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Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Posted by Lolly O on 4/15/03 at 14:16 (116198)

I have (4) pairs of Birksenstocks.
All (4) pair have the classic footbed. But (2) of the (4) hurt!!!

The best is the BOSTON WOOL BORDEAUZ clog
The 2nd best is the ARIZONA.
The 3rd & 4th are more expensive Birkenstock (but still have the classic footbed)BUT THEY KILL MY FEET.

I know that the 'Arizona' Birkenstock is the most reccomended for foot problems, but for my feet the BOSTON WOOL BORDEAUX is the best.

I want to buy some more birks. AT first I thought I was safe as long as it was a classic footbed. But I know that is no longer true.

I have PF/HS & TTS

Any and all suggestions appreciated.


Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Suzanne D on 4/15/03 at 15:21 (116211)

Lolly, I wear either soft-footbed Birk Arizonas or the Annapolis style. My Annapolis shoes were modified for me in this way: the removable insoles have a posting added in the arch areas as they were too flat for me (I always had arch pain after wearing them.) and soft footbed padding was added to the insole as well. The shoes were too deep for my thin feet, and this padding not only helped them feel better, it helped them fit better, too. Later I ordered a light tan Annapolis pair from Germany (haven't seen that color in any catalog here- only black and dark brown), knowing I could use those same modified footbeds in the new shoes.

I have a pair of Bostons that somehow have never felt that good on my feet. My feet fall out of the regular width Bostons, but the narrow seems somehow too narrow along the sides near my arch and rub my feet with each step. That doesn't make sense to me since the Annapolis shoes are narrow and feel fine, but it seems to be a highly individualized thing.

It is hard, especially if you don't live near a Birkenstock store, but it seems there is no substitute for trying them on and walking around in them to see how they feel.

Good luck to you!
Suzanne :)

Re: Birkenstocks--Classic footbed always SOFTBED???

Lolly O on 4/15/03 at 15:32 (116213)

Thanks Suzanne,
Are all ARIZONA'S soft bed?

I think some classic footbeds have a soft bed version & a reg. version.
I know the Annaopolis is for the high arch.
I don't even know what kind of arch I have?

I now have 4 pair of Birks (all w/classic footbed) and 2 kill my feet.
I am thinking it might be because there is a (1) classic w/softbed and (2) a classic with regular.

I have only tried the Classic. I have not tried the Moderate or the high.


Re: Birkenstocks--Classic footbed always SOFTBED???

Suzanne D on 4/15/03 at 18:04 (116222)

Hi, Lolly. No, all Arizonas are not soft-footbed. Actually, the majority of Birkenstocks do not come in the soft-footbed version. If you look at a catalog or website, it will tell you which ones do. And your shoebox will state it if they are. The German site, by the way, carries more styles in the soft-footbed than anywhere else I have found. Maybe you can visit a store and try on a pair with the soft-footbed and see how they feel to you.

Also, actually the Annapolis shoes are not for high arched feet. That is why I had to have the posting added to the arch. It really can be confusing keeping straight the different footbeds and types. The best way to learn about all this (aside from going to a store and trying them on and being helped by a salesperson) is to go to a site such as Birkenstock Express and read the information you can find there. Here's the web address for that company:


I am, by far, not an expert on Birkenstock styles, but I have learned a great deal by reading and by trial and error. I hope this information helps you!

I read on this site some months ago a way to tell if you have high arches or not. With wet feet, you step bare-footed onto a piece of cardboard and then observe the wet imprint. I can't remember the exact specifics of how this is determined, but of course the higher your arch, the less of your foot in that area will show in the imprint. Maybe someone else will read this and explain that better than I have.

Again, good luck to you! Keep reading and learning, and I wish you the best.

Suzanne :)

Re: another site for Lolly...

Suzanne D on 4/15/03 at 18:17 (116223)

http://www.gobuyeurope.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv ?

This is the address for the German Birkenstock site.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Carole C in NOLA on 4/15/03 at 23:53 (116259)

I have five pairs:

1) Floridas, in brown (smooth) leather, size 40, classic footbed.

2) Arizonas, in tan suede, size 40, classic footbed.

3) Grenadas, in cocoa nubuck, size 39, classic footbed.

