In 2004 Paula Constant started an epic walking expedition from Trafalgar Square, in the UK. Between 2004 and 2007, she covered 7,460 miles and crossed the borders of 8 countries to get to the Sahara. Paula walked through the Sahara until fighting in Niger halted her. Where am I going with this?
She wore only her Birkenstocks. So, what made Birkenstocks comfortable enough to walk this distance through different and difficult terrains?
Birkenstock shoes have a contoured footbed to align feet and prevent strain on joints, tendons, and muscles, that makes them exceptionally comfortable. The shoes are designed to let Birkenstock wearers walk as nature intended them to. The soles are shock absorbent, and all uppers are soft and skin-friendly.
In my personal experience Birkenstocks have excellent comfort that is next to none. I’m a long term fan of the brand and I’ve owned several different Birkenstocks styles, but right now I’m rocking the Arizonas. Here’s how they look on me:
Imagine spending the entire day on your feet and not having foot, leg, or knee pain. Or better still, imagine being out and about, walking around all day, and not having aching feet. Sounds great right? Well, if you’re a Birkenstock fan, you will no doubt know that your favorite Birkenstocks make this possible (just like mine do!).
Take a look at the current price of my Birkenstocks here.
Here’s a video of me wearing mine, and discussing their comfort in detail, so you can get a good visual of how they look:
I love the comfort of Birkenstocks and I wear mine for all kinds of activites, from walking the dog in the summer to running errands. Whilst I personally wouldn’t trek crazy long distances in them like the amazing Paula Constant did, they are great for short walks!
If you are shopping online and you would like some help with Birkenstock sizing, check out my guide here: Do Birkenstocks Run Big? Sizing Guide Plus Charts.
If you still need some convincing, here are some attractive reasons to try a pair.
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Birkenstocks Go Hand In Hand With Comfort
Birkenstocks have been in the shoe business since 1774. The company has spent hundreds of years perfecting its shoes to create maximum comfort. At the company’s heart is a commitment to making shoes that allow you to walk as nature intended you to. They pin their reputation on this and have a shoe structure to make this a reality.
Speak to any Birkenstock wearer, and they’ll tell you there is no other shoe quite as comfortable as a Birkenstock. Sure, they take a while to get used to if you are a first-time Birks wearer. The discomfort you may feel initially, other than the upper needing to soften up a bit, is most likely due to your feet realigning to a natural foot position.
Podiatrists have joined the conversation; medically speaking, Birkenstocks have pipped other sandals to the post after being voted the best overall sandal of 2023 based on comfort. Podiatrists compared sandals based on podiatric research findings and extensive product feedback to find the winners.
The research evaluated foot support, strap positioning, adjustability, and footbed design. Arch support and a heel cup featured high on the criteria for comfort, as did shock absorbency and the thickness of straps.
Shoe width also played a role in the evaluation. Shoes must be wide enough to accommodate bunions and not squash any part of the foot.
Birkenstocks deliver on all these criteria. This validates the comfort claims of the Birkenstock manufacturers and the huge base of devoted fans.
Walk As Nature Intended
A Birkenstock shoe includes numerous ingenious feet-first features, each contributing to comfort and wearable pleasure.
The uniqueness of these features evolved from the Birkenstock design, which was based on how a healthy foot walks and stands in the sand.
Walking in soft sand requires your heel to be placed first, followed by the ball of your foot and then the toes. This foot placement ensures that all the joints and tendons in your foot work together correctly and there is no unnecessary strain on any part of the foot.
Added to this is how stepping into soft sand creates a natural arch and allows toes to spread out to keep balance. All in all, the perfect step for the perfect foot. Their shoes allow feet to mimic this motion and correctly place heels, arches, and toes to make this happen.
Birkenstocks combine a footbed, arch support, toe placement, foot support, heel support, and comfortable material to deliver this ideal.
You may also like: Can Birkenstocks Get Wet? Water Test (PHOTOS)
Birkenstock Contours Make Happy Feet
The secret to Birkenstock’s comfort is the footbed. It is designed to take care of every part of your foot and makes sure your foot functions properly from toe to heel. Birkenstocks have a unique footbed contoured and molded to align feet correctly.
The design elements of the footbed are:
- A heel cup that ensures that your heel is positioned correctly and isn’t sliding around or rubbing the back or front of your shoe. It also provides an effective shock-absorbing surface to protect your foot and ankle from the impact of walking. Heel cups keep your feet in position and prevent them from rolling over to either side.
- Arch support is Birkenstock’s claim to fame. A Birkenstock arch delivers the precise angle and height for a well-formed arch to balance your foot and keep your ankles, shins, and knees aligned.
- The molding from the toe to heel positions your feet correctly and stops them from shifting too much weight onto either side of the foot.
- A toe bar works magic for your toes. The molding across the foot joint area ensures that your toes are aligned with your foot and spread out correctly. It also allows your toes ample room to prevent pinched toes, corns, and bunions.
- The wide toe box on Birkenstocks allows your toes to do what they should do best; spread the balance of your weight across the ball of your foot. This stabilizes your foot and consequently keeps your body balanced.
- Raised side molding secures your foot and prevents your foot from slipping around and placing strain on your tendons and joints.
- Sliding feet often make wearing thongs uncomfortable. The raised front and back sections keep your foot from sliding backward and forwards. They also have a sneaky little benefit of preventing toe stubs. If you’ve never enjoyed wearing thong sandals, but love the look of them, try Birkenstocks, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable thongs can be.
