Cariuma OCA Low Review: Sneakers, Rio Style

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by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Jun 08, 2021

Cariuma sneakers are sustainable and look pretty cool, but it’s hard to know whether they’re all marketing hype, or the sneakers stand the test of time. There’s a lot of amazing brands out there, so why waste your time?

In our Cariuma OCA Low review, we break down the brand’s most popular sneaker and show our experiences so you can decide whether this skater shoe is right for you.

All eyes on the toe-cap
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Cariuma OCA LOW

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Bottom line: The Cariuma OCA Low is the cooler version of standard Vans sneakers. The small rubber toe-cap gives this sneaker a unique vibe, and the brand’s commitment to sustainability is commendable. They’re also super comfortable, and offer better arch support than any low top skate sneaker I’ve tried.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon

Pros:

  • The color options are hard to choose from because they’re all really cool
  • The insole is removable, and while it has solid arch support on its own, if you need extra, you can easily add your own insert
  • Organic cotton canvas, natural rubber, recycled packaging---Cariuma even plants two trees in the Amazonian rainforest for every pair of sneakers bought
  • They’re lined with a cotton fabric, which ensures you don’t get that hole in the toe that happens with other canvas sneakers

Cons:

  • They fit a bit snug in the toe---I’d order a half-size larger next time

There’s nothing sweeter than when winter turns to spring; the birds come out, blossoms emerge, groundhogs come out and just start looking at you from the side of the road. 

And I put away my boots and bust out the sneakers. 

I’ve actually been sitting on the Cariuma OCA Low since last year—I picked them up toward the end of summer, and only had a few chances to wear them before the wet winds of fall came up and forced my bright yellow sneaks back into the box. 

But the sun is out again, and I’ve been stomping around town in my Cariuma shoes for a few weeks now. So how are they holding up? You’re about to find out.

Cariuma OCA Low Overview

Cariuma Sneakers OCA Low against wood

The Cariuma OCA Low is a canvas low top sneaker. One of the unique factors of Cariuma shoes is their signature rubber toe cap. It’s not as defined as, say, a Converse sneaker, with a full rubber toe. 

But it juts out about a half-inch, which is something I haven’t seen in any other shoe. 

Cariuma also offers a high-top version, and both come in a variety of bright and bold colors. 

The brand makes sustainability a major cornerstone of their message: each pair of shoes represents two trees planted in the Amazonian rainforest, and the materials they use, from the canvas to the rubber, are all sustainability produced. 

Cariuma OCA Low

There’s no reason to play coy here—we got these sneakers because they look cool. But after wearing them around for a few months, it became clear that their memory foam insoles make them excellent travel partners.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Sneakers from Cariuma

Cariuma OCA Low Yellow Sneakers

How often are you planning on wearing your new sneakers? 

Before getting a pair of Cariumas my last canvas shoe was the Vans Low-Top. I love the look of them, but after a year or so, my toe rubbed through the canvas upper, creating an unsightly hole. And that wasn’t the only time—it’s a consistent problem I have with Vans. 

While Cariuma is about 30-40% more expensive than Vans, I went with them for two reasons: I love their sustainability pledge, and they have a cotton lining that will drastically increase the lifespan. 

If you’re planning on wearing your canvas sneakers just every once in a while (like you have a large collection of shoes), then saving a few extra bucks might be a good choice. But if you plan on wearing these often (at least two to three times a week), you’ll get a lot more wear overall with Cariuma. 

Cariuma OCA Low Review

First Impression

Cariuma Sneakers against white background

I spent probably 20 minutes on the OCA Low product page in a cold-sweat. The blue is awesome, the green canvas is incredible, or should I go classic with white? So many options. 

But I went out of my comfort zone and picked up the Yellow Canvas. They’re cheery, bright, and make an otherwise basic outfit pop.

I’m a big-time shoe guy, so I’m ok having a bold sneaker that only works with a few outfits, but if you’re in need of an “everyday” sneaker, I’d look toward the off-white, black, and grey—those colors work with everything. 

