Hiking in Birkenstocks: Pros & Cons

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Really, Birkenstocks for Hiking?

What Are Birkenstocks?

I absolutely love my Birkenstocks and have hiked in them in my home in California, Germany, Romania and the island of Crete.

However, I’m not taking them anywhere in winter, heavy rain or longer than 5 miles.

As a physical therapist and avid hiker, I usually wear trail runners to hike but there’s a time and place for hiking in Birkenstocks.

And not all Birkenstocks are created equal and you may be surprised.

People have all kinds of opinions…like here in Europe “you must wear boots to hike”. Okay, tell that to the myriad of AT hikers in trail runners.

What you should do is test out the shoe in a store first (or buy online from a place like REI that has a good return policy) and gradually break them in.

hiking in birkenstocks
My good ole Birks on the farm for a short hike after the Via Transylvania. Don’t judge my pedicure.

They are a type of sandal that originated in Germany and have been around for over 200 years.

They are known for their cork footbed, which molds to the shape of your foot over time, providing customized support.

This footbed is lined with suede and sits on top of a shock-absorbing sole, making them comfortable for long periods of wear.

Birkenstocks come in a variety of styles, from the classic two-strap Arizona to the more modern Gizeh.

They even make a boot! I can’t keep the

➡️ Jump straight to the Pros and Cons

Why Birkenstocks for Hiking?

Birkenstocks are a popular choice for hiking because:

  • cork footbed that molds to your foot
  • comfort
  • durability
  • cushioning
  • shock absorbing sole
  • less joint impact
  • high quality materials
  • long lasting

Why Not Birkenstocks for Hiking?

However, it is important to note that Birkenstocks may not be the best choice for all types of hiking. They do not provide as much ankle support as a hiking boot, which can be a concern on more rugged terrain.

Additionally, the open-toe design of some birkenstocks may not be suitable for hikes with a lot of loose rocks or debris. It is important to consider the terrain and conditions of your hike before deciding to wear Birkenstocks.

While Birkenstocks are a popular choice for casual wear and light hiking, it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes for more challenging trails. The Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail Shoes are a great option for hikers who want a comfortable and durable shoe that can handle rugged terrain. With features like a zero-drop platform, a rock plate for protection, and a wide toe box for natural foot positioning, these shoes can help improve your hiking experience and reduce the risk of injury.

Sometimes you’ve got to wear them because your normal shoes are giving you blisters.

Quick Verdict:

⭐️ All Day Support Hiking Birkenstocks ⭐️

Based on my personal experience of trying out various hiking sandals, I highly recommend the Birkenstocks Kalahari as the best option on the market.

These sandals feature excellent performance, are breathable & anti-blister, have a protected but open toe, made with part cork and latex, and provides both style and comfort for hiking.

This type of hiking sandals is very rugged and most people would benefit from them.

They are very comfortable and help you to avoid blisters.  Most people use them when they seriously get into hiking.

Who Are They For?

➡️ Hikers & Trekkers

➡️ Hunters & Fishers

➡️ Birdwaters

➡️ Hut to Hut Hikers

➡️ People Prone to Blisters


Check Prices on Amazon



Buy Men's Version at REI 


Types of Birkenstocks for Hiking

As an avid hiker, I know how important it is to have the right footwear for the trail. Birkenstocks are known for their comfort and support, but are they suitable for hiking? The answer is yes, but it depends on the type of Birkenstock you choose.

Birkenstock Sandals

Birkenstock sandals are a popular choice for casual wear, but they can also be used for hiking. However, not all Birkenstock sandals are suitable for the trail. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole and adjustable straps for a secure fit.

The Birkenstock Arizona and the Birkenstock Gizeh are two popular options for hiking and walking. These sandals have a contoured footbed for support and a durable outsole for traction, but the sandals listed in this table are more appropriate for longer hikes and trekking.

For Trekking & Hiking

Click on Birkenstock Hiking Sandal to Check Price⭐️ Why is it good? 💥
Kalahari WomensBest Overall Women’s
Sahara Women’sOpen Back ♀
Milano Men’sBest Overall Men’s
Arizona CT Men’sOpen Back ♂

Other sandals for shorter hikes:

  • Gizeh (Classic Thong – my favorite easy hike birk)
  • Arizona (Classic Mules – My least favorite hiking birk)
  • Mayari (Classic Big Toe – Ugh, so uncomfy)

The things is: your mileage will vary. What’s comfy for me, may be awful for you. You’ve got to try what works best for your special foot.

Birkenstock Boots

If you’re looking for more coverage and protection on the trail, Birkenstock boots are a thing. These boots are designed with the same comfort and support as Birkenstock sandals, but with added features for hiking.

