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OluKai Hokua

photo: OluKai Hokua flip-flop

Specs

Price MSRP: $75.00
Current Retail: $70.00-$75.00
Historic Range: $45.50-$75.00
Reviewers Paid: $75.00

Reviews

2 reviews
5-star:   1
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Comfortable, beefy, pricy flip-flop. They have solid arch support, a thick, grippy sole, soft footbed, and reasonably wide straps that make them comfortable to wear "around" or walking on most surfaces and trails. I found these benefit from a little break-in. Though the price is steep, they should last a long time and are a comfortable, good-looking option.

Pros

  • Comfortable footbed
  • Support
  • Traction

Cons

  • Price
  • Some break-in helps

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I am providing my initial impressions of my new flip-flops, the OluKai Hokua, having worn them for a few weeks and walked several miles in them. I strongly prefer flip flops that are closer to a water sandal like Chaco, Teva, Bedrock, Keen etc., rather than the three dollar foam pancakes you can buy at most supermarkets or Old Navy. I still wear a pair of Chaco Flip eco-treads, several years old, and a pair from Scott Hawaii that are very comfortable. A good pair of flips will last several years, outlast many cheap pair, and should be much more comfortable than lighter-duty flips.

BASIC DETAILS

My size 12 pair weighs 1.1 pounds on a digital scale. The straps and toe post are two-layer affairs, with the outer part some kind of synthetic leather-looking stuff and the inner layer made from a smooth, slightly fuzzy synthetic fabric. The soles are a chunky wedge of fairly grippy rubber, you can see the sole pattern above, that have some nice contour to keep your arches happy.

Laid on top of the soles, is a layer of EVA foam that is reasonably firm, with an additional layer of what Olukai calls its “ICEVA” footbed right under your feet. The footbed is a little bit squishy and soft/smooth next to your feet.  

I’m not usually very excited about appearance, especially for something this casual, but they’re great-looking, which is nice.  We’ll see if that’s still the case after I beat them up.  


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COMFORT

Extremely easy and comfortable to wear, with one short term caveat. These are very supportive for a flip, have nice contour under the arch, and have that soft footbed.  Awesome. The straps are thick and nicely-shaped, so they feel secure on my feet.

For me, it took a week or more of wear for those straps to soften up a little. I had a slightly red area under the straps on one foot for the first few days. That’s different from competitors that use softer woven polyester straps. OluKai also sells other flips that may have softer straps, like the Hokua Mesh, but for the most part, this company seems to like leather or synthetic leather straps.  

The thick soles are a plus because you won’t feel much from roots or rocks you might happen to step on under your feet. Just make sure you step on them and don’t stub your toes—that’s a hazard with any open-toed footwear.  

I’m wearing the Hokuas as I sit here typing the review, have worn them in the river near our home, and walked about three miles in them this morning. You may not want to take these off. They’re obviously not as secure, laterally, as a full-on sandal with better straps. Compared to most flips, they feel fabulous.  


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TRACTION

The sole has great stickiness, so they are better than most on rocky surfaces or slick river-smoothed stones. Though the little dots all over the bottom are not particularly deep, they provide solid traction on sandy, mucky trails. I deposited a nice collection of grit just inside our front door today from those treads. Oops.

The soles approach the ones on my favorite water sandals, Chaco’s Z/2 and Bedrock Cairns Pros that pack a very sticky rubber sole for wearing in the water.  (I’m also currently testing a water-oriented pair of Keen sandals with great traction, both for river-walking and on boats).

DURABILITY

It’s far too early to judge, but these are built like a tank. High quality materials throughout, stitches along the straps are clean and even with nary a stray piece.  

USE SO FAR

I’m a couple of weeks in with these. Wore them on a couple of 2-3 mile walks, in addition to the inevitable knocking around for which flip flops were intended—easy on, easy off, short walks with the dog, around the house during the work day, venturing out to the store as we emerge from the COVID shutdown. 

I will circle back with more details in six months or so.

