Allbirds is well known for its sustainable and comfortable everyday sneakers – so can it do as well in the running shoe market? Our conclusion is yes.
The Tree Dasher's design is very attractive, with knitted material covering the shoe, strikingly designed soles and eyelets, which hold their laces firmly in place. Branding on the shoe isn’t obvious, and sits inside and towards the back of the shoe – giving it an understated feel.
Proving you can use sustainable materials and still give great support to runners, the shoe's midsole is made using sugar cane (a material Allbirds calls SweetFoam), which is stiff enough to provide support, but flexible enough to not feel limiting when you run.
The foot feels supported and comfortable from ankle to toes, without feeling suffocating – and the extra room towards the toes feels welcome. The inside wool material, which surrounds the sides of the foot and ankle, is very comfortable for the most part, but did rub slightly on the back of our ankle.
The shoe also has a good level of arch support, without them feeling uncomfortable. While we loved how much the material stretched over the top of our foot when we moved, giving us support and flexibility.
Allbirds Tree Dasher price and release date
The Allbirds Tree Dasher was released in early 2020, and is available direct from Allbirds. It's priced at $125 / £120 (about AU$160).
Allbirds Tree Dasher design
The Tree Dasher has a knitted outer, which is made from FSC certified eucalyptus trees, giving it trainer a unique and lightweight feeling. The tongue of the shoe is also integrated into the material, with Allbirds' signature eyelets woven to the material for the laces to loop through.
We loved the design of the eyelets, but it gave us less control over how tight our laces could be tied. We liked the stretchiness of the material, though as it felt comfortable around our toes and supported the front of our ankle, but also meant there was room for our feet to breathe.
The shoe's thick midsole is made from a material called dual-density SweetFoam, which is made from sugarcane and, according to Allbirds, is designed to give extra stability and cushioning. We found this to be true when we ran; unlike some other shoes we felt well supported as our feet hit the ground. We liked the unique design of the sole too, which juts out at an angle from the shoe.
Inside the shoe you’ll find Allbirds' signature ZQ merino wool along the heel, which again was great for support. The design means that there is about 1cm difference between the wool and the elasticated upper. It looks great, but we found the back of our ankle rubbed on it as we ran.
The Tree Dasher comes in 16 colours, from vibrant green to basic colours such as white and black.
Allbirds Tree Dasher performance
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the first time we’ve worn a shoe with a sugarcane sole, but it absorbs impact well, with a firm but flexible feel. The material means the Tree Dasher isn't the most lightweight shoe we’ve run in though, and it felt quite heavy.
You feel the cushioning on the heel and the midsole the most, with the outersole thinning out towards the toe – giving the flexibility and some spring as you naturally roll through the foot.
One of the shoe's best assets is its arch support - for runners who have flatter feet and tend to get injured easily, it evenly distributes the pressure as it hits the ground so you don't take the full impact on the ball of your foot or heel.
We loved how much room our toes had in the Tree Dasher; they felt well supported as we ran, and the castor bean-based sock liner and outer material allowed our feet to feel comfortable and breath throughout the run.
When we wore the shoe in dry conditions it performed well, but in wetter weather there was no grip – the base of the shoes do have small grip-like-holes but didn’t seem to do much for slippery conditions such as wet grass.
Our test runs were typically under 10km, but we feel the heavier nature of the natural soles may make it more uncomfortable for longer runs or marathon training. The trainers also come up bigger than most brands – whereas sometimes you’d go up a half size for running shoes, here you’re best to stick with your normal shoe size.
Buy it if
You love sustainable products
The Tree Dasher is made from sugarcane and eucalyptus, and the company prides itself on having a low carbon footprint.
You’re in need of arch support
For many who have flat feet or arches we need support so when we run, the Tree Dashers has just the right amount of support.
You want a supportive and breathable running shoe
The shoe's naturally derived materials allow the feet to breathe, but still give support.
Don't buy it if
You're training for a half marathon
The sole makes them heavy on the feet, so not great for more than mid-distance runs.
You’re looking for trainers with a good grip
We found ourselves sliding around when wearing them in wet conditions.
You want a lightweight shoe
The sturdy sole means the show absorbs impact well, but also means the shoe is considerably heavier than some other brands.
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