If I’m honest, the main reason I picked up Cariumas is the short rubber toe cap. I just think that looks super cool. I always felt Converse were a little too “clowny,” with the extended rubber toe. The design of the OCA Low is an excellent balance of retro and modern. 

Canvas Upper

Cariuma OCA Sneakers canvas sneakers

The canvas is made with 100% organic cotton, which plays a huge role in keeping local water sources free of pesticides.

It’s thick and durable, and quite easy to clean. Even with a lighter colored shoe, I’ve had no issues washing out dirt stains and smudges. 

The upper is sewn with a matching colored stitch (unless you pick a color that specifically has a contrasting stitch—it should be obvious). I love the stainless steel eyelets, wide cotton laces, and the metal caps on the laces. 

Really, the OCA Low is detail oriented, and compared side by side with other mass-produced sneakers from huge brands, Cariuma has the edge in just about every way I can think of. 

As I mentioned above, the OCA Low is more durable than other canvas sneakers I’ve had in the past because of its cotton lining. This adds another layer of support and structure so my big toe doesn’t wear a hole in the top of the shoe. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced the same thing, but it has happened to me with every pair of canvas sneakers I’ve ever owned. Until now. 

Sole Quality

Cariuma Sneakers sole detail

The sole is quite thick and it offers a good deal of shock absorption. 

If you’re a skater and you’re eyeing these shoes, I can vouch for their grip. They’re just as grippy as Vans, though I think the lining and insole make them an even better choice. That said, I’d probably get the high top if I skateboarded more often—you have to take care of those precious ankles. 

Measuring at 3cm thick, the sole will last a long time before wearing down, and because the rubber is soft, there’s plenty of cushion if you’re standing for several hours. 

A major benefit of Cariuma shoes is the removable insole. Low top sneakers aren’t particularly well-known for their arch support, but the insole here does a decent job of it. Plus, the leather heel bed is a nice comfort touch. 

Cariuma Sneakers green insole detail

As someone with top-notch arches (beeping my own horn), I don’t really need extra arch support from my shoes. But if you do, it’s super easy to take out Cariuma’s insole and add one with much better support. 

I haven’t seen that with any of the other canvas shoes I’ve owned in the past, and that’s a make or break selling point for folks with flat feet. 

Fit and Sizing

Cariuma Sneakers for skatboarders

The fit and sizing is my only point of contention with the Cariuma OCA Low. They’re a bit snug in the toe. I’m a size 10.5 in all my sneakers, and I opted for the same size here. But they feel a bit smaller than all my other sneakers. 

It seems a size 11 would’ve been the better choice. 

The 10.5 is still comfortable, and I have no problem walking for several miles in these, but it can start to rub my pinky-toes by the end of the day. 

I recommend ordering a half-size larger than you normally would for sneakers. 

And if you get the wrong size, Cariuma runs a cool exchange system, where they’ll ship out an exchange pair as soon as you print out your free return label and ship yours off. This cuts the exchange process short by several days so you can rock your new sneaks sooner. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

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As of writing, the Cariuma OCA Low has over 6,000 reviews on site. Several reviewers mentioned this was their second or third pair (I even saw one person who said they have five).  

Female reviewers all tended to say the shoes fit true to size, though several of the reviews from men echoed my sentiment—a half-size larger is the way to go.  

Cariuma OCA Low

There’s no reason to play coy here—we got these sneakers because they look cool. But after wearing them around for a few months, it became clear that their memory foam insoles make them excellent travel partners.

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Cariuma OCA Low Alternatives

Vans Authentic

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Growing up in Southern California, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Vans Authentic, specifically in Off-White. I’ve owned probably seven pairs of these throughout the course of my life.

They’re fairly affordable, and I use them as an easy-wearing alternative because they’re a solid buy if you plan on wearing your canvas sneakers just every so often. 

Overall, I think the Cariuma OCA Low is a much better value, even at its higher price—mainly because it’s way more durable and comfortable. 

