The first Birkenstock shoes were made in 1774 by Johann Birkenstock and the company has been making great shoes ever since. In 1966, the company began exporting their fine footwear to the United States. For men, there are three main types of footwear the company markets: sandals, clogs, and shoes. There are four lines of sandals with over 30 styles between them. Birkenstock also has two clog lines with over 20 variations. In this instance however, we’ll concentrate on their line of shoes. If you’re not getting a pair of Gravity Defyers, you should get a pair of Birkenstocks.
There are only 13 shoe styles in the Birkenstock lineup, including one pair of boots. Without delving into older styles or discontinued stock, the Birkenstock shoe line currently contains the Alabama, Devon, Harrison, London and Norton families of shoes for men. All of these lines are casual shoes except the Norton, which are boots. All of the Birkenstock lines are made of simple yet durable materials including polyurethane soles and suede or leather uppers. Of course, all of their shoes come with their famous insole that shapes itself to your foot for supreme comfort.
The Birkenstock shoe lines come in two main styles, including single-buckle and laced. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Buckled shoes are easy to slip on while laced shoes can take a little longer. Buckles also stay secure, laces can often come undone. Laces will eventually snap or fray and will have to be replaced. Laced shoes look better and adjust more comfortably to your foot. Buckled shoes sometimes fit a little too loose or too snugly. Most people who purchase Birkenstocks do so because they are known for their comfort. For this reason, I feel that their laced lines of shoes are better, which eliminates the London series.
Now we’ll look at the materials in question. Birkenstock lines are made of suede, nubuck, or leather. While each is both comfortable and durable, suede doesn’t do very well in damp weather. Slogging through rain or snow will stain suede, so we’ll remove that material. Nubuck looks great until it gets scuffed. Any bumps or scratches to nubuck will remain permanently. Some folks don’t mind because it gives the shoes character but if you’d like your shoes to remain new looking, avoid that material. This just leaves shoes with leather uppers.
Using our system of elimination, we find that we are left with four pairs of shoes from which to choose. If you like the look of docksiders then the Devon line is for you. There is only one shoe in this line and it comes in either dark brown or tan leather. The Devon is fully lined and has a replaceable insole, making it very attractive. They retail for around $250, making them a little pricey.
The Cortina Black Leather, from their Alabama line is another good option. This unlined shoe has natural texturing and good arch support. Its insole isn’t removable, but at $200 retail, it’s a little easier on the pocket than the Devon lineup. For comfort, I prefer lined shoes because I find unlined shoes often chafe at the ankles and toes.
The last shoe option is the black leather Harrison. This is a classic lace-up shoe with a removable insole. It has a well-treaded polyurethane sole and smooth leather upper. The Harrison is fully lined yet very lightweight. This shoe retails for around $250. While this is a little expensive, this is a very high quality shoe and will give you years of great wear. I consider this shoe to be the best Birkenstock shoe for men, because of its comfort, style, and high-quality materials.