Best Cork Shoes & Sandals Reviewed & Rated
If you suffer from foot pain, fallen arches, or other issues with the foot, we highly recommend that you try out a pair of cork shoes. Even if you have none of the problems listed, cork shoes can still be great as they provide amazing comfort and support for the feet from which everybody can benefit. In our list is ten of the best cork shoes out there, including those for men, for women, and those that are unisex. All of them have soles made of genuine cork rather than faux-cork or cork-wrapped synthetic soles so that you can get the full benefit of cork shoes.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 188 hrs of research
- Unique, asymmetrical design
- Excellent arch support
- Contoured footbed
- Mephisto Helen
- Birkenstock Mayari Birko-Flor
- Birkenstock Arizona
- Spenco Yumi
- WTW Gizeh
- WTW Arizona
- Minnetonka York Wedge
- Vionic Lizbeth
- Northside Anya
- Northside Mariani
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Cork Shoes & Sandals
1. Mephisto Helen
- Unique, asymmetrical design
- Excellent arch support
- Contoured footbed
- Unsuitable for hard surfaces like concrete
Need something comfortable for a day at the beach? There's no better choice than the Women's Helen thong sandals by Mephisto. Their construction means they are not the best for walking around on the street, but all their great features can be taken advantage of on other occasions. The cork footbed contours the shape of the foot to provide excellent arch support, making them perfect for those who suffer from fallen arches. They will ensure comfort when walking and will help to alleviate any pain or discomfort.Read more
Despite being of a neutral color and having an overall low-key look, the strap design is quite funky. It features an adjustable strap as well as a toe loop and gives them a touch of originality without bringing too much attention to them.
What stands out the most about these shoes is that, unlike most shoes, they have no lining. This allows them to be very lightweight, yet also cushioning and comfortable because of the cork footbed. However, do keep in mind that when walking on hard surfaces such as concrete, the cushioning may not be sufficient.
Though not the cheapest, they are still a good deal when you think about it. The no-lining design and their contoured footbed combined with their unique yet low-key look results in a great balance between practicality and style.
2. Birkenstock Mayari Birko-Flor
- Toe loop
- Color selection
- EVA sole
- Birko-Flor upper
To start off, we've got an amazing pair of cork sandals by Birkenstock that add a slight twist to the classic sandal look. The cork-latex footbed is shaped to contour the foot and provide optimal structural support that will ensure you walk and stand with ease. The EVA sole provides additional cushioning with every step. They're also offered in a variety of different colors, most of which are neutral, but which also includes yellow, ocean blue, and magenta. Though not a cheap investment, they're definitely a good one!Read more
Not only do they have the classic buckle on the straps which make them adjustable, the straps crisscross to form a loop around the toe. It gives them a more unique look compared to other sandals and ensures a more secure fit.
The upper is made of Birko-Flor, which is a synthetic material that is easy to care for, comfortable, and extremely durable. The lining is suede, which is soft and flexible.
These sandals are not cheap, but with their durability and high-quality construction, it's not hard to see why. In addition, they have received over four thousand five-star reviews so you know they're a worth every penny.
3. Birkenstock Arizona
- Color and material selection
- 1/2 inch platform
- Adjustable straps
- Roomy toe box
Though similar in design to the previous pair of sandals, these have their own distinct qualities that are equally great. For instance, their materials include Birkibuc, which is a synthetic material that imitates the texture of nubuck leather and is comfortable and durable. They are also offered in many different colors such as stone, taupe, and mocha, all of which are neutral and will give you a relaxed and laid-back look while staying stylish. The only downside is their expensive price, but with all their great features, it's justifiable.Read more
This model is offered in different materials, all of which are of excellent quality and are durable and comfortable. Choices include leather, Birkibuc, suede, and Birko-Flor.
As always, the cork footbed provides amazing support for the arches and the overall foot. The design also includes a deep heel cup and a roomy toe box, ensuring that you can stay comfortable with every step you take.
