Olukai Vs. Rainbow Flip Flops: In-depth Differences With Features

When searching for the perfect pair of flip flops, Olukai and Rainbow are two of the top brands that come to mind. Both companies have devoted cult followings, with fans praising their premium materials, durability, and comfort.

However, there are some notable differences between Olukai and Rainbow’s sandals that are worth considering when making your purchase.

Comparison Table

MaterialsMostly veganLeather
DurabilityVery durableExtremely durable
Comfort FeaturesAnatomical footbed, gel insertsContoured footbed
TractionDecentVery good
Break-in PeriodNoneLong
Style VarietyModerateExtensive

Key Differences Between Olukai And Rainbow Flip Flops

Rainbow Sandals
Rainbow Sandals
  • Origins

Olukai was founded in Hawaii by two surfers who wanted to create premium flip flops that could transition seamlessly from the beach to the town. The sandals are designed with an “anywhere” mentality, suited for both water and land activities.

Rainbow was started decades earlier in California by another passionate sandal maker who admired the sturdy flip flops he saw crafted by artisans during his travels. The brand has since grown exponentially while retaining its core value of durability above all else.

  • Materials
Olukai Ohana Flip Flops
Olukai Ohana Flip Flops

One of the biggest differences between the two brands lies in the materials used to construct their sandals.

Olukai prides itself on using mostly vegan materials that are ethically-sourced and environmentally-friendly.

The soles of Olukai’s flip flops are made from molded non-marking rubber while the straps utilize quick-drying webbing or leather alternatives.

On the contrary, Rainbow is best known for its sturdy leather sandals. Using premium cowhide leather tanned under strict quality controls, Rainbow produces its iconic double-layered sandals built to last over a decade with proper care.

The leather straps are bonded to a tough rubber sole for maximum longevity. So for those wanting an eco-friendly vegan option, Olukai would be the better choice, while Rainbow’s leather construction offers exceptional sturdiness for customers who don’t mind animal materials.

  • Durability

It’s hard to compete with Rainbow when it comes to durability. Thanks to their two-layered leather design with toes between the layers to prevent excessive friction, a pair of Rainbows can literally last for years.

There are many accounts of people wearing the same sandals daily for 5+ years or longer before needing to be replaced. And the company stands behind their quality with a 1-year warranty to repair or replace defective products.

But Olukai is no slouch either on the durability front. The tough, non-marking outsoles withstand heavy use while the quick-drying webbed straps are reinforced to maintain their shape and structure over time.

While they may not last quite as long as Rainbows, most customers report getting multiple years of wear out of their Olukais before replacement is needed. So both brands make exceptionally durable flip flops, with Rainbow having a slight edge.

  • Comfort
Rainbow Sandals
Rainbow Sandals

Here is where Olukai pulls ahead and has a strong advantage over Rainbow sandals.

Olukai put a great emphasis on making their sandals ergonomic and supportive right out of the box.

The contoured footbed ensures the foot sits neutrally for proper posture and balance.

A microfiber lining provides next-to-skin softness while an EVA midsole and gel insert underneath the heel create an ultra-comfy experience during wear.

The straps are also lined with extra padding to prevent rubbing or blisters.

Overall, the attention to comfort in Olukai’s design is superb.

Rainbows, on the other hand, require a substantial break-in period spanning a few weeks for the leather straps to truly mold to your feet. Until then, blisters are unfortunately common due to friction.

However, once broken in, that custom molded shape results in sandals that feel like a natural extension of your feet. But the thinner sole isn’t quite as cushy as Olukai’s. For immediate and continuous comfort, Olukai wins hands down. Rainbow starts stiff but ends up custom fitted.

  • Traction

While both brands perform fine for everyday use, Rainbow sandals have a bit better traction thanks to their rubber sole composition. The deep heel rasp and molded tread pattern give Rainbows better grip when wet compared to the flatter sole of Olukais.

This extra traction comes in handy when scrambling over wet, uneven terrain. But Olukai fans have no huge complaints about slipping or abrasion issues either. At the end of the day, both brands provide decent traction for water, dirt, or urban terrain. But Rainbow squeezes by with a slight edge.

  • Break-In Period

As previously mentioned, Olukai requires zero break-in time and starts feeling like soft butter right away. On the other hand, Rainbow’s characteristic leather double straps result in a painful week or longer until the material gives way.

Blistering is uncomfortably common for first-timers not prepared for the brutal break-in phase. So Olukai is the clear winner when it comes to out-of-the-box comfort, while Rainbow loyalists insist the eventual customized fit makes all the initial suffering worth it.

