I first heard of Allbirds shoes back in 2016 from my New Zealand friend who was wearing them. She claimed these shoes (which were made from New Zealand merino wool) were super comfortable—they certainly looked comfortable. Then a few months later I started seeing them all over New York City so I wanted to try a pair out for myself since they looked like great shoes for travel.
As of this writing, I’ve worn my Allbirds Wool Runners for about 12 months and I’ve spent a good amount of time pounding the pavement in these comfortable so I wanted to do my own Allbirds Review to share my thoughts.
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links in this article. I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.
UPDATE: This article was originally posted in October 2018 so I’ve had a little more time with my Allbirds Wool Runners. I found they did a nice job keeping my feet warm during the NYC winters (but I didn’t wear them in the snow/rain/winter muck).
Naturally, they’re showing a little more signs of wear and tear but nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve read reports from other Allbirds wearers who said their shoes lasted around 8-10 months of moderate use and I’m seeing similar results.
UPDATE 2: Now that the weather is getting a little nicer, I’ve tested the Allbirds Tree Runners (read my Allbirds Tree Runners review).
UPDATE 3: Allbirds recently released their water-resistant Allbirds Mizzle line of Runners, Runner-Ups, and Dashers. I’m wearing them as we speak and I’ll write up a review once I put a few more miles on them.
UPDATE 4: Allbirds just released their new Tree Dasher running shoe. Read my Allbirds Tree Dasher Review to hear my thoughts.
UPDATE 5: I’ve tested the Wool Pipers. Read my Allbirds Wool Pipers Review to her what I think.
UPDATE 6: I’ve finished testing the new Allbirds Tree Pipers. Read my Allbirds Tree Pipers review.
UPDATE 7: Allbirds recently started making apparel made from wool and other recycled fabric. I’ve tried the Natural Run Tee and Natural Run Shorts but they have socks, underwear, sweats, hoodies, and a bunch of other items.
UPDATE 8: Allbirds just updated their Tree Dasher running shoes—now called the Tree Dasher 2. I’ve just finished my Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 review.
UPDATE 9: Allbirds just released their Tree Flyers—which is looking to be a legit running shoe. I’ve just finished my four-month test and you can read my Allbirds Tree Flyers review here.
As you can see, Allbirds now has multiple different shoes so I created an Allbirds Comparison Guide where I test most of their shoes and some apparel.
Quick Background of Allbirds
For a bit of background, Allbirds is a new shoe company from New Zealand (a country famous for its wool) that made its debut with their Wool Runners — a pair of shoes made from merino wool and other sustainable/recycled materials.
They went the direct-to-consumer route (although they do have a few physical locations now) and all their shoes sell for $95 via the Allbirds Website (free shipping and returns). People seem to really dig them and their popularity is skyrocketing.
Allbirds also has a model called “Tree Runners” (which are made out of eucalyptus pulp instead of wool).
We also like how Allbirds put a big focus on sustainability — their soles are made from sugarcane and their laces are made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester.
My Allbirds Review
I’m always raving out wool when it comes to travel clothing but I’ve never thought about wool for shoes. So when I saw the Wool Runners I was intrigued — especially since Allbirds claims their wool is soft, moisture-wicking, and reduces odor.
And as you can see from the chart above, Allbirds makes a lot of claims about their shoes so I wanted to test them for myself.
I actually ordered my Allbirds shoes online but I still headed to their NYC location in SoHo to check them out.
The superfine merino wool was immediately soft and comfortable — the shoe is very slipper-like. The foam of the sole is spongy and provides a nice amount of cushion.
I also immediately noticed how crazy lightweight the Wool Runners are — a pair of size 9 is 17oz. They’re great for travel because you can easily throw these into your luggage without adding hardly any bulk/weight.
Allbirds says you can comfortably wear their shoes both with and without socks. With that in mind, I went sockless during my maiden voyage to the park with Henry. Even after a good amount of walking, I found them very comfortable straight out of the box and I’ve never gotten any blisters.
That said, I’m not a huge fan of wearing them without socks on longer walks. Going sockless is fine for running to the store or bumming around, but I find the comfort goes down with extended wear.