4) Whip-Stitched Amsterdams, in Navy with black stitching, size 40, high arch footbed in the Birkenstock Tatami line

5) Fuldas, in brown nubuck, size 40, high arch footbed in the Birkenstock Tatami line

I first bought the Floridas when I could hardly walk. They were the only style of Birkenstocks in the first store I went to, and I was in no shape to shop around.

Later, I bought the Arizonas by mail order, since everyone likes them for PF. Both have a classic footbed. I felt like the Florida worked better for me than the Arizonas, because the Floridas have three straps so they can be better adjusted to unusually shaped feet than the Arizonas, which only have two straps. The 'bump' in the Arizonas seemed to hit my foot a little far forward. On the other hand, the ends of the straps on the Floridas started curling in an ugly way once I had worn them a long time. The straps on the Arizonas didn't do that, but they were aggravating because I felt (and still feel) they needed another hole since they were too loose even for Arizonas.

When I went to a Birkenstock store and explained my problem with the bump in my Arizonas hitting my foot too far forward, the store owner fit me in a Grenada in a size smaller. I like the Grenadas and feel they look prettier. They feel better on my feet, but being a size smaller they are not as easy to slide into in the middle of the night. I just wear them to parties and such, and seldom around the house.

The whip-stitched Amsterdam and Fulda both have the high arch footbed that is one of the footbeds in the Tatami line. The Fuldas are my favorite Birkenstock; unlike most people, I like this footbed best. It hits my arch in the correct spot, more or less. Birkenstock Tatamis with this footbed run about 1/2 size smaller than the styles with the classic footbed. So, a 40 in the Fulda is in between a 39 and 40 Arizona as far as fit goes.

I almost never wear the Amsterdams any more, because I just don't like clogs and I think they are not especially beautiful.

I guess that about covers it! When I was suffering more from PF, I found the best relief from switching footbeds, sizes, and styles among the 5 pairs that I have. None of mine have the soft footbed, because I tried it at the Birkenstock store and it was not for me.

Carole C

Re: Question for Carole C or anyone else who knows

HilaryG on 4/16/03 at 11:21 (116291)

Are the Tatami line best for people with high arches or can those of us with flat feet wear them too? Any ideas?

Re: Question for Carole C or anyone else who knows

Carole C in NOLA on 4/16/03 at 11:27 (116293)

Hilary, the Tatami line has many DIFFERENT types of footbed. Only a very few of the Tatami line have the high arch footbed. Some of the Tatami footbeds are better for those of you with low arches than they are for us.

If you have PF, Birkenstocks with the so-called 'classic footbed' (which is not in the Tatami line) are the best for most people to start with. People with both high arches and flat feet have found them helpful. If you have a Birkenstock store in your area, it would be worth going there to try different footbeds and styles. But I would suggest that anyone with PF who is new to Birkenstock start with the Birkenstock Arizona style, which has the classic footbed and is not in the Tatami line.

Carole C

Re: Question for Carole C or anyone else who knows

HilaryG on 4/16/03 at 11:33 (116294)

Thank you Carole. I've been wearing Arizonas for many years and now that I have PF & TTS they are helping a great deal. I am just getting bored by rotating between my Arizonas, Bostons and NBs with orthotics in them. I just wanted to try something new.

Re: Question for Carole C or anyone else who knows

Carole C in NOLA on 4/16/03 at 12:41 (116302)

Great! I am really glad that your Arizonas have been helpful. If you're bored with them, you might find something you like in a Tatami. :)

Carole C

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Andy O on 4/16/03 at 17:55 (116340)

This is what makes me mad about Birkenstocks.
There are so many different models and footbed types, and no really objective way to determine which ones are correct for your foot. Most people who find the right ones do so through trial and error. This is an expensive way to buy shoes!
The lasest catalogue FINALLY provides a descri[tion about the footbed for each shoe. You need to determine whether you have a low arch. average arch, or high arch. Then buy shoes which are designed for your type of foot.
I have a very high arch, and so wear only the Fulda and Rhine, plus the Birko Balance insert. The 'classic' footbed is too low for me and causes my PF to flare up. I have a pair of Baltimore shoes, but cannot wear them!

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Carole C in NOLA on 4/16/03 at 18:42 (116344)

Andy, may I make a suggestion? Go to your Birkenstock store, and get fitted by one of their sales people, who are trained in this. They can tell you what sizes and styles may work for you best.

Buying shoes online, you are always in the dark... even if you buy 'normal' shoes. Some of the online stores do have Birkenstock arch height, for the models they carry. For example, http://www.birkenstockexpress.com was where I ordered my Amsterdams, and they include the arch height. I hope that helps.

