Plastic Birks!

Birkenstock EVA vs Leather Birkenstocks

I LOVE MY BIRKS. Out of all my shoes (and maybe most surprisingly?) the pair I a) wear the most right now and b) get asked about the most has been my plastic (EVA) birks! I have been wearing birks since I was a kid growing up on Cape Cod, and will defend them forever – they are truly one of my most favorite shoes. Luckily, they’re cool now… but when the trend inevitably dies again, I’ll still be rocking mine.

I have talked about my gold birks and those are probably my other most worn shoes right now (gotta love quarantine) and often get asked how they compare to the EVA birks. I do think that right now, there is no better shoe than the Birkenstock sandal. It’s comfortable and supportive, it molds to the shape of your foot, it’s great for long walks, and it’s (kind of, depending who you ask!) pretty cute, too! I absolutely love mine.

Birkenstock EVA vs Leather Birkenstocks

Birkenstock EVA Sandals

The Birkenstock EVA sandals are made from something called ethylene vinyl acetate. EVA is a super lightweight and flexible material. It feels a bit like foam and if I’m going to compare them to anything, it’s crocs. That really light, ultra comfortable, cushiony material. I call these my “chic crocs” as I did love crocs back in the day. (Back when I was a long distance runner, NOTHING was better after a long run!). If I were to ever run a marathon again (probs never), these are the shoes I’d reach for after.

Birkenstock Leather Sandals

Birkenstock leather sandals are a classic, with their signature cork footbeds. They’re also very comfortable but much heavier than the EVA pair. I’m on my third pair of gold birkenstocks as I’ve been wearing birks since before they were cool (I’m kinda just a Cape Cod hippie at heart!). They come in birko flor (a vegan alternative to leather) too and I find that they’re equally comfortable – I accidentally ordered a pair of gold birko flor sandals earlier this summer and like them just as much as the leather ones. I have not tried the oiled leather variation yet but have heard wonderful things.

Birkenstock Sandals Comparison

Footbed

The best part of Birkenstocks (EVA or regular) is how they mold to the shape of your foot, making them become your perfect sandal with incredible arch support. The deep heel cup, moldable footbed, and toe grip… it’s heaven. The footbed of any Birkenstock is just… the best.

Sizing

Sizing is pretty true to size for both styles. I typically take an 8.5 in almost every shoe and have narrow-ish feet and take an 8 (or a 38, depending on the size chart). I know many Birkenstock styles come in a narrow footbed, I’ve never tried those BUT find wearing my Birkenstocks on the most narrow buckle setting gives me the perfect fit!

Style and Color Options

They come in so many fab colors…. black, white, metallics, and of course a huge range of happy, bright colorful hues.

Price

The biggest differentiator here is that the EVA birkenstock sandals are considerably less expensive than the original. At around $45 vs $100+.

Comfort

They are equally comfortable. The same shock absorbing molded footbed, but they’re much more lightweight and flexible than the original. I do find that the nubuck leather takes a little longer to break in. But once you break them in you are golden.

Other differences

The EVA Birkenstocks are extremely easy to clean – much easier to clean than leather birks in my opinion – especially with oil and grease. Wipe clean with soap and water, no fancy leather cleansers necessary. You could even put them in the dishwasher if you’d like! They might get a scuff mark or two but you can easily clean that with a magic eraser.

Which One Is Better?

Honestly, I don’t think you can really say that one is “better” than the other. I like them both a LOT. I have my gold pair and now these. And recommend both. I would say that the EVA birks are a little bit more trendy / cool girl, especially if you go for a solid white or black (I went for a much less trendy orange – mango, if we are being specific – but I like color!). And for the beach or the pool (or walks in the rain), these are a great waterproof alternative to the originals as you won’t get them wet!

I do think that the leather pair lasts longer – and it’s easier to resole if you choose to! And they’re definitely more sturdy, so if you are looking for something sturdy go with the classic (though the EVA ones are like walking on air, which I love!)

Where to buy them?

I bought mine at Urban Outfitters. You can also get them at Free People, Macy’s, Amazon, and a bunch of other places (refer to the widget below!)

Disclosure: If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only feature things I truly love here. Thank you for your support!

Photo by Allie Provost.

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Comments

  1. I love Birkenstocks but I can’t see myself wearing these right now! Maybe they’ll grow on me though – I hated bike shorts but now I love them haha! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Kate says 7.24.20

    Hi Grace! I have both regular and plastic Birks and I sized down one size for the plastic ones. Curious as to your experience with sizing for the two types?

    Love the plastic ones as a more substantial flip flop type shoe. And yes great for working in the yard/garden and places where your feet get wet. 🙂

  3. Kayla says 7.24.20

    I LOVE Birks — been wearing them in various styles and colors since my sleepaway camp days in the early 00’s.

    While I love new plastic-y ones for beach trips, the OG leather sandals are still what I prefer for long walks and everyday life because the footbed is more solid. I find the plastic ones too flimsy for walking long distances, and the leather sandals help with bunion issues.

    • grace at the stripe says 7.24.20

      Oh funny! I walk pretty far in my plastic ones though I do agree the OG’s are more sturdy!

  4. Anne says 7.24.20

    I love my plastic Birks! They are the most perfect beach shoe. I have fallen arches and really have a hard time wearing flats that don’t have much arch support. The plastic Birks are a perfect flip flop alternative because of how supportive they are. I also love that they don’t rub and cause blisters in the same way many plastic sandals usually do when you first wear them

  5. Margaret says 7.24.20

    I LOVE the plastic Birks! I’ve tried wearing regular birks and had to give away a pair because with my flat feet I was crying they were so painful. I’ve had my pink ones for 2 years and STILL get compliments whenever I wear them. I say, if you are wearing plastic shoes…wear fun colors! I have a new pair in Lime on my way to me.

    • grace at the stripe says 7.24.20

      Oh no! That’s so sad. They def have a higher arch (I have high arches!) so I can see that happening!!!! But happy the plastic worked out for you. Mine make me so happy!

  6. Becca says 7.24.20

    Have you heard of Freedom Moses? They are very similar aside from not having adjustable straps but they come in lots of colors and patterns. I had been eyeing them for years and just bought a pair earlier this year on sale and all of a sudden I feel like I see them everywhere (bloggers, J. Crew, Shopbop, Saks, etc)! Great quarantine purchase!

  7. Meg Reichel says 7.24.20

    I call mine birken-crocs, and everyone who made fun of me last summer for having suddenly has a pair this summer… they’re also amazing for walking into a rocky ocean (they float if they come off!), scrubbing a shower (bare feet always feel too slippery, I don’t worry about bleach/cleaning product on these), and washing a dog in the driveway. I have the coral from last summer, and keep considering the white, even though I have giant feet and white tends to only make things look bigger.

  8. Christina says 7.24.20

    Thank you for sharing in depth review! I always thought Birkenstocks were ugly until I bought my first pair of EVA in black and light pink pre-covid. I am so glad I did I wear them as slippers around the house and don’t know why I didn’t invest in some sooner. Next, I have my eyes on a yellow leather Birkenstock.

  9. Olivia says 7.24.20

    I just ordered a pair of Evas after seeing your post! I’ve had the soft-bed leather for YEARS which have been my go-to summer travel shoe but I think I need these easy-to-clean, chic shoes in my closet too.

  10. Lisa Autumn says 7.25.20

    I love my Birkenstocks! I have some classic corck pairs and will now look into the EVA ones.. they sound amazing!

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com