I’m really digging the look of the Wool Runners. They’re a nice blend of fashion, athletic, and casual. And they’re opening a store in Europe so I’m sure you’ll start seeing them all around Europe very soon.
I chose the Natural Black with Black Sole. They also have an ever-changing selection of limited-edition colors. If I were to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t get the all-black as I think having some contrast between the sole and the upper part of the shoe would be nice — but that’s just personal preference.
I also like how there isn’t any real branding on the shoes so it keeps with the minimalist look.
Comfort & Sizing
After a few months of wearing my Wool Runners around the streets of NYC, I still find my Wool Runners to be perfectly comfortable. The soles have a lot of cushion and bounce. The insoles + soles actually offer a decent amount of arch support—which is fairly rare in other minimalist shoes.
That said, Allbirds Runners aren’t running shoes—even though they’re called “Runners”. They’re firmly casual walking shoes.
Additionally, the wool is plenty soft so Allbirds isn’t exaggerating when they say you can wear these without socks.
One thing I found a little annoying is that Allbirds currently only come in full sizes (i.e. no half-sizes). Their website says that their shoes naturally stretch to fit your foot after a few wearings. Luckily, they give you 30 days to fully test the shoes and their return process is super simple.
The only small gripe I have is with the tongue. It sometimes folds onto itself so I have a do a little adjustment after putting the shoe on. It’s not that big a deal but it is an annoyance.
I’ve worn my pair for multiple walks (usually one to three miles at a time) without any issues but a majority of the time I’ve worn them around the neighborhood/city and on walks with Henry. That said, I regularly walk for 10+ miles/day when I travel so I’m not sure how my feet would feel if I put in that kind of mileage with these shoes.
So, to sum it up, I think the Wool Runners have an excellent weight/size-to-comfort ratio — they’re so light that you can easily throw them into your luggage without adding any bulk.
So are they the “World’s Most Comfortable Shoes”? That might be a bit of an overstatement. But they’re certainly comfortable and I enjoy wearing them — especially considering how crazy light they are.
Note: I’ve read reports that some women felt the toe box was a little tight so they were told to try the slightly wider men’s version — luckily the return/exchange process is simple.
Warm & Cool Weather Wear
Allbirds say their Wool Runners “stay cool in the heat and warm in the cold.” Well, on hot days my feet still got a bit warm and sweaty so don’t expect these to be like air conditioning for your feet. That said, I didn’t feel like these were too much different than other sneakers I wear and they did dry fairly quickly.
However, the Allbirds Tree Runners are much more light and breezy than the Wool Runners so they’re better suited for the summer.
And now that Autumn’s cooler weather has arrived in NYC, I find that my Wool Runners keep my feet comfy when I take Henry out on his nightly walks around the block.
Allbirds aren’t made for rainy weather so your feet will get wet fairly quickly if you get caught in the rain.
Odor and Washing
Allbirds are certainly soft enough to wear without socks. Wool is naturally odor-resistant so this was one thing that intrigued us about wool shoes. I’ve worn our Wool Runners multiple times without socks and have yet to experience any noticeable foot odor. Nice!
I still recommend wearing socks if you’re going to wear yours all day long because they will probably eventually start to smell from extended barefoot wear.
That said, you can simply toss your Allbirds straight into the washing machine (cold water) if they do get smelly or dirty. They do need to air dry — I haven’t personally washed our Allbirds yet but people online say they take about a day or two to air dry.
I do like how Allbirds sells replacement insoles for $15 since insoles are what hold the most amount of stink. So, should yours start to smell, just throw in a new pair of insoles.
Before I got my Allbirds I read some reports that the Wool Runners’ toebox had a tendency to stretch out over time. I only noticed very minimal stretching — so I did some research and it turns out that Allbirds made a few improvements in 2017 to reinforce the toe lining and tongue (they also improved the insole and made the sole more flexible).
My Wool Runners are still holding up pretty well after a few months of light to medium use. I typically wear them around the neighborhood, to the coffee shop/store, and when I take Henry for his walks. I’ve done a handful of multi-mile journeys with them and they’re still holding up well. They’re starting to show a bit of age but that’s to be expected.
