Men’s and Women’s OluKai Ohana | $65 | Amazon
Image: Zach Custer (Amazon)

For far too long my fellow flip flop wearers and I have taken heat from never-was fashionistas and control freaks whose own feet are locked away in closed-toe shoes and suffocating. But summer’s here, so forget what you think you know about flip flops and slide into a pair of OluKais, where convenience and comfort reign supreme and the detractors cease to exist.

While the widespread hate for flip flops runs deep, most of it feels bandwagon internet-y, irrelevant but pesky. Maybe it stems from a decade old memory of wearing a hotel’s complimentary, crappy pair that ended with a wipe out at the pool, or perhaps it was simply from seeing the wrong foot at the wrong time. Whatever the case may be, there are many willing to call flip flops uncomfortable, difficult to walk in, loud, and ugly. Luckily, OluKai eliminated those issues when they launched back in 2006.

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OluKais are made with water-resistant synthetic straps, a quick-drying jersey knit lining, and a soft nylon toe post. And they do, in fact, dry rather quickly, and the “thong” is super soft between your toes; you won’t even notice it, nor will you be concerned about blowin’ out a flip flop (I’ve had a pair last through more than three years of constant abuse). The footbed’s a compression molded EVA midsole with a rubber outsole offering a little added grip. The midsole is super soft and responsive, while offering more support than most sneaker brands. With a snug fit and anatomical arch, they’re a ridiculously comfortable walk in the park.

But OluKai’s attention to material and fit isn’t just for you, it’s also managed to subdue the public nuisance that is the classic flip flop sound. That’s because you don’t have loose, cheap plastic and rubber bending as far from your sole as possible, before snapping back with an obnoxious clap. Instead your foot stays close to the sole, and when it hits, the sound is absorbed by that soft footbed.

And while the naysayers love to point out how unhygienic flip flops are, they’re equally quick to ignore their greatest strength: convenience. This is remarkable in its own right; we live in an era where convenience is priority one, yet flip flops remain vilified despite being the most effortless footwear imaginable. If you need to run a quick errand—walk the dog around the block, grab the mail, take the trash out, step into the yard, pop into the bodega, grab a coffee, pick up takeout, or a do a hundred other simple things that force you out knowing you’ll return home soon—you should own a pair of flip flops. They make daily bullshit easier; your feet are ‘covered’ and you’re out the door without thinking. I fell in love with flip flops for their convenience, and it’s the reason everyone should accept them, if only in a limited capacity.

My feet breathing happy in their OluKai Ohanas
Photo: Zach Custer

But once you get a pair, other uses become obvious, in particular with summer outdoor activities. Whether you’re at the park, on the water, or at the camp fire, they make a good thing great. The joy of walking around camp in flip flops after removing a swollen foot from a hiking boot, then rolling off a matted down sock, is a feeling everyone should experience. Let those puppies breathe!

When it comes to looks, I suppose no sandal will compete with a shoe. After all, they’re meant to be minimalist and lay the foot bare. But OluKais are not ugly; they’re typically a two-tone format using colors like black, dark wood, java, and stone—all modest and simple. As for hygiene, I’m no scientist or doctor, but I can’t imagine that what a pair of hands interacts with daily is an improvement to what exposed feet might encounter. Plus, we’ve taught you how to clean your feet, and your sandals, if that’s your concern. I’ll say this though: It’s on the wearer to decide where they expose their bare feet, but that in and of itself does not negate the flip flop as worthwhile footwear.

With OluKai, the flip flop has evolved well beyond the hotel pool. The belittlers may beat their angry drum in the confines of their closed mind, but that’s fine. With a pair of OluKais, you’ll ease into your daily routine and add more comfort into your life, free from such such misguided animosity. Your newly aired-out feet will thank you.