Being an outdoor gear company, we honestly didn't expect to be overly impressed with this seemingly very urban shoe. And we certainly didn't expect said shoe to run away with our Editors' Choice Award. But the Birkenstock Gizeh surprised us at every turn, regularly outperforming our other tested models while cradling our feet in comfort. It molds to the foot, has exceptional security and support, and provides excellent traction. While the break-in period is a bit rough, if you stick with it, you will be rewarded in kind. This stylish sandal probably isn't the one to pick if you plan to get wet and dirty every day, but rest assured if the Gizeh does end up in a mud pit or a river it can handle it. We know because we put it through all that and more! This is a superbly well-made shoe that, while expensive, will last for years if properly cared for.If the look of the Gizeh doesn't do it for you, but you still want something attractive and functional, we like the Top Pick for Stylish Adventures, the OluKai Lala. And if the price tags on those options are making you feel ill, check out the Crocs Sexi Flip, our Best Fashion-Forward Buy for a much more affordable option.
Birkenstock Gizeh Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Attractive, supportive, comfortable, adjustable strap
Cons: Stiff, breaking in takes time
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This Editors' Choice winner started out stiff and hard but quickly softened and won us over with its lush materials, comfortable design, and unique style. While an expensive investment, if you're searching for an attractive sandal to last you for the long haul, this is a great one to consider.
The Gizeh has the potential to be wildly comfortable but, like many worthwhile things in life, you have to work for it a bit. In the beginning, this shoe is stiff and unwelcoming but, if you persevere, the cork footbed lined with suede will soften and mold to your feet, rewarding you with a sandal sculpted perfectly to your unique shape. Add to that adjustable straps with a soft fleece-lined underside and a footbed design meant to cup and support every part of the foot's anatomy, and you have a very comfortable sandal.
The footbed of the Gizeh becomes soft and welcoming relatively quickly, though you should prepare for some level of discomfort for several days at the very least. The toe post is made of hard rubber, and it takes time and dedication to get used to and fully break-in. By far the most common complaint we see in online customer reviews is regarding the toe post, but the majority of people also seem to agree that if you continue to wear them through the uncomfortable and/or painful stage, you will be glad you did. This was our experience too; the very first time we slipped this shoe on the toe post felt shockingly brutal. Activities that caused our feet to slide into it with more pressure (like going up and down stairs or hills) bordered on excruciating. But, with some dedicated wear, this discomfort disappeared quickly.
With all shoes, sizing is critical. But the contoured footbed of the Gizeh makes getting the proper size even more important; if you don't, the arch support and toe ridge won't sit in the correct place, and you may not be able to achieve the same level of comfort you available with an excellent fit.
Support & Stability
The Gizeh has some interesting and unique features that add up to a seriously supportive and stable shoe. The contoured footbed provides a deep heel cup that's meant to hold the heel bone in its most natural position and give almost as much support as wearing a fully enclosed shoe. It also has strategically placed arch supports running down the sides and middle, and a toe grip ridge to help keep the toes in a natural spread out position. Finally, the footbed edges are raised and extra high in the front to protect the toes when walking. Whether or not these individual features do for you exactly what they are "meant" to do, this is a well planned out and executed sandal that remains comfortable even after hours of being on your feet.
Another aspect that makes the Gizeh feel so secure is the presence of wide, long, adjustable straps. For a flip flop sandal, you end up with quite a lot of your foot covered. Some people may not like this as it can feel constricting and hold in more heat and sweat when it's sweltering outside, but the natural materials also can breathe and dry quickly.
We couldn't help but appreciate the craftsmanship of the Gizeh from the moment it came out of the box. There's a reason Birkenstocks have been worn by professionals and enthusiasts alike for decades. It's clear that time and care have gone into the design and execution of this sandal. The high-quality materials and construction had no problem standing up to hikes on dirty, dusty trails, and even full immersion in a cold Colorado River hardly showed a scuff. On top of that, there are many viable options for repair, resoling, and strap replacement available, so you can keep your pair going strong for a very long time. Birkenstock also offers care tips and products on their website, meaning that, with the right attention, this sandal can quite literally last you a lifetime.
The Gizeh can absolutely take some abuse, but the cork and suede footbed will also deteriorate faster than rubber — it's just a fact. Natural materials need to stay away from concentrated heat and extreme temperatures; while this is a highly durable shoe, it's also not appropriate as your main outdoor adventure accessory.
This metric is where the Gizeh surprised us most. Initially, we didn't even want to do the full river submersion water test on these sandals because, well, they're just so darn fancy. But in the interest of fairness, they went into the river and under the hose just like all the other pairs. And, lo and behold, they did great. Many of the other models in our review feel slimy and insecure for a bit of time after getting wet, but the Gizeh feels good when wet — snug, secure, and cool on the skin.
After full submersion, the footbed of the Gizeh felt damp but completely wearable in under a half-hour. The underside of the straps took over an hour to dry, but they also felt nice on our skin on a hot day. This sandal takes longer to dry than other models due to the materials it's constructed with and because when on foot, the upturned sides and snug straps disallow as much airflow as you get with a more open and airy design.
The Gizeh offers both good traction from the bottom sole and excellent internal footbed security. This combination provides the essential balance needed to feel confident when navigating uneven terrain.
In some respects, the Gizeh feels more like a fully-enclosed shoe than a sandal. The bottom treads aren't as aggressive as some other options in our review, but the suede-lined footbed provides impeccable grip and comfort. We felt highly confident navigating all sorts of obstacles and terrain, our only complaint surfacing when heading downhill on steep slopes: the stiffness of the toe post, even after having broken it in, is noticeable.
When talking to people about the look of this shoe, we received some strong opinions both ways. For the most part, all the women we polled love it, ranking it in their top three. But for some, the unique look of the Gizeh is unappealing. Of course, you will decide for yourself whether you think it's stylish enough to warrant the price, but since the consensus in our research was positive, we rewarded it with a high rating.
If the Gizeh doesn't do it for you, Birkenstock does make other less exotic styles that may be a better fit for your wardrobe. As far as the 17 sandals we tested, the clear winner is the OluKai Lala. Like the Gizeh, the Lala is an elegant shoe with wide leather straps, but it has a noticeably more streamlined look that is a bit more approachable. However, if you like the Gizeh, it's easy to dress up or down.
Even though the Gizeh performs excellently across all our metrics, it still isn't a model we recommend for aggressive or continual outdoor use. It can handle the occasional (or even semi-regular) rainstorm or mud puddle, but it is simply too nice of a shoe to subject it to that kind of thing all the time. We highly recommend the Gizeh if you're looking for a more urban sandal that's stylish, comfortable, and supportive, but consider something else if you will be spending most summer days playing in dirt or water.
This shoe is an investment for sure, and you should be certain in your decision before committing to dropping so much dough. But it is worth the steep price tag for the right person, and not having to buy a new cheap flip flop every year or two could save you money in the long run. If you take proper care of your Gizeh, it can last you for decades, keeping your feet supported and your style high.
The feature-heaviness and aesthetic of the Gizeh isn't for everyone, but if you're in the market for a well made, highly supportive, and classically stylish sandal that becomes more comfortable with time, then look no further. This sandal is expensive and takes more time to break-in, but if it fits your needs and lifestyle, then we believe both of those small hurdles are worth it for what you get.
— Penney Garrett