Birkenstock Fitting Guide

Birkenstock Fitting Guide

Birkenstock sandals are a firm favourite every summer thanks to their iconic summer fashion styles, crafted in Europe using premium materials. A uniquely contoured footbed shape is one of their distinguishing features, and has been widely copied in the footwear industry. The firm and contoured footbed offers a supreme level of support but can be incredibly uncomfortable, if not correctly sized and fitted for your foot.

The other common are of difficulty with buying Birkenstocks online, is size conversion. Designed and manufactured in Europe, the original size (before conversion) is always EU Continental sizes and these do not translate directly to UK or US size – they are just different. Further, some styles are available in two width options, Narrow and Regular, and our experience has taught us that the Birkenstock ‘Regular’ really means Wide fitting to most buyers.

With all of these quirky size labels published widely and often incorrectly online, buying your first pair of Birkenstock sandals online can be a daunting task. Read on, for our expert advice on how to get sizing right for you.

Do Birkenstocks run true to size?

Size conversion between UK, EU & US can be very misleading for some countries. We advise purchasing the shoes in the manufactured EU Continental size, that way you reduce the risk of ordering the incorrect size when relying on retailer size conversion, which is always just a guide and not a guarantee. If you know you take an EU 39 then that’s what you should look for – rather than switch to UK or US equivalents. We find that different online stores will convert their sizes differently. Our blog on EU to UK shoe size explains some of the common problems with size conversion and aims to you help get the right size.

Below is our guide to Birkenstock size conversions for those who aren’t sure of their EU size.

Begg Shoes Size Conversion Chart

Birkenstock EU to US Shoe Size Guide

This first size conversion chart is what we believe the conversion between EU, UK and US sizes to be. You’ll notice nearly a whole size difference between our conversion and that of Birkenstock.

EU Size


UK Size


US Size


35 2.5 4.5
36 3 5
37 4 6
38 5 7
39 5.5 7.5
40 6.5 8.5
41 7 9
42 8 10
43 9 11

Birkenstocks Own Size Conversion Chart

It may be very confusing when purchasing Birkenstocks as their conversion between the manufactured EU size and UK or US sizes do not match the conversion chart which we use from the Society of Shoe Fitters.

35 2.5 4 – 4.5
36 3.5 5 – 5.5
37 4.5 6 – 6.5
38 5 7 – 7.5
39 5.5 8 – 8.5
40 7 9 – 9.5
41 7.5 10 – 10.5
42 8 11 – 11.5
43 9 12 – 12.5

Features of Birkenstock Sandals

Birkenstock offers two width fitting variants and these are Narrow Fit and Regular Fit (or Medium Fit). While this may seem fairly straightforward, the naming of these fittings is actually a very common source of problems for online shoppers so here is our advice based on years of experience selling the brand.

Narrow Fit: we find that for most customers opt for the Narrow option (around 80% of women) and typically we consider this to be more of a Standard Fit. This causes a lot of confusion as you might expect.

Regular Fit: this width fitting is best suited to a wider foot or those who prefer a little more room on the footbed. Regular Fit is the most popular fitting for Men, but it is well worth noting that many of the iconic Birkenstock styles are unisex including Arizona.

Ensuring that you are not only wearing the correct size but also the correct width fitting will keep your feet in the proper position, which will in turn prevent aching feet.

The deep heelcup will support your feet almost as if it was in a closed shoe. While the arch support offers you stability with every step. The toe grip is one of the most recognisable features of Birkenstock sandals. This supports the natural position and rolling motion of the toes to keep them loose and spread out.

When purchasing your first pair of Birkenstocks always ensure that you are purchasing from an official Birkenstocks stockist such as Begg Shoes. These iconic styles are often copied, but never matched by other manufacturers.

How Do birkenstocks fit?

Try them on and first thing to check is that the footbed area is correctly sized for you. The footbed has the ability to offer unrivalled comfort – if you get the size right – or can cause serious discomfort if you get it wrong. This can be a tough balance to strike for first time Birkenstock buyers, since the footbed is very firm to begin with and they will definitely require some breaking in, to soften off and mould to your foot. Begg Shoes stock mostly Narrow Fit Birkenstock styles, which reflect customer demand (around 80% feel the Narrow Fit version is best for them).

How to do your footbed fitting? Stand up with the sandals on, your feet will naturally spread under bodyweight and should feel supported, but be able to move freely. Your heel and toes should not overlap or rub up against the firm outer ridge of the footbed. You’ll know you have a good fit if there is a few mm of space at the front of your foot as well as at the back, once you have a walk around. Make sure your toes do not rub up against the edge at the front of the shoe as this can rub and cause corns or blistering. Your foot should also fit comfortably within the shape of the footbed and should not go over the edges at the sides – consider switching to a Regular Fit alternative if you need more width.

Once you are happy with the fit of the footbed you can now go ahead and fasten the straps, if you have an adjustable strap available. The straps should hold your foot in the correct place on the footbed – not too far forward that toes rub or too far back that your heels press hard on the outer ridges. Straps should hug your foot without being too tight – for example leaving pressure marks. Take a few steps to see if the straps hold your foot securely and adjust them once more if you feel that they are too tight or loose. You should not feel the buckles digging in at all, this might indicate you need to loosen the strap or that the shape and style may not be right for you.


