Allbirds Tree Runners vs Wool Runners: How to Pick the Right Shoe

Allbirds Tree Runners vs Wool Runners: How to Pick the Right Shoe

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You’ve probably heard about Allbirds. And I don’t only say that because when I received my most recent pair, my mom recognized the brand.

Founded in 2014 by Tim Brown, a New Zealand native, Allbirds have been known for their simple and comfortable design since the beginning. After finding success as a Silicon Valley startup, word of mouth got out.

Their reputation for being the most comfortable shoes (without looking like “comfort” shoes) has spread like wildfire–because once one person has a pair, they have to tell everyone they know what they’re possibly missing out on. Also, because they’re sustainable, they’re super modern and people love that.

But now that Allbirds have gotten pretty popular, they’ve started coming out with different types of shoes, catered toward various activities. So how do you know which ones you should get?

In this article, we are going to look at the differences between Allbirds Tree Runners vs. Wool Runners so you can have a better idea of which one may be best for you.

But first, let’s start by looking at what these two options have in common.

What Are AllBirds Tree Runners and Wool Runners?

Allbirds’ are made for both men and women. They feel light on your feet and welcome the breeze that passes through them. They’re made from (responsibly sourced) eucalyptus trees and merino wool, which are renewable materials, and can be easily tossed in the laundry so you can wear these shoes pretty much every day.

The Soles

Allbirds are famous for their merino wool soles, which literally feel as soft as standing on a woolly mammoth. Merino wool is only 20% the thickness as human hair, making this superfine material breathable and moisture-wicking, so you can be sure to keep cool in these shoes when the temperatures start to rise. All of this material comes together without any irritating feelings of scratchiness. And, since most of us are on our feet for most of the day, this sense of comfort is certainly welcomed.

Speaking of renewable materials, the Brazilian sugarcane midsoles (which is known as SweetFoam) are both contoured and bouncy, which you can’t really beat in terms of comfort. Furthermore, SweetFoam is made using the “world’s first carbon negative green EVA.”

(I'm sorry, what does that even mean?) The answer is long, so let’s look at the main points:

  • More carbon in the atmosphere = global warming
  • Global warming = melting ice caps, extreme weather, rising sea levels…
  • Making small changes can reduce the impact of global warming (think: recycling, using reusable grocery bags, biking rather than driving)
  • Companies have a much larger carbon footprint than each person alone does
  • The footwear industry emits 700 million tons of CO2 worldwide every year
  • For every ton of carbon Allbirds emits, they pay to remove a ton from the atmosphere, which makes them a “carbon neutral” company. They do this by giving money to projects that protect the trees that reduce the amount of carbon in the air and prevent greenhouse gases from leaking out
  • An example: It used to take 1.8 tons of carbon dioxide to make one ton of the soles’ EVA in their shoes, but with some research and creativity, the green EVA used in their SweetFoam™ material instead removes 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of material used
  • The company is continuing to research ways they can increase their sustainability

Users like the insoles of these shoes, as they’re layered with castor bean oil and ZQ Merino wool, which emits less CO2 than the typical petroleum-based foam, and offers a highly-cushioned, moisture-wicking, insole that helps keep odors at bay.

The laces on these shoes (that you can adjust as you please) could be the reincarnation of a bottle of water you drank a few years back. The laces are made using 100% post-consumer recycled polyester, meaning an old plastic bottle has now turned into your shoelaces.

What’s the Difference Between the Tree Runners and the Wool Runners?

There are certainly a lot of similarities between the Wool Runners and Tree Runners, such as:

  • Minimalist design
  • Come in a wide variety of colors
  • Have Merino wool insoles
  • Can be worn with or without socks
  • Feature lightweight, bouncy, soles that are ideal for walking
  • Lightweight and can be easily packed if you’re travelling

But let’s take a look at each of them individually.

What are Allbirds Wool Runners?

The Wool Runners are the original Allbirds shoe. They sell for $95 on the Allbirds’ Website (and they offer free shipping and returns). These shoes are lightweight, available in 13 colors, breathable, soft, and easily cleaned in the washing machine. (For more info, here the Wool Runners for Men and the Wool Runners for Women.)

Best Men's Walking Shoes | Best Walking Shoe for Traveling
allbirds Men's Wool Runners

Now, you may be thinking, “wool shoes…isn’t that hot?”

While a lot of people assume these shoes would be itchy and hot, Allbirds created a proprietary double-sided wool that’s not only soft, but also non-itchy and dirt-resistant. They’re extremely comfortable and stylish. Users love wearing these shoes all day long because the insoles feel very plush and they feature a flexible outsole. They offer a minimal and subdued look, meaning they go with many different styles.

You can wear these shoes with or without socks, although several users have said that wearing them for too long without socks can lead to mild odors. However, these are great to wear on a regular basis, as users claim they will mold to your feet. Also, you can buy insole replacements for $15 on the Allbirds’ website to eliminate any odors that may start to form.

While these shoes aren’t hot, they are definitely better suited for cold weather than the Tree Runners are. The outsides of them don’t have a “waffle” or mesh look like the Tree Runners, they have a more solid feel to them, which keeps your feet a bit warmer. The Wool Runners are simple to slip on and off with the tab in the back and there are elastic bands that easily connect the tongue to the shoe to keep everything intact.

What Are Allbirds Tree Runners?

Shortly after releasing the Wool Runners, Allbirds released Tree Runners, which are made from eucalyptus instead of wool. The Tree Runners are also $95 and the insoles are made out of the same New Zealand-based Merino wool as the Wool Runners. (For more information, here are the Men's Tree Runners and here are the Women's Tree Runners.)

allbirds Men's Tree Runners

When compared with the Wool Runners, the Tree Runners are lighter and more breathable, making them better for warmer temperatures. However, that doesn’t mean these are a good option if you’re heading to the beach. The fabric is made with Tencel (that’s the eucalyptus tree part), whereas the Wool Runners are made using merino wool. They have a wider toe box than the Wool Runners, which some users prefer. They also have a bit of a better grip on the soles.

This option is best for dry conditions because they don’t repel moisture well and will give you that “soggy” feeling in your feet if you wear them in the rain. Plus, they take about 24 hours to dry, so taking them off for a few minutes won’t really save you if you’re far from home. Also, If you’re wearing the Tree Runners in the sand, be prepared to throw them in the wash when you get home, as the sand will seep through the fabric.

The Tree Runners are great for travelling, as they’re easy to slip on and off at airport security and they’re comfortable on a long plane ride. Users report these shoes to be a bit more supportive and have a better arch placement and lateral stability than the Wool Runners.

Final Thoughts on Allbirds Tree Runners vs. Wool Runners

So, how do you pick the right shoe? It really depends on the environment in which you will be using them. Is it hot, cold, wet, dry?

You honestly can’t go wrong with either of them and from what I have found, many people who have bought one pair have also bought the other because they’re so satisfied with the comfort.

Finally, if you'd like to learn more about each type of shoe, here is where you can get more information on the Allbirds Tree Runners and Wool Runners:

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.

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Allbirds Tree Runners vs Wool Runners: How to Pick the Right Shoe