As the second-most expensive pair we have on the list, their price tag may make you falter. However, if you really do like their design, they are an excellent investment that will ensure satisfaction for years of wear.
4. Spenco Yumi
- Comfortable toe post
- Color selection
- EVA surface contours to foot shape
- Minimal cushioning
Need something a bit more simple and convenient, but still comfortable? Spenco's got you covered with the men's Yumi leather sandal. Unlike the pairs we mentioned previously, these have a toe post rather than an adjustable-straps design. Because of this, they are very convenient and easy to slip on and off. Aside from that, they have an EVA surface that molds to the contours of the feet with time, and a special technology helps to offload pressure from the ball of the foot to alleviate pain in the forefoot. All in all, they are a great pick for the summer.Read more
Not a big fan of flip flops because of the toe post? Well, don't worry! These shoes have a flexible and comfortable toe post that are nothing like the plastic toe posts of the typical cheap flip-flop and will ensure that you walk with ease.
The deep heel cup ensures the heel stays comfortable and stable. In addition, both the heel and the forefoot are lightly cushioned to ensure the shock of every step is absorbed with no problem, which can also help prevent overpronation.
The Yumi leather sandal is quite a good bargain. Though they have a simple design, their clever construction renders them good for the feet and comfortable for the wearer.
5. WTW Gizeh
- Stylish and versatile look
- Cork and latex in footbed
- Adjustable straps
- Toe room encourages circulation
- May not be suitable for all-day wear
Flip-flops often seem like a style of sandal that is informal and inappropriate to wear in places other than at home and at the beach. However, that all depends on the style of the flip-flops. The men's Gizeh sandals, for example, have a flip-flop construction while also retaining a classy and stylish look. The thick strap is adjustable to ensure a good fit. With lightweight cork and latex, the footbed will mold to the contours of your foot to provide optimal comfort while the deep heel cup and padding help to absorb shock and provide cushioning. Furthermore, they are very affordable and come in black, brown, and navy blue.Read more
The toe area of these flip flops is roomy and provides adequate space for comfort. On top of that, the toe bar is raised so that your feet will naturally go through a gripping motion as you walk. This is a good exercise for the legs and stimulates circulation in the feet, though it may lead to foot fatigue after a long period of time.
Slipping won't be a problem with these sandals. Their outsoles have anti-skid patterns that result in more abrasion resistance and ensures the risk of slipping and falling is minimized. In addition, the outsole is made of rubber and is waterproof and durable.
These sandals are on the cheaper end of our price range compared to the other ones on our list. Considering their durable sole and versatile look, they definitely make a good purchase for the upcoming summer season.
6. WTW Arizona
- Moisture-wicking and breathable
- Lots of toe room
- Thick, adjustable straps
- Good bargain
- Limited color selection
Here is another great pair of sandals for men. The Arizona 2-strap sandals have a simple look that renders them suitable for wearing on all kinds of occasions. Cork and latex are used in the footbed to create the shape of a healthy foot and will provide support to your own foot by encouraging realignment. The toe area is also very roomy to ensure stability, while the deep heel cup creates natural support for the arches and the heel bone. Anti-skid patterns can also be found on the durable outsoles.Read more
Cow suede leather is used in the insole of this shoe. Not only is it soft, flexible, and comfortable underfoot, it is moisture-wicking and breathable. Sweat and odor will be prevented from accumulating, thus keeping your feet comfortable and healthy.
The two straps are thick and run across the front of the foot to provide a secure fit. In addition, they are adjustable so that you can customize your pair to better suit your feet.
These sandals are of the lower end of our price range. With their classy design, they can be worn with nearly everything. Therefore, one pair would serve you well and will keep you satisfied no matter the occasion.
