Berkeley footwear choices: Birkenstocks, boat shoes or barefoot?

College tuition should cover a nice pair of hiking boots. We don’t know about you, but here at the Clog, the consensus is that getting around campus (and the city of Berkeley in general) is a hike. Telebears didn’t inform us that we would be assuming the roles of motivated migrants (think Donner Party pioneers) as we traverse the campus in competition with Berkeley time. As we stomp along the windy paths by Strawberry Creek and struggle up the inclines near Sutardja Dai, we can’t help but notice the different footwear students are wearing (and wearing out) along their Berkeley trek. Here are our observations about the shoes of Berkeley.

Classic Birkenstocks


We love Birkenstocks. They remind us of old times past, when prophets wandered around Bethlehem. It feels like everyone here owns a pair of these sandals because a quick walk through campus reveals that most are rocking them, messiah or not. They’re built for comfort, and they’re a tribute to hippie-era fashion – so there’s no surprise that these shoes are a Berkeley staple.

Fashionable running shoes



Athletic shoes – you know, for comfort. Nikes, Asics and New Balances are all the modern day saviors of our poor weathered heels. They provide a level of arch support that is practically unparalleled in footwear. Some may say that running shoes are unfashionable, but to them you must quickly turn a heel and speed walk away, because comfort is always in style.

Tasteful boat shoes



Boat shoes aren’t exclusively frat wear, despite what the social stigma might suggest. They’re pretty comfortable, and though nothing comes close to the comfort of running shoes, they do provide all the tasteful style that running shoes tend to lack. Boat shoes pair well with most outfits, and they’re an essential in most wardrobes of well-dressed bears.

Casual flip flops


Flip flops are the epitome of casual footwear. They’re probably the closest you can get to wearing nothing on your feet, and they’re so convenient to slip on and off at will. Everyone should own flip flops, but everyone should be armed with the knowledge to discern when flip flops are apt – don’t wear flip flops to make a good impression, or you’ll be perceived to be as flimsy in character as flip flops are in structural integrity. It always feels like flip flops have a shorter life span than most small insects.

We’ve covered four of the popular characters here, but Berkeley fashion will assuredly provide us with many more eclectic and obscure footwear choices to view. And that’s part of the beauty of shoes here – besides the cliché that they all come in different shapes and sizes – they’re all so different here on campus. Everyone has to travel from the far reaches of Li Ka Shing through the winding steps of the Dwinelle labyrinth, but they all choose different footwear to make the journey in. Whether it’s boat shoes, Birkenstocks or barefoot (in accordance with the hippie Berkeley stereotype of bipedal anti-conformity in footwear), you find yourself in step with many other students who are leaning on Berkeley time as they trek along.

Image Sources: bri v from canadaTony AlterMarkBuckawickiAntontushnovKai Schreiber

Contact Uday Suresh at [email protected].