✅ The Birkenstock Jackson boot is a hiking boot option with a leather upper and a cork footbed for support. I can’t say I’ve tried this one as birks for me mean sandals.

Birkenstock Sneakers

For those who prefer a more athletic look, Birkenstock sneakers are a great choice for hiking. These sneakers have a similar design to the classic Birkenstock sandal, but with a closed-toe and a more rugged outsole.

✅ The Birkenstock Bend Canvas Sneaker is a another option for hiking with a canvas upper and a cork footbed.

Features of Birkenstocks

As someone who enjoys hiking, I have found that wearing the right shoes is essential to ensuring a comfortable and safe journey. Birkenstocks are a popular choice for many hikers due to their unique features that provide both comfort and support.

Comfort and Support

One of the key features of Birkenstocks is their footbed, which is designed to mold to the shape of your feet over time. This means that with each wear, the shoes become more comfortable and supportive.

These shoes offer excellent arch support, which is important for those who suffer from flat feet or other foot conditions.

Traction and Grip

When hiking, having shoes with good traction and grip is crucial for preventing slips and falls. Birkenstocks are designed with a sole that provides excellent traction, even on slippery or uneven terrain.

This ensures that you can confidently navigate any trail you encounter.

Durability and Protection

Hiking can be tough on shoes, which is why durability and protection are important features to consider. Birkenstocks are made with high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the rigors of hiking.

Navigating Different Terrains with Birkenstocks

When it comes to hiking in Birkenstocks, it is important to consider the terrain you will be facing. While Birkenstocks are comfortable and provide good support for walking on flat surfaces, they may not be the best choice for more challenging terrain.

Hiking on Rough Terrain

If you plan to hike on rough terrain, it is best to choose a more supportive shoe. Birkenstocks may not provide enough ankle support and stability for these types of hikes.

Hiking on Uneven Terrain

Birkenstocks are designed for walking on flat surfaces, so hiking on uneven terrain may pose a challenge. The lack of traction and stability may cause slips and falls. If you plan to hike on uneven terrain, it is best to choose a shoe with a more rugged sole and better grip.

👉 Take my what type of hiker are you quiz.

Hiking in Wet Conditions

Birkenstocks are not waterproof, so hiking in wet conditions may cause discomfort and blisters. It is best to choose a shoe that is designed for wet conditions, such as a hiking boot with a waterproof membrane. However, if you must wear Birkenstocks, consider treating them with a waterproofing spray before your hike.

Men’s and Women’s Birkenstocks for Hiking

Men’s Birkenstocks

As a hiker, I know the importance of having comfortable and sturdy footwear while on the trails. Birkenstocks are a popular choice for hiking sandals, and they come in a variety of styles for men.

One of the most popular styles is the Arizona, which features two adjustable straps for a customized fit. The Arizona is available in a variety of colors and materials, including leather and synthetic materials. Another popular option is the Milano, which features a third strap around the heel for added support.

For those looking for a more rugged option, the Birkenstock Dundee is a great choice. This hiking boot is made with durable leather and features a thick, sturdy sole for added traction on rough terrain.

Women’s Birkenstocks

Women also have a variety of Birkenstock styles to choose from for their hiking adventures. The Mayari is a popular choice, featuring a toe loop and two adjustable straps for a secure fit. The Mayari is available in a variety of colors and materials, including Birko-Flor, a synthetic leather alternative.

Another popular style for women is the Gizeh, which features a thong-style strap and an adjustable buckle for a customized fit. The Gizeh is available in a variety of colors and materials, including metallic and patent leather options.

For those looking for a more rugged option, the Birkenstock Stalon is a great choice. This hiking boot features a thick, sturdy sole and is made with durable leather for added protection on rough terrain.

Preventing and Handling Blisters

Fit and Sizing

When it comes to preventing blisters while hiking in Birkenstocks, getting the right fit and size is crucial. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause friction and rubbing, leading to painful blisters. It is important to measure your feet properly and choose the right size according to the brand’s sizing chart.

Birkenstocks are known for their unique footbed design, which molds to the shape of your feet over time. However, it’s important to break them in gradually to avoid blisters.

Blister Prevention and Care

Even with the right fit and size, blisters can still occur while hiking in Birkenstocks. To prevent blisters, wearing socks is highly recommended.

Socks provide an extra layer of protection against rubbing and friction, which can cause blisters. Choose socks made of moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters caused by sweat.

You’ll probably need toe socks to hike in Birkenstocks.

Another way to prevent blisters is to use blister prevention products, such as moleskin or blister pads. These products can be applied to areas prone to blistering before you start hiking. They provide a barrier between your skin and shoes, reducing friction and preventing blisters.

