REEF vs Birkenstock Sandals: Which Brand is Better?

REEF vs Birkenstock Sandals Which Brand is BetterPin

Reef and Birkenstock are two names that are synonymous with summer. Yes, you can also find other types of footwear and clothing from these two brands.

But, sandals are the product that has made them popular around the world and that’s where they truly shine!

These sandals are really comfortable and use particular technologies and materials.

You can’t go wrong with either of these brands, but what if you’re about to buy your new pair of sandals for the summer and are undecided, about which brand should you choose? Reef or Birkenstock? Which is better?

In this comparison, we’ll give you our opinion. We’ll also go through the history of these companies, their materials and manufacturing processes, and we’ll discuss their prices.

So, let’s get started!

Key Points:

  • Reef and Birkenstock are known for their comfortable and high-quality sandals.
  • Reef was founded in 1984 in California by two brothers from Argentina, while Birkenstock was founded in 1774 by a German shoemaker.
  • Reef uses sustainable materials like recycled polyester webbing and renewable sugarcane-based midsole, and partners with organizations for environmental initiatives. Birkenstock uses natural materials like cork and latex and implements sustainable manufacturing practices.
  • Reef sandals are primarily made in Southeast Asia, while Birkenstock sandals are made in Germany.
  • Reef sandals are priced between $50 and $70 on average, while Birkenstock sandals start at around $70 and can reach more than $200 for some designs.
  • In the end, the choice depends on your preferences and needs: Reef is a good option for sustainability and style at a lower price point, and Birkenstock is a good choice for comfort and durability.



History of the Brand

In 1984, two brothers from Argentina, Fernando and Santiago Aguerre, established the Reef brand after relocating to La Jolla, California, a beach community in San Diego.

Reef official websitePin

They shared a passion for surfing and the beach and created high-quality and comfortable sandals that could be worn to the beach, into town, and to various other places.

Reef sandals gained popularity among beach enthusiasts and surfers for their attention to detail, exceptional quality, and comfort.

The company has since expanded its product line to include shoes and specifically designed sandals for women and has supported sustainability initiatives.

Reef has partnered with organizations such as Urban Surf 4 Kids and the Surfrider Better Beach Alliance to promote surfing, environmental awareness, and plastic pollution initiatives.

The brand has grown into one of the world’s leading active sandal manufacturers and is known as a symbol of a free, comfortable, and happy lifestyle. VF Corporation purchased the company in 2005, and it was later sold to The Rockport Group in 2018.

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Don’t miss: 8 Sandals and Shoes Brands like Teva: Our Top Alternatives

Materials and Manufacturing

Reef is committed to using sustainable materials in their products. They incorporate renewable, recycled, and/or organic materials whenever possible, and have been using RPET webbing since the very first sandal in 1984. RPET means Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate and is created from recycled plastics such as plastic bottles.

Their toe posts, liners, and webbing sandal straps are now made from 100% recycled polyester, which is derived from post-consumer plastic bottles and certified by a third party, the Global Recycling Standard.

In addition, Reef uses a renewable sugarcane-based midsole, which is a bio-based EVA derived from renewable sugarcane sourced from Brazil.

They also strive to select materials that are natural, such as 100% cotton liners, genuine cork, and natural jute braided straps.

All of the leathers and suedes used on Reef products are sourced from tanneries that are Gold or Silver rated by the Leather Working Group, which demonstrate environmental best practices and performance in leather production.

A majority of their leathers are also ISA Lite Leathers, which save over 8 gallons of water and 275 hours of lighting per average pair of shoes.

Read also: 11 Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Brands for Your Adventures

REEF Driftaway LE Eco Story

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Where are REEF Sandals made?

REEF’s products are made in Southeast Asia, with Vietnam, China, and Cambodia being the primary manufacturing locations.

Recommended Designs

Let’s now see some sandals by Reef that we recommend:

Reef Cushion Vista Hi Women’s Sandals

Reef Cushion Vista Hi Womens SandalsPin
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The Cushion Vista Hi women’s sandals by Reef are designed with a rugged outsole and lightweight, durable EVA material. They feature a signature cushion PU with a rebound footbed that provides excellent arch support and heel cupping for all-day comfort.

The sandals also have PVC-free vegan leather straps that complete the stylish look. The footbed cover is made of 100% natural cork and the sandals have a 1.75″ platform.

Reef Drift Classic Men’s Sandals

Reef Drift Classic Mens SandalsPin
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The Drift Classic men’s sandals, a bestseller of the brand, are made with eco-friendly and sustainable materials. They feature a full-grain leather footbed with a high anatomic arch for all-day support and a renewable sugarcane midsole.

The sandals also have a buttery leather strap with a seamless lining that provides instant comfort and eliminates the need for a break-in period. The non-marking rubber outsole has a full-grain leather inlay and is inspired by a barrel design.

The sandals are available in brown and are crafted with Gold and Silver Leather Working Group rated leather.


Reef sandals are priced between $50 and $70 on average. So, the next question is:

Are Reef sandals really worth the price?