Carole C

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Andy O on 4/16/03 at 21:21 (116365)

Carole, Been there, done that.
I've been to two stores. In both cases, they relied on ME to tell THEM what shoes I needed. One of them did not even know about the different footbeds.
Many of the dealers are either ignorant, apathetic, or both.
Or perhaps they don't want the customer to hold them responsible for the results of their recommendations. The customer might want an exchange or refund if the advice did not work out.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Carole C in NOLA on 4/16/03 at 21:51 (116371)

Andy, I don't know what to tell you. Birkenstock stores do vary in quality. Although anybody shopping for anything can come across one poor salesperson, or one poor store, I have not heard of this being an unusually great problem with Birkenstock, before your post.

However, if you went to a genuine Birkenstock store (and I'm talking about those of THAT name, that ONLY sell Birkenstocks and nothing else; you can find their locations on the birkenstock.com website), and the manager of the store did not even know about the different footbeds, then I really don't know what to say!

Of course in any store, a new sales person might not know the product, but I'm sure you would have the common sense to ask for the manager in that case, and to tell him/her that you have PF and need the benefit of their expertise.

How very strange. I had a little trouble with one very small Birkenstock retailer whose shop was actually located within another more general store in New Orleans. I had to have someone summon her from another counter where she was selling jewelry or souvenirs or something. But with an hour's drive to Baton Rouge, I found a Birkenstock store that not only had nearly ever single style and size in stock, but also had a manager who knew what she was talking about. Baton Rouge is not a very big town!

Carole C

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Andy O on 4/17/03 at 06:56 (116389)

Carole, My message was an observation, not a plea for help.
In both cases, the person I was dealing with was the owner of the store.
Unfortunately the trend in my area is to sell sell sell, not necessarily to help the customer. Let the buyer beware!

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Carole C in NOLA on 4/17/03 at 13:01 (116422)

Andy, in what state or country do you live?


Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

BGCPed on 4/17/03 at 21:46 (116470)

God point, that is why I dont activly sell them. They are interested in selling through Sams Club, Home Shopping< internet< their own site and many others. That has taken the motivation and economic profit away from the specialty retailer. They hosed me and sent people that bought off the web to my facility to fix the mistakes the headset sales people made.

I also got sick of cheap skates coming in and wasting 25 minutes of my staff time to measure and council on what size and models would be best, only to have them go and order online and save $5 dollars. They are geting what they deserve. I complained to a rep from Birk 2 years ago that it was a mistake. They told me 'you should be glad to get more foot traffic in your facility' I said they are all cheapskates and tire kickers that want me to work for nothing so they can order online.

After I told them they should just sell birkibucks online tokens and put vending machines in the airport they got mad. So I guess that Birk feels the best route is to mass dump them. Let the buyer beware and good luck.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

BGCPed on 4/18/03 at 07:29 (116495)

Just a note, I was not saying all people that buy online are bad. I like to save money also. I think when you take a product that shouldnt be mass marketed with little to no service, and after many years do it, you will get problems. An example I was talking about. I had a guy come in at lunch and drop a pair of birks on the counter. He said 'you gotta make more holes in these they are too big for my wifes feet'

I thought we sold them and said I wanted to know which of my employees let a sandle go out the door that was fit wrong. He said they bought them from the website (not mine) and they called Birk and they said to take them to me to fix them. We did it on the spot at lunch and I had my guy charge him $5. the guy made a stink and said Birk told him I was a specialty shop and did repairs etc.

I told him we just provided a service. He said all you did was punch holes and shouldnt charge for that, and Birk told me you guys are supposed to do it. He thought it was like a dealer network for gm cars that do warranty work for free. Not to ramble on but just wanted to point out another view on this, and I am sure with all the net sales and homeshopping there is a big increase in returns.

I also tired of people coming in, looking at catalog trying sizes for proper fit then saying thanks Ill be back and they never show. So just another view and I was not getting on all Birk folks that buy online.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Andy O on 4/18/03 at 16:27 (116545)

BG, I am willing to pay more for a local dealer to deliver a service vs. buying online.
But when the price is MUCH higher, and when the service isn't there..well...so much for buying local.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Suzanne D on 4/19/03 at 10:50 (116576)

I can certainly understand your point, BG. I was always taught to respect the individually owned businesses and not run around trying to save $1 at their expense. Daddy always was a big believer in pride of workmanship and paying for what you get. He counseled me not to go here and there for 5 cents savings on gasoline, but to buy from a local filling station, and then they'd be there to help me if I broke down someday.