Still, some impatient buyers may lack the tolerance to stick it through with Rainbow.

  • Price
OLUKAI Nui Men’s Beach Sandals

There is no getting around the fact that Rainbow sandals cost significantly more, with an average price around $60 per pair.

Olukais retail closer to $45-65 on average.

But Rainbow lovers argue their sandals outlast multiple pairs of competitors, essentially paying for themselves over time.

And the heavy-duty materials like thick leather simply cost more too.

Still, Olukais deliver nearly the same durability and customization for a notably cheaper price point, giving it the advantage here for the budget-conscious. In the end, Rainbow makes an ultra-premium product, while Olukai provides excellent value at a lower cost in most cases.

  • Style Variety

Without question, Rainbow provides by far the most extensive style selection between the two brands. Thanks to their longer history and popularity, customers can choose among hundreds of different Rainbow styles for men, women, and kids, available in lots of colors too.

There are high-end collaborations, limited editions, and custom design services allowing the most personalization possible. Rainbow fans love expressing their individuality through their favorite custom sandals.

In contrast, Olukai offers a relatively limited selection, mostly differentiated by strap patterns and sole colors. Their collections tend tend to go for a simpler, more understated aesthetic. So for customers craving tons of flair and personal customization, Rainbow has a clear edge.

But Olukai covers all the basics effectively with its more focused lineup. This category comes down purely to personal preference for variety vs simplicity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Rainbow flip flops worth it?

For fans of the brand, Rainbow sandals are absolutely worth the higher investment. The premium leather construction allows them to be worn daily for well over 5+ years with proper care. And once broken in, the custom fit feels like you’re wearing slippers all day long. While blisters are initially common, the longevity and customized shape make powering through the painful break-in period worthwhile for devotees.

Why are Rainbow Sandals so popular?

A few key reasons help explain Rainbow’s popularity and raving fanbase over the decades. For one, celebrities like Bob Marley, Keanu Reeves, and Jerry Garcia wearing the sandals boosted their cultural appeal enormously. And word-of-mouth about their durability and custom molded comfort keeps demand strong generational. The extensive style variety allows major personal expression today too. Ultimately their premium quality and branding seeded a passionate lifestyle community that still thrives today.

What is special about OluKai sandals?

Olukai differentiates itself through premium comfort innovations and responsibly-sourced construction. The anatomically contoured footbeds with gel inserts provide cloud-like cushioning and support right out of the box. And they use mainly vegan materials like quick-drying webbed straps and non-marking rubber soles designed in harmony with the natural environment. Founded by Hawaiian surfers, the brand embodies an “anywhere” lifestyle ethos equally at home in the ocean and concrete jungle.

Is OluKai a good brand?

Without question, OluKai has earned its reputation as a top-quality flip-flop brand. While not quite as durable or customized as Rainbows, Olukai delivers exceptional comfort at a fair price point the moment you slip them on. The brand constantly innovates to enhance fit and feel while keeping environmental ethics at the core of operations. For shoppers wanting a supple vegan sandal able to go the distance without breaking the bank, OluKai is an excellent choice worth considering. With proper rotation, most pairs last several years until degradation of materials necessitates replacement. Just expect to replace them somewhat quicker than eternally durable Rainbows.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Rainbow and Olukai both make exceptional quality flip flops but ultilize different materials and design philosophies. Rainbow prides itself on custom-molded leather construction for unparalleled longevity, while Olukai favors immediate comfort from anatomically contoured footbeds.

Rainbow’s signature stiffness requires patience through blister-inducing break-in periods spanning weeks before a heavenly customized fit. Meanwhile Olukai’s vegan materials offer eco-conscious luxury right out of the box.

Ultimately there is no universally “better” option – only personal preferences around style variety, pricing thresholds, ethical sourcing, comfort timelines, and expected wearable lifespan. Diehard fans swear by both brands, so trying on a pair is the best way to see which sandal DNA speaks to your needs.

While subtly different, Rainbow and Olukai share a passion for crafting high-caliber flip flops to fuel adventure in supreme comfort.

Clayton S. Johnson

Well, I am Clayton who writes, manages, and does overall stuff for this website. I live somewhere in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and used to have a full-time job. But the pandemic taught me to do more do with my life. So, I quit my job and travel a lot! Since I have tons of time now, I write about all the stuff I have done, used, and have first-hand experiences.

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