Nubuck vs. Suede Birkenstock: Which is better?

Birkenstock has a wide variety of footwear made out of leather materials. Two of which are nubuck and suede which offer consumers premium quality products for their prices. But how do they differ from each other? Which of the two best suits your preference in footwear? Don’t worry because this article will help you out!

Nubuck Birkenstock is more durable than suede as its outside layer is made of an animal’s hide which is known to be a long-lasting material. It can withstand scuffing and other damages as well. On the other hand, suede Birkenstock is known for being lightweight and comfortable. Just be mindful of possible water damage.

Certainly, choosing either of the two types of Birkenstock will not disappoint you. But if you are into particulars, just keep reading the important information discussed in this article.

What is the main difference between nubuck and suede Birkenstocks?

The texture is the apparent difference between nubuck and suede Birkenstocks. This puts into consideration the materials used, the treatment done to the leather, and the overall feeling that consumers experience while wearing them, like if you are dealing with knee pain

In terms of the materials used, nubuck usually comes from the thick outside layer of animal hide, an authentic animal leather, known to be a long-lasting and durable material. In contrast, the underside of an animal's skin is what suede is made of. This is much thinner and softer than nubuck.

Treatment-wise, the animal hide becomes nubuck when its outer part becomes sanded, creating a grain-like texture. But it gives a compact feeling when worn in contact with feet. Contrarily, suede is produced when the inner part of the animal hide gets sanded. This delivers a soft, supple, and velvety feeling to the feet’s touch. 

Talking about the overall experience, both of these are promising. If you want more lightweight footwear, suede is for you! Keep in mind, though, that this comes with a tradeoff. It is prone to damage because of water and moisture. But if you prefer durability more, by all means, go with nubuck!

Birkenstock Nubuck Materials

Birkenstock Milano Sandal,Mocha Birkibuc,40 M EU

Birkenstock Milano Men's Sandals

Nubuck is one of the leather materials that Birkenstock proudly uses to produce its best-quality footwear. It is known to be durable while giving a strong, luxurious accent to your style. Its texture is tough yet compact to the feeling as you walk in it. 

The thickness of the nubuck comes from the animal hide, the skin of an animal that is dressed and tanned for human use (e.g., clothing). Some of these animals are from cattle like cows and buffalos. The main highlight of using nubuck is its very tough texture, ensuring the durability of the product, compared to others.

Creating nubuck comes with a process. The outer side of the animal hide (i.e, the part of the footwear exposed outside) is sanded or rubbed which results in a grainy texture. The outcome appears to have protein-like fibers that are stylish in appearance. In no way does this process affect the durability of nubuck Birkenstocks.

Nubuck Birkenstock does not only give you quality but also fashion. Because of its textured and velvety appearance, it translates to a luxurious vibe as it is capable of having a patina look. 

Hence, both quality and style are what nubuck Birkenstock can give you.

Birkenstock Suede Materials

Closely similar to nubuck, suede is also an excellent choice of leather used by Birkenstock. It is popular because of the comfort that it can deliver to your feet. Its supple feel to the touch is perfect for people who have sensitive and fragile feet conditions.

Like nubuck, suede is also made from the skin of animals intended to be processed to become leather. It is, at the same time, processed by sanding or rubbing its one side. However, unlike nubuck, the inner part of the animal hide (i.e., the part of the footwear facing inside) gets sanded.

As a result, it provides you with the most comfortable and flexible fit as the sanded part is ideal for flawless contact with your feet. This is no longer a surprise because suede is fantastic for producing delicate items for human consumption, like gloves, shoes, and jackets. It is also lightweight compared to other types of leather.

One thing that you should be careful of, however, is its potential to be sensitive to water and moisture damage. Lacking a protective coating can leave stains that are difficult to remove. 

But fret not because Birkenstock has designed its suede footwear to provide the finest property to absorb moisture to prevent severe permanent damage to its products.

What are the best-selling nubuck Birkenstocks?

Now, you might be wondering which Birkenstock footwear you can choose. For nubuck, here are the three best-selling footwear from Birkenstock. Note that these include synthetically made nubuck that still is on par with real animal-skin leather.


Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Sandal,Habana Oiled Leather,40 N EU

Birkenstock Arizona Unisex Sandals

If you are looking for classic and timeless Birkenstock staple footwear, Arizona should be in your options. It was first released in 1973, and until now, it has been bringing impact on consumers. Its sanded and brushed appearance will surely elevate your fashion and style look.

For a sure fit, it has two straps and metal pin buckles that you can adjust according to the size of your feet. Concerning the contact, it is greatly assisted by a well-formed cork-latex footbed for maximum comfort and support.


Birkenstock New Women's Mayari Slide Sandal Dove Blue/Mineral Nubuck 37 R

Birkenstock Mayari Women's Sandals

This thong sandal is perfect for you if you are into a simpler look of footwear. It boasts both its design and wearability. It has two adjustable slim straps with metal pin buckles that suit any type of foot. You can wear this without any hassle as it is easy to slip on your feet and has a toe-loop design to ensure fit and comfort.

Even though the nubuck is synthetically produced, it can be mistaken for real leather. Both in appearance and experience, it almost has no difference from wearing an authentic one. Certainly, it is skin-friendly and could match any type of outfit for both men and women.


