It's super cute and stylish and has some of the most fun and unique straps of all the models we tested.
This was an easy shoe to dress up or down, and Teva offers it in quite a few fun colors and patterns. The only model that women liked more was the OluKai Lala, our Top Pick for Stylish Adventures. But that sandal was also the most expensive model we tested, retailing for $110! That price simply is not accessible to a lot of people. So if you want to stay stylish without having to suck your wallet dry, the Olowahu is a fantastic choice.
Shorts or dresses, happy hour or late night, the Olowahu is chic enough to do it all.
The Olowahu did respectably through all of our testing challenges, but it was pretty apparent that it's not the best choice for rafting trips or rock climbing approaches. But that's okay! This cute flip is fantastic for most everything else, and you don't need every pair of shoes in your closet to be able to do it all. This stylish sandal is an easy and comfortable summer shoe that, considering the price, we don't think you'll regret buying in the slightest.
We think this sandal is a great value since we gave it one of our Best Buy awards! For $25 you really can't go wrong here. While the Olowahu isn't the most durable or stable shoe, it's chic, affordable, comfortable, and well-constructed enough to last you for years, depending on what shenanigans you like to get up to during flip-flop weather.
The Olowahu is a lightweight and super affordable flip-flop that was one of the top performers for style and comfort. While the foam footbed and complicated straps aren't the best for heavy hiking or regular poolside soakings, there is no doubt that this is an impressive shoe for the price. The footbed will mold to your feet over time, making it even more comfortable and personalized. If you want something attractive and plush but don't want the stress of throwing down tons of money, this $25 gem is a must.
Some of our top performers, from L to R: Birkenstock Gizeh, Teva Olowahu, Merrell Around Town, and OluKai Lala. The Olowahu was the cheapest shoe we tested but it held it's own against our most expensive models.