Allbirds’ angle for its shoes all along has been that they are made with renewable materials. This extends across all of its men’s and women’s shoes. The materials vary from wool to sugarcane, but the idea is the same: a lighter carbon footprint.
In the beginning, Allbirds was synonymous with casual, everyday shoes. That’s no longer the case, as its Tree Dashers now extend into performance running shoes. The same attention to sustainability is in tow here, too. The Tree Dashers have a one-piece upper constructed from eucalyptus trees and the midsole SweetFoam is formed from sugarcane. Wool is used in the inside heel for good measure.
The aspirational nature of these newest Allbirds shoes is laudable. For these to be viable running shoes, however, they still need to compete against others from Nike, New Balance and Reebok. I’ve tested shoes from many of these companies this year, so I’m giving the $125 Tree Dashers a quick spin to see how they compare.
Comfort and Styling
Ideally, it’s nice to have a running shoe that isn’t too bold and that can be worn no matter what you’re doing. For the most part, the Tree Dashers are very functional in this regard. Allbirds lets people choose how adventurous they want to be with their color schemes. At the time of writing, there were 14 different limited-edition colors and four classic colors for a total of 18 choices. They ranged from boring to unique. But most wouldn’t stand out in a casual work environment. I chose the Geyser, which have a subtle blue gradient bleeding through the primarily white shoe. I think they look just as good in person as they do online.
From a side view, the Tree Dashers look sleek and minimal. From a top view, while wearing them, however, they appear more bulky and curvy, with the midsole around the heel jetting out quite a bit.
The upper is a single piece so it wraps around your foot without a separate tongue. I had no issue with this sock-like fit. Out of the box, Tree Dashers have a comfortable, secure fit.
Wearing shoes around the house is one thing, but running in shoes can be a wholly different experience. Slipping on the Tree Dashers for the first time, they felt very similar to other Allbirds, with a firm, but forgiving midsole. The insole, or sockliner as Allbirds refers to it, has a smooth, lightly cushioned feel. All around, the shoes give off a reassuring initial impression.
These shoes are purposefully firm and meant for faster speeds. That’s in contrast to bouncier, higher stack shoes, which are meant for slower paces. With their wide midsole, the Allbirds feel very stable. There’s no uncertainty in the landing of each stride taken. In fact, with their stable nature, I think Tree Dashers would also make a great walking shoe.
For the technical folks, there’s a 7 mm heel drop. Allbirds also labels them as a neutral, cushioned running shoe. I found the Tree Dashers to be more firm than Reebok’s Floatride Energy 3. Instead, they were closer to the On Cloudswift in terms of cushioning.
Through my first dozen plus miles, I found the Tree Dashers to be very consistent across different length runs. I got the same drive on a 5-mile run but didn’t notice my feet aching afterward. On shorter, 3-mile runs I didn’t notice any energy lost, which helped me push through on hills and inclines.
One area to note in the fit is around the single-piece upper. Since the laces loop through exterior eyelets and with no separate tongue, it can be hard to get a perfect locked-in heel fit. In general, the thickly padded wool heel kept my foot from raising too much, but there was some movement in the back. This will likely be a minor concern for some, but overall it’s not worth avoiding the shoes. These are well-built and performed as advertised during runs.
Should You Buy Allbirds Tree Dashers?
Tree Dashers are a great addition to Allbirds’ shoe lineup. Anyone committed to the company’s goal of reducing their carbon footprint through the products they buy has a new running shoe option. While I wouldn’t say the Tree Dashers outright bested any incumbents in the running shoe space, they are at least competitive right out of the gate.
The first step in performance running shoes for Allbirds looks promising. It should only get better from here.
Buy at Allbirds.
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