7. Minnetonka York Wedge
Denim upper with frayed edges
Cork-wrapped wedged heel and platform
The Minnetonka York Wedge is part of the Empire Collection by Minnetonka. Perfect for Sunday brunch or a day strolling the esplanade, strut your stuff in this cork wedge-heel. With a denim upper featuring frayed edges, Minnetonka has paid attention to every minute detail to ensure the York complements and enhances an outfit, and is not just another pair of plain-ol’ wedges.Read more
The 1.25” platform is sure to be appreciated by those who want an extra boost in height and the wedge-style heel will allow you to walk without worry of falling down or losing your balance. The slip-on style makes getting them on or off a breeze and the peep-toe design will let you show off that perfect pedicure you got just the other day.
The synthetic rubber sole adds durability to a well-constructed shoe and the patterned outsole adds stability and grip, no matter which terrain you are traversing. Available in unique designs like “blue denim” or “frisco stripe”, everyone needs a York in their arsenal of fashionable heels.
8. Vionic Lizbeth
- Orthotic; can help relieve pain
- Shock absorbet EVA midsole
- Rubber outsole provides traction
- Slippery insole
So far, the sandals we've listed mostly have the same classy and rugged style. However, if what you're into is something more feminine and stylish, consider the Lizbeth T-strap sandals. Featuring a thin adjustable strap around the ankle and embellishments on the front strap, they add the perfect finishing touch to an outfit on a hot summer day. They also have a durable rubber outsole that provides traction and stability, and a design that can help to alleviate aches and pains due to issues such as plantar fasciitis. Just keep in mind that some claim the inside of the sandal is rather slippery, which may be inconvenient. But apart from that, style and practicality reunite and create a perfect balance that will keep you feeling good and looking good at the same time.Read more
The midsole is made of EVA. Light, flexible, and shock absorbent, it cushions the feet with every step and reduces the stress that would otherwise be put on the feet, ankles, and knees.
These sandals are actually considered to be orthotic. A special technology is used in the sandal, resulting in a design that will help to realign the feet, provide structural support, and alleviate pain. It is successful in reducing over-pronation and in providing relief for aches in other parts of the body such as the knees, the heels, and even the lower back.
These sandals are somewhere in the middle of our price range. They're not overpriced, but they're not cheap, either. But considering the fact that they are considered to be orthotic and are proven to be good for foot health, we believe they are of excellent value.
9. Northside Anya
- Simple yet stylish
- Adjustable straps
- Shock absorbent EVA outsole
- Size runs small
Our next pick is the women's Anya sandal by Northside. These are a great pick for those looking to save some money but are still in need of a versatile and practical pair of shoes for the summer. With their neutral colors and unique strap design, they are stylish when worn with almost any outfit. What's more, they've got a cushioned and contoured footbed that, like all high-quality cork sandals, provides structural support to the foot. Perfect for a day at the beach, on vacation, or just for running errands, these sandals are definitely a summer must-have for every woman.Read more
Despite having quite a simple design, these sandals somehow still manage to be super stylish. Their straps have two buckles that not only renders them adjustable but also add an eye-catching finishing touch to the sandal. In addition, the straps form a loop around the toe and give it a unique style.
Though the insole is made of cork and microsuede to contour to the shape of the foot and provide stability and support, the outsole is just as great. It is made of EVA, which is lightweight, shock-absorbent, and long-lasting.
As the least expensive item on the list, they are definitely a great bargain. They provide amazing comfort and are sure to keep you satisfied throughout the summer.
10. Northside Mariani
- EVA outsole
- Suede construction
- Convenient slip-on construction
- Classic and versatile look
- Sole may wear down easily
Compared to our last pick, these women's sandals have a more classic look that is recently coming back into style. The position and thickness of the straps make them super easy to slip on, as well as comfortable and secure when walking around. The cork footbed provides excellent structural support while the lightweight EVA outsole provides shock absorption. Wear them with a cute vintage outfit, or slip them on when in a hurry. And to top it all off, they're extremely affordable.Read more
Suede is essentially the reverse side of leather and is very soft, flexible, and comfortable. In these sandals, the suede in the upper ensures there is no uncomfortable friction on the foot. Micro-suede is also used in the footbed to provide a plush, cushioning effect.
