We tried the new Allbirds running shoe—are they worth it?
Tree Dashers are designed for pounding the pavement. We tested to see if they're worthy of the Allbirds name.
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Allbirds’ new running shoe, the Tree Dasher, has a lot to live up to. The ubiquitous, eco-conscious shoe brand already has a lot of fans, mainly of its original all-purpose shoe, the Wool Runners, but also for its slipper-like Tree Breezer flats.
Are the newly-released Tree Dashers worthy of the brand’s hype? To find out, two of Reviewed’s writers, Sara Hendricks (who's tested a lot of shoes in her day) and Jamie Ueda (our apparel expert), put them to the test.
What are Tree Dashers?
Allbirds Tree Dashers are the brand's first running shoe (the Tree Runners, despite their name, are not designed for the impact of running). The shoes consist of a one-piece knit upper, ring eyelets, shoe laces, removable insole, and rubber sole—very in line with Allbirds aesthetic of simplicity. They come in six colors and women’s sizes 5 to 11 and men’s sizes 8 to 14. And, like the brand's other shoes, they are eco-friendly. According to the brand, the shoes are made from eucalyptus trees, sugarcane, and are "carbon neutral."
Are Tree Dashers actually good for running and walking?
Short answer: Yes. It’s hard to say that one type of running shoe is universally great for everyone—things like your foot’s shape, toe length, arch, arc of your step, and how much activity you typically do can impact how well a shoe works for you—but both of us loved wearing the shoes throughout two weeks of activities that included walking, jogging, and at-home workouts.
Sara: I have high arches and a slight tendency to overpronate (meaning my arches collapse in as I run). I jog or do some kind of indoor cardio workout a few times a week. The Tree Dashers worked for me in all those activities—the fit was perfect, my arches felt supported, and the cushioned sole and lightweight woven upper kept my feet comfy and dry throughout my workouts.
That said, the Dashers have some unique features that took getting used to. The soles are squishier and felt less dense yet not lighter in weight than the Nike running shoes I usually wear. The sole of the shoe also flares out past the edges of the upper, which Allbirds claims helps with pronation and stability. It felt a little funny when I took my first jog, but once I got used to it, my feet seemed more stable and secure than usual.
Jamie: These days I’m quarantining in New York City, which means I don’t get a chance to do much running, not that I’m a big runner anyway. I used the Tree Dashers for walks, very light jogging, and high-impact cardio workouts. Previously, I was wearing a pair of running shoes I’ve had for a few years and I noticed an immediate difference in cushioning when I put on the Tree Dashers—and loved it. I always look for shoes with lots of cushion and support, which the Tree Dashers provided for all my workouts.
Are Allbirds Tree Dashers comfortable?
Sara: Usually, I have to take a day or two to break in new running shoes. But this pair, in my usual size 9, felt fantastic from the start and got even more comfortable as the insoles molded to my feet. I put the shoes in the wash after an unintentionally muddy run—following Allbirds’ instructions to use a gentle cycle with cold water and let them air dry—and they looked great afterward and didn’t shrink or become malformed.
Jamie: Surprisingly, the Tree Dashers fit extremely well. I wear a size 6 in running shoes, and these were true to size. Most of my shoes require breaking in, sneakers or otherwise. I have wide feet and one foot is slightly longer than the other, so the skin on my longer foot’s heel gets rubbed and even ripped up from friction. As these shoes have a knit upper, they stretched to fit my wide feet without squishing my toes and the wool tab at the back saved my ankle from painful chafing.
How do the Tree Dashers compare to the original Allbirds shoes?
It’s easy to be confused about the intended purpose of Allbirds’ original Tree Runner shoes versus the new Tree Dashers. The Tree Runners are meant to be an all-purpose, everyday shoe, for things like going to a casual office, travel, or taking a quick trip to the grocery store.
The difference is clear when you look at them side by side. The Runners are sleeker and have a slimmer heel and a thinner sole, so they blend with non-athletic clothes for an everyday outfit, though they offer less cushioning for the impact of fitness activities. Looks-wise, Tree Dashers are clearly an athletic shoe, albeit a well-designed one, so it’s harder to pair them with jeans and not look like you just came from the gym.
All that said, you probably could run in your Runners, but the slimmer sole means you won’t have very much support. If you just want a casual shoe for everyday wear, consider the Tree Runners; if you want a true running or fitness shoe, you'll notice the difference in impact absorption in the Tree Dashers.
Are Allbirds Tree Dashers worth it?
Sara: It’s hard for me to say how they would hold up against a pair of old-school, gold-standard running shoe brands like Asics or Brooks after a long period of time, particularly for someone who runs a lot. I’m not a marathon runner—I top out at around six or seven miles on an ambitious day—but I imagine that these might not be the most durable choice for someone training for long races on the regular.
Still, for someone who follows a workout routine like mine, which usually involves walks around the neighborhood, 5K jogs, and cardio routines in the basement, it’s hard to find anything to complain about with the Allbirds Tree Dashers.
Jamie: As someone who has evaluated the quality of apparel products for most of my career, I’m impressed with the technical design of these shoes. The breathable upper, the cushioned heel lining, the removable insoles, and the sturdy-yet-light side support contribute to the shoes’ comfort straight out of the box. Each detail has been carefully thought-out with these shoes. While the price tag of $125 is not cheap, it’s on par with Nike or Adidas running shoes, and you’re getting what you pay for in terms of quality craftsmanship.
My only complaint is of a personal nature: I prefer more fashion-forward running shoes in bold colors and designs. While I would still wear these, I’m not sure I would buy these based on the current available colors.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.