Do Birkenstocks Run Big or Small? Find Your Perfect Fit Today

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As a footwear enthusiast, I’ve often wondered about the sizing of Birkenstocks, a popular brand known for its comfortable and supportive sandals.

The question of whether they run big or small has frequently come up in my conversations with people I know who also own a pair of Birkenstocks, and I’ve found that people have varying experiences in terms of their sizing.

Do Birkenstocks Run Big or Small

Quick Sum-Up

Through my research and personal experience, I discovered that Birkenstocks generally run big as they are made with extra space in the toe and heel area.

But this extra space in the toe area doesn’t mean that you should purchase a smaller size.

Many recommend sizing down when purchasing your first pair because of this extra space but this isn’t the best advice.

So, it’s essential to carefully consider your own foot shape and the specific Birkenstock style you’re interested in to find the ideal size for you.

While some people believe that Birkenstocks are true to size and only feel bigger due to their unique design that allows for some movement, others strongly recommend sizing down.

I’ve learned that finding the best fit with Birkenstocks may require some extra info, they are not conventional when it comes to fit.

You have to take into account factors such as foot width and the type of materials used in the shoe.

Birkenstock Sizing Overview

I’ve been researching Birkenstock sizing and have found some valuable information that should make finding the perfect size easier for you.

Here are the key points to consider:

The Question of ‘Do They Run Big or Small?’

Birkenstock shoes are actually designed to have a 5mm space at your toes and a 5mm space at the back of your heel.

When you try them on, the extra space they give you at the front and the back of the sole may make you question whether they are a shoe that runs big or small and if you should buy a smaller size.

Many people have bought Birkenstocks in smaller sizes than they should have as a result of not knowing this information about their sizing.

The extra space in the front and back of the sole is ideal for comfort and a large reason why Birkenstocks are known to be a more comfortable sandal.

Your feet should feel like you can naturally splay your toes out and you should be to wear them for long periods in comfort without feeling discomfort.

Some call it a more custom-feeling fit.

Based on this, I find that Birkenstocks run true to size, but you have to take Birkenstock’s unique sizing system into account.

Should You Choose Regular or Medium?


It’s important to recognize that Birkenstocks come in both regular and medium fits. This doesn’t apply so much to the length of the shoe, but rather to the width.

It’s quite a peculiar way of labelling it and it does confuse some people when it comes to the sizing.

  • If you select the ‘regular’ option you are getting a shoe that is more suited to a wider foot.
  • If you select the ‘medium’ option, you are getting a shoe that is more suited to a narrow foot.

I suggest you choose the one that corresponds best to your foot width.

US, UK, and EU Size Conversion

Another thing that confuses some people is the size conversion.

Birkenstocks use European sizing which can cause some confusion.

For example, I would have to look up my US or UK size on a Birkenstock size conversion chart to find the corresponding EU size.

If you need to find your European shoe size, you can use the calculator below.

Shoe Size Converter

Size Charts

As I mentioned earlier, finding your perfect Birkenstock size involves measuring the length of your foot and adding 10mm for extra wiggle room.

, will provide detailed instructions on how to measure your foot and find the right size, considering both length and width.

Do Birkenstocks Stretch?

A common question among potential buyers is: do Birkenstocks stretch? So it is important to look a little bit into the specifics of Birkenstock sandals.

Understanding Birkenstock Sandals:

Before we tackle the question of whether Birkenstocks stretch, it’s essential to understand what the components of the typical pair are.

There are two primary materials at play: the sole, typically made from a cork-latex blend, and the leather upper. Both materials contribute to the overall comfort, support, and durability in the sandals.

Stretching in the Sole:


Birkenstock soles are designed to mould to the shape of your feet, and give you a more custom feeling arch support.

But the thing is, the cork-latex blend used in the soles is not particularly elastic or stretchy.

Instead, the soles will compress and conform to the contours of your feet over time as you wear them. This process is not exactly “stretching,” but it does result in a customized fit that many people find exceptionally comfortable.

As for the outsole on Birkenstocks, they’re typically made of EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), a flexible and lightweight material that can provide excellent cushioning. It’s used quite commonly in shoes for this reason.