The micro-suede footbed, as well as the contoured cork footbed, are meant to provide support for the foot and the arches. If they suit the shape of your feet, they can provide amazing comfort and relief from pain. However, if they do not suit your feet, they may be uncomfortable and problematic.
These are our second cheapest pair on the list. They're a great pick for anyone who's looking to save some money this summer but would still like a good pair of sandals. However, the downside is that their quality is not the best and the sole may detach easily according to some reviewers, so keep that in mind.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In shoes, real cork is mostly used only in the outsole of the shoe. This is why the outsole is so important to consider, as it is the place where the benefit of cork really shines through.
To begin with, we must first explain what the outsole is. The outsole of a shoe is sometimes known simply as the 'sole,' and refers to the bottommost part of the shoe. It is the part of the shoe on which you walk, and which makes contact with the ground. Depending on your needs and conditions, the outsole must have certain qualities in order to ensure that you stay comfortable and that your feet and joints are protected. If you are hiking, for example, the outsole must be thick and durable to ensure you perform well, and if you are running indoors or playing indoor sports, adequate grip and traction must be provided to prevent you from slipping.
Outsoles can be made of many different materials. Some popular materials include rubber, leather, and synthetic materials, all of which have slightly different properties which render them suitable for different types of shoes.
Cork is not a very common material to use in the outsole; however, there are amazing advantages when a real cork is used. As we previously mentioned, the density and softness of cork allow it to be molded to the shape of your foot through time, resulting in a custom fit footbed that can provide amazing comfort and structural support. It is also shock absorbent, meaning it provides cushioning and protection for the feet, ankles, and knees by lessening the shock impact on those joints. In the short term, this will prevent foot fatigue and keep you comfortable while walking. In the long term, it keeps the joints healthy and can alleviate foot pain, such as that caused by plantar fasciitis. On top of that, cork is moisture-wicking, meaning it will get rid of moisture, which in turn prevents bacteria from growing and spreading.
A high score on the "outsole" criterion means the cork is genuine, well-constructed, with a good traction, high comfort and molds well to the shape of your foot.
As cork shoes are most often sandals, it's also crucial to consider the design of the straps on the sandal. This can make a difference in their fit and affect how comfortable and practical they are.
The strap on the heel of the sandal plays a crucial part. It ensures that the foot does not slip out of the sandal when walking, as well as prevents the foot from moving around in the sandal. It essentially secures the shoe to your foot. Not only does this render them more comfortable and stress-free to walk in, it reduces foot fatigue by eliminating any strain in the feet that would otherwise be used to keep the sandals on your feet. The potential downside is that, if the back strap is stiff and not very stretchable, it may take you more time to put them on and off compared to sandals without a back strap.
Adjustable or Not
The straps can also be used to provide a better fit. Though the buckle on most sandal straps adds a good finishing touch to their style, it is also beneficial when it comes to the technical aspects of the sandals.
For one, you can worry less about size. Of course, it's always good to buy the exact size that is perfect for you and your feet, as it will ensure maximum comfort as well as prevent any long-term foot and joint problems that may arise from wearing ill-fitting shoes. You can choose the right size by measuring your foot with a tape measure from the longest toe to the very back of the heel, then compared the measurement with the sizing charts of the particular brand of the shoe. This will ensure the pair you purchase is as close to your ideal size as possible.
However, not all of us can (or want!) to spend so much effort on measuring our feet. Or, you may not have access to sizing charts, or the shoe may not run in half-sizes and therefore do not fit your measurements. In this case, adjustable straps are a savior. They will ensure that, if the shoes end up a little too big or too small, you can still have a good fit. You could simply adjust the strap to what feels best for you and be good to go. It saves you time, effort, and is a foolproof way to make sure you have a good fit.
