Allbirds Tree Runners Review 2020: Are They Worth the Price?
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Do you have a reliably comfortable shoe that is your go-to if you’re going to be on your feet all day? I always feel that sneakers are too constricting, so before discovering Allbirds, this was a struggle for me.
And, if you haven't heard of Allbirds–it’s a company that has found the ultimate composition of sustainable materials to create shoes that are far beyond comfortable.
I definitely did my research on these shoes before getting my first pair. It's so common to brag about a shoe’s comfort–so how was I supposed to know if this was the real thing?
I mean, people say jeans are comfortable. Spoiler alert, jeans are not comfortable. They’re restricting. I have a closet full of various styles, etc, and none of them are as comfortable as my pajama pants. Point being: “comfort” is subjective and I didn’t want to pay $95 unless I was pretty confident in what people were saying.
And, certainly over the past month, I can attest to the fact that these shoes are not only comfortable, they’re like…confusingly comfortable. How do all of these natural materials come together to make your feet feel like royalty?
In this article, I am going to offer you an exhaustive review of the Allbird Tree Runners. I’ll break down both the good and the features that have room for improvement. After reading this review, you should have a better idea of whether or not these shoes would be worth the price for you. Which they are.
First, let’s look at what these shoes are.
What You Will Learn
- What Are Allbirds?
- The Core Features of Allbirds Tree Runners
- The Softness Allows Users to Go Sockless
- How Much Do Tree Runners Cost?
- What Are the Benefits of Tree Runners?
- The Downside of Tree Runners
- Why I Recommend Tree Runners
What Are Allbirds?
Before we look at the Tree Runners specifically, I want to tell you a bit about the company behind them. Allbirds is a shoe company that was founded by New Zealand native, Tim Brown. Brown originally developed the idea for his footwear line while he was making leather shoes for the other players on his New Zealand football team–although he knew they weren’t very comfortable.
After launching his vision for wool shoes on Kickstarter, he teamed up with an American-based biotech engineer, Joey Zwillinger, who happened to be an expert in renewable materials. Brown and Zwillinger put together their first pair of Wool Runners and started selling them using a direct-to-consumer sales approach to get their sustainable footwear out there.
During the inception of the company, the team claimed that their “goal [was] to do better things in a better way. To us, this [meant] making products that reflect and respect nature!” Allbirds has successfully defined themselves with their simple designs and comfortable composition ever since.
After the release of the Wool Runners, Allbirds introduced the Lounger in 2017, which is a casual, everyday slip-on shoe.
Because the company is so dedicated to improving the environment, they’re extremely transparent about their manufacturing methods, in hopes that other companies will follow suit. Every step of the process from creating the shoes to shipping them to your door is done with intention, which demonstrates just how much they value the health of our atmosphere. Allbirds maintains a public business model that’s available on their website to help people understand the process that goes into making these shoes.
The company is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council®, which means they exclusively use materials that meet strict standards to help protect our forests, and therefore the animals and people who count on this nature for their own wellbeing. Additionally, Allbirds is a Certified B Corporation, which legally requires them to consider the impact of their business practices on their employees, consumers, partners, and the environment.
And, they’ve really thought of everything. They consider:
Let’s look a bit deeper at what makes the Tree Runners especially unique from the other models of shoes manufactured by Allbirds.
The Core Features of Allbirds Tree Runners
The Tree Runners are an everyday shoe that can be worn with a variety of styles–whether you’re going for a dressy/casual look or you’re going for a run. They’re easy to slip on and off and can be tossed in the washing machine whenever they need a good cleaning. With 13 colors to choose from (and limited edition colors at times), you can cater your order to your own personal style.
All of the colors are pretty neutral, making them easy to match with just about anything. I chose the “Anemone” limited option, which is essentially a very light pink with a white sole.
The first thing I noticed when these shoes came in the mail was the creative packaging. Allbirds uses 90% post-consumer, recycled cardboard that’s not only the mailing box, but also the shoebox.
Furthermore, the inside of the package comes with information printed directly on the cardboard, which is not only creative, but it also saves paper.
The next thing I noticed was their simplicity in style and the muted color of the shoes. There were no logos or needless details on the shoes, which I really appreciated. The simple style made it clear that I would be able to wear these shoes in a variety of situations and with a wide range of outfits.
