Nubuck vs Leather Birkenstock: Comparison & Differences

Nubuck vs Leather Birkenstock

The most notable thing about Birkenstock sandals is the cork sole which has layers of suede and jute and conforms to the shape of your feet. Another fact about this German footwear line is that they are made with different upper materials.

While birko-flor and birkibuc fall under the category of synthetic materials, oiled leather, nubuck leather, suede leather are the natural Birkenstock upper materials.

Suede materials stand out! But the nubuck and leather Birkenstocks have some physical resemblance and performance rivalry.

What are their differences?

Which is better?

Should I buy leather or nubuck Birkenstock?

Well, in this article, we have discussed nubuck vs leather Birkenstock, to answer the above questions.

Related: Birko-flor vs Leather Birkenstock

Nubuck vs Leather Birkenstock: Which is better?

To understand which is better between these two styles of Birkenstock, we shall compare them using various yardsticks such as comfort, durability, and cleaning.


Nubuck, full-grain, and oiled leathers are natural materials. They are not lined with external materials on the inside as in birkibuc and birko-flor. So, none is likely to cause skin irritation as would synthetic materials.

Talking about wearing them out of the box, nubuck is more comfortable. It is softer and thinner than leather and easier to break-in. So it will take a little longer for your feet to settle into the denser leather Birkenstock.

After a few times of wearing either of the styles, your feet should get along smoothly.


Oil leather and full-grain leather Birkenstock are more durable than the nubuck styles. This is because they’re made with the toughest part of the animal’s skin. They’re tight, tough, resistant to scratches, and can withstand prolonged exposure to moisture.

Nubuck leather is quite resistant to wear and some other forms of damage. However, it is easily marred by scratches and liquid damage.


One of the good things about leather Birkenstock is how easy it is to clean. With a damp cloth, you can wipe off the dirt or grime, and you are on your way.

Periodically brushing the sandals will revitalize the natural luster of the leather. It is still fine if you have the time to brush it every day. But if you don’t, you will look just as good in your leather birks.

The case is not the same with nubuck Birkenstock. Yes, it is easy to clean but it needs closer attention.

Quick brushing with a brass bristle brush will benefit your nubuck Birkenstock. However, the rule of brushing it every time you wear it does not apply to it. Just keep an eye on every grime and mud that might stain it.

For existing stains, you could use an eraser block (a pencil eraser can do) to shade them off.


Nubuck, natural and oiled leather Birkenstocks are priced similarly. A pair is usually between $120 to $200 depending on the style.

Check Nubuck Birkenstock on Amazon

Check Leather Birkenstock on Amazon

Nubuck Birkenstock

Nubuck vs Leather Birkenstock
Nubuck leather Birkenstock

Nubuck styles of Birkenstock are simply the ones whose upper material is nubuck leather. This type of leather is made from the outer layer of the hide. The top grain is sanded to create an iconic fuzzy appearance and velvety feel.

In a way, nubuck appears like suede because both kinds of leather are buffed. However, suede leather is made from the inner layer of the hide and therefore, less durable.

Nubuck leather is a great leather and is usually associated with high quality; the look, the feel, the quality, and class are top-notch.

Read Also: Birkenstock vs Crocs

Advantages of nubuck Birkenstock

  • Nubuck birkenstock is soft and durable
  • It has a quality that is usually associated with high class. Say, wearing it makes you look classy and original
  • It is breathable and comfortable
  • Like every good leather, nubuck conforms to feet after a few wear
  • Nubuck Birkenstock is also easy to clean and care for

Disadvantages of nubuck Birkenstock

While you enjoy the above features of nubuck birks, it is also worthy that you note the problems that come with it.

  • Nubuck Birkenstock is very sensitive to moisture and color. It will damage if you expose it to such conditions.
  • Nubuck Birkenstock can easily be stained by oil, grime, or even dirt. So you can’t wear it to parks or natural reserves, or any other place where it will be exposed to any of the earlier mentioned materials.

However, nubuck leather Birkenstock will just be fine if you wear it to work or for street walks.

Related: Birkenstock vs Papillio: Differences & Comparison

Leather Birkenstock

Leather vs nubuck birkenstock
Oiled Leather Birkenstock

Leather Birkenstocks are those styles whose upper parts are made with natural leather material. Unlike nubuck leather, full-grain and oiled leathers are not sanded but left natural. As such, it has recognizable natural irregularities and a distinctive matt surface.

The oiled leather is treated with oil and wax to protect the hide, improve its longevity and make it supple. Those used in Birkenstock sandals have a thickness ranging between 2.8 and 3.2mm.

Advantages of leather Birkenstock

Compared to any other material used in Birkenstock sandals, oiled leather has all the natural qualities needed for good footwear. Here are the advantages

  • Leather Birkenstock is breathable and comfortable
  • It is absorbent and very soft
  • Leather Birkenstock is also adaptable to the shape of your feet
  • It has a basic cleaning procedure. Clean with a rag. Apply wax-based polish. Buff. That’s all
  • Wearing it makes you look classy as it is usually associated with high quality
  • Leather Birkenstock also offers great insulation and protection to the feet

Read Also: 14 Benefits of Leather Sole over Rubber Sole

Disadvantages of leather Birkenstock

  • The major drawback of the leather Birkenstock is that it is pricey.
  • You also need time to break in leather Birkenstock.

Differences between Birkenstock oiled leather and nubuck leather

Both nubuck and oiled leathers are made from the outer layer of the hide but they are different in some ways:

  • Nubuck leather is sanded to create a kind of fuzzy surface with a velvety feel. Leather doesn’t have such a soft feel
  • Nubuck Birkenstock looks a little like suede but the appearance of natural leather is distinctive.

Read Also: 10 Proven Ways to Prevent Mold on Shoes in the Closet

Final Verdict!

Nubuck Birkenstock is just as good as the leather style. Only that they are designed for different occasions.

If you need simple sandals for long walks in the street or a pair you could wear to the office and other mild environments, then nubuck Birkenstock is just right.

Check Nubuck Birkenstock on Amazon

Leather Birkenstock is tougher and more resistant to attacks. Go for it if you need something that can withstand harsh terrains, and that you can easily care for.

Check Leather Birkenstock on Amazon

Read Also: 14 Best & Affordable Sandals Like Birkenstock

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