Of course, it's still important to be as close to your ideal size as possible. But sometimes you just need to make do, and adjustable straps are perfect for that. So when buying your next pair of cork sandals, (or just regular sandals), check to see if the straps on the sandals are actually adjustable. Most will be, but it's still good to double check.
Like with toe posts, the material of the straps of the sandals is also important. The straps of cheap, low-quality sandals are often stiff and uncomfortable. This can rub against the skin with every step and cause blisters through time.
Good sandals are made from high-quality materials. Leather is an example: it is supple, comfortable, and great when used to make sandal straps. Some sandals also have a suede upper, in which case the soft, fibrous texture creates minimal friction when rubbed against the foot, thus preventing blisters.
Some sandals made of synthetic materials (faux leather and faux suede, for example) can also have these desirable qualities, but that will depend on the manufacturer. If you'd like to make sure they are of good quality, you can always take a look at the sandals' reviewers to find out what other customers think of the shoes and get a general idea for yourself.
A higher score on the "band" metric will mean that the product under review tends to have a strap or straps that are effective in securing a good fit, are comfortable and not chaffing the foot, and can be adjusted to fit your foot size (within reason, of course).
If the sandals are flip-flops, there's one very tiny aspect of them that can affect your entire experience - and that's the toe post. This is the part of the flip-flop that goes between the big toe and the second toe. When people claim they don't like wearing flip-flops, more and often than not it's because the toe post causes them pain or discomfort.
However, if you take care to choose the flip-flops with the right kind of toe post, they can be much more comfortable. Canvas toe posts, for example, are not as hard and unforgiving as plastic ones and can provide adequate comfort. But do keep in mind that the toe post still must be rigid enough to hold your foot to the strap, or else other problems of discomfort will arise.
If you truly want a pair of comfortable flip-flops, you have to pay the price. Though you can buy them from nearly anywhere for $5, they will most likely have a hard, plastic toe post. Instead, look for a moderately-priced flip-flop with a canvas toe post, a good EVA outsole, and design that can keep you comfortable.
Finding a perfectly-fitting pair of shoes can be like finding the holy grail; there are so many brands, styles, models and makes of shoes that it seems like it’s next to impossible, especially when you are shopping online! Fear not, as we’ve ranked each product on our list for their fit and trueness-to-size to help guide you in finding the perfect match for you.
To come up with a score for fit of a shoe, we considered several factors, like the ones mentioned above, in addition to real customer reviews, to help boil down everything into one simple score. For example, Nike tends to make shoes that are true-to-size, meaning that you can buy a pair of 11s one year, and another pair of 11s next year in a different model, and they will usually still fit (unless your feet grown or shrank). A brand like Nike will most likely have a high score when it comes to fit, but the other variables in play, such as make, model and purpose, will also affect the overall score.
Consider that a running shoe, with its thicker midsole and synthetic sole, might fit differently than a flat shoe, with its thinner midsole and hypothetical leather sole. Each of these shoes, even if they are both from Nike, may have similar scores for trueness-to-size, but a size 11 in one might not be the same as an 11 in the other. What’s a reader to do in this case? You must also consider the purpose and type of shoe it is. Knowing what kind of shoe you are buying, and for what purpose, will help you make a better decision. A running shoe might run smaller than a flat because it has thicker materials, so read customer reviews as well to arrive at the best decision for fit, in addition to just our overall score.
At the end of the day, however, a higher score for the “fit” criterion will tend to mean that the shoe experiences a better trueness-to-size than a competing product; just don’t forget all the underlying factors that are baked into arriving at that single score! Finally, if you are looking for tips on how to identify your shoe size, check out this guide by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.
To assess each of the products on our list for durability, we not only read through thousands of customer reviews on our recommended products, but we also looked for some of the hallmarks of quality construction. From brand name reputation to their initial smell out of the box, there are a few ways of identifying a well-built, made-to-last product.
