Hands-on Gear Review

Olukai Hiapo Review

Olukai Hiapo
Top Pick Award
Price:  $110 List | $98.71 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, appropriate or fancy occasions
Cons:  Expensive, not a water flip-flop
Bottom line:  These are some of the fanciest flops out there, and a comfortable for all day wear.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (ounces):  16.6oz
Sole Material:  Full-grain leather wrapped outsole with non-marking molded rubber traction pods
Strap Material:  Full-grain leather
Manufacturer:   Olukai

Our Verdict

The OluKai Hiapo defied expectations of many testers. What appeared at first to be simply an overpriced dress sandal proved itself to be much more. A full leather body and thong with classy baseball stitching make this one of the fancier, classier thongs we tested, and our skeptical testers were sure that its attributes would end there. This model performed surprisingly well on steep dirt trails and even provided great traction on rock slabs. For this reason, we decided to award it our Top Pick for the Classy Occasion.

Despite all of its great qualities, the Hiapo was not the most versatile flip-flop we tested. Looking for something that is more versatile? Consider the plush, award-winning OluKai Ohana for a more well-rounded flop. The Hiapo is by far the most expensive flop we tested and is constructed from the finest materials. Is it worth it? Read the rest of the review and decide for yourself.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Matt Bento

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 10, 2018

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These dress flops are supportive  not too bad for hiking  and even climb trees.
These dress flops are supportive, not too bad for hiking, and even climb trees.

Performance Comparison


The Hiapo scored well across the board, though we would not recommend this model for excessive water activities. These ratings, coupled with its outstanding class and comfort, had our testers reaching for them more often than not.

Although not suited for every occasion, the Hiapo is a classy sandal with a dirty side. From date night to climbing days, our testers brought this flip-flop everywhere. This leather model is not the most comfortable flop straight out of the box (its thong is made of stiff leather, as is the sole). However, with time and use, this contender does a fantastic job of forming to your foot. We found this break-in phenomena to be true with several of the highest quality models, like the Chaco Flip Eco and the Hari Mari Scout, as the stiff materials are ones that are built to last (which also equates to a lengthy break in period). The Hiapo was no different and as we determined from our testing, totally worth it in the end. This flop scored above-average marks across the board, with the exception being versatility. Unfortunately, it did not strike us as very adept water model.


The Hiapos feature a baseball glove-like stitching and a fully leather-wrapped footbed.
The Hiapos feature a baseball glove-like stitching and a fully leather-wrapped footbed.

Comfort


As we mentioned above, 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.


The footbed and the thong are both made of stiff, high-quality leather and can be a little rough on the feet at first. Our tester noticed that within the first week of wearing these class act flops the leather began to soften and the footbed molded to the contours of the footwell. After a month of use, they fit like an absolute dream. If you can't be bothered to break in your flops, check out the OluKai Ohana, another well-built flop — but don't expect the same level of class.

Versatility


The Hiapo ended up being so much more versatile than our initial impressions suggested, but still wasn'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 it did 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, and this would likely detract from its durability. We tested several other flip-flops that scored at the upper end of our versatility rating, including the Chaco Flip Eco, the Astral Filipe, and the Ohana by Olukai.

After a long break-in period  these contenders will become a well-loved comfortable flop.
After a long break-in period, these contenders will become a well-loved comfortable flop.

Durability


Take your flip flops out of the box. If they're uncomfortable 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 of 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 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 Chaco Flip EcoTread and the Astral Filipe were the only flops that bested the Hiapo in the durability metric.

These are our favorite flops for going out on the town  when we really need something to distract folks from our grubby climber toes.
These are our favorite flops for going out on the town, when we really need something to distract folks from our grubby climber toes.

Style


The Hiapo is one of the most stylish flip-flops we tested, sharing the runway with the Chaco Marshall and the Hari Mari Scouts in term of pure coolness factor. The Hiapos look so good in fact, that a few of our testers felt this flop was too nice to grace their haggard climber feet.


High-quality leather thong and straps with big, 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, but the Chaco Marshall also has a leather footbed and a rugged outsole, making it a worthy competitor to the Hiapo.

The big lugs on the Hiapo's tread keep the leather footbed from breaking down.
The big lugs on the Hiapo's tread keep the leather footbed from breaking down.

Traction


As climbers and boaters, we were immediately skeptical of this sandals traction abilities when we first took them out of the box. The sole of the flop is wrapped in leather and unlike every other flip-flop ever, there are only 8 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 the Hiapo's more rugged cousin, the OluKai Ohana, or the Chaco Marshall.

Best Applications


As we've mentioned above, the Hiapo is designed primarily for the urban user. This sandal is going to class up any event from a coffee shop foray to casual wedding. They're posh and good looking. Well built and almost overly stylish, the Hiapo is a specialty sandal and not your all-around daily driver. I'd hesitate to take these on a river trip or thrash them daily at the crag or beach.

Value


At $110 dollars retail, these flip-flops were by far the most expensive that we tested. After wearing them for a while, it became clear that you will get what you paid for. Full grain leather and hand stitched soles wrapping a compression-molded EVA sole are 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 flip-flop quiver.

Conclusion


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 sandal only 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 our 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 for your flip flops, then slip on a pair of these high-class flops.
Matt Bento

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Most recent review: May 10, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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