Birkenstock Gizeh Soft Footbed Supernatural Flower Navy Birko-Flor™ 36 (US Women's 5-5.5) Regular

Birkenstock Gizeh Women's Sandals

If versatility is your topmost priority in choosing footwear, Gizeh is definitely for you. This thong sandal is classic and simple that can fit whatever fashion style you have, especially minimalist ones. Additionally, this will make your feet look a lot slimmer and leaner just by simply wearing it.

It only has one adjustable strap with a metal pin buckle but still provides ultimate stability and grip. Its synthetically produced nubuck resembles real leather, giving you the same premium quality and experience. 

What are the best-selling suede Birkenstocks?

Undeniably, suede is one of the favorite leather materials used by Birkenstock. They have built a collection of footwear that highlights the wearability and style of suede. Among these, here are the three best-selling suede Birkenstocks available today:

Boston Soft Footbed

If you want footwear that you can wear all day every day, you can always count on Boston Soft Footbed. Its velvet-like suede not only gives a look that is classy and laid-back but also is very comfortable to the touch. Without a doubt, this can suit anyone in any season because it never goes out of style.

It has a single strap and a metal pin buckle that you can adjust to fit your foot. For your utmost comfort, it has an additional foam layer put on the footbed for better cushion and support. It is very lightweight, too!

Arizona Shearling

No one can doubt the ability of Arizona Shearling to provide extra comfort to consumers. Reinforcing the use of authentic suede, the genuine shearling lining on both the cork-latex footbed and lambswool-lined straps makes it cozier, softer, and more relaxed for the feet. The appearance resembles a fur coat made more luxurious.

To secure the grip, it has two adjustable straps with metal pin buckles. Its heel shape is flat yet has slim shoe width. This suede Birkenstock is perfect for low-temperature seasons, like winters. It can provide your feet with enough heat to sustain you throughout the day.

Arizona Soft Footbed

If you are more interested in tested footwear, you can never go wrong in choosing Arizona Soft Footbed. Since 1973, this sandal has been boasting its timeless style made for all kinds of events. Its footbed is purposely made softer by adding an extra layer of foam for a more padded cushion.

Classically, it has two straps with metal pin buckles that you can always adjust to your liking. You also should not worry at all about its versatility as it can shine in any season and fashion trend. Stick with the classic!

Between nubuck and suede Birkenstocks, which is more comfortable and durable?

Birkenstock Women's, Gizeh Braid Sandal - Regular Width Black 37 M

Birkenstock Women's Gizeh Braid Sandal

Both comfort and durability are what nubuck and suede Birkenstocks can offer you. This just goes to show how Birkenstock is committed to giving you only the best footwear that you can avail yourself. But if you are very particular about details, each of these two types provides you with a specific benefit.

If you prefer physical ease above others, suede is capable of giving you comfort more than you expected. It boasts a velvety texture that is very soft to the touch. The supple feeling it gives is perfect to be in contact with your skin. Thus, it is ideal when you are experiencing issues on your feet.

If you like footwear that you can use for a very long time, nubuck is durable enough to grant you this. The outside of the animal hide is known for its tough and heavy-duty quality. Not only does this give you more than what you pay for but also a tough condition that can survive more scuffing than other leathers out there.

Between nubuck and suede Birkenstocks, which is more expensive?

Because of the durability that nubuck offers, it is usually more expensive than suede. However, Birkenstock has it reversed. Their suede footwear is more pricey than its nubuck counterpart. What should be considered is the authenticity of the leather. 

Birkenstock offers two types of nubuck: authentic and synthetic. This may affect the prices as, obviously, authentic leather is more costly to produce than the latter.

Using genuine hides of animals and applying treatment and procedures, suede gives you grade-A and premium quality leather.

As an alternative to authentic leather, nubuck Birkenstock is a lot cheaper. Its affordable price affords you a similar experience to wearing leather footwear. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Birkenstock Women's Arizona Birko-Flor White

Birkenstock Arizona Women's Sandals

Can you wear suede Birkenstock in the summer?

Yes, you can wear suede Birkenstock in the summer. They are fit to be used during hot and humid seasons. Just make sure, though, to secure the grip by adjusting the straps that should be tight enough to support your feet. As you know, you are expected to sweat in the summer.

Does suede Birkenstock stretch out? 

Yes, just like other footwear, suede Birkenstock stretches out after some time and use. It may suffer from a bit of scuffing as well because the fleshy inner part of the animal hide is the one buffed out. Nonetheless, with proper care, your suede Birkenstock can last you for many years.

How do you clean nubuck Birkenstock?

Here is a procedure that you can do to clean your nubuck Birkenstock. You have to gently brush off the dirt by damping the brush with water and soap for shoe cleaning. This is to remove the non-visible, deep-seated dirt. Take off the lather. Do not also forget the sole of the footwear, and let it dry entirely.

Nubuck vs. Suede Birkenstocks, Final Thoughts

Both nubuck and suede Birkenstocks are truly quality footwear. As much as they possess significant similarities, they also have differences that are worthy to be of discussion. But in all honesty, both can bring you much comfort.

If you are undecided yet about which one to buy, consider the main qualities that tell each other apart. Evaluate which one fits your needs, liking, and overall style. Once done, without a doubt, your feet will receive only the best experience of having quality footwear from Birkenstock.

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