COST

They are fairly expensive for flip flops at $75.  Chaco, Keen, Reef, Teva all sell "flip flop plus" options that may be somewhat less money, depending on current sale pricing or which model you choose, and Scott Hawaii, who really just sell ‘slippers’ and are a longtime local favorite in Hawaii, retail for quite a bit less and are a solid if not quite as comfortable and robust as these.  

Experience

This is an initial review after a few weeks of use.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review, Andrew! I've had a few pairs of OluKai footwear, including a pair of flip-flops (the since discontinued Kia'i Wahine) which I've had for three years, which I also really like. I agree with all your points about comfort and durability. They may cost more, but I end up using their footwear for a long time.


5 months ago

OluKai Hokua Sandals offer excellent comfort, water resistance, traction, and are great for Plantar Fasciitis! I use these day-to-day as well as for camp shoes. I recommend these especially for those suffering from Plantar.

Pros

  • Excellent arch support
  • Soft material combined with arch is great for Plantar
  • Excellent traction for a sandal
  • Footbed material does not absorb water or odor
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Some delamination between layers
  • Not suitable for rainy conditions

In my experience, flops have never been associated with comfort, traction, or stability. I've always assumed that's the trade-off for the convenience of open-toed easy-on/off footwear. OluKai has completely changed my expectations! The OluKai Hokua are, by far, the most comfortable flip-flop style sandal I've ever owned. 

The footbed is made from two different materials laminated together.  The outer sole is made from a sturdy rubber compound giving the sandal excellent rigidity without sacrificing desired traction characteristics of softer materials. The rubber out-sole enhances this by adding a molded traction pattern sufficient for mist surfaces and conditions I’ve encountered.

Having said that, I have not worn these in mud or in temperatures below 40 degrees. Rubber typically hardens in colder temperatures so the traction capabilities may change considerably in colder temperatures. 

There is a slight cupped shape to the heel giving the sandal better stability than typical flip-flops. I wouldn't put these in the same category of my Vibram hiking shoes, but they are far better than any flop I've owned previously. 

The inner sole is made from a soft compressible yet non-porous material providing excellent shock absorption not typically found in this style of footwear. I previously owned a pair of Teva sandals that used porous footbed material. These would squish as I walked if they got wet. Consequently, they also absorbed significant amount of odor from perspiration. That was a real deal breaker for me. Thankfully, the OluKai do not suffer from this shortcoming.

After three months of near continuous use, I have never had any issues with chaffing or blistering. No break-in period required. The only problem I’ve had is some minor delamination between layers on the left flip-flop.  Rather puzzling considering my right one is constantly under heavy deformation from using the gas pedal while driving. I have an automatic so my left foot doesn't do much. I think they may need to review their laminating process with the manufacturer. There's definitely an issue here. I'll be making use of that 1-year warranty very soon. This is the reason for 4 stars instead of 5.

I purchased these after a recommendation for relief from Plantar Fasciitis. I tried different shoes and inserts including those sold by my podiatrist without success. I was getting desperate. Combined with stretching exercises, the arch support and soft compressive footbed material of the OluKai have provided almost miraculous relief from a condition that had been consistently worsening over time. 

They weigh nearly a pound per pair but I still carry them in my pack even on the longest trips. They provide that much relief at the end of the day!! 

Source: bought it new

About the Author

Andrew Friedman is a New Hampshire native who loves the Presidentials and spent his college summers guiding trips in the Adirondack High Peaks. He loved introducing his children to hiking and the outdoors. In addition to New England and the Adirondacks, he has hiked the shores of the Great Lakes, the Tetons, a number of California's state and national parks, the Albanian Alps, and trails in India, Asia, and the Middle East. Andrew logged his first review on Trailspace in 2007 and joined the Trailspace Review Corps in 2011. Andrew lives and works in the DC metro area.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Ernest. Thanks for sharing such a helpful review of your sandals.


5 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

By the way, do you have any pictures of your sandals you could share in your review?


5 years ago
Ernest Correale

I didn't see a way to add images. I see one on the page now, did you find one?


5 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Hi Ernest. You can add images (and videos) into the body of a review by going in to edit it. Then click the photo icon (looks like a little tree) and either upload a picture to your Trailspace account or link to an existing one you own elsewhere. I hope that helps.


5 years ago

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