The Birkenstock Footbed Is Made For Ultimate Comfort
There are two types of Birkenstocks footbeds; one has a cork base, and one has an EVA sole. Both are super comfy and offer the same benefits. Which shoe base you choose is entirely up to your preference; both provide all-day comfort.
The Birkenstock Cork Base Is The Famous Original
Birkenstocks are renowned for their comfortable footbeds, made from jute, cork, and suede.
- The first layer is jute, a natural thread often used for sacks, ropes, and construction. It’s strong but flexible.
- The second layer is made of a blend of cork and latex. Latex blends with the cork and works with the heat of your foot to mold your Birkenstocks, allowing them to fit like a sock. At the same time, regulating temperature prevents your feet from sweating. Cork also neutralizes odors which is a great plus if you’re in your shoes all day.
- Suede forms the final lining in your Birkenstocks and is soft and comfortable on your foot. It also alleviates any friction between your foot and the footbed. Suede is excellent at controlling temperature and works with the cork to keep your foot moisture free.
There is a of the cork footbed with a layer of foam below the lining to make your step spongier. It’s easier to break in the softer footbeds, but many Birkenstock aficionados prefer a firmer foundation.
EVA Delivers Feather Light Footsteps
EVA soles have the same footbed molding as the original Cork soles but are extra lightweight and waterproof. If you’re wondering what it is, EVA is ethylene-vinyl acetate which is soft and flexible and provides incredible comfort for anyone on their feet all day.
Birkenstock Uppers Are Luxurious
The Birkenstock range is huge. There are over 600 shoes in the women’s range, over 350 in the men’s range, and 76 in the kids’ range. That’s a whole lot of comfortable choices for shoe lovers.
Birkenstocks are manufactured with various materials, all superbly comfortable. Leather uppers and footbed linings comprise a large part of the Birkenstock shoe collection. The luxurious leather uppers featured in Birkenstock’s range include:
- Oiled Nubuck
- Natural Leather
- Oiled Leather
- Smoothed Leather
- Nappa Leather
In recent years the company has manufactured exclusive uppers that complement Birkenstock’s shoe range. Birkibuc, Birki-Flor, and Super Birki deliver the same soft-to-the-touch feeling as leather but offer an easier-to-clean, less water-absorbent surface.
Birkenstock’s Shearling and Wool felt shoes are soft, cozy, and ideal for wear at home, keeping your feet wonderfully warm and relaxed.
Microfiber, canvas, and synthetic fiber are used as uppers in some of the shoe designs and are just as skin-friendly as the rest of the range with no compromise on wearing pleasure.
Size And Comfort Are Inseparable
Finding the correct size plays just as big a role in comfort as shoe contouring and texture. Because Birkenstock has a specifically molded footbed, a size too big or too small will not only compromise the magic of the molding but also render your Birkenstock experience uncomfortable.
Sizes are measured in millimeters which is the most accurate way to measure feet. Fortunately, Birkenstock has a size chart on its website. The chart can be downloaded and printed onto an A4 sheet.
Women’s sizes range from U.S. size 4 – 12.5, men’s size 6 – 17.5, and the kids’ range starts from size 6 child’s size to size 8.5 in adult size.
The sizing chart details width measurements as well. Width is often not included on shoe measurement charts. Still, because of Birkenstock’s commitment to comfort, they include a scaled-width diagram.
Try These Tips To Keep Your Shoes Comfortable
Even though your Birkenstock’s are the epitome of comfort, here are some suggestions to keep a spring in your step.
- Regularly use a leather conditioner to keep leather uppers soft and smooth.
- If the cork on your Birkis looks dry, give it a good coat with a sealant. Cork sealant keeps the footbed stable and flexible. When the cork is exposed to dampness, it dries out and loses its ability to absorb shock, so seal the cork often.
- Wipe down your shoe’s inner lining after every wear to prevent little stones or grains of dirt from getting embedded and irritating your feet. A soft towel or dishcloth works well.
- Replace the footbed when yours feels worn out. You only need to buy a new shoe if you want to update your Birkenstock collection. However, Birkenstocks sell replacement footbeds.
- Once you’ve broken them in, wear your Birkenstocks often, so they quickly mold to the shape of your foot.
- Look after your feet, so no foot irritations ruin your Birkenstock experience. Birkenstock sells skincare products specifically designed to keep your feet in tip-top condition.
Are Certain Birkenstocks More Comfortable Than Others?
Choosing a Birkenstock shoe depends on your preference; however, the Arizona range has been voted the most comfortable.
Birkenstocks Look Wide, And I Have Narrow Feet. Can I Still Wear Them?
Yes, you can. There are two ways Birkenstocks accommodate narrower feet; if you wear the sandal ranges, shift the buckle up a notch or two, and alternately choose a narrower fit size instead of the regular fit.
I Do Not Have Foot Problems. Are Birkenstocks Good For Me?
Birkenstocks work for every type of foot: flat, high, and normal arches. Keeping your feet aligned is still important to protect joints, muscles, and tendons. In addition, Birkenstocks prevent foot fatigue.
Is The Birkenstock Range Only Available In Flats?
No, Birkenstock has a range of wedges that feature the same footbed design and are ideal if you want to add some height and still have a comfortable stride.
Birkenstocks are comfortable. Their unique footbed provides excellent support for your entire foot. The lining of the footbeds is made from super soft material, which keeps your feet dry and friction-free. Cork footbeds, latex, or EVA footbeds provide stability. They have shock-absorbent qualities to relieve strain on your feet, ankles, and knees. Uppers are made from soft foot-friendly material.
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).