I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of my favorite pairs of “ugly” walking shoes, a pair of Birkenstock Arizonas, finally gave out the other day. I didn’t realize at the time that Birkenstock can and will apparently fix any part of a shoe (thanks to the wonderful commenter Jennifer P), but to be honest my old pair was probably dingy enough that it wasn’t fit for public consumption anyhow.
Luckily for me however, my Arizonas gave out just at the right time – when Birkenstocks were apparently acceptable again! I took the opportunity to order a bunch of different pairs and styles and try them all out. I hope my experience can help some of you looking for a perfect pair of Birkenstocks out there!
First up? Suede Arizonas.
I was already very familiar with the Arizona style, having worn the traditional oiled pair. This time I was lured in by the “soft footbed” version, which promised a shortened break in time and even more comfortable walking. Yes! Why not?
The first pair I tried: black suede Arizonas. I liked the matching black buckles on these – a little more modern and less “granola” in my opinion. A size narrow fit my normal width foot perfectly, likely because these are unisex shoes and “narrow” in the Arizona style is closer to a regular width for women’s shoes.
Next up was the taupe/tan suede pair I ordered. When I tried these on, I was surprised – they seemed super wide! I knew that different colors maybe had small deviations with Birkenstock, but I wasn’t expecting this. I checked the box and the label said “narrow,” so I shrugged and prepared to pack them away as a return.
Before I did that however, curiosity overcame me and I decided to try and find out if I could figure out the width of the sandals by looking around the shoe. There were no labels calling out the width, however. Then I did some research and learned an easy way to tell if your Birkenstocks are “narrow,” or “regular”.
Simply look at the little footstep icon.
If the foot imprint graphic is filled in/solid – then your shoe is a narrow fit. If it’s empty or unfilled, then it’s a regular. And that’s how I figured out that I had been sent the wrong width! Darn you, Zappos!
Verdict: these were super comfortable on me, especially with the soft footbed. I would think that the suede + soft footbed would mean a minimum of break in time. And I’d recommend that most women with narrow to regular width feet, opt for the narrow or B width for these.
Next up for me was another very popular style – the Gizeh in black on black.
I usually like to buy all of my sandals in leather or suede when possible, but for these I decided to try out the “Birko-flor” material that Birkenstock offers, as it was the only material that offered a black on black option.
Unlike with the Arizonas, I ordered the regular width in this style (which also comes in narrow) as my size wasn’t available in narrow. To my surprise, the regular width fit me perfectly.
Verdict: A great shoe, certainly more stylish than the regular Arizonas (in my opinion) and which look less clunky. No softbed version though, so would take a little longer to break in. The design, even though reminiscent of a flip flop, is way more stable and the shoe stays nice and secure on the foot you walk. And regular width wearing ladies can go ahead and order the regular/wide width.
The third style I tried out was a new one for me – the Mayari, in Licorice Birko-Flor.
Unlike the Gizeh, I had the choice of ordering the narrow configuration (B) for these sandals, so I did, and they fit very nicely.
Verdict: A prettier pair of Birkstocks and in my opinion one of the more comfortable ones, partially due to the toe loop. The strap configuration also makes this a style that doesn’t “flop” around when you walk. Wish that there was a soft footbed available!
Out of the three, I actually liked the Mayari the best, by a slight margin. However, Mr. Feather absolutely loathed them for some reason. And since I had subjected him to a tower of Nordstrom and Zappos boxes and tromping around loudly in the house over the last week, I gave in and kept the Gizehs instead. I think I may still add another pair of Arizonas down the line to replace my former pair – like an old friend.
I hope this was helpful for some of you! Please share any experiences you’ve had with your Birkenstocks, recommended styles, the most comfortable styles – really, anything! Other brand recommendations are welcome as well.