Allbirds are changing the running shoe game. Rather than using the petroleum-based materials found in most of the best running shoes on the market, Allbirds are striving to make a sustainable shoe, with a low carbon footprint. The result? A good everyday running shoe that’s better for the planet.
Allbirds Tree Flyer Specifications
Weight: 9.5 oz
Drop: 8.5 mm
Of course, this isn’t Allbirds’ first step into the running shoe market — it released the Tree Dasher a few years ago, which was a super-plush, everyday running shoe. With the Tree Flyers, Allbirds says it has designed a light and springy distance running shoe. But how does the shoe compare to some of the other performance shoes on the market? Have a read of my Allbirds Tree Flyers review below to find out more.
Allbirds Tree Flyers review: Price and availability
The Allbirds Tree Flyers cost $160/£150, which is around the same price as the Brooks Glycerin 20, or the Adidas Ultraboost 22. The shoe comes in a range of sizes, including half sizes. In the men’s version, you can shop from a U.S. 8 to a U.S. 14, with seven different colorways available. In the women’s version of the shoe, you can shop from a U.S. 5 to a U.S. 11, with seven colors on offer, including the Lux Pink, which is part of the brand’s collaboration with Lindsay Lohan.
The shoe is widely available on the website and in stores. They also come with Allbird’s 30-day return policy, meaning that if you wear them and don’t like them, you can get your money back. Shoes that have light wear and tear are donated to charity.
Allbirds Tree Flyers review: Design and fit
The Allbirds Tree Flyers come up big — I’m a UK 5 in most running shoes but sized down to a UK 4.5 in these shoes and would recommend doing the same. I don’t have particularly narrow feet, but I do have high arches. On its website, Allbirds says: “If you have wide feet or prefer a roomier fit to accommodate toe splay, we suggest going up a half size. For extra wide feet, go up a whole size.”
The shoe is comfortable out of the box, but it doesn’t have the same sink-in, plush comfort as the Tree Dasher. The foam is definitely on the firmer side, but Allbirds says this is because it’s designed to be responsive. You’ll notice the flared, geometric design of the outsole, which offers stability underfoot, and the soft bootie upper, designed to wrap around the foot. The shoe’s carbon footprint is on the back, which starts at 9.92kg CO2e. This stands for kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. By keeping a tally of the greenhouse gases, Allbirds are measuring the environmental impact of their products.
The upper of the Tree Flyer is made from eucalyptus fiber rather than the oil-based polyester or nylon that you usually find in running shoes. The sturdy, exposed heel counter is made from recycled materials from the midsole, and the shoe’s laces are made from recycled plastic bottles. But how does all that feel on the foot? The upper is super stretchy and breathable, and it feels almost bootie-like on the foot. It’s soft and comfortable, and like all of Allbird’s shoes, it’s able to cope in the washing machine (a huge plus if, like me, you’re a runner who likes box-fresh shoes).
That said, as I mentioned above, the shoe comes up a little big and even in my correct size, the upper was a little baggy on the foot. You’re not getting an awful lot of support from the upper — it’s not hugging the foot or keeping you secure in the shoe.
Allbirds released its new midsole foam material in the Tree Flyer — SwiftFoam. The ‘high-performance’ midsole is designed to be “big on cushion and energy return, making long runs easier on your body,” according to Allbirds. It’s made from castor beans, and is 48% bio-based, reducing the shoe’s carbon footprint. Allbirds says the midsole foam has a 70% higher rebound rate than the foam used in the Tree Dasher.
The heel counter and toe-box have a flared, geometric style, which is designed to offer stability underfoot. As mentioned above, the midsole foam isn’t overly soft underfoot, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The outsole of the Tree Dasher is made from natural rubber. There’s a traction pattern designed to give you a good amount of grip