And then…came my %$#*%?! moment.
Upon putting them on, I experienced something not quite like anything else. The shoes aren’t comfortable in an “I’m wearing shoes and they are comfortable enough that I don’t really think about them” way. They felt actively comfortable (if that’s a thing). They feel like slippers–but not just regular slippers–imagine slippers that mold to your feet.
And the features that these shoes boast certainly followed suit:
Lightweight and Breezy
This was one of the first things I noticed when I slipped my Tree Runners on. It’s June, so it’s hot in Virginia, but I felt very comfortable about the idea of wearing these sneakers outside. They definitely offer a lot of airflow, so even if you’re not wearing socks, you won’t start to feel like you have soggy feet. My feet have remained comfortably cool in them every time I’ve worn them.
That said, these shoes are probably better to wear in warmer weather, as their “mesh”-like material may let too much cold air in during the winter, making you feel uncomfortable. But, you could always add socks at that point.
When it comes to the material that these shoes are made from, I’m far from being an expert on eucalyptus, so I had no idea that the pulp from this tree could be a large factor in creating shoes that could possibly stay intact. However, when looking for a thread to meet their comfort and sustainability standards, Allbirds wasn’t successful, so they created their own by combining trees (eucalyptus fibers) and ZQ Merino wool, which resulted in Trino™ (tree + wool).
This initial proprietary knit was not only entirely responsibly sourced, it also ended up being extremely soft, moisture-wicking, breathable, and–of course–environmentally friendly. To ensure the durability of these shoes, Allbirds added in a dash of recycled nylon, which prevents old nylon from ending up in landfills by repurposing it for practical things (like making shoes).
The soles of Tree Runners are meticulously made from the company’s unique, low-density foam that gives the shoes their extremely lightweight feel, which easily distinguishes Tree Runners from your typical sneakers.
They’re made using SweetFoam, which is a self-sufficient sugarcane…so self-sufficient that when it’s processed, its energy is extracted to power the mill and fertilize the crops for the following year. When the sugarcane is then transformed into SweetFoam™ for the Tree Runners’ soles, it molds to your feet and offers a bit of bounce to add some spring to your step.
The soles of these shoes are known for their ability to conform to your unique movements. The shoes' insoles are made from a unique blend of Merino wool fabric that has led to their reputation of offering a “walking on a cloud” feeling.
Allbirds wanted to use tools to create their product with materials that were readily available, so they turned to the abundance of sheep in New Zealand (which outnumber people 6:1). By using their wool, not only do they end up with a super fine material, but the sheep also get to be pampered and well-groomed.
The Softness Allows Users to Go Sockless
This is not something I would normally do, but I haven’t worn socks with my Tree Runners since I received them. Because they already feel like slippers, I don’t see a need to. Also, since they’re so easy to slip into and take off, they’re already too convenient to add in the trouble of finding socks.
However, I will say, some users report that they like wearing socks with their Tree Runners to help preserve their softness.
When you wear your Tree Runners with socks, you won’t be able to detect any more odor than you would with any other antimicrobial shoe (which is a common feature these days). This is also because the mesh material helps control the temperature of your feet, so you won’t be sweating a lot.
However, if you’re like me and you never really bother to wear socks, it will take a lot of use before you start to detect an odor. With the odor-resistant Merino wool, these shoes do a pretty good job of minimizing odor. But remember, you can always toss them in the wash or order new insoles for $15.
Is the Washing Machine Really Okay?
Yes, you can just put these in the washing machine. Just zip them into a mesh bag and let them roll (with a gentle cleanser). This is a great way to further prevent odors, especially if they end up getting wet.
I did wash mine after wearing them on a rainy day (oops) and they turned out just fine. You should remove the laces and insoles before washing them and use a “free and clear” or other type of gentle detergent.
And–it took about 24 hours–but I let them air dry just to be safe, which I’m pretty sure is recommended for most of Allbirds’ shoes.
How Much Do Tree Runners Cost?
The price of the Tree Runners has remained at $95 since they were introduced, and can be purchased directly from the Allbirds’ website. And, they offer free shipping in addition to a “no questions asked” 30-day trial period in case you’re not satisfied.
