Olukai Hiapo Review
Cons: Expensive, not the best for water
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hiapo scores well across the board, though it's not ideal for excessive water activities. Still, its excellent comfort and good looks had our testers reaching for it more often than not.
Breaking in this flop takes some work and commitment. If you're the type of person that wants a cushy flip-flop right out of the box, then this might not be the sandal for you. However, if you stick with it, you will be rewarded.
The footbed and the thong are both made of stiff, high-quality leather and can be a little rough on the feet at first. However, within the first week of wearing these class act flops, the leather begins to soften, and the footbed molds to the contours of the foot. After a month of use, they feel like an absolute dream.
The Hiapo ended up being so much more versatile than our initial impressions suggested, but still isn't a top scorer in this category.
At first glance, it seems this sandal is for weddings and fancy dinners only, but we quickly found that it does a few other things well too. We wore this flop on approaches to rock climbs and found it to be adequate, as we will discuss below in the traction category. Where the Hiapo falters is in water sports. An all-leather flip-flop is not meant to get wet every day, especially one that costs as much as this one. That said, Olukai makes sandals with the water in mind, and this one is no exception. It can handle more water than you might initially assume, so don't feel like you need to avoid every puddle as you're flip-floppin' around.
If your flip flops are uncomfortable out of the box and require some break-in, chances are that they're made of high-quality materials and are built to last.
There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, but we find that it mostly rings true. It certainly does with the Hiapo. The premium leather straps, thong, and footbed are of the highest quality construction — and for the price, they'd better be. This thong took a while to break in, but showed no signs of major wear even after months of use. The only thing our testers noticed was some wearing of the leather on the bottom edges of the outsole, where the rubber traction pods were not making contact with the ground.
The Hiapo is one of the most stylish flip-flops we tested. They look so good, in fact, that a few of our testers felt this flop was too nice to grace their haggard adventure-prone feet.
High-quality leather thongs and straps with prominent, bold exterior baseball-type stitching provide a look that is simultaneously refined but rugged. The EVA footbed is fully wrapped in full-grain leather with a handsome Polynesian graphic laser-etched into the footbed. It's hard to compare the style of the Hiapo with any of the other sandals we tested; it's really in a class of its own.
Many of our testers are climbers and boaters, and we were immediately skeptical of this sandals traction abilities when we initially them out of the box. The sole of the flop is wrapped in leather, and unlike every other flip flop ever, there are only eight rubber "traction pods" to create a walking surface with grip.
Our opinion changed when we took these flops to the crag, though, finding them to be more than adequate on not just loose dirt trails but granite slick rock as well. That stated, they are primarily an urban sandal, and if you're looking to get rad in your flops on a daily basis, you might consider purchasing something a bit more rugged.
These flip flops are by far the most expensive in our review. However, after wearing them for a while, it becomes clear that you get a lot for the hefty price tag. Full-grain leather and hand-stitched soles wrapping a compression-molded EVA sole make this a sandal built to last. Like any well-built item, these flops only improve with time, and if you can afford a pair without breaking the bank, they're worth adding to your wardrobe.
The Olukai Hiapo is an outlier in our testing group. No other sandal we tested comes close to it in regards to craftsmanship or class… or price for that matter. What we thought at first would be a date-night-only sandal turned out to be an "anything but watersports" kind of flop. Its ability to do most things well, coupled with its incredulous style, easily won it a Top Pick award. If you're the type of flip flop aficionado that can afford to have a pair for every occasion or just want the finest craftsmanship on your feet, then slip on a pair of these high-class flops.
— Matt Bento