Hawaiian Flip Flop manufacturer Olukai is known for creating waterproof, "adventure footwear". However, I took a pair of less adventurous Oofos on an island trekking trip, too. They performed surprisingly well!
Here are the pros and cons of each pair...
Words & Photos By Nathan W. Allen
How Do They Look?
Well, I think most sane people would agree that the Olukai Ohanas are much more pleasing to the eye. They are low profile, sleek, and stylish.
The Oofos, on the other hand, are marketed as orthopedic or "recovery" thongs.
Yes, they look just as bulky and "Croc-y" as you would imagine, though I guess the design could be worse.
Still fugly enough to warrant me making a few jokes: "I just bought some rubber shoes, and now I'm going to start watching the Weather Channel and yelling at neighborhood kids to get off my lawn."
I felt like I was wearing paddles on my feet, and not many reviews mention this, but the soles are thick. If you're a bit short, you will love the 1+ inch of lift. I am already awkwardly tall, so I would prefer less "help" in this department. Haha.
Footbed & Sole Traction
Again, the Olukai Ohana sandals have been designed for water and beaches...even trekking. The grip on the soles is fantastic. I read some reviews about the inside footbed being a bit slippery when wet, but I ordered the Olukai Ohana Koa sandals (updated model?), and if this was a problem before, it's definitely not now. Perfect grip when wet.
The Oofos are a different story. The footbed is slick when wet, and the soles can be incredibly slippery on smooth, wet surfaces. Every time it rained I had to step ever so gingerly. My muddy jungle hikes were challenging, to say the least.
In the city, one day a downpour came out of nowhere, and I rushed the last few steps to the elevator in my building. I hit a patch of wet cement and BAM. I was on the ground. No injuries, luckily...and even though my fall put a LOT of pressure on the Oofos toe strap, the material did not break. This was after a full year of use.
That was impressive. Speaking of long lasting...
As mentioned, I wore my Oofos for a full year before they finally gave out. Those familiar with my lifestyle know that I am constantly on the move. I hike in the tropics a LOT, and put my footwear under extreme stress. I honestly didn't expect them to last that long.
There were many times when I was hiking trails or at the beach, and they got yanked away from my feet by sticky mud or the incoming tide. The toe strap on many other flip flops snapped in these conditions, but again, the Oofos never did.
The soles wore down over that year. Eventually I wore a hole all the way through, and duct-taped them up until my Ohanas arrived. Haha. If I can get a full year out of a pair of flip flops, most people can probably get two. I was impressed.
I did have higher durability expectations for the Ohanas, but they certainly have delivered. After 2 months of fairly rigorous daily use, they are still going strong, with barely any wear on the soles. Not much more to say about that. They are tough.
By now, you may have wondered why I ever bought the Oofos in the first place. Well, I'll tell you why...it's because I tried them on. Haha...seriously, it's kind of unreal wearing a pair of Oofos. I have never experienced that level of comfort - with any shoe.
I had a knee injury some years ago, and on my long treks (especially with a heavy pack) my knee can really ache now. That literally stopped happening when I started wearing the Oofos.
They kind of feel like you're always walking on the ground at one of those fancy kids' playgrounds...you know, the ones with the soft, padded flooring? Tip: If you really do wear Oofos on those playgrounds, it's double softness. You'll be walking on clouds!
However, for some people, there is such thing as too much comfort. Many hikers / adventurers prefer more firmness in the soles, and I can see why.
Olukai Ohana Koa
After wearing my Oofos for a year, I was a bit disappointed by how stiff the Ohanas felt when I tried them on for the first time. Still, after all the glowing reviews I read, I decided to give them a chance.
The girl at the store recommended I buy a snug fit. I wear size 10.5 US, and usually have to buy 11 if there are no half sizes. With her suggestion, I bought a 10.
You want the truth? After a week or two, I was ready to return these. My feet have never been in so much pain. I think they actually bruised the tops of my feet. I kept pushing, hoping to break them in...just like the reviewers said. It was an epic struggle.
Then, after about a month of pretty solid use, something miraculous happened. I don't know if the "compression molded midsole" finally formed to my feet, or if I developed some tough calluses,
but now they feel great. Snug and secure!
Oofos - Pros and Cons
- Ridiculously Comfortable
- About 30% Cheaper
- Might Help You Get a Senior Citizens Discount at Denny's
- You're Wearing Boats on Your Feet
- No Traction When Wet / Slippery Footbed
- Too Comfortable For Rugged Use
- Thick Soles (Gives Tall People Extra Unwanted Height)
(Continued below, but I do hope you'll consider following along with me...I'm a photographer and wanderer, reviewing my favorite travel gear along the way)
- Nathan Allen
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Olukai Ohana - Pros and Cons
- More Stylish / Better Design
- Very Good Traction On All Surfaces & In All Conditions
- Firm, Yet Comfortable Enough For Hiking & Trekking
- 30% More Expensive
- Painful Break In Period If You Want a Snug Fit
- Slightly Heavy
Common Strengths of Both
- Very Durable (Even More So For Ohanas)
- Quick Drying & No Foot Odor (Huge Plus!)
- Comfortable Enough For All Day Use
- They Do Not Mark Floor Surfaces
- Both Are Unisex (As Far As I Know?)
So, which pair is more comfortable? I guess the simple answer is the Oofos. They are, in fact, the most comfortable I've ever worn.
If you're not as active (and picky) as me, go try a pair on. You'll be amazed.
However, for my lifestyle (and unless I injure myself), I will only buy the Olukai Ohanas again in the future...especially if they last me over a year, which I really believe they will. They are some of the most expensive flip flops you can buy, but they last - and are worth it.
The first time I gripped a rocky trail in them, I realized how amazing they were. Not as cushy as the Oofos, but I still have no knee pain, and they're quite comfortable. Since they fit snug and are designed for water use, I plan on shedding the weight of my aqua shoes in my pack - and just wearing these for snorkeling, too!
Tip: If you wear a half size, go down a size instead of up, and suffer through the break in period. Otherwise you will end up with a great big floppy flip hanging off your foot (did I just write that?)
You can find more info about Oofos, Olukai, and other sandals HERE
- Nathan Allen
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*I purchased these sandals myself after doing extensive research. If you use any of the Amazon links on this page, it costs you nothing extra + helps me continue to provide this content. Thanks!