Breaking In Birkenstock Sandals

The last step to getting your Birkenstocks to fit properly is to “break them in”. Most important before breaking in your brand new Birkenstocks is to ensure the footbed length is correct. No amount of wear will increase the overall length and you would be best to return them (before wearing outdoors) for an exchange or a refund before fully committing to wearing them in.

For best results, we recommend that you wear your sandals for a few hours to get used to the footbed – start with short indoor wear then work up to longer walks and regular wear. We recommend you don’t set off on a long walk or holiday without doing some of the softening off first – take it slow. The footbed will soften and mould to your foot, though this can be a slow process. Loyal Birkenstock fans will tell you its worth it and that a fully bedded in Birkenstock is unbeatable for comfort.

The straps will stretch a little with wear, though Birko Flor styles will only stretch a little. We recommend the leather styles for a truly personalised fit and superior comfort and breathability. These are usually a little more expensive but worth the extra money for the added comfort and personalisation.


Birkenstock sandals

Are Birkenstocks worth it?

We get asked this question a lot as some may think that they’re pretty pricy for a “basic” sandal, but there’s so much more to them than one might think and it all comes down to the unique design of their footbed and high quality construction. If you love the style of the iconic Birkenstock, then we recommend you buy the real thing and you’ll love them for longer than a lookalike.

Browsing through the internet nowadays you’ll find a plethora of Birkenstock copies and knock-offs especially of the two strap classic, Arizona. Like any footwear fashion icon, many other brands have created their own versions but in this case, the original is very hard to beat. Lookalike styles are often made using cheaper and inferior materials and construction and while this might be good enough for occasional wear, we always advise that better quality materials and design usually lead to a shoe looking and feeling better for longer.

While Birkenstock have spent many years, dedicated to the perfection of their signature styles and orthotic-inspired footbed, the cheaper copies available are made by manufacturers who spend very little time or effort refining their products. Often, this will be evident once you start wearing a cheaper version, either due to poor fitting qualities or perhaps just the materials don’t look as good as the original Birkenstock would.

If you are looking for a more affordable comfort sandal in a similar style the Ara Slide Sandals from our “Kore” range offers more cushioning than Birkenstocks and also a two strap style in various colours. This is not a copy but a softer and more comfortable sandal (for some) and if you have doubts about the fitting or comfort or Birkenstock, we would recommend having a look at this alternative.

What is Birko-flor?

Unless specified as leather most of our Birkenstock styles are made using Birko-Flor® which is a premium synthetic material. It is an easy-care, skin-friendly and tear-resistant material and although it looks and feels very similar to leather, but will not behave in the same way as leather in terms of stretch and breathability. This is a fantastic material which has proven to offer durable look and feel, in a huge range of metallic, glitter and other premium fashion materials, which are very difficult and expensive to replicate on leather. Overall, this is a great value premium material and not to be feared, if you would usually look for leather uppers.

If you prefer the classic matt leather finishes and a slightly more rugged and worn look in your sandals, we always recommend spending a little more and buying genuine leather. These also offer superior stretch and breathability, if you are going to spend a lot of time wearing your sandals.

best 5 birkenstocks for 2020

1. Arizona – £70.00ARizona Ladies Sandals

The Arizona is the most best known Birkenstock profile and is a unisex option, done in a huge range of colours and materials. For this season, we love the variety of colours now available with the “Rose Gold Croc” being our favourites as they are right on trend. This style has become an icon and offers timeless summer fashion appeal in colours such as the classic Brown or the fantastic neutral shade Stone as well as exciting new colour introductions each year.

2. Milano – £65.00

Birkenstock Milano SandalsThe Birkenstock Milano has been adapted from the iconic Arizona style to include a strap around the back. This style gives you more stability and support and is made with a Birko-Flor® upper which manages to look and feel just like nubuck leather. This sandals brings together function and fashion beautifully.

3. Mayari – £70.00

Birkenstock Mayari SandalsThe Birkenstock Mayari is another iconic shape but this time with a toe loop. This style offers a slightly more feminine and elegant option of Birkenstock sandals for your summer wardrobe. The buckles still offer you the adjustability for a personalised fit. While the thinner straps over the top can be more slimming.

4. gizeh – £60.00

Birkenstock GizehBirkenstock GIZEH is the go to style for a pair of comfortable “thong” sandals. Nothing says summer more than a pair of toe post of flip flop style of sandal and these feature an adjustable strap over the top for that personalised fit that Birkenstocks offer.

5. Madrid – R70.00

Birkenstock MadridThe Birkenstock MADRID style is a little more fashion forward with the buck buckle feature. For easy comfort you can’t go wrong with a pair of Birkenstock Madrid Sandals. They’re right on trend with a big buckle embellishment for an eye catching WOW factor. These sliders a perfect to slip into on those warm summer days.

6. Sydney – £65.00

Sydney Birkenstock SandalsThe Birkenstock SYDNEY style for ladies is very similar to the popular Arizona style and proves that fashion and functionality can go together. This style is set to be a big hit this season and is available in two colours.

7. Boston- £95.00

Birkenstock Boston ShoesThe Birkenstock BOSTON mule for men is a versatile and classic shoe that can be worn all year round. The leather upper of these mules have a sophisticated design together with their inconic footbed while the buckle allows adjustability for a better fit. The footbed is made from cork which is a natural product provide insulation and cushioning with every step.