This article is part of Outside’s Sandal Battle. Vote for your all-time favorite here.
My earliest memory of Birkenstocks is of my mom’s chunky, classic two-strap leather sandals sitting by the sliding door to the back patio of our house. It was baking hot outside—too hot for bare feet on concrete—so I slipped them on. They were too big, and the leather sole was worn satiny smooth from years of use, so my feet slid around in them as I walked. At the time, Birks seemed profoundly uncool—a symbol of my crunchy, outdoorsy, embarrassing mom who I swore up and down I would never turn into.
I am now the proud owner of not one but two pairs of Birkenstocks, and I wear them almost every day from March to October if the weather allows. At campsites and on beach days, you’ll catch me lounging in my Arizona Essentials EVA ($50), whose tread has been worn down (but isn’t smooth) from three summers of intensive use. While I’m writing this, I’m wearing the Sierra Oiled Leather ($160) model, which looks classy but has a sole you could hike in. They’ll come with me on errands later today and then on a date.
Birkenstocks are the perfect après-outdoors/summer casual shoes. Not only are they incredibly versatile, but they also have supreme staying power: the two-buckle style my mom wore in the ’90s is nearly identical to the pair I wear today. But the real beauty of these shoes is how they wear with time, only becoming more comfortable and more beloved over the years until they reach the satiny-smooth ideal of the first pair I tried on.
For me, other sandals just don’t cut it. I want something comfortable and functional that I can slip on at a moment’s notice and be ready for almost anything a summer day has to offer. No bending over to fasten straps, please. And I will not stand for flip-flop chafe between my toes. Just give me the outstanding arch support and casual style of my two-buckle friend, the Birkenstock.
I’ve chosen my side in the Sandal Battle, and I will passionately defend the “earthy” looks of the Birkenstock to the last. Sometimes, during shoulder season, I even pair my ’stocks with socks. Don’t tell tweenage me, but I’m definitely turning into my mom—and I’m not mad about it.
The post Birkenstocks Are 100 Percent the Best Casual Sandal appeared first on Outside Online.