So many choices, how to find your Birkenstock Solemate!
When it comes to Birkenstocks you have so many choices, good news is, you really can’t go wrong! Birkenstocks are known for their super supportive cork foot-beds that over time mold to your individual feet making them nearly custom, it typically takes about 10 miles of walking to break a new pair of Birkenstocks in. The footbed has a high arch and also a metatarsal bar (this is the arch that runs under each of your toes). These arches help distribute your weight evenly and can help with foot, and even back pain! Birkenstocks are a go to for people with plantars fasciitis, over pronation, and people just looking for a fashionable high quality sandal.
When you go shopping for Birkenstocks, you will notice a variety of different options, it can be dizzying! We are going to try to explain some of the main differences for you so that you can make the best choice! Most of these different options apply to a wide variety of Birkenstock styles: Arizona, Milano, Gizeh, Mayari, Florida, Granada to name a few!
Original Footbed Vs. Soft Footbed
In 2000 Birkenstock came out with a new version of their classic footbeds, the Soft Footbed. The original and soft are essentially the same exact footbed with just one difference, the soft footbed has a layer of foam nestled between the cork and the leather sock liner.
Our customers have reported that the soft footbed is a bit easier to break in, and feels amazing straight out of the box! Also, the soft footbed technically has the same arch and toe bar as the original, but you can’t quite feel them as much because of the layer of foam. Sometimes people feel like the original footbed feels “more supportive” because you feel the arches a bit more.
Customers often ask, “well which one is more comfortable?” And it really just depends on personal preference! If you have the chance, try one of each and see what you prefer. Honestly, the difference is so subtle that you will probably love whatever you go with!
Pro Tip: The original footbed is typically $15 less expensive than the same style/color in the soft footbed. Also, you can tell which is which by simply squeezing the shoe, or look for the Birkenstock logo to be printed in Blue on the soft, and yellow or black on the original.
Oiled Leather, Amalfi Leather, Suede, Birko-Flor, Birki-Buc, EVA, oh my!
Oiled Leathers: These leathers will be slightly rustic looking, small scratches on the leather out of the box give the colors warmth and depth and just continue to get better over time! The straps can be slightly stiff but will break in but retain their shape well. Some of our favorite oiled leather colors are Habana, Tobacco, Iron and Black.
Amalfi Leathers: These leathers are highly polished and have a shiny finish. The leather is a bit more stiff and holds its shape very well, these can take more time to break in. Comes out of the box nearly perfect, maybe a couple of small scratches from production but not many. Our favorite Amalfi color is Brown Amalfi.
Suedes: Suede is a super soft cut of leather that has a bit of a nappy texture on it. These are super soft against the skin and the ultimate comfort experience. The suedes don’t “stand up” on their own, so some people stay away from these if they don’t want to have to bend down to slide the sandal on their foot. We have carried Mocha Suede and Taupe Suede for years!
Birko-Flor/Birki-Buck: These are both synthetic materials that do not contain leather. They are soft and durable and a favorite in our stores! Birko-Flor is often used for bright colors and fun patterns. Birki-Buck looks and feels like nubuck, in fact, we have had many customers confuse it for leather and are shocked to hear that it is actually a synthetic option. These keep their shape, are easy to clean and don’t really stretch out. The synthetic strapped sandals will still have a leather lined footbed. If you are looking for a Vegan Option, there is a small selection available of Peta Certified Birkesntocks that will be 100% free of all animal products. Pro Tip: Buying these synthetic options will typically save you about $25! Styles you see that MSRP around $100 are Birko-Flor or Birki-Buck.
EVA: These “rubbery” Birkenstocks are completely waterproof and weigh nearly nothing. They are make entirely of EVA (think of the material Crocs are made of) and don’t contain any cork or leather. These will wear out a bit faster than the more traditional Birkenstocks but much better in certain situations like the beach and pool. Pro Tip: The EVA Birkenstocks are the least expensive variation.
Narrow vs. Medium Width
Birkenstocks are made in 2 different widths, Narrow and Medium. We have found that 90% of our customers fit perfectly in the medium width, so that is what we carry in the most options. Certain colors are only manufactured in the narrow width, but it is always worth trying! We are always surprised that narrow feet typically fit in the medium just fine, and wide feet can be happy in the narrow as well! Pro-Tip: Those buckles are there for a reason, use them! The buckles provide quite a bit of adjustability, and we can always add additional holes to the straps to make them tighter or looser in store (and free of charge!)
There is a lot to sort through when picking out your first or next pair of Birkenstock sandals! Come into any one of our 3 Colorado Locations and one of our friendly sales associates will help you get fitted into the perfect pair! Don't live near Boulder or Denver? Give us a call, we are happy to answer questions over the phone! 303-449-5260.