Yes, in our opinion! Even if to some people these prices may seem too high for a pair of sandals to use at the beach, they come with high-quality, sustainable materials and are very comfortable. And Reef offers many stylish and elegant designs that you can also use every day in your city.

2. Birkenstock

History of the Brand

Birkenstock was founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, a shoemaker from the German village of Langen-Bergheim.

Birkenstock official websitePin
Birkenstock official website

The company initially produced shoes for the local population, but it wasn’t until 1896 that the first contoured footbed was developed. The footbed was designed to provide support and comfort for the feet, and it quickly became popular among the local population.

In the 1920s, Birkenstock began to expand its range of products and started producing sandals with the contoured footbed. The sandals were designed to provide the same level of support and comfort as the footbed, and they quickly became popular among people who were looking for comfortable footwear.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Birkenstock sandals became a symbol of the hippie movement, and they were worn by many young people who were looking for practical footwear. Later, the company expanded its range of products even further and started producing shoes and boots that also featured a contoured footbed.

Today, Birkenstock is a global brand that is known for its high-quality, comfortable, and supportive footwear.

The company continues to innovate and develop new products that meet the needs of its customers, while also maintaining its commitment to quality and tradition. Birkenstock’s company values and principles are deeply rooted in its history and heritage.

The brand has its global headquarters, production, and logistics based in Germany and sells its footwear in around 90 countries worldwide. The company’s US headquarters are located in Novato, California.

Read also: Sandals and Shoes like Birkenstocks: 8 Alternative Brands


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Materials and Manufacturing

Birkenstock is committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. They use high-quality materials to create their footwear, and their sandals which include their signature footbed are made in different layers with materials such as cork and latex, jute, suede lining, and foam insert (in some versions).

The footbed is designed to mold to the wearer’s feet, providing support and comfort. Birkenstock also uses other natural materials such as leather and wool felt.

As for synthetic materials, the brand uses Birko-FlorĀ® and Birkibuc.

The company is committed to meeting standards for a better future and has implemented sustainable practices throughout its manufacturing process. They strive to minimize their impact on the environment by using renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and implementing responsible sourcing practices.

BIRKENSTOCK Quality | MADE IN GERMANY - From Cork to Sandals

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Read next: 8 German Boot Brands for Hiking and Outdoor Activities

Where are Birkenstock Sandals made?

Birkenstock sandals are made in Germany in the company’s own production facilities. The manufacturing process involves a significant amount of handwork, with some models requiring up to 17 steps.

The closed-toe shoes of the brand are made in Portugal. The company takes pride in meeting the highest quality standards in the shoe industry, regardless of whether the products are made by hand or using industrial methods. (source)

Recommended Designs

By Birkenstock, we have picked:

Birkenstock Arizona Suede Leather Sandals

Birkenstock Arizona Suede Leather SandalsPin
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The Birkenstock Arizona sandal is a classic design that has been a stylish choice since 1973. It is crafted from velvety suede, giving it a relaxed appearance that complements any outfit.

The sandal features the signature Birkenstock design, which includes a contoured cork-latex footbed that molds to your feet for personalized support. The footbed is also lined with suede, ensuring maximum comfort.

The sandal is lightweight and flexible, thanks to its EVA sole, which provides cushioning with every step. The Arizona sandal has two adjustable straps with metal pin buckles, allowing for a customized fit.

It is manufactured in Germany using premium materials and skilled craftsmanship, and it bears the “Made in Germany” quality stamp on the footbed.

Birkenstock Mayari Birkibuc Sandals

Birkenstock Mayari Birkibuc SandalsPin
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The Mayari sandal from Birkenstock is a fashionable and incredibly comfortable thong sandal that boasts elegant crisscross straps and a single toe loop. It is made from Birkibuc synthetic leather, which provides a brushed, nubuck-like finish.

The Mayari also features adjustable buckle closures and a contoured cork-latex footbed that molds to your feet for customized support. The footbed is lined with suede, ensuring maximum comfort, and the sandal has a lightweight EVA sole for cushioning.

It’s crafted in Germany using only top-quality materials and craftsmanship.


Birkenstock is pricier than Reef as its classic sandals start at around $70 and can reach more than $200 on some designs.

But the German brand also has a few deals from time to time and it also offers sandals entirely made of EVA material which cost around $35 per pair.

Are Birkenstock sandals worth the price?

Birkenstocks cost quite a bit, but you get quality materials and craftsmanship that last for years. So, we think they’re worth it! If you like the style of course.

3. Which Brand is Better?

Both brands have their own unique features and benefits. Reef sandals are known for their sustainable materials and commitment to environmental initiatives.

Birkenstock sandals are famous for their contoured footbed and high-quality craftsmanship, while also using eco-friendly materials.

Reef has more stylish, modern designs, while Birkenstock is more on the classic side. As for prices, Reef is more affordable, so a better choice if you’re on a budget.

In the end, the choice would depend on your individual preferences and needs. But in our opinion, Reef is a good option if you prioritize sustainability and style and want to spend less money, while Birkenstocks are a good choice if you prefer comfort and durability.

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