Are Olukai Shoes Zero Drop? (Are They Barefoot Shoes?)

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Are Olukai Shoes Zero Drop? In addition to sizing down the heel, Olukai also reduces the drop by removing layers of rubber from under the heel. Thus, this shoe provides a more natural feel and features a special insole that is very close to zero-drop but not quite.

I think of Olukai shoes as being the shoe to use if you are trying to transition from your normal running shoe to zero-drop shoes. Olukai is kinda in between the two. A good few steps down from a normal drop shoe but a step or two up from a zero drop shoe.

In fact, Olukai is so close to being a zero-drop shoe that some people have used them to transition, and once they feel confident they remove the insole and replace it with a zero-drop insole.

So that makes it the ideal shoe if you are just starting your zero-drop experience or if you find zero-drop just a little bit hard and need just a little support.

So… they are not zero-drop. Are they nonetheless minimalist shoes? Yes, they are “lightweight, low-profile, and flexible, making them an excellent introduction to barefoot training.

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Are Olukai Barefoot Shoes?

No. Unlike barefoot shoes, Olukai’s are anatomically contoured. This is because they are designed to have a precise and natural shape and fit. The entire footbed, including the arch and the instep, has been sculpted to cradle and articulate your feet – each to best support your walking motion – while ensuring natural freedom of movement.

They are very close but they have an excellent layer of cushioning compared to what most would consider a barefoot shoe. Olukai uses technology to make their shoes more comfortable than barefoot shoes while still maintaining a barefoot feel.

They look like traditional sports shoes, and they feel like traditional sports shoes. But they aren’t really sneakers at all: they actually feel like you are barefoot. So it is a shoe that makes you feel like you’re not wearing shoes when you are.


OLUKAI Lae'ahi Men's Slip On Sneakers, Lightweight Barefoot Feel & Breathable Mesh, Water Resistant Heel & Wet Grip Rubber Soles, Removable Gel Insert


Why do some people enjoy wearing barefoot shoes while others hate them? The answer is simple: heel-to-toe balance and the cushioning that comes with a supportive sole and arch and footbed.

When you stand on the Olukai barefoot shoe, it feels like standing on a mat or carpet, but it isn’t. You feel like you’re standing flat on your feet with no discomfort at all.

It’s the same feeling of standing on the beach in bare feet, but with equal support on rough ground and on city sidewalks, on its two-inch-thick rubber bottom.

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Olukai’s Are Very Cleverly Designed

Every time you walk, your foot adjusts its shape slightly to accommodate the new weight distribution. When you stand up, your body wants the weight on the balls of your feet, which means that half of each step has to be taken forward.

But if you are standing still, your weight shifts back and forth between the balls and heels of your feet as you move around.

So if you were trying to make a shoe that could support you while walking slowly or standing still, it would have to provide too much support at rest for it to be comfortable while moving.

It would need to have a heel that was higher than the ball of your foot when you were standing still but lower than that when you were walking.

So Olukai has crafted an anatomically contoured footbed that cradles your feet with support and comfort specifically designed to support every step you take. The result? No break-in period. Just pure relaxing bliss after the first wearing.

Every detail possible to make the perfect shoe has been incorporated into every step of the process, from the anatomically shaped footbeds to the softer, higher-density EVA midsoles that keep your toes cushioned and comfortable all day long.

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Are Olukai Minimalist Shoes?

There’s a big difference between having a minimal pair of running shoes and having one where you can run comfortably and not worry about your knees. All the so-called barefoot shoes fall short on both counts.

They provide the minimum amount of cushioning, and then they cut out at the limit of your feet’s range of motion, which is where most people feel stable anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fans of the barefoot style but if you are used to wearing running shoes with plenty of padding you will need something a little better than traditional barefoot shoes.

That’s where Olukai shoes come in… Olukai is minimalist as far as not using any unnecessary materials. Whereas a true barefoot shoe would be considered more minimalistic Olukai has managed to create a barefoot experience while still providing the protection of a padded footbed.

If you search for minimalist shoes on google you will find that most people consider Olukai as a brand that produces minimalist shoes. You could view Olukai as minimalist shoes that are still comfortable, fashionable, and beautifully simple.

They differ from other minimalist shoes by having a removable “insole,” which looks like a piece of molded foam. But the idea isn’t new: some shoe designers have been using removable insoles for years.

But Olukai has radically improved the process, making the insole out of a non-molded foam that can be shaped more precisely and glued together with no messy glue spills.

The result is an incredibly light, comfortable shoe. If you do not require maximum shock absorption or maximum flexibility, this may be the best shoe in existence.

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In summary, Olukai barefoot-like shoes provide just the right amount of protection for sensitive feet, while still allowing you to wear your everyday orthopedic shoes.

They are made with lightweight materials and anatomically shaped footbeds that cradle your feet for a lightweight, yet supportive, barefoot style, so you can still participate in your favorite activities.

The secret is the little “tongue” on the bottom of Olukai barefoot shoes which allows you to feel your way around like you’re walking barefoot – but with full support.

You may also be interested in… Do Olukai Sandals Stretch? (8 Ways To Stretch Olukai Sandals)Are Altra Shoes Zero Drop? (What Zero Drop Shoes Are Good For) and Are Ecco Shoes Wide Fitting? (What Is Freedom Fit?)