This is a pretty awesome price for the quality, versatility, use, and comfort that you’ll get out of these shoes. I wouldn’t feel a bit of guilt spending money on a new pair of Allbirds shoes because I know I’ll wear them until they literally fall apart.
Allbirds doesn’t offer discounts because they believe they’re working hard to offer a premium-quality product–which they do. This footwear option looks and feels amazing while minimizing the impact on the planet and ultimate cost to consumers by bypassing third-party companies and selling directly to their customers instead.
What Are the Benefits of Tree Runners?
The most notable benefit of these shoes is their level of comfort. But the whole purpose of creating these shoes–to maintain a deep commitment to sustainability–is a huge attention-grabber as well. Let’s look at what this actually means.
Global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels that add carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our environment. It’s expected that if global warming continues, it will have long-lasting, devastating consequences for our planet.
Allbirds has been doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint and they continue to do so through research and partnerships with other professionals. Their ultimate plan is to eliminate their carbon footprint completely, becoming a “net-zero” production company. They do this by measuring the emissions of the raw materials that they use and then finding more natural and recycled materials to replace anything that could be damaging to the environment.
Finally, the company offsets any of their own emissions by donating to companies that actively work on pulling carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, which makes Allbirds a carbon neutral organization.
For example, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store it, and then release it in lesser amounts than they consumed. There are several organizations that manage farms, grasslands, and forests specifically to be sources of carbon dioxide reduction. While they’re still working to not emit any carbon at all, they’re helping in the venture of creating a sustainable future.
What’s the Matter With CO2?
Well, carbon emissions are really damaging to our earth and wellbeing. In fact, a recent study found that if we all work to reduce our carbon footprint, we may be able to prevent up to 3 million deaths by the year 2100.
When carbon dioxide is released into the air, it:
So, by doing everything they can to reduce the amount of carbon that they’re putting into the air, Allbirds is helping to maintain the health of our atmosphere, our bodies, and our future.
How exactly are they doing this?
Here are some examples:
A more direct benefit that many have found from the Tree Runners is that they’re perfect for travelling because they’re super easy to slip off and on at airport security checks, they have room for some “give” if you tend to experience swelling on a plane (like I do), and you can walk in them all day while sightseeing with no trouble.
Also, I have found (as have other users) that the Tree Runners do an exceptional job of maintaining their shape. They won’t start to flatten down after a few months of wear and the arch support stays intact.
Finally, Allbirds engages in the SOLES4SOULS program, meaning they donate all lightly used Allbirds to those around the world who are in need of great, comfortable, and durable shoes.
The Downside of Tree Runners
For me? None so far. However, other reviewers have reported that they wish half-sizes were available. I just sized up from my normal 6.5 to a 7 and haven’t had any trouble with that. Also, while these shoes do offer good arch support, it isn’t recommended to take them on a long run if you typically need extra arch support.
If you were to ask the people who work for Allbirds, you would probably find them saying that their downside is that they haven’t found the solution yet to having absolutely zero emissions. However, they’re staying accountable for their environmental impact and taxing themselves for any carbon they do release. I definitely see their progress as being a positive thing, but it’s clear to tell by reading their website that they won’t be completely satisfied until they reach their ultimate goal.
Why I Recommend Tree Runners
Aside from the fact that Tree Runners are distinctly more comfortable than any other shoe I’ve ever put on, the company’s genuine focus on reducing their carbon footprint by using sustainable materials and manufacturing practices is pretty badass. The company maintains a deep, unshakable commitment to improving our planet. And honestly, before reading some facts on their website, I didn’t realize just how much of a difference their practices make when compared to other companies.
So, when given the opportunity to have a comfortable, minimalist shoe that can be worn on an everyday basis, I wouldn’t think twice before buying these. You may get stuck for a bit when trying to pick out the color that you want, but besides that, I would have no hesitation recommending this shoe to anyone. I certainly didn’t hesitate to buy the Tree Breezers after falling in love with the Tree Runners, because I didn’t know a comfortable shoe for a professional environment existed. Allbirds has definitely earned my trust for making a valuable product.
Hopefully, this review gave you all the information you need to know about the Allbirds Tree Runners shoe. If you'd like to learn more, you can get additional purchasing information by checking out their website here.
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.