If you do get a blister while hiking in Birkenstocks, it’s important to take care of it properly. Clean the area with soap and water and apply a blister pad or moleskin to protect it from further rubbing.

Avoid popping the blister, as this can lead to infection. If the blister pops on its own, clean the area thoroughly and cover it with a bandage.

Read about the best blister kits for hiking.

Considerations for Long Hikes

Safety and Precautions

When planning for a long hike, safety should be a top priority. It is important to be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise. Here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Always bring a first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Make sure to bring enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized throughout the hike.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, such as hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for any changes in weather conditions.
  • Bring a PLB if hiking into the backcountry.
  • Bring a spare phone power bank or solar charger for hiking.
  • Let someone know your hiking plans, including your expected route and estimated time of return.

Pros and Cons of Hiking in Birkenstocks

Hiking in Birkenstocks can be comfortable and enjoyable, but it is important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. Here are some benefits and disadvantages to keep in mind:


  • Birkenstocks are lightweight and breathable, making them a good choice for warmer weather.
  • They are adaptable to various terrains and can be a versatile option for different types of hikes.
  • Birkenstocks are cost-effective and eco-friendly.


  • Birkenstocks do not provide as much ankle support as hiking boots or shoes, which can be a safety concern on longer hikes.
  • They may not offer enough protection from the elements, such as rain or snow.
  • Comfort issues may arise on longer hikes, as Birkenstocks may not provide enough cushioning or support for extended periods of walking.
  • Traction may also be an issue, especially on slippery or uneven terrain.

While Birkenstocks can be a comfortable and practical option for shorter hikes, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks before embarking on a longer hike. It is always better to prioritize safety and comfort over fashion or convenience.

Additional Features of Birkenstocks

When it comes to hiking, comfort is key, and Birkenstocks are known for their comfort and support. But did you know that Birkenstocks also have additional features that make them a great choice for hiking? Here are a few features to consider when choosing Birkenstocks for your next hike.

Vegan Sandals

Birkenstocks are known for their high-quality leather, but they also offer vegan options for those who prefer not to wear animal products. The Birkenstock Vegan collection is made from synthetic materials that are durable and water-resistant. These sandals are a great choice for hikers who want to stay comfortable and ethical on the trail.

Water-Resistant Models

Hiking often involves water, whether it’s crossing a stream or getting caught in a rainstorm. Birkenstock offers several water-resistant models that are perfect for hiking in wet conditions.

The Birkenstock Arizona Essentials and the Birkenstock Gizeh Essentials are both made from EVA, a lightweight and water-resistant material. These sandals are easy to clean and quick-drying, making them a great choice for hikers who want to stay comfortable in wet conditions.

Affordable Options

Hiking gear can be expensive, but Birkenstocks offer affordable options for hikers on a budget. The Birkenstock Essentials collection is a great choice for hikers who want the comfort and support of Birkenstocks without breaking the bank.

These sandals are made from lightweight and durable EVA and come in a variety of colors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best hiking sandals?

As a hiker, you want to choose a sandal that provides adequate support, traction, and durability. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole and adjustable straps that can keep your feet secure. Some of the best hiking sandals include Chaco, Teva, Keen, and Merrell.

Are Birkenstocks suitable for long hikes?

Birkenstocks are designed to provide comfort and support for casual walking and everyday wear. While they may be suitable for short hikes, they are not recommended for long hikes or strenuous activities. Birkenstock hiking sandals such as the Kalahari Womens or Milano Men’s with more advanced features such as a sturdy sole and adjustable straps are better suited for long hikes.

Can hiking sandals be used for hiking?

Yes, hiking sandals can be used for hiking, but it’s important to choose the right pair. Hiking sandals are designed to provide support, traction, and durability for outdoor activities. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole, adjustable straps, and a comfortable fit.

Which Birkenstock sandals are best for walking?

Birkenstock sandals are known for their comfort and support for everyday wear. For walking, the best Birkenstock sandals are those with a contoured footbed that provides arch support. The Arizona and Gizeh models are popular choices for walking.

What do podiatrists think about Birkenstocks?

Podiatrists generally have mixed opinions about Birkenstocks. While some podiatrists recommend them for their arch support and comfort, others caution against wearing them for extended periods of time or for strenuous activities. It’s important to consult with your podiatrist to determine if Birkenstocks are right for you.

How do Birkenstock hiking sandals compare to other brands?

Birkenstock hiking sandals are known for their comfort and support, but they may not be as durable or provide as much traction as other brands such as Chaco, Teva, Keen, and Merrell. It’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a hiking sandal.

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We hope this guide filled with interesting information about hiking in Birkenstocks has given you the proper information to plan your next adventure.

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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.