Santa Barbara holds a special place in my heart. I had the good fortune of living in Santa Barbara over 20 years ago. When I had the opportunity to revisit this beautiful town, I jumped at the chance. Santa Barbara has a little bit of everything for everyone. Mountains, incredible restaurants, attractions for the kids, and outstanding beaches. I knew exactly what I had to pack for my vacation. Birkenstocks.
I could hike and bike in Birkenstocks. Dress up my Birkenstocks for a night on the town. Wear my Birks for a long day of site seeing. And use them as my beach shoes.
You might be wondering why I did not pack my EVA Gizehs. Simple. I sold them on Poshmark. But, the story behind that is another blog. Years ago my original pair of Birkenstocks spent countless hours exploring the beaches of Santa Barbara. I knew that I could safely wear Birks to the beach without damaging them.
If you have read my previous blogs, you know that I like to pack light. For my trip to Santa Barbara, I packed two pairs of Birkenstocks. I brought my silver Gizehs and my red Mayaris. Both Birko Flor Uppers and both Original footbeds.
I thought about bringing one pair of Original Footbeds and another pair of Soft Footbeds, so I could have the best of both worlds. But, I knew that I would be going to the beach on a daily basis and did not want to have wet Soft Footbeds. They would take longer to dry compared to Original Footbeds. I also opted to keep my leather Birkenstocks at home because I did not want to take a chance of getting them wet with salt water. I knew that my Birkenstocks with Birko Flor uppers were highly durable and super comfy. They would be all that I needed for my vacation.
I ended up using my Gizehs for my beach shoes. Don’t worry, I kept them far away from the water and out of the sun. Remember, I Love Birkenstocks and I slightly obsess over them. Thus, I take extra special care of my Birks when I am around water. My Gizehs ended up being the perfect shoes for me to wear to the beach. The only issue that I had was that the uppers got dirty. So dirty, in fact, that the shine of the silver disappeared. No worries, I took a baby wipe and cleaned them off.
Here is a video that I made on "How to Clean Birkenstocks with Birko Flor Uppers":
The next time you plan a vacation that involves a beach destination, don’t be afraid to pack your Birkenstocks. Just don’t get them soaked. If they do get wet, remember to allow them to air dry overnight. Do not place the shoes in the sunlight or near direct heat. And if the uppers get dirty or dusty, just wipe them clean with a baby wipe. Easy as pie.
Since starting my “I Love Birkenstocks” blog, I have been repeatedly asked about the different Birkenstock footbeds. I wrote an article detailing the difference between the original footbed vs soft footbed Birkenstocks. Yet, people keep asking, “Gina Mama, do you like the original footbed or the soft footbed better?” My preference, obviously is subjective. What I like, someone else may not like because we all have different feet.
Selecting a Birkenstock footbed all depends on an individual’s personal preference. It’s like asking someone who likes chocolate whether they prefer plain or peanut M&Ms. Assuming there are no nut allergies involved, a chocolate lover is likely going to eat all types of M&Ms. For me, I enjoy plain and peanut M&Ms, just like I enjoy original footbed and soft footbed Birkenstocks.
Although I may enjoy plain and peanut M&Ms, I do prefer one over the other. If you placed a bowl of plain M&Ms and a bowl of peanut M&M in front of me, I would eat the plain ones. However, let’s say that I was having a chocolate craving and you only had peanut M&Ms to share. Would I decline the peanut M&Ms because I prefer plain M&Ms? Heck no, I would devour the peanut M&Ms because they are yummy too.
When it comes to Birkenstock footbeds, I prefer the original footbed. However, sometimes Birkenstock only makes certain styles in the soft footbed. If I like the style being offered in the soft footbed, I am not going to forgo the shoe because it doesn’t come in an original footbed. I am going to buy the soft footbed Birkenstock and enjoy wearing it.
