Birkenstock vs Mephisto Comparison – Which One Pays Close Attention To Details?


Today, I’m going to be doing a comparison between Birkenstock vs Mephisto sandals.

I hope to get you to be very well understanding on both brands and help you understand which is the best brand for your money.


Birkenstock vs Mephisto



Birkenstock sandals have been around forever since 1774 and Mephisto since 1963. Birks are always made in Germany and Mephisto sandals are made in two different places, France or Portugal.

For this Birkenstock vs Mephisto comparison review, I’ve got two of the women’s examples, the Birkenstock Mayari and the Mephisto Nalia.

We could also do Birkenstock Mayari vs Mephisto Helen, but that’s for another blog post.

They’re both very similar in terms of style and construction and they both use a natural cork footbed.

A lot of the Birks are full leather, but this particular one is the Birko-flore. The Mephisto Nalia has always been leather. To the best of my knowledge, Mephisto don’t use Birko-flor in any of their shoes.



So, what separates Birkenstock and Mephisto?

Birkenstock kind of really hasn’t changed anything about their shoes too much recently. They did come out with the soft footbed about five or six years ago while Mephisto have kind of already been incorporating that for years.

The big difference is the Birkenstock Mayari is just going to be cork and then you’re going to have the EVA on the bottom.

The Mephisto Nalia is going to have cork with EVA, but in between the two, there’s an air channeling system that lets air move through the shoe.

So, when you step, it gives a little bit more of shock absorption. If you look at the heel, there’s going to be some holes that are going to allow air to circulate through the shoe while you walk.


Wide vs Narrow

The Mephisto Nalia is a lot closer to the narrow footbed as well, which is just the standard fit. So, for men and women out there who don’t like Birks because they’re so wide on their feet, I think Mephisto is a great option for you.

You’re not going to sacrifice arch support or comfort and in fact, I think you’ll actually be gaining it.


Rigid vs Flexible

A couple of other little things to note is the Birkenstocks are very rigid and very stiff and some people don’t like that.

Meanwhile, the Mephisto flexes very well. So, if you’re looking for something that’s going to give a little bit more as you walk and make it a little easier, then again, the Mephisto is the best choice.


Birkenstock’s Upper Materials!!!

As I mentioned earlier, this particular Mayari is not leather, it is Birko-flore. You really have to be really careful when you’re buying Birkenstocks.

Sometimes, people will go into two different stores and find a certain model that costs for example $120 in one store and $120 in the other. So, there’s usually a $25 to $30 price jump if you’re going from Birko-flore to leather.

It is just simply based on materials.

This Mayari has a thin strip of Birko-flore on top and it has felt on the back, whereas the leather Mayari has a single cut of leather which is very thick it’s going to be very unlikely to ever damage it any time soon.

I’m not saying that the Birko-flore Mayari is bad and I think there’s a really good place in everybody’s wardrobe for this sandal.

If you’re that individual who maybe they’ve bought in the brown or black Mayaris or other Birks and you want to get a fun color, go for the Birko-flore.

The Birko-flore style is cheaper and if you don’t wear them as often, that’s fine. Just be aware they’re prone to tearing a lot more than your standard leather one.


Mephisto Materials

With Mephisto, the Nalia is going to be full leather the whole way through. It’s going to be a single cut.

Mephisto is very good at using the highest-end material possible. So, the leather they’re using is very soft, which is one thing I like about these verses the Birkenstock leather. Birkenstock leather is a bit stiffer and more rigid.

Actually, I had to take a brass bristle brush and brush the inside portion of the strap of the Birkenstock so it wasn’t so rough on the skin. Mephisto sandals are going to be soft right from the get-go.


Discover more on the ‘Socks with Birkenstocks’ dilemma! Dive into our related article, ‘Should You Wear Socks with Birkenstocks,’ to explore this style choice in-depth and find the perfect balance between comfort and fashion!

Birkenstock Soft Footbed vs Regular Footbed


As I’ve already mentioned, there’s a hard footbed and soft footbed for Birkenstocks. A lot of the Mayari styles are going to be in the hard footbed whereas the Mephisto Nalia is going to be a soft footbed.

That means in-between the suede top and the cork there’s going to be memory foam in there. You can’t really see it, but when you press it, you can feel the cushion whereas the other hard-footbed Birks are just firm.

But don’t expect the memory foam on the Mephisto shoes to last forever. It is literally there just to give you some support and cushion while the cork is breaking in.


Don’t Let Your Friends Wear Your Cork Sandals

Now, with the cork, there’s going to be some benefits and some negatives to this.

So, the benefit right out of the gate is it is a very porous material. As you stand on it, your own body weight and temperature is going to mold that cork in and it’s going to give you a custom fit.

I jokingly tell people don’t like your friends wear your Birkenstocks and there’s a real reason for that. You don’t want somebody else’s footprint on your shoe and then it’s not going to feel right for you.

Cork Seal

Meanwhile, the side effects of cork is Mephisto and Birkenstock both put seals on the side of the cork footbed.

That’s designed to keep that moisture locked inside the shoe. If you do not apply a seal from time to time, you are going to find that that cork is going to crack, break, and chip off.

So, as you’re walking around and you’re kicking the sidewalk or the curbs or whatever, you just want to be sure to maintain that cork.

For Birkenstock, you can actually replace the cork, but it’s like $85 just for cork. So, if you’re buying the Birko-flore shoe, you might as well just buy a new sandal at that point.

Or, for 8 bucks, you can get some cork seal. The brand Kelly’s have got their own cork seal which is a brush applicator.

Put a thin layer so it dries faster but then also doesn’t goop up. If you put it on too heavy, it’s going to goop up and you’re going to have to cut it off and then you’re going to have to reapply another layer.


