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Travel shoes are difficult to pack because you want comfort while you travel without sacrificing style.
For most trips, I bring a pair of nice-looking sandals, but I’ve now gone through a half dozen pairs. So I sought out a new pair of shoes that would be casual enough to act as a substitute for flip flops, comfortable enough to wear all day in my destination, and chic enough to dress up for a night out.
I did my research and landed on Birkenstock Madrid sandals, one of the first styles that the company made.
The Birkenstock Madrid Slide Sandals
Birkenstocks tend to elicit images of frumpy-looking clogs, but the brand has created some new styles and revived old ones for today’s fashions. When my family and I were in England several summers ago, my mom rubbed her feet raw and borrowed my sister’s Birkenstock Arizona sandals to alleviate the pain.
It was then that I started seriously considering buying my own pair of the German-made footwear and just had to narrow it down to the style.
I loved the simplicity of the Madrids and ordered a pair in black.
Features of the Madrid Birkenstocks
Adjustable strap: The strap that crosses your foot is adjustable, which is great for when your feet swell on a plane or when you want to wear socks with them. I recommend wearing them tighter than you think you’ll need, as they stabilize your foot better.
Cork footbed: This is a signature of Birkenstock shoes, providing arch support and shock absorption. The product description also claims that the sandal improves your circulation.
Large toe box: It doesn’t crowd your toes, which is good for someone like me who has had problems with her feet.
The Pros & Cons
Multiple colors: While I chose black since it goes with almost everything, Birkenstock makes Madrids in dozens of funky styles and colors, including metallics and prints.
True to size: When you choose your size, know that it will be accurate, not too big or too small. But if you’re worried about it, double check your size against European sizing and consider wide or narrow options.
Lightweight and packable: These shoes are no more than 1 pound because of the cork materials, making for an ideal travel shoe. They can also fold flat, saving valuable space in your bag.
Durable: Birkenstocks last for many years before showing wear and tear. You can get them fixed at Birkenstock retailers, but follow their footwear guidelines to keep them in good shape for as long as possible.
The Breaking in process: Be aware that you can’t comfortably wear them straight out of the box. Like other types of shoes, specifically Rainbows, they have to be broken in and molded to fit your foot. This can be uncomfortable for some and prevents them from enjoying Birkenstocks.
I recommend that you wear with them with socks around your house for a few days before you bring them on a trip.
Price: Priced anywhere from $75 – 180 USD (depending on outlet and style), they’re not cheap. I still believe it’s better to spend more on shoes that will last rather than continually buying low-quality footwear.
>> Check out prices and deals for the Birkenstock Madrids on Amazon.
Feedback from Readers on Facebook
The HPL readers on our Facebook page voiced their opinions of these Birkenstock sandals. Many said they are cute and comfy for short and casual trips, but others would prefer more technical sandals (like Keens or Tevas) with a heel strap that can get wet and be good for more hardcore walking and adventuring.
How to Wear Your Birkenstock Madrid Sandals
You can wear Birkenstock Madrids dozens of ways, including as plane shoes. Just add socks and loosen the buckle for comfortable shoes to wear to and from the lavatories. I’ve put together a few stylish Pinterest-inspired outfits based on the shoes.
For a casual fall look, I’ve paired black skinny jeans, a fake leather motorcycle jacket and a flowy top.
To dress down a nice outfit or find an alternative to heels, I chose a grey maxi dress and statement necklace to wear with my Madrids.
A beach day is easy in terms of outfits, so I’ve picked my Madrids with a swimsuit and the always multifunctional sarong.
I also think the Madrids would be great to wear pre-workout like yoga or swimming or to work.
What other outfits would you wear with the Birkenstock Madrid Slide Sandals?
*This article was originally published in 2016.