Olukai Vs. Birkenstock: Which Sandal Brand Is Better?

For many people, a good pair of sandals is an essential part of their summer wardrobe. Two popular brands known for high-quality sandals are Olukai and Birkenstock.

But which one is better? Here is an in-depth comparison of Olukai and Birkenstock sandals, looking at their key features, comfort, style, durability and value.

A Brief Comparison Table

FootbedPadded foam cushioningContoured suede-lined cork
CushioningUltra-soft, pillowyModerate, molds to feet
Arch SupportModerate supportExcellent deep heel cup
Break-in PeriodNone, instant comfort1-2 weeks of molding
WidthRoomy toe boxRuns narrow
Style VarietySporty, casual, athleticClassic, limited options
Ideal UseCasual everyday, water sportsCasual everyday use
Durability2-4 years with care10+ years with care
Best ForWide feet, instant comfortNarrow feet, foot health

Overview Of Olukai And Birkenstock


Olukai is a Hawaii-based company that designs premium sandals inspired by the islands. The brand launched in 2006 and has grown in popularity for its luxuriously soft and supportive footbeds.

Olukai sandals use quick-drying materials and quality leathers to create a comfortable fit. Most of their designs have an athletic/casual style.

Birkenstock is a historic German company that has been making contoured sandals and shoes since 1774. They are known for their signature suede-lined cork footbed that molds to the shape of your feet. Birkenstock sandals come in both casual and dress styles. The uppers are typically made of leather or suede.

Both brands emphasize comfort, quality construction and a lightweight feel. However, there are some notable differences when it comes to specifics like cushioning, arch support and aesthetics.

Detail Comparison Of Olukai And Birkenstock

  • Comfort and Support

Comfort is a top priority for both Olukai and Birkenstock.

Olukai sandals feature a padded foam footbed covered in quick-drying mesh or leather. The foam provides soft cushioning and bounce, while the anatomical arch support promotes alignment. Users love how the footbed feels luxuriously soft yet still supportive enough for all-day wear. The straps are also padded on the underside to avoid rubbing or irritation.


Birkenstock footbeds are made of contoured cork with suede lining. This molds to your foot over time, providing customized support and cushioning. The deep heel cup keeps your foot in place and encourages proper foot alignment. Birkenstock’s straps are leather or soft suede. Their classic buckled styles can be adjusted for a customized fit.

For lightweight cushioning and instant comfort, Olukai has a slight edge. But Birkenstock offers superior anatomical arch support that’s better for problem feet. Birkenstock footbeds also last longer.

  • Style Selection

In terms of style variety, Olukai has a lot more options. Their sandal selection includes athletic slides, outdoor hikers, casual everyday designs and more fashion-oriented styles.

You’ll find versatile colors and patterns ranging from neutral earth tones to eye-catching combinations. The most popular styles are their athletic Ohana and casual Nohea slides.

Birkenstock has a more limited selection focused on their classic looks like the Arizona two-strap slide and the Gizeh thong sandal. Options are usually neutral leathers in black, brown, white or tan.

However, Birkenstock has introduced more colors and patterns in recent years. Their regular cork footbed styles lean casual, while the soft footbed options add more versatility.

If you want variety, Olukai is the better brand. Birkenstock has a narrower aesthetic, but their styles never go out of fashion.

  • Durability

When it comes to durability, Birkenstock sandals are hard to beat. The suede-lined cork footbed forms to your feet over time and provides continuous support. With proper care, some users wear their Birkenstocks nearly daily for years or even decades. However, the suede lining does require more maintenance.

Olukai sandals are not quite as indestructible, but still hold up better than most brands. The foam footbed will compress down slightly over time. But the sturdy rubber outsoles provide years of wear. Oiling the leather helps maintain water resistance and softness. The quick-drying webbed straps are built to withstand wet environments.

For maximum longevity, Birkenstock is the winner. But Olukai offers impressive durability too, especially considering the price point.

  • Price and Value

Olukai sandals cost $65-$90 for most styles. This puts them at the mid-range price point for premium sandals. Users feel they offer excellent value at this price, providing exceptional comfort that rivals more expensive brands. Sales can sometimes be found bringing the price down further.

Birkenstock sandals range from around $100 up to $160 for their regular styles. Their premium suede and leather styles cost $140-$180. This high price tag reflects the outstanding quality and longevity. Birkenstocks are viewed by many shoppers as a worthwhile investment.

Based on construction quality, Birkenstock offers better value over time. But Olukai’s lower price point makes them a great option for shoppers on a budget looking for comfort and support.

Also Read: Comaparison Between the Dr. Scholl’s Madison and Nova

  • Sizing and Break-In Time

Both brands fit best when you buy according to EU sizing. Birkenstock sandals have a standard medium width. Their contoured cork footbed works best for medium to high arches. Break-in time is minimal since the footbed starts molding immediately. Straps can be adjusted to customize the fit.

Olukai sandals run true-to-size but have a wider toe box suited for wide feet. They offer instant softness and flexibility, so no break-in is needed. The ankle and heel straps are padded and designed to prevent rubbing.

For wide feet or flat arches, Olukai offers more out-of-the-box comfort. Birkenstock requires slightly more finessed sizing but customizes to your feet over time.

  • Water Friendliness

If you’ll be wearing your sandals in wet conditions like the beach or pool, Olukai is the better choice. Their quick-drying webbed straps and water-resistant footbeds are designed to shed water and dry fast. Even the leather footbed options won’t stretch out after getting wet.

