Known best for their casual, comfy sandal aesthetic, Birkenstock got quite a few raised brows after it dropped the Maine into the market. Personally, I was surprised with the chunky seamless design myself, so I took that as my cue to find out more about the Maine.
I scoured the web in search of information and dove into hundreds of consumer reviews to learn more about this unique yet stylish design from the ever famous Birkenstock brand. After all my research, I’ve come to find that the Maine is a footwear choice that can definitely find its place in anyone’s shoe closet.
Comfortable, casual, and boasting that ever familiar Birkenstock footbed, the Maine shoe is a design that’s easy to fall in love with. Find out what I discovered about this superb shoe from Birkenstock and why it might just be your next daily footwear choice by reading through this complete review.
A Unique Aesthetic You Can Learn to Love
Let’s be honest – at a glance, the Birkenstock Maine looks nothing like those ultra sleek, stylish designs from other brands that leverage comfort as its main selling point. For instance, choices from Dr. Scholls like the Ode Fashion Sneaker look a lot more like your typical slip on sneaker, making it easier to coordinate the piece with different outfits.
The Maine on the other hand looks wildly outlandish to say the least. The large toebox and the seamless design make it look larger and add significant size to the overall appearance of your foot. So if your feet run along the bigger side of the size spectrum, the Maine can give you a bad case of clown feet.
Otherwise, the Maine design isn’t something that’s all too hard to love. This is especially true when you consider the other features it brings to the table. All in all, the aesthetic does look like a decent casual design, and it will match a number of different outfits to give you a well put-together look.
Personally though, I think it creates a better silhouette for people with smaller sizes. The bulky construction can look clumsy on bigger feet, and can take away from the overall appeal of the shoe.
Footbed Construction Gives Signature Birkenstock Comfort
In terms of comfort, there’s no complaining with the Maine. The shoe uses the same ergonomic footbed construction seen across many other Birkenstock designs. So it perfectly cradles the feet to give you proper support that doesn’t compromise your natural foot positioning.
A deep heel cup accommodates the heel, and rising surfaces cradle the arches of the soles of your feet. Up towards the front of the toe box is a toe bar which keeps your feet effortlessly in place. Finally, all around the footbed is a raised border which is intended to give you enough room to move and wiggle your feet around for a more comfortable experience.
Aside from the footbed though, the Maine’s uppers also add significantly to the design’s overall comfort. Made from hard-wearing suede with fleece inner linings, the uppers are excellently pliable, moving with your feet and providing very little resistance even fresh out of the box.
Probably the only issue with the Maine when it comes to comfort is the inner stitching. Outside, the uppers boast a seamless appearance. Inside the shoe though is a completely different story. Stitches on the inside are intended to keep the different parts of the uppers secure against each other and the midsole, so you may feel some of them poking against your skin.
While the stitches are subtle enough not to cause blistering and friction, just having the feeling of them pressing against your bare skin can be a bit of an annoyance. Plus, because the Maine was designed to be used without socks, the inner stitching seems a little counter intuitive.
Breathability at Its Finest
First impressions of the Maine might have you thinking it’s a sure-fire way to get stinky feet because of its boxed-in design that doesn’t offer very much ventilation. But the devil proves to be in the details with the Maine, as the suede uppers themselves are designed to be the most breathable fabric you’ll find.
The uppers are porous, allowing your skin to breathe and reducing the accumulation of moisture in the shoe. This gives you a superbly ventilated design that won’t develop odors or bacteria even with everyday use.
It’s also thanks to this feature that the Maine can be used without the need for socks. With this shoe, Birkenstock wanted to maintain their effortless footwear design which they use across all their different options. All you need to do to start your day and walk out the door would be to slip on the Maine shoe without the need for elaborate lacing or even socks.
A Colorway for Every Occasion
Available in both men’s and women’s, the Maine comes in a variety of colorway options to satisfy every discriminating taste. Mostly, the choices use more of an earthy color, leveraging brown and beige tones to give off that signature Birkenstock aesthetic.
Other varieties of the Maine are also available on the market, including the Mixed Leather option which combines the suede uppers with natural leather. This gives a contrast of textures which works really well to give the original Maine a more updated appeal.
Another variation – the Maine Soft Footbed – uses an integrated latex foam cushions to upgrade the design’s comfort. This is particularly ideal for individuals with special foot conditions as it does step-up the overall comfort that the design offers.
A Few Concerns with Durability
Being that it is so soft, pliable, and flexible, the uppers aren’t exactly the most durable on the market. Sure, they can last several months or even years without losing their integrity. But you should expect some serious signs of wear and tear a few months after you take them out for the first time.
What signs of wear and tear can you expect? Mostly folding and creasing, and probably issues with the shape of the uppers all together. After some time, the suede can get even more pliable, so it may not be able to maintain the silhouette it has when you first take it out of the box.
Other issues with durability include the soles. As we all know, the Birkenstock soles aren’t the most hard-wearing in the world. They use the same EVA material for the Maine that they use for many of their other sandals and shoes. At the start, the soles can give you just enough bite on a variety of surfaces. Plus, because they are so lightweight and flexible, they add a touch of comfort to the overall design.
The trade off here is durability. The treads will most likely wear out over a few months, and so you’ll lose a lot of that initial traction. Seemingly aware of this design flaw, Birkenstock offers repair and replacement services for sole-related damages.
While I think it’s convenient and cost-effective to avail the services, I can’t help but feel that it would have been smarter to use a stronger outsole material right off the bat instead.
Pros of the Birkenstock Maine Shoe
- Seamless aesthetic makes for a unique looking casual shoe for everyday use.
- Superb comfort is long-lasting and reliable thanks to the signature Birkenstock footbed construction.
- Breathable, open-pored uppers prevent the accumulation of moisture and keep your feel cool and comfortable with excellent interior climate conditions.
- Reliable support for the different arches and contours of your feet as a result of the ergonomic footbed topography.
- Pliable and flexible straight out of the box with no need for breaking in.
- Lots of different variations and colorways to choose from.
Cons of the Birkenstock Main Shoe
- Larger sizes can look bulky and clumsy on big feet.
- Stitching on the inside can be annoying once they start pressing against your skin.
- Treads aren’t the longest lasting.
- The uppers can give in to signs of wear and tear after a few months of use.
The Bottom Line
Do I think the Birkenstock Maine is worth buying? Even with all its minor design flaws, I would say absolutely. The shoe is uniquely stylish and way more comfortable than any other closed shoe out there.
The porous uppers allow air to move freely through the design, and the signature Birkenstock footbed is just a dream to walk in. So if you were looking for that reliable Birkenstock brand comfort but you want something that you can wear for more dressed up casual outfits, then the Maine might just be the right one for you. So be sure to give it a look in your search for the ideal everyday casual shoe.
While you’re at it, you might also want to check out the Birkenstock Dundee which features a similar design plus the addition of a higher shaft for greater ankle support.