Since 1774, Birkenstock has been crafting the finest quality shoes that, as they say, are “good for you”. For nearly 250 years, the company has been providing their customers with thoughtfully constructed, exceptionally comfortable, and incredibly durable shoes that provide superior support. Since its inception, Birkenstock has been committed to meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of those who wear their footwear, and that commitment has been passed on, year after year, and still remains just as important today as it was when they were founded more than two centuries ago.
Birkenstock’s claim to fame is their signature contoured cork footbeds with layers of jute and suede that conform to the shape of the wearer’s feet. They’re also regarded for their laid-back styles and go-with-the-flow designs, making them a popular footwear choice among those who align with carefree, counterculture lifestyles, such as beatniks, hippies, and the grunge movement. Of course, you don’t have to ascribe to any particular culture or dress in any specific style of fashion to love Birkenstocks, as people from all walks of life and who have all types of tastes and styles love this footwear brand.
While there’s no denying that Birkenstocks are famously comfortable, durable, and stylish, there is a downside: they’re kind of expensive. While cost varies from style to style, on average, the price ranges from just under $100 for their sandals and clogs to north of $200 for their boots. For that kind of cash, if you’re going to invest in Birkenstocks, you want to make sure that you know what kinds of conditions they can endure and how to take care of them so that they can last as long as possible. With that said, there’s no doubt you have the same question that so many other first-time Birkenstock buyers ask, and that is, “Are they waterproof?” The last thing you want to do is splash around in puddles or tromp through the rain in your Birkenstocks if they aren’t waterproof.
To find the answer to this very frequently asked question, keep on reading.
History of Birkenstock Shoes
Before we jump in and explore whether or not Birkenstocks are waterproof, let’s dive a little deeper into their history so you can gain an appreciation for the longevity of the popularity of this footwear brand.
As mentioned, Birkenstock was founded in 1774. The company was the brainchild of Johann Adam Birkenstock, a humble German cobbler. The original intention of the company was to design shoes that provide proper support by contouring to the shape of the foot. Back then, the soles of most shoes were flat, unsupportive, and incredibly uncomfortable, and Johann Adam Birkenstock wanted to change that; hence, he set out to create more comfortable and supportive shoes, and the now famous Birkenstock brand was born.
In the year 1896, Konrad Birkenstock, Johann Adam’s great-great-grandson and a master cobbler, had a revolutionary idea: to design and sell flexible insoles. A few years later, Konrad invented the now iconic footbed that Birkenstock is famous for. It was this innovation that sealed the fate of the Birkenstocks, making them one of the most popular footwear brands. The clever design of the footbed was actually based on the cast of a food in the sand. The goal of the design footbed was to ensure that the wearer’s feet feel as comfortable as possible, even when worn for hours on end.
The shoes were sold throughout Europe, and in 1966, a woman by the name of Margot Fraser introduced the brand to the United States. Believe it or not, when they first landed on the shores of the US, Birkenstocks were sold in health stores; hence why they became associated with hippies. Fast forward to 2021 and numerous styles of Birkenstock have been created, including sandals, clogs, sneakers, and boots. Today, numerous colors and styles are available, for men, women, and children.
Are Birkenstocks Waterproof?
So, now that we’ve gone over a brief snapshot of the history of Birkenstock, let’s get back to the purpose for writing this post: discovering whether or not the shoes are waterproof. So, are they?
In short, the answer to that question is no, standard Birkenstocks aren’t waterproof; however, there is a longer, more complex explanation. Let’s explore further.
Birkenstocks feature leather uppers, which, contrary to popular opinion, isn’t waterproof (no, leather is not waterproof, despite what your parents, grandparents, or anyone else you know may have told you). The famous footbeds of these shoes are comprised of four separate layers, one of which includes a suede material, jute (an organic plant fiber), and cork. All of these materials do have absorbing qualities, so rather than resisting liquid, Birkenstocks will actually sop it up. The soles of these shoes are made of EVA material, which is capable of resisting some degree of moisture.
To summarize, while Birkenstocks are made of the highest quality materials, are thoughtfully designed, are expertly constructed, are quite durable, and are – of course – exceptionally comfortable and supportive – unfortunately, they are not waterproof. While the soles are water-resistant to some degree and you can walk on wet streets or through really shallow puddles without having to worry about your feet getting wet, you should avoid submerging them or exposing them to excessive amounts of water; for example, if you get stuck in a downpour while wearing your Birkenstocks or you walk through a stream that comes across your path while you’re hiking, it’s pretty much guaranteed that your feet are going to get wet. Soggy feet isn’t the only issue you’ll face; there’s a good chance that your Birkenstocks will be damaged, too.
How to Protect Your Birks from Moisture
While Birkenstocks aren’t waterproof, there are some things that you can do to protect them from moisture. One of the most effective things that you can do is apply a wax-based polish to your shoes and if you get stuck in a rainstorm, a snowstorm, or you walk through a puddle, the water will bead up and your Birks will remain dry. Not only does the wax provide waterproofing, but they also help to heal old marks, such as scratches and scuffs, on your shoes.