Premium Flip Flops: Olukai’s Hikianalias Are Hard to Beat


Olukai Hikianalia

Durability and luxury can occasionally meet. This is certainly one of those times. The Olukai Hikianalias are hard to beat when it comes to a solid pair of premium flip flops.

The Olukai Hikianalia’s are constructed from premium full-grain leather throughout and intricately laser-etched with Hawaiian artwork on the footbed. The leather straps are embossed with ocean waves and lined with a soft felt. A comfy EVA midsole with arch support molds to the shape of your foot with time and the rich leather will develop that classic “1000-mile” patina.

“… too nice for my grubby feet!”

-My words upon unboxing

Pros

  • Extremely durable/well Built
  • Epic looks
  • Virtually no break-in period
  • Full-grain leather develops patina (1000 mile look)

Cons

  • Quality costs more
  • Water resistant not water proof- not a pool sandal

Price?

The Olukai Hikianalias cost around $130. (pricing may fluctuate)

The Hikianalias are part of Olukai’s Web-exclusive collection of premium sandals. You can only get them directly from Olukai.com.

While that price might seem steep at first, keep in mind that these are high-quality leather sandals with comparable quality and durability as the Birkenstocks Gizehs (see them on Amazon). I personally think the Olukais look a lot better.

Brand Profile: Olukai

Premium Flip Flops at beach

Olukai, was founded in 2006, is based out of Hawaii and is considered a high-end brand in the surf market. After designing for Nike and Fila, Bill Worthington, founded Olukai to solve a big problem with flip flops design.

Flip flops, in general, are notorious for causing foot issues. Using his experience with sneakers, Bill, began designing flip-flip with the same orthopedic strengths as shoes, namely, three layers to the soles including arch support.

The Ohanas are Olukai’s best sellers and a great example of this design.

Bill’s focus on better support, comfort and dedication to quality has made Olukai into a world-class brand that now competes directly with premium flip flops like Rainbow, Reef and Hari Mari.

First Impressions

Olukai Hikianalias premium flip flops

When I unboxed the Hikianalias(yes, they came in a box), the first thought that crossed my mind was to hang them on my wall as decor. They just seemed to nice for my grubby feet.

The rich ebony leather offset by the intricate Hawaiian artwork makes these flip flops look like the kind of wall decor I’d expect to see hanging from the bamboo wall of a rustic beachside café. By the way, if you’re into aged leather decor you should really check out Will Leather Goods.

Features

Artistic Design

Olukai Hikianalias artwork
Laser-etch artwork of a traditional Hawaiian vessel navigating by the stars

The laser-etched artwork is a collaboration with the Hawaiian design artist Keola Naka’ahiki Rapoza. The scene depicts a traditional Hawaiian vessel navigating by the ancient method of reading the reflection of the stars in the water known as Ipu Ka Honua.

Hikianalia is the Hawaiian name for the star also known as Spica, a sister star to Arcturus which were traditionally used for Polynesian navigation. Here’s a great resource on Hikianlia and the boat depicted on these flip flops

Foot Bed

Olukai Hikianalia foot bed

The Hikianalia’s leather footbed is anatomically pre-molded for a natural fit including arch support. A medium density EVA foot bed offers a nice balance between comfort and durability. Lower density(cushier) footbeds tend to compress and thin out more quickly over time.

Comfort-wise I’d describe them as a medium cushion somewhere in between Birkenstocks and Crocs. Over time these flip flops will mold to the shape of your foot similar to Birks.

Straps

Premium sandals

The felt lining, broad straps, and adequate sizing were just right. I had no rubbing or sore spots. The straps were not to loose either.

The Hikianalia’s straps are a tan colored leather that contrasts nicely against the coffee leather soles. Ocean wave embossing and an understated embroidered Olukai logo combine for that nice premium flip flop look.

The full-grain leather straps are double stitched and very good quality. The side anchors are sandwiched between the midsole and outsole creating solid hold that should last for a long time.

Toe Post

The top anchor of the toe post feature the Olukai’s embroidered logo of a Polynesian Makau Bone hook.

The toe post itself is a non-abrasive double layered soft fabric well anchored at the top and bottom. The top anchor is sandwiched within the top strap and there is no uncomfortable bump rubbing on the top of the foot.

