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