Birkenstock sandals are not very water-friendly. Getting the suede footbed wet can damage it over time and affect how well it molds to your feet. The leather options fare better, but absorb moisture and take longer to dry out. It’s best to keep Birkenstocks as dry as possible. Also watch the video!

For a sandal that can handle all your seaside adventures, Olukai is a clear winner. Stick to leather Birkenstocks if you want something for occasional water wear.

  • Traction and Terrain Suitability

The grippy rubber outsoles used by both brands offer good traction, though Olukai tends to have a bit more. Their sandals work well for water use and moderate hikes. Some styles like the Moloa Kohana have a more rugged lug pattern suitable for trail terrain.

Birkenstock outsoles provide decent grip but are not designed for outdoor adventures. The suede footbed and smooth bottoms make them unsuitable for hiking or water. The contoured shape also offers less stability on uneven terrain. Birkenstocks are best suited for casual everyday use.

When it comes to traction and versatility of use, Olukai performs better. Birkenstock excels as a comfortable lifestyle sandal, not an athletic shoe.

  • Environmentally Friendly Practices

Eco-conscious shoppers appreciate that both brands aim to reduce their environmental impact.

Olukai uses recycled materials in many components of their sandals, including EVA foam and rubber outsoles. They also utilize sustainable LITE keeping in some styles. Their production facilities run on renewable energy.

Birkenstock sources their suede and leather from tanneries with good environmental ratings. Their cork comes from sustainable foresting. Their adhesives and footbed materials are PVC-free. Also, their sandals are repairable which reduces waste.

So both companies get high marks for corporate responsibility. Olukai has a slight lead for the use of recycled materials. But Birkenstock’s overall durability and repairability make their sandals environmentally friendly.

Also Read: Choose Between Calzuro And Birkenstock.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What brand is as good as BIRKENSTOCK?

Some other sandal brands that can compete with Birkenstock for comfort and support include:
OluKai – Known for ultra-soft cushioning and sporty styles. Not as much arch support as Birkenstock.
Naot – Anatomically designed footbeds that mold over time like Birkenstock. More fashion-oriented styles.
Chaco – Rugged athletic sandal brand providing custom adjustable straps and great arch support.
Aetrex – Podiatrist-designed orthopedic footwear with options similar to Birkenstock.
Vionic – Orthotic-style sandals with built-in arch support and cushioning.

Are OluKai worth it?

For many wearers, OluKai sandals are definitely worth the price. Reasons they are worth the investment include:
High-quality materials like genuine leather straps and rubber outsoles.
Plush cushioning and support right out of the box. No break-in needed.
Hold up well over multiple seasons with proper care.
Great traction and water resistance for outdoor activities.
Stylish, versatile designs from athletic slides to dressy sandal options.
More affordable than many competing comfort brands.
Company uses recycled and sustainable materials.
The combination of instant comfort, quality construction and reasonable price makes OluKai a good value purchase for the right customer.

Are OluKai good for your feet?

Overall yes, OluKai sandals are good for your feet. Key reasons include:
Ultra-soft cushioning provides comfort and absorbs shock.
Contoured foam footbed offers decent arch support.
Roomy toe box accommodates wide feet.
Adjustable straps prevent rubbing and irritation.
Lightweight and breathable materials.
Good grip and support on various terrain.
Potential downsides are less custom molding and thinner arch support compared to orthopedic options. But for most feet, OluKai sandals provide comfortable support during everyday wear.

Who are Birkenstocks top competitors?

Some of Birkenstock’s biggest competitors in the comfort sandal market include:
OluKai – Known for plush cushioning and casual sporty styles.
Chaco – Athletic sandal brand with customized strap system.
Naot – Anatomical footbed sandals with fashion-forward design.
Vionic – Orthotic sandals designed to promote foot health.
Teva – Casual sporty sandals popular for outdoor adventures.
Aetrex – Orthopedic brand with contoured footbeds.
Keen – Rugged sandals with secure toe protection.
Mephisto – European comfort shoe brand with handcrafted footwear.
Merrell – Outdoor footwear brand with performance sport sandals.
While no other brand can match Birkenstock’s classic cork footbed design, these companies compete in similar comfort sandal categories. Each brand offers their own technology and benefits for foot support and health.

Also Read: Is Helm Boots Better Than Thursday Boots?

The Verdict

When choosing between Olukai and Birkenstock, there are good reasons to favor either brand.

For those wanting instant cushioned comfort and sporty casual style, Olukai is an excellent choice. The plush foam footbed and roomy fit make them enjoyable for all-day wear. Active folks will appreciate the traction and water-friendly construction too.

However, for superior arch support and foot molding ability, Birkenstock can’t be matched. Their contoured cork footbed is proven to promote foot health when worn regularly.

With some broken-in time, Birkenstocks feel customized to your feet and last for many seasons. Their classic styling also pairs well with so many casual, business casual and semi-formal outfits.

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Birkenstock offers better orthopedic benefits for problem feet, but their break-in period and narrow fit won’t work for some. Olukai provides instant comfort at a more budget-friendly price point.

Try sandals from both brands to decide which features suit your needs and preferences best. Just be sure to buy your true EU size, break them in properly and care for the materials. With either Olukai or Birkenstock sandals, you can enjoy well-crafted comfort all summer long.

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