The Birkenstock brand has been a staple with the outdoor crowd for decades. They’ve been clipped to packs, stashed in car trunks for après, and called on as the adventure world’s de facto recovery and chill sandals, since they’re wicked comfortable and actually good for your feet. The only drawback: getting them wet, as outdoorsy types tend to do, is ill-advised. That’s what makes Birkenstock’s rugged new outdoor collection—which marries the brand’s beloved contoured footbed with water-ready construction—so exciting. Here’s why you’ll never need to take them off.
Featuring two layers of polyurethane plus a layer of thermoplastic rubber, all direct-injected together, the German engineering and construction behind Birkenstock’s outdoor sandals are more reminiscent of mountaineering boots than open-toed footwear. The outsole has a self-cleaning lug design that sheds rocks and debris, plus it’s grippy enough for hiking and wet conditions. The footbed is polyurethane but features the same arch and metatarsal support as the classic design. Best of all, there’s no glue in the build, so delamination just won’t happen.
Up top, instead of leather and suede, you’ll find synthetic straps with easy-to-operate hook-and-loop closures for full adjustability. The uppers are burly and protective on the outside but soft and cushy on the inside. These are madly tough and supportive sandals, not disposable flip-flops.
You wouldn’t know it if you’ve ever spent time in a mountain town, but the classic Birkenstock sandals—cork/latex footbeds, leather uppers, and the adhesives that hold them all together—were never designed for the terrain they often see with outdoor folks. But we wear them out there anyway and use up our beloved sandals before their time. It feels fitting that the company finally created a water-friendly riff on its tried-and-true classic to save us (and our favorite cork Birks) from ourselves.
The goal here is to keep your feet—and therefore your whole body—happier in more environments. Think of the new offerings as burly off-road counterparts to your cherished suede and cork, with rugged construction to withstand serious abuse. Now you can slip them on for relief when you take off your climbing shoes or after that muddy mountain-bike ride and not worry about ruining the natural materials. Hell, you can even wear them hiking—which you might have done anyway. What stays the same is that classic contoured footbed that helps build foot strength and allows your feet to settle into a natural position, as if you’re walking on the sand.
Birkenstock engineered four water-friendly models, two for women and two for men. The women’s Sahara and the men’s Atacama are simple two-strap, slide-on designs for more casual pursuits. The women’s Kalahari and men’s Tatacoa are more secure thanks to the added back-strap. We like to think of the two-strap versions as your off-road dog walkers, camp slides, or post-adventure car shoes. The back-strap versions are stable enough for day hiking, SUPing, full-on whitewater, and the occasional jog back to the fire pit or car. The new designs are available in multiple colors, with prices ranging from $150 to $170.
Tradition since 1774. Made in Germany. Learn more at birkenstock.com