A product is a promise made, but a brand is a promise kept. A brand name is often a signal of quality and consistency in construction and durability from product to product. Although there are always exceptions to this rule, quite often brands that perform continue to perform. Brand names on our list tend to score higher in the durability score.
A shoe made for running and high-impact sports will not likely last as long as a good pair of general activity shoes and that’s okay. Being aware of the shoe’s purpose is critical for you as a reader and for us as a reviewer. Although shoes that will last longer score higher on this criterion, you might also see high scores to shoes with a more limited durability, if that product was specifically designed for certain purposes that involve high-impact and high-stress motions. We take into account the type of shoes you are trying to purchase when assigning scores to shoes in this criterion.
Certain materials last longer than others, even if that comes at the expense of a higher score in the “comfort” criterion. Materials that are thicker and firmer tend to score higher on durability.
A strap that doesn’t click or snap? Poor threading technique? A smelly, chemical residue on the shoe when you open the box? All these details were looked for an evaluated when assigning a score for durability.
The final word on durability is that a higher score on this metric means the product will last longer than its competitors, given similar shoe purpose, type, age and usage. Again, it never hurts to read some customer reviews before hitting the “buy” button.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Sometimes cork can get quite dirty, especially once they become a favorite pair of yours to wear. Mixing water, gentle detergents, and a bit of vinegar makes a great cleaning solution for cork. Simply apply using a damp cloth to brush away dirt and grime to keep your cork shoes looking new!
Did you know? Cork has moisture wicking capabilities that help cut down on bacterial growth. This makes it a great option for use in footwear, to help prevent moisture from being retained in the footbed of the shoe, thus preventing bacterial growth, and unpleasant odors.
It also has a softer, more shock absorbent feel for a natural material, making it a wonderful option for vegan friendly footwear that will keep your steps springy and light.
Other Factors to Consider
At the end of the day, regardless of if you have foot issues or not, cork shoes provide amazing comfort and support. When used in the footbed, they can contour the shape of your foot to provide a custom fit, ensuring comfort while also providing structural support. In addition, cork shoes have a rugged look that is very stylish for both men and women and can be paired with all kinds of outfits. If you need a pair of good sandals this summer, whether it's to wear to the beach, out on vacation, or just in everyday life, cork sandals are always a great choice.
But don't forget to consider your unique needs and preferences, as well. Everyone is different, with different builds, feet, past injuries and purposes for buying shoes in the first place. Our recommendation is to always place our rankings in context with your unique situation. Also, spending a few minutes reading Amazon reviews or testimonials from others in the community can also help guide you toward that great pair of cork shoes, made just for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is cork?
The material we call 'cork' is a layer of bark from a type of tree called the 'cork oak,' a species that is unique to southwest Europe as well as northwest Africa. The cork oaks do not need to be cut down in order for the cork to be harvested, but rather will continue to live and grow. Because of this, cork is considered to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
q: How can cork shoes provide cushioning when the material seems so dense and hard?
As a material, cork is naturally elastic, meaning it is able to change in shape upon impact and quickly return to its original shape. When used in shoes, this will result in a cushioning effect with your every step because the shock can be absorbed thanks to its elasticity, protecting the ankles, shins, and knees from stress.
q: Are cork shoes expensive?
Cork is harvested from cork trees, which is a careful and laborious process. On top of that, though it is a renewable material, there is a maximum quantity that can be harvested at once without harming the environment, therefore resulting in a limited quantity of cork. All of this naturally leads to a high price for cork shoes. However, with all the benefits you can acquire from them, we think their cost is worth paying.
q: Where can I find the care guide that goes with my cork shoe or sandal?
It's usually on the box or the label of the shoe/sandal. If you can't find your box, or your label does not contain a care guide, check directly with the manufacturer's website. They often have care guides available (at no charge) to you, specific to your product. It never hurts to double check if your cork shoe can be thrown in the wash or should be washed by hand!