Birkenstock Oiled Leather vs Natural Leather (Key Facts)

Birkenstock Oiled Leather vs Natural Leather (Key Facts)

Birkenstock is a famed brand for casual shoes in leather. Even though the brand has started to offer shoes in vegan-friendly upper materials, their leather shoes made them the frontrunner in the footwear industry. What makes Birkenstock leather unmatched by other sandal brands?

The leather material for the Birkenstocks upper made the shoes stand out. The core materials for Birkenstocks upper are: Natural leather, patent leather such as oiled leather, suede leather, wool felt, Nubuck, Birko felt, and patented Birko-flor.

Do these leathers have any difference from each other? If you are confused between a pair of Birkenstock with oiled leather and another with natural leather, you should check the appearance, texture, and flexibility.

Birkenstock Oiled Leather vs Natural Leather: Similarities and Differences


A newbie who has never seen oiled leather shoes might assume the shoes are faulty because of the lines and wrinkles on oiled leather. Birkenstock intentionally left the untreated surface for the oiled leather.

However, these are distinct characteristics of the Birkenstock oiled leather footwear rather than defects. Oiled leather gets recognized by its untreated surface, and the appearance made the Birkenstock oiled leather famed to the mass population.

Birkenstock natural leather is thick yet smooth. The raw texture of genuine leather is removed through polishing. The leather is often grain, such as the Buckley clog style, muted camouflage print like the Arizona Soft Footbed, high shine finish like Arizona Big Buckle, and other polished textures.

You can also read our article, Amalfi Leather vs Oiled Leather Birkenstock.


Birkenstock’s oiled leather is waxed or greased. The coating on leather makes it sturdier than natural leather. The waxy finish made Birkenstock oiled leather less vulnerable to moisture. Natural leather tends to be tough, while the greased finish makes the oiled leather soft with better endurance.

Even though the natural leather is stiff with a more challenging break-in time, this material feature provides extreme robustness. The finishing of natural leather makes the footwear last for years, except for frequent exposure to moisture and water.

You can also read our article, Birkenstock Anthracite vs Black.

Moisture Resistance

Oiled leather from Birkenstock is porous with a moisture-resistant surface, which can absorb water (the oiled leather turns darker after moisture absorption). So, a wearer can walk on oiled leather without worry in damp weather or little rain. However, avoiding beaches, water bodies, or soaking your oiled leather shoes in water would be best.

Natural leather can get damp with water. But natural leather has less moisture resistance than oiled leather, which has a coating. You should never drench the leather in ruin as it will surely ruin the material.

You can also read our article, Birkenstock Stone vs Mocha.


Oiled leather is flexible with a short break-in time. The shiny leather has thickness with maximum flexibility. The oiled leather conforms to the wearer’s feet, leading to a swift movement during prolonged wear.

Natural leather Birkenstock shoes are stiff, resulting in a longer break-in time. Genuine leather does soften over time, but the initial tough exterior can make the wearer uncomfortable. If you wear your natural leather without loosening the buckles, it can give you blisters and cuts.

You can also read our article, Birkenstock Ramses vs Gizeh.


Natural leather gives a unique outlook with grains and a rough texture. The genuine leather used by Birkenstock has a thickness of 2.8 to 3.2 millimeters on the sandal’s upper. The thickness protects the feet from damage and sunburn. Upon wearing the natural leather for a few days, the shoes become comfortable.

Birkenstock oiled leather footwear has a shiny outlook as they are waxed and often plastic coated. Birkenstock’s oiled leather footwear gives the wearer a smooth wearing experience due to the coating (wax or grease). It prevents cuts from rubbing and bruises during prolonged wear.


Birkenstock oiled and natural leather have unique designs and material-based aspects. For a rough look with better moisture resistance, you should go for Birkenstock oiled leather. On the other hand, Birkenstock natural leather will be perfect for someone looking for a shiny pair of shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Birkenstock oiled leather water resistant?

Birkenstock oiled leather has oil and wax coating according to styles. The layer does give the smooth leather better moisture resistance, not water resistance.

So, Birkenstock oiled leather can not be categorized as water resistant.

2. Does Birkenstock natural leather have a longer break-in time?

Birkenstock natural leather has a stiff exterior without coating a softening material. Hence, the genuine leather footwear from Birkenstocks has a longer break-in time.

3. Is Birkenstock oiled leather more comfortable than natural leather?

Birkenstock’s oiled leather has a smooth finish and a velvety texture, unlike natural leather with less flexibility. Such finishing and texture made Birkenstock oiled leather more comfortable than natural leather.

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