For example, when I wanted to purchase the Birkenstock Arizona with the gold uppers. I searched for it in an original footbed at Birkenstock Group, but I learned it was only manufactured in a soft footbed. Since I did not have the option of an original footbed, I went ahead and purchased the soft footbed version. I knew my feet would be content in the soft footbed, just not as happy as they would be in an original footbed.
One of the main reasons I prefer the original footbed is because they offer more arch support compared to soft footbed Birkenstocks. Although a soft footbed may provide less overall support than an original footbed, it still provides me more foot support than any other type of shoe on the market. I tend to wear my soft footbed Birks to work and around the house. I often wear an original footbed Birkenstock when I know that I will be walking long distances.
People with flat feet or hypersensitive feet will most likely prefer a soft footbed. I know that my mom has a much flatter arch than me and she can barely walk around the room in an original footbed Birkenstock without her feet hurting. The extra layer of foam which cushions the soft footbed Birkenstock makes the shoe more tolerable for my mom. My Birkenstock Buddy has hypersensitive feet due to a medical condition and requires a soft footbed Birkenstock as well.
On the plus side, soft footbed Birkenstocks are much easier to break-in compared to an original footbed Birkenstock. For a Birkenstock aficionado like myself, I would be able to wear a soft footbed Birkenstock right out of the box without needing much time to break-in the shoe. For someone like my mom who has never worn Birkenstocks, a soft footbed Birkenstock would require a longer break-in period. Yet, still not as long for a non-Birkenstock wearer to get accustomed to wearing to an original footbed Birkenstock.
I enjoy the challenge of breaking-in a new pair of original footbed Birkenstocks. It’s like a game to me. I feel like the winner each time I successfully break-in a new pair of Birks.
I prefer original footbed Birkenstocks over soft footbed Birks, just like I prefer plain M&Ms over peanut M&Ms. However, when I have a craving for chocolate or Birkenstocks, I would be happy with any option that is offered to me. For those who have never worn Birkenstocks, I recommend that you try each type on to determine which footbed would best suit your needs. You can’t go wrong with either type because both will provide you more foot support compared to any other type of shoe you ever have worn.
I love original footbed Birkenstocks and I like the soft footbed ones too. What is your preference? Send me an email, I would love to hear from you.
Have you experienced a crack on the footbed of your Birkenstocks where your foot bends? If so, you are not alone. Numerous readers have sent me messages asking if their shoes are defective because they are cracked. The answer is no, your shoes are not defective. In fact, this is normal and indicates that the shoe is adapting to your gait.
Some models of Birkenstocks tend to show the cracks more than other styles. A foot bend crack is more visible on a pair of Gizehs then on a pair of Arizonas because Gizehs have more exposed cork. A pair of Arizonas may very well have a foot bend crack, however, it is not visible because the uppers of the shoe cover the cracked area.
I reached out to Sandy at Sandy’s Birkenstock Boutique to find what she recommends to customers' that experience a foot bend crack. Sandy states, “How much and how quickly the footbeds will form cracks depends on myriad variables that are unique to each person that wears Birkenstocks. But ultimately it is not a thing to cause any concern, being a completely normal character of the cork. If the appearance of these cracks doesn't appeal to you, a cobbler will be able to advise on a flexible shoe glue that can fill them in.”
In order to help prevent cracking, one needs to reseal the cork whenever it starts to appear dull. Applying cork sealant to the exposed cork helps to prevent it from drying out. I recommend using Birkenstock's Cork Sealant or Kelly’s Cork Renew. Here is a a short video I made demonstrating how to apply cork renew to your Birkenstocks:
In addition to applying Kelly’s Cork Renew, one of the simplest ways to protect your Birkenstocks is to avoid extreme heat. Do not leave your Birkenstocks in your car. Do not put them near a fire or heater to dry. If your shoes become wet let them slowly air-dry away from direct heat. Please refer to my previous blog, “How To Care For Your Birkenstocks” for other tips on how to maintain your Birkenstocks.
If you follow the above techniques and continue to have issues with the cork cracking you may need to take them to an authorized Birkenstock repair person to have them recrafted.
Birkenstock blogger since 2016.