In regard to Birkenstock shoes, I live a little over an hour from the nearest Birkenstock store. I went there after reading so much about the shoes on this site. I never heard of them before. The lady (store owner) was very nice and tried to be helpful, but I could see that she really didn't know much more than I did about the product, unfortunately. I did buy my first pair there.

I found a store about 2 and 1/2 hours from here (also strictly a Birk store) and went with high hopes for expert advise. The young salesgirl was clearly unhelpful. I had a list of shoes I wanted to try of which she didn't have many in my size. When I asked for suggestions she might have, she flatly stated, 'Well, when you have a big foot and wear a size 42 or 43 like you, none of them look very good.'

Even at 50 years old, that hurt my feelings. But I held my head up high, looked her in the eyes and said, 'Thank you for your time' and walked out the door vowing that I would figure it out myself.

I sent for a catalog and researched everything people wrote about Birks on this site. I read everything on the Birkenstock Express site as well as the German one. I have e-mailed both and received helpful replies to questions, especially from the Birkenstock Express site. I wish I COULD find a good store near enough to where I live which had a helpful and knowledgeable salesperson. I would give them my business.

By the way, I can't imagine that guy brining in the shoes for extra holes. I learned in high school to make new holes in belts which were too big on the tightest hole by using an ice pick with care and patience. I've done the same to sandals in the past.

Keep up your good work. There will always be some who take advantage of you, but you can rest your head on your pillow at night knowing you have done quality work to help others. (Another saying from my father!) The world needs more people who try to give their best work for the pay.

Suzanne :)

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

BGCPed on 4/19/03 at 13:27 (116581)

I understand. The same problems exist when getting custom orthotics. Like I said I look for deals also and sometimes stores that claim specialty are becoming worse. It is hard to find people that care about what they do. That girl at the Birk store should be selling keychains at a kiosk in the mall.

I was mostly speaking to the people that knowingly leach service/knowledge treating it like it is ok then ordering elsewhere. I do give lots of free advice and I dont have a problem if a person came in, said I want to know my size but not spend lots of our time in a sneaky way.

Re: Birkenstocks--what kind do you buy and why?

Rusty R. on 4/23/03 at 16:36 (116948)

I tried 2 local stores (San Antonio), but with my luck both sales ladies were on their first day on the job. It was not their fault, but they could not answer my questions. I ended up shopping on-line and will see how the Boston style will help my PF/HS. I will try the local store again, and hopefully someone knowledgeable can help me and my feet.


Re: Birkenstocks--at Sam's club

Cyndi T. on 5/07/03 at 11:08 (118018)

I just wanted to let everyone know that I was in Sam's yesterday (in Houston), and found Betula (original Birkenstock Fussbett)for $39.99. I don't know why the name is different, but they look like the Arizona. I had also bought some at DSW a few weeks ago for about $64.

Re: Birkenstocks--at Sam's club

Lolly O on 5/07/03 at 13:01 (118025)

They are terrible. I bought some. The support is no where near as good.

Cyndee wrote: I just wanted to let everyone know that I was in Sam's yesterday (in Houston), and found Betula (original Birkenstock Fussbett)for $39.99. I don't know why the name is different, but they look like the Arizona. I had also bought some at DSW a few weeks ago for about $64.

Re: Birkenstocks--at Sam's club

Sally T on 5/22/03 at 09:28 (119621)

I used this site in the past and got a lot of help with my PF. Birks did me a lot of good. I just stopped by because I am looking for information on the different Birk footbeds.
I noticed people mentioning the Birks at Sam's. Do not judge Birkenstocks by them. I bought a pair last year, and they are horrible. I notice a dramatic difference between them and my old very worn out Arizonas. There is something missing inside, and my feet start hurting when I wear them very long. Also, they squeak when I step.
I read that Birkenstock has kind of spun them off to sell in other avenues at a cheaper price, and I wonder if they have made them cheaply. I would like too find out if this is true (but it has to be judging from my shoes).
My advice is buy a pair in a store where they can fit you correctly (if you can find one), and then buy any others from the German website. They are great.
I think the classic footbed birks are the one main thing that improved my pretty severe PF.