The one thing that everybody who’s had Birkenstocks has dealt with at least once in their life is the black footprint, which applies to the Mephisto shoes as well as any other brand out there that’s got either a natural leather or suede footbed.

Over time, your skin is filtering out oil and dirt and it ends up on the shoe and it collects over time and that’s what that black mark is.

So, if you don’t have any odors and you just want to clean it and get it back to that natural color, I’d recommend doing something like a suede eraser kit.

The suede eraser itself has some sand mixed into it. It’s a little more abrasive it’s going to get in there and get that dirt off.

If you have some odors or maybe you’ve got some foot fungus or something like that, you’re going to want to get something that’s a cleaner. This Deluxe Shoe Care Kit can do the job perfectly.

Here’s a nice video on how to clean your cork footbed sandals.

EVA Bottom


On this particular Mephisto, this EVA foam is a little softer and so it probably will wear down faster than what the Birks have. But, you can get these resoled.

It’s very frustrating to see people who have a perfectly good Birkenstock or Mephisto where the cork and the leather are very intact and they want to get it replaced just because of the footbed.

Take it to a cobbler shop for $35 to 45$ and you can get it replaced and you’re going to be much better off for it.



Mephistos are very hard to find in stores. And if you’re ordering them online, try to go a size bigger than what you think okay.

So, a size 38 Birkenstock says it’s a 7, and a size 38 Mephisto says it’s an 8. It’s really a 7 and a half. For example, a 38 Mephisto looks almost identical to 39 Birkenstock in terms of length.

Again, keep in mind that the Mephistos are a lot narrower so if you’re a skinny-footed person, this is going to be great for you.

If you’re not, you’re going to definitely need to go up a size but also you may need to look at some of their other models that will hold your foot a little better.


Birkenstock vs Mephisto – Which One I Love More

In terms of which of the Birkenstock vs Mephisto is the better shoe, again, I’m going to give you my biased honest opinion.

I’d say go for the Mephisto. I think material-wise, Mephisto is the better choice. I think it’s constructed much better.

There’s a lot more people who work for this company so they have a little bit more quality control than what Birkenstock does.

On the other hand, Birkenstock is just very popular right now. Consequently, they’re having to rush their production and so you’re going to find a lot more inconsistencies with the seal, the cork, the quality of the leather, and the glue.

Sometimes, under the straps, you’re going to find some glue that’s gummed up and it may not fit perfectly right away and you might have to mess with it a bit to get that goo off of there as well as get any excess cork seal off.

On the contrary, Mephistos a hundred percent of the time their shoes look great and if they don’t, they’re very quick to want you to send it back and so they can replace it and get you something that’s in perfect condition.

Customer Service

Customer service is always big with me but as well as quality.

Think of the Birkenstock as Volkswagen and think of the Mephisto as Audi. Mephisto is a lot like its counterpart the Birkenstock, but it’s just a better product overall.

Mephistos are so meticulous about their detail and they really pride themselves on being literally the world’s finest shoe company.

So, I definitely suggest that if you are in the market for buying a Birkenstock whether you’re buying the Mayari, the Arizona EVA, the Arizona Leather the Gizeh, or any of their other models that you also look at Mephisto.

They may not have direct similar models like Birkenstocks, but they’ll have some other models that’ll be great.

So, there you have it. This was the Birkenstock vs Mephisto comparison review. If you’ve worn any shoe from Mephisto or Birkenstock, please tell us about your experience.

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

8 thoughts on “Birkenstock vs Mephisto Comparison – Which One Pays Close Attention To Details?”

  1. That was a great shoe brand comparison and I agree with you entirely. I have always bought mephisto due to my size being 42 and the comfort and quality in their shoes are amazing, sometimes I feel they look a bit more older woman style but being in my early 50s, it’s more important now to feel good than just look good and my Harmony Mephisto I have now new in Black look pretty good, a bit masculine looking with the buckle being black on black but I guess it’s a casual sander. I bought from HOlts the burkinstock last summer in a beautiful white colour with a beautiful silver big buckle but the footbed was so hard, I couldn’t get comfortable waking around the house so I took them back. So I am with you that mephisto is better in terms of quality and fit. Thanks

  2. I have a pair of Mephisto Hannels which I have been wearing for over 10 years. I have tried on Birkenstocks at the store, but they just do not work on my feet. The Mephisto footbed is perfect and the Birkenstocks just feel all wrong and they look ridiculous (my big toe is not my longest toe, for instance.) I am not sure I agree with your comments about the sizing. I normally wear size 8 1/2 to 9 (depending on the brand) in regular shoes, but my Hannels are size 38. Of course, they are old.

  3. Before a Pilon Fracture of ankle I preferred the Mephisto due to arthritis and after surgery with much hardware in ankle even more so. I’ve worn both and the comfort of Mephisto is undeniable. I’ve worn the Yael and 2 buckle sandals for over 10 years now and am shopping for new ones but, want the same comfort level. It is absolutely necessary for me to continue to be as mobile as possible. I sometimes but, the Birkenstocks on for a change and then remove them promptly.

  4. I am a little confused about the cork beds. I buy Birkenstocks for the original cork bed and I am interested in buying a pair of Mephisto.

    My understanding from this review is that the memory form on the Mephisto shoes are temporary while the feet settle into the cork and sort of mold to the feet. Is this correct?

    You stated
    “But don’t expect the memory foam on the Mephisto shoes to last forever. It is literally there just to give you some support and cushion while the cork is breaking in.”

    I like the sound of the feature but I do not want a “squishy” footbed. Thank you


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