I’ve read a handful of reports on Reddit from other people who have worn their Allbirds pretty hard (i.e. every day for 6-8 months) and the max lifespan seems to hover around 8 to 10 months of heavy use — which is essentially the same results as I get with my Nike or New Balance shoes.
I have read that the wool tends to attract hair and dog/cat fur so you might need to de-fur your shoes from time to time. Also, some people also reported that their shoes had a bit of excess clear glue where the sole attaches to the upper.
After spending a solid amount of time wearing Allbirds Wool Runners we can see why Allbirds has become so popular (they’re now valued as a billion-dollar brand). They’re cool-looking, comfortable, have fairly solid durability, and they’re made using sustainable manufacturing processes. I also like their simple return process and their 30-day guarantee.
They’re great shoes for wearing around the neighborhood, running errands, and urban exploration. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw these into my suitcase before our next trip because they’re lightweight and take up virtually no space.
Are you traveling soon? Check out our other favorite travel shoes for more footwear recommendations.
My Other Favorite Shoes From Allbirds
Since introducing their Wool Runners, Allbirds has released more than 20 different shoes—including advanced running shoes, all-terrain hiking shoes, weather-resistant shoes, and multiple other options.
I’ve personally owned about eight different styles of Allbirds and you can check out my thoughts and reviews in my Allbirds Buyer’s Guide.
But here are a few of my favorite Allbirds shoes you might want to check out.
WOOL RUNNER MIZZLES
The Wool Runner Mizzles are basically the same shoe as the Wool Runners but they have an added weather-resistant layer and the wool is treated with a water-repellent coating. I also believe the Mizzles have a slightly higher sole that helps put a little more distance between the shoes and puddles.
It’s important to realize that the Mizzles are weather-resistant but not waterproof — from my experience they do well in light rain or short stints in heavier rain.
- Price: $115
- See on Allbirds.com
- Read my Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzle Review
WOOL RUNNER-UP MIZZLES
The Wool Runner-up Mizzles is a boot version of the Wool Runner Mizzles so they too have a weather-resistant layer and the wool is treated with a water-repellent coating.
The Wool Runner-up Mizzles are a little warmer than the Wool Runner Mizzles thanks to their boot design and they offer a little more protection from the elements.
- Price: $135
- See on Allbirds.com
- Read my Allbirds Wool Runner-Up Mizzle Review
Allbirds TREE FLYERS
The new Allbirds Tree Flyers is the brand’s first true running shoe (and they have a very cool futuristic style). They’re lightweight, airy, springy, and super comfortable. They’re designed for everyday runs up to 6-9 miles or all-day walking. I tested these for four months and I’m a huge fan.
Allbirds TREE DASHER 2
The Tree Dashers are true legit running shoes. The Tree Dashers are made from eucalyptus tree fiber as opposed to merino wool found in the Wool Dashers. I find that the Tree Dashers are more breathable than their Wool Dasher counterparts.
The Dashers have the most amount of cushion of all the Allbirds but they’re also the most athletically styled of the shoes. That’s why some people might think they lose some of that “everyday” style found in the Runners.
UPDATE: The Tree Dashers have been updated to the Tree Dasher 2 so many aspects of the Tree Dasher has been improved (I’m currently testing them).
- Price: $125
- See on Allbirds.com
- Read my Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 Review and check out the old Allbirds Tree Dashers Review
WOOL DASHER MIZZLES
The Wool Dasher Mizzles are true water-resistant running shoes with Allbirds’ bio-based weather-resistant shield and they’re treated with a water-repellent coating. This is a good option if you’re looking for a more rain-friendly running shoe but I’d look into the Tree Dasher if you need something for the summer.
The Tree Runners are the same as the Wool Runners but they’re made out of eucalyptus tree fiber instead of wool. Again, the Runners are a casual everyday shoe so you’ll want the Dashers if you need a true running shoe.
When compared to the Wool Runners, I’d say that the Tree Runners breathe better so they might be a better option if you’re wearing them in hot weather. However, I personally like the look of the wool fabric better than the eucalyptus tree fiber fabric — but that’s just a personal preference.
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Thanks For Reading! — James