Leather Out-Sole

Sole of Olukai Hikianalias

The soles are leather! Can a leather oustole last? You bet it can. My wife’s Taureg camel leather flip flops from west africa are over 13 years old and still look amazing. Not much grip..but man do they last!

The Olukia Hikianalias feature a unique hybrid of leather and rubber. The outsole is wrapped with heavily-stitched full-grain leather surrounding rubber grip pods for a confident grip in slippery places.

Comfort

Olukai sizing

As a pair of premium flip flops the Hikianalias don’t disspoint in the comfort department. The felt-lined straps and soft toe posts translated to virtually no breaking-in period. After an initial week of constant use I suffered no sore spots between my toes, on the sole for from the straps.

The leather footbed is adequately cushioned but not air-ride soft. Folks with wider feet will appreciate the roominess of the toe box on these flip flops. The straps are not restrictive and don’t leave compression marks after extensive wear.

Sizing

With flip flops its better to be a little bigger than to small. I found Olukai’s sizing recommendations on their website to be accurate. They say, if you run a half size then you should size up to the next full size.

For example, I’m a 9 1/2 so I sized up to a 10 and I’m glad I did. They fit just fine.

Waterproof?

These are beach sandals. A little water is not a big deal. Popping them on after a swim in the pool is one thing, but I wouldn’t push it. Don’t go wading in water or running around in pouring rain all day.

Leather does absorb moisture and prolonged exposure to water such as extended emersion can lead to swelling, warping, staining etc..

How Durable Are They?

Obviously I haven’t owned the Olukai Hikianalias long enough to give a difinitive answer here. However, from my experience in evaluating durable products, I think these flip flops should easily last 4 years or more.

Olukai offers a standard one year quality/workmanship warranty covering things like loose threads and defects on all their flip flops. If they wanted to, Olukai could have confidently offere a 3 year warranty on their premium flip flops lineup (like the Hikianalias.)


Are Premium Flip Flops Really Worth It?

Olukai Hikianalias

Be willing to spend more for quality when it comes to anything that separates you from the ground

Unknown Author

The above saying makes a lot of sense for things like mattresses, shoes, tires, and furniture. With that in mind here are few good reasons to considering getting a decent pair of flip flops.

Healthier Feet

Olukai Orthopedics

According to an article by WebMD, “Unlike sturdy shoes, flip-flops aren’t good for extensive walking because they offer no arch support, heel cushioning, or shock absorption, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)”

After living in Africa for over 15 years I can corroborate the APMA’s concerns about flip flops. Almost all my African friends wore flip flops including myself. Most of my friends suffer from fallen arches primarily due to years of wearing poor-quality slab-rubber flip flops.

Olukai’s strength is that they specifically design their flip flops to prevent these chronic problems.

Environmentally Friendly

Flip flops are the cheapest and most disposable form of footwear there is. The result is that millions upon millions of flip flops choke landfills every year.

Premium flip flops like Olukais, Rainbow or Reefs can easily outlive the lifespan of three department store flip flops combined. The environmental advantages of that is self-explanatory.

Reliability

Almost every summer I seemed to blow out a cheap pair of flip flops about a mile from the car. It’s Murphy’s law or something.

Premium flip flops have heavily re-inforced toe posts and well-anchored side straps that are very unlikely to pull out.

Translation: No more walking home barefoot.

Pride of Ownership

I think there is actually a psychological boost from regularly using a high-quality item. It’s a regular reminder that, “Yup, I guess do make good choices once in a while” -type of mental reinforcement.

Another spin-off benefit is that, because you like them, you will actually take better care of them better than a pair of cheap wally world flip flops. That means they will last even longer.

Conclusion

There is very little to complain about with the Olukai Hikianalias beyond the premium price point and that they shouldn’t be using them extensively in water.

Who are the Olukai Hikianalias for? The same type of folks who keep coming back to brands like Birkenstocks, Crocs, and Blundestones.

If you prefer to pay extra to gain durability, quality, and a little pride of ownership than you should consider the Hikianalias.

If cost is an issue then you should consider Olukai’s best-selling Ohanas. They are more affordable and have excellent comfort and support.

If you’re interested in other brands of premium flip flops you should check out my article on the most durable flip flops.

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