Birkenstock Gizeh Essentials EVA Review
Cons: Material doesn't breathe, less durable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Gizeh Essentials EVA is a great way to experience some of the unique features of the classic Birkenstock design without having to commit to a hefty price tag and high maintenance materials. Ultra lightweight with a much easier break-in period than the original version, this fun foam sandal is a great companion for the beach, garden, or hiking trail.
The Essentials EVA is comfortable right out of the box. The toe post can take a little getting used to for some, but in most respects, this modern take on the classic is a total win.
The EVA on the Gizeh Essentials is super flexible, cushy, and lightweight. Some foam sandals can feel underwhelming, but this one is skin-friendly and contoured to cradle the anatomy of your feet. The material doesn't breathe as readily as the natural cork version, so when wet or sweaty you might find yourself suctioned to the footbed with some occasional farting noises. The straps can also feel a bit tacky on the top of the foot. But, in most respects, this is a surprisingly stretchy and shock-absorbent shoe that's super easy to find comfort in.
Support & Stability
This flip may not be quite as sturdy as its cork counterpart, but it's still highly supportive with excellent stability.
The anatomical footbed, with its deep heel cup, makes for a sandal that feels like it's hugging your foot. Wide adjustable straps only add to this protective feeling. We tested our Essentials in size 40, one size larger than the Editors' Choice-winning Gizeh, and, at first, thought we'd gone too big. But a quick tightening of the straps changed everything, snugging us it securely. The combination of contouring and adjustability on this flip mean you have a bit of flexibility in sizing: if you like a longer footbed you can go larger and make up for it by tightening the straps. Just the opposite, you can size down and open up the straps for some room. No matter the configuration, we felt solid, though tighter straps help if you're navigating complicated or slick terrain.
EVA, even when done well like on this flip, can only be so durable. If taken care of it'll certainly last, but don't expect it to be able to stand up to very many sharp objects or excessive heat.
In our time testing the Gizeh EVA it fared well — the only obvious wear we observed was the brand name rubbing off the footbed after just a few outings. But we also understood its limitations and made sure to keep it away from puppies, excessively sharp rocks, too much time stepping on a garden shovel, hot cars, and direct sun. Quite a few online reviews mention excessive shrinkage if you leave it in the sun; the old adage is perhaps appropriate here: you get what you pay for. This is a great shoe, but it IS foam, and you will need to treat it accordingly if you want it to have a long and happy life.
The Gizeh EVA is waterproof! After walking around completely submerged in a creek on a late spring day, the whole shoe was bone dry in 3-4 minutes as though nothing had happened.
Unless the footbed of the Gizeh EVA gets punctured, water damage is a non-issue. It dries super fast and, if you don't want to wait, a quick wipe with a rag or towel will do the trick. The one issue of note is the fact that, because the material is waterproof and the design contours around the foot, this shoe doesn't breathe well. This means that if the footbed is wet, it can hold in little pools of water below your feet. If the straps are tight enough, there won't be insecurity or slippage, but it can feel a bit slimy and create farting noises while you walk. We remedied this just by removing our feet, drying off, and then continuing on our merry way.
A lot of lightweight EVA flips have downright terrible traction, but not this one. The Gizeh Essentials is patterned after the original Birkenstock design and they've figured out a thing or two in regards to a well-made shoe. For this metric, we take into account both the bottom of the sole and the internal footbed.
Excellent traction means you feel secure in both places. We walked up and down steep pine needle-covered trails, hopped over fields of jagged rocks, and waded through cold river water. At every turn, we felt decently sticky, as long as we had our straps cinched up tight. If you loosen them too much, the possibility of your foot sliding around in the shoe is higher, which makes for insecure footbed traction. The material is also waterproof, so if moisture is trapped under your feet it can't really escape, and that too will cause the inside to feel a bit less tractioned (or, conversely, you might get suctioned to the bottom and make a bunch of lovely farting noises!).
The original Gizeh is a high-scorer in this category, so it's no surprise this one fares well too.
The EVA-version of the Gizeh scores a little lower in this category than its cork-and-suede cousin because, in comparison, it's rather cheap looking. Instead of layers of natural materials, you have fake layers molded to look like the real thing. Don't get us wrong, this is a MUCH classier shoe than the cheap foam flips you find at the dollar store, but it's still not as elegant as more expensive materials. However, we love the fun take on a classic and appreciate the flattering shape of this sandal on foot. You can even find it in a variety of vibrant colors!
The Essentials EVA has a lot of potential applications. It's super cute and stylish, so it can be a great complement to a whole host of different outfits and urban outings. It's decently rugged and completely waterproof, so adventures at the beach, on a boat, or in the garden are all within its wheelhouse. It's also lightweight, comfortable, and supportive, so it's appropriate to use as a recovery sandal or house slipper. This is a versatile flip!
While this sandal costs more than many of your typical foam flips, it's also a far superior design and execution. It's well worth the price tag for what you get and, if properly cared for, should have no problem lasting you for many summers.
The Birkenstock Gizeh Essentials EVA is a fun ultralight take on an expensive classic. If you've wanted a Birkenstock but are stuck in sticker shock, here's your alternative. Supportive from anatomical contouring, this flip is comfortable, waterproof, flexible, well-tractioned, stylish, and affordable — a clear choice for one of our Best Buy awards.
— Penney Garrett