But if you’re super budget conscious, or just want a canvas sneaker to act as a small accent to a much larger shoe collection, the Vans Authentic can get you what you need for cheaper. 

Vans Authentic

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Vans Authentic, specifically in Off-White. I’ve owned probably seven pairs of these throughout the course of my life. They’re fairly affordable, and I use them as an easy-wearing alternative because they’re a solid buy if you plan on wearing your canvas sneakers just every so often.

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Cariuma OCA High

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I had a really tough time picking between the OCA High and Low

For skaters, or if you’re aiming for the true skate aesthetic, the OCA High is the way to go. 

It’s built nearly identically, and the materials are all the same high-quality and sustainable choices as found in the OCA Low. But you get more ankle support.

The only downside would be that you won’t feel the gentle breeze across your ankles. Is that something you can live without? The choice is yours. 

Cariuma OCA High Top

Cariuma blends sustainability and style. The OCA High Top's distinctive toe cap adds some unique flair to this casual sneaker, but make sure you check out all the bright colors the brand offers before making your decision.

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My Thoughts Overall On the Cariuma OCA Low

What I Like

  • The OCA Low features really bold and fun color choices—it’s hard to just pick one. 

  • Not many canvas sneakers have a removable insole. I felt there was plenty of arch support with the standard insole, but if you have flat feet and need more support, it’s easy to add your own custom insert. 

  • Cariuma’s eco-minded mission is awesome—the materials are all organic or sustainably sourced, and each pair of sneakers purchased plants two trees in the Amazon rainforest.

  • Because the OCA Low is lined, it has more support, structure, and you won’t wear a hole in the toe as easily. 

What I Don’t Like

  • I felt the OCA Low ran a half-size small. I’m usually a 10.5 in sneakers, though for my next pair of Cariuma’s, I’ll get an 11.

Who is the Cariuma OCA Low for?

The Cariuma OCA Low is an excellent shoe for you if you want a casual spring and summer sneaker that blends vintage aesthetic with modern taste, all while supporting a business that does right by the planet.

The Verdict

Whether you’re skateboarding or heading to the farmers’ market, the OCA Low is an excellent casual canvas sneaker. 

I love the bright and bold color options, and my yellow sneakers always get a ton of compliments when I wear them out. They’re a little unusual looking with the slight rubber toe cap, but it’s in a very good way. 

And interestingly enough, they have a super wide appeal. I’m a 30-year-old dude and I love wearing them through the spring and summer—they turn a simple jeans and tee outfit into something special. 

But I had a 65-year-old woman ask me in my apartment parking lot what I was wearing, and the next week she had her own pair of Cariuma OCA Lows, too. And she looked awesome. 

If you’re in the market for a pair of canvas shoes, I haven’t found a better value than Cariuma. They’re super stylish, comfortable, and the price is right—especially considering their environmentally friendly business practices. 

For guys, order a half-size larger than you normally would with sneakers. But otherwise, try out a bold color that’s a bit out of your comfort zone—that’s what I did, and I’m loving every step.

Cariuma OCA Low

There’s no reason to play coy here—we got these sneakers because they look cool. But after wearing them around for a few months, it became clear that their memory foam insoles make them excellent travel partners.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Are Cariuma shoes comfortable?

Yes, Cariuma shoes are comfortable. With a 3cm sole, there’s plenty of cushion, and the cotton lining makes for a soft feel on the inside.

Do Cariuma shoes have arch support?

Cariuma shoes don’t have a tremendous amount of arch support. They’re better than many other canvas sneaker brands, and they have a removable insole so you can add your own insert if needed. But if you need a lot of arch support, you’re better off with a completely different style of shoe, like a running shoe, or even a boot.

Where are Cariuma shoes made?

Cariuma shoes are made in Singapore, and the brand employs the strict guidelines set out by the International Labor Organization in their factory to ensure fair working conditions.

Are Cariuma shoes good for skating?

Yes, Cariuma shoes are an excellent choice for skaters. I like them better than Vans because they have a cotton lining, which not only adds more structure and support, but it increases the durability.

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