While EVA can stretch slightly over time, it will not drastically change the sandal’s overall size or shape.

Stretching in the Leather:

When it comes to the leather uppers on Birkenstock sandals, there is some potential for stretching.

Genuine leather is a natural material that can adapt to your feet with regular wear. The more you use your Birkenstocks, the more the leather will soften and mold to the shape of your feet, providing a snug and comfortable fit.

The degree of stretching in the leather depends on factors like the type of leather, frequency of use, and your foot shape.

Some people find that the leather strap on their Birkenstocks stretches more than they thought other types of leather because it is quite a thick strap of material.

But it’s important to remember that the leather will not stretch indefinitely, and it’s crucial to choose the right size from the get-go.

Excessive stretching in the material increases the likelihood of the material breaking. So make sure you choose the right size from the get-go.

Breaking In Your Birkenstocks:

As with any new pair of shoes, Birkenstocks may require a break-in period.

On the first few wears, they may feel stiff or slightly uncomfortable, but don’t worry; this is normal.

The key is to wear them for short periods and gradually increase the time you spend in them, allowing the sole and leather to soften and conform more to your feet.

The Birkenstock Footbed Is Different


They’re not conventional, but as a person who enjoys comfortable shoes, I appreciate the Birkenstock footbed.

This is what sets Birkenstock shoes apart, their unique design that provides more comfort and helps promote foot health.

The Birkenstock footbed is made of a firm cork/latex blend and shaped to create a healthy walking environment for the feet.

Over time, the footbed adapts to the wearer’s individual foot due to its pliable nature and responsiveness to natural body warmth.

Arch Support

People who have problems with their gait and foot alignment do consider Birkenstocks as a good option. The arch support in Birkenstock’s footbed gives good support in the arches.

The contoured design accommodates the natural curves of the foot, and in turn, provides excellent support for both the longitudinal arch and the transverse arch.

This helps to distribute weight evenly across the length of the foot and encourages the user to keep their feet properly aligned. As a result, many find that their feet feel less fatigued at the end of the day.

Deep Heel Cup and Toe Bar

Birkenstock footbeds come with a deeper heel cup that helps to cradle the heel and provide the feeling of more stability while walking.

Users note that this feature significantly improves their walking gait as it keeps the foot secure in the footbed and promotes a natural rolling motion.

Another interesting feature of the footbed is the raised toe bar, which encourages a natural gripping motion of the toes when walking.

This not only supports the natural movement of the foot but also improves circulation in the feet. I am a big fan of how the toe bar works!

Soft and Regular Footbed

The Birkenstock footbed comes in two different varieties: soft and regular.

Both types provide excellent arch support and heel cup features, but the soft footbed comes with an added layer of cushioning that I personally find quite enjoyable.

This extra layer adds more shock-absorbing capabilities to the shoe, making them even more comfortable for a variety of activities.

If you prefer a firmer feel, the regular footbed may be more suitable as it offers the same benefits without additional cushioning.

Pain Points and Solutions

Potential Blisters

To avoid potential blisters, it’s essential to have a comfortable fit without your toes hitting the top of the sandal.

Birkenstocks are known for their contoured footbed made from a cork/latex blend which conforms to your foot’s natural shape over time.

The ‘breaking in’ period for your Birkenstocks may take some time, so you’ll have to be a little patient. They will become more pliable and comfortable as you wear them.

Personal Experience and Tips

In my experience, finding the perfect fit in Birkenstock sandals can be a bit of a challenge because of the options and slight differences in sizing.

One tip to avoid discomfort and allow the sandals to adapt to your foot is to wear them for short periods initially, gradually increasing the duration.

This will help minimize any potential blisters and allow the sandals to conform to your individual foot shape.


Avatar of Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick is a health and fitness lifestyle journalist who writes for ListedFit.com.

“I've spent a lot of time trying to get in shape and change my body and I realised there are so many untruths in the health and fitness industry that can slow down or stop your progress, so I share my knowledge and experience to help others to cut through the BS.”

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