Allbirds Are Cute, But Do They Work For Runners? Our Honest Review Of These Popular Shoes
Can Allbirds Outperform My Mizunos?
This review is not sponsored and contains the author’s personal experience. The Good Trade purchased this product.
Is it just my search history, or is everyone seeing a lot more ads from Allbirds lately? The sustainable brand makes dreamy minimalist shoes from natural materials like wool and eucalyptus fibers, and I’ll admit the advertising makes them all the more attractive. Balloons holding up the lightweight shoes, cute meetings of sheep, up-close material shots followed by drone pans of beautiful runners on beaches—it’s all very enticing.
But aside from an appealing form, how do these shoes function? As a former cross-country athlete and current hobby runner, I was most curious about the Tree Dasher. According to the brand, the pair is more technically designed than its standard active sneaker option and is designed specifically for energy return from “natural materials engineered for serious performance.” Okay…you’ve got my attention.
It’s tough to get me out of the Mizunos I’ve been wearing (and re-purchasing) for the past 10 years, but I wanted to see if these Dashers were actually good for a runner like me. Before I tried them, I imagined them almost as an aspirational shoe—you know, the ones you buy in January with every intention to train for a race but end up wearing to happy hour by February.
After purchasing the shoes and eagerly awaiting their arrival (I chose the green ones, but at the time of writing, Allbirds has 12 color options 😍), I opened the shipping box like a kid on Christmas. Cute? Check. Lightweight? Extra check. Superfluous packaging? Heck no. The shoes were shipped directly in a shoebox and were wrapped in paper (including paper inserts). This is in line with the brand’s goal to reduce manufacturing and packaging waste and its transition away from polluting synthetic materials.
The first thing I noticed was that there was no tongue on the shoes, something that I hadn’t quite prepared myself for, but it made them easy to slip on. I appreciated the extra ease-of-use for those days when getting myself to run feels extra difficult. 😅 This design choice reduces extra weight, and ensures the shoe is flexible and fits a variety of feet!
Since the shoes are so sock-like, I will admit, I ended up back on the Allbirds website to see whether the models wore socks with the shoe before heading out (they *do* wear socks with the Dasher, FYI).
My first impression was that these shoes are super comfortable. The eucalyptus fiber and the cushy soles are, as the kids say, *chef’s kiss*: breathable, flexible, and snuggly. On Allbirds’ website, the brand notes that their tree fibers are TENCEL™ Lyocell, coming from forests that use 95% less water and half the carbon footprint of cotton. The wool is also responsibly sourced, but since I didn’t try that material, I can’t speak to its comfort or effectiveness (next time, I promise).
I did my traditional “new shoes dance” around the apartment, springing from room to room and loudly exclaiming my delight to my husband. They made me feel bubbly and spunky, like I’d hoped they would. And then, I ran. It was just a short two-mile jog, and I didn’t feel the urgency to immediately remove the shoes after plopping back on my floor for stretches at home. Later in the evening, though, I felt some soreness in my hips which reminded me to be aware of former injuries and sensitivities.
See, I tend to overpronate a bit, and my Mizunos have a harder stabilizing piece that lines the inside of my heel and arch to help keep my feet (and therefore my knees and hips) in alignment. The Allbirds sole doesn’t have that hard support system that I’m used to, so it had me running a little differently than usual. It probably doesn’t help that my feet are extremely narrow, so I’m not filling out the shoe as much as a regular-width foot might. I do like that the shoe sole is thick, boxy, and wide, which I imagine helped stabilize me more than it would have otherwise.
As I continued running in these shoes, those issues felt less and less pressing—I got into a groove with them and logged roughly 25 miles over a few weeks. Unlike some other running shoes I’ve tried (ahem, Nike), I didn’t experience any blisters or painful wear-in time. I feel extra encouraged to get some exercise with how easy and cute the guac-colored shoes are, which is a big perk.
The final verdict? If you’re a hobby runner without significant foot or posture concerns, these are a delightful pair of shoes. I’d be more hesitant to recommend them for high-intensity workouts, knee and ankle injury-prone people, or long-distance (5+ mile) running because the stability might not be all the way there for me and runners like me. (The brand even notes on the site that these shoes are “neutral, cushioned, light stability running shoes,” so it’s not like it promised rigid stability!) Plus, the $110 price tag is fairly equivalent to other, sturdier shoes. ** Editor’s note—after writing this review and before publish, I discovered that Allbirds released a new trail running shoe ($138) that seems to offer more stability!
But the simplicity—akin to racing flats, although much cushier—is noteworthy. For recovery days, nice-n-easy 5ks, and everyday activities, I consider these shoes winners.
If you want something more tailored to your feet, I do encourage you to head to your local running store. They’re usually well-versed in shoe needs, and will sometimes even watch how you run on a treadmill and make customized recommendations for you. That’s how I landed on my Mizunos, and when the time comes for me to start increasing my mileage or racing, you bet I’ll be slipping on those bad boys once again.
Remember, everyone’s feet and needs are different! Allbirds has a 30-day return policy just in case, but I have a hunch that if you don’t like them for running, you’ll still love them for everyday wear.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge with the running shoes, Allbirds does have other shoes with lower price tags—including sneakers, flats, boat shoes, and high tops. I have a pair of the Tree Runners, which I have worn ATVing in the California desert, hiking on Indiana trails, and with dresses as I walk to my local brewery. Despite the name, I won’t be running any long distance in them, but they’re still cozy for a quick little jog! I do have my eye on these cute flats—because, after a year of working from home, I don’t really want to wear hard shoes anymore.
Wherever you go, and whatever pace you go at—happy trails!
Love the color options and how breathable the “tree” fabric is. These shoes are versatile and functional for everyday activities.
Comfy for hobby joggers and easy runners, but may not be a fit for people with more high-performance workouts or support needs. A great shoe for recovery days!
Price point is comparable to other, more structured shoes so they don’t really stand far apart from the competition.
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Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits, or gaming.