Comfortable Sandals

Published on April 20th, 2019 | by Beth Bengtson


Birkenstock Sandals: Iconic, Always Comfortable Classics

Birkenstock sandals have been around a long time, but only in recent years have the style gods deemed them fashionable. It’s about time! We firmly believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for comfort – and there are not many comfort shoes as iconic as Birks. They’re go-to sandals for us at the Barking Dog. We sometimes even wear them in winter with socks, on days when our feet are ouchy and other shoes just aren’t cutting it.

Birkenstock Sandals : Gizeh

Birkenstock Gizeh

Birkenstock sandals first arrived in the U.S. in 1966 (timing which may help explain their long association with granola-earthy-hippie types).  But the company’s history goes all the way back to 1774 when German shoemaker Johann Birkenstock began making shoes with a strong commitment to craftsmanship. In 1896, Johann’s visionary grandson Konrad began making and selling flexible footbed inserts, and in 1902, he developed the first contoured arch support.

Birkenstock Sandals : Zurich and Arizona

Birkenstock Zurich (left) and Birkenstock Arizona (right)

This spirit of innovation, in addition to an ongoing commitment to quality and comfort, contributed to the growth in popularity of Birkenstock shoes. Today the brand continues to develop sandals and shoes that promote health and well-being based on detailed knowledge of human anatomy. This makes sense – when feet are perfectly supported, it positively impacts the entire body including knees, hips, and back.

Birkenstock Sandals : Birkenstock Footbed

Birkenstock Footbed

Every Birkenstock footbed features proper arch support, a deep heel cup, and adequate room in the toe area, all of which help distribute weight evenly over the entire foot.  The Birkenstock concept of comfort is based on firm, orthopedically correct support. While many people (myself included) love the feeling of the traditional firm footbed,  Birkenstock also offers a soft footbed on certain styles. The soft footbed has the same supportive features of the traditional footbed, but has an extra layer of cushioning foam inserted between the suede footbed liner and the layers of cork and jute below. Some wearers enjoy the added softness, and those with plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) may find it gives extra relief.

Birkenstock Sandals : Birkenstock Arizona

Birkenstock Arizona

The cork/latex blend at the heart of the footbed is resilient and pliable, and reacts to natural body warmth. Therefore, over time, the footbed yields to the characteristics of an individual foot. Many Birkenstock wearers find that the longer you wear them, the more comfortable they become. And they’re made to last – unless you unduly abuse them, you can expect to get years of wear from a pair of Birkenstocks.

Birkenstock Sandals : Arizona Spectral

Birkenstock Arizona “Spectral”

Birkenstock sandals come in European sizes, and most sellers show the Euro/U.S. size conversion. They typically run true to size.  Width options are Regular and Narrow. Regular Birks generally run on the wide side (people with wide feet often can wear a regular width in Birkenstock).  Depending on the sandal, if you have a medium width foot you may want to order a narrow width – especially in styles that run wide.  Wider-fitting styles include the Arizona, Florida, Milano, and Madrid. Styles such as the Mayari and Gizeh tend to run narrower, so many wearers who require a narrow width in the wider-fitting styles will fit into a regular width in these.  Unsure? Take advantage of many online retailers’ generous free shipping and returns policies and try both widths to see which is best for you.  The chart below may also be a helpful reference (and it shows Birkenstock’s symbols for regular & narrow widths – regular widths have an outline of a foot printed on the footbed; narrow widths have a filled-in footprint.)

Designed for medium to wide feet.
(Women’s U.S. widths B-C+ and Men’s U.S. widths D-EE)
Designed for narrow feet.
(Women’s U.S. widths AA-B and Men’s U.S. widths C-D
Birkenstock Sandals :Gizeh and Mayari

Birkenstock Gizeh (left) and Mayari (right)

In addition to unmatched comfort and quality, Birkenstock stands out from a sustainability standpoint. First off, because of their durability, Birkenstock products are by nature eco-friendly (fewer resources are used when you don’t have to replace things as often). In addition, a high proportion of the natural materials used to produce Birkenstock products are from sustainable sources: cork, natural latex, jute, leather, and wool felt. The company is also committed to environmentally friendly operations, and constantly works to improve production processes, products, packaging and logistics to be more environmentally-conscious.

Find Birkenstock sandals at Zappos, Nordstrom, The Walking Company and

Birkenstock Sandals : Cora

Birkenstock Cora

We’ve loved Birkenstock sandals for years and have talked about them numerous times before. Check out our previous reviews here.

What about you? Do you have a Birkenstock story? Or a favorite style? Please leave a comment and tell us about it!

And if Birkenstock sandals are a bit out of your price range, consider a pair of Birkenstock look alikes!


About the Author

10 Responses to Birkenstock Sandals: Iconic, Always Comfortable Classics

  1. Meghan says:

    I really like your blog, but calling leather a “sustainable source” is something I think that cows would argue with…

  2. Loretta says:

    I heard Birkenstock is now making a ballet flat. That, is like to try!

  3. Carol says:

    Birkenstocks have been my favorite sandals for several years. They are the only ones that support my hallux limitus toes and bad arches, and allow me to walk for hours and hours without pain. The deeper heel cup keeps them on my feet while walking, too. I love the Mayari style because it looks more stylish and less clunky than some of the others. I even get compliments from my daughter’s friends on how cute they are! The narrow size fits my narrow foot perfectly, and the straps make them adjustable.

  4. Kirsten Borrink says:

    I agree, the Mayari is chic. I subbed at my son’s high school and loved seeing the girls in Birks and socks.

  5. Leah says:

    I absolutely love my Birkenstocks! I have sandals and clogs. I have arthritis in my feet and Hallux limitus. I highly recommend Birkenstocks.

  6. karen says:

    I’ve had a couple versions of the Florida style and they are my go-to shoes. There is nothing more comfortable. I wear them around the house every single day. I have plantar fasciitis and heel spurs and they are awesome. I just ordered a new pair of the Mayari. I do like the style very much as they are more feminine. However I may have to send them back because they are just not as supportive as the Arizona or the Florida. Boo hoo I wanted to look more like a girl for a change

  7. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Good to know. I love the Mayari and the Yara and have added them my bag on Zappos a few times over, only to change my mind. I know that I won’t wear them like I do my Arizonas (so easy to slip on and go), and I fear the toe thingy will bother my RA toes that aren’t perfectly straight. BUT! They are the cutest style of the bunch…

  8. Jean Terry says:

    I purchased a pair of birkenstock’s earlier this year. They were different sandals as they were black with blue designs on them. I thought they would be fun for a change. Sadly, after wearing for a month or so I noticed the big toe on my right foot hurt. The ridge hits my toe in the wrong place. I can’t wear them any more. I have never had this trouble with Birkenstocks before.

  9. Carol says:

    I love all the shoes I have purchased that you recommend, except I am not sure bout the Birkenstock Arizona, I have never owned Birkenstock before and initially they are making my feet feel more painful. Do Birkenstock sandals take time to break in?

  10. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Yes! They do. Did you get the regular Arizonas or the soft footbed ones?

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