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Gadling Gear Review: Birks? Really? Yes

A long stint in central Europe (and residency in the crunchier regions of the Pacific Northwest) means that I don't look twice at someone in big wooly socks and a pair of battered "Birks." But I do not suggest them as a travel shoe; it's a bit too much like recommending a pair of bedroom slippers. (Sorry, Birkenstock.)

There's a spinoff line from the old standard – Birki's – that have some broader utility and some cute new colors and styles. Setting aside any conversation about fashion for a minute (sorry again, Birkenstock), they're really comfortable. They're great for driving, for slapping down to the pool deck, for padding through the hotel lobby to get coffee, for that lunch stop at the roadside diner – they're just easy for knocking around in. They're shoes that feel like you're on vacation – seriously.
I got my last pair of Birks ten, maybe 15 years ago. They last a very long time. They're now available in purple suede and fuchsia and lime green and a bunch of fun colors; they're not just your natural leather anymore. There's a new sport line (I checked out the Salina) – they've got a spongier foot bed and the uppers are water resistant. They're pitched as a "recovery shoe" so if you're off to do something sporty, it's nice to leave a pair in the car for after your day on the trail.

But the style I'm totally digging is the Skipper, a slip on that's got some lazy style. They're great for airports and planes, easy to get in and out of, and comfortable for wearing for long hours. They're made from a tough canvas and have a bit of a rough finish. They look and feel like your favorite old beat-up pair of shoes almost right away.

Traditional Birks set you back some bank; this line runs just a little more affordable. They list the Skipper for about $120.00 and the Salina for about $80.00. They make a great pair of comfortable knock about shoes that will serve you as well at the airport bar as on your walk to the swim-up bar and are a good addition to your travel wardrobe. I was surprised; I didn't think they'd make the cut for more than taking out the garbage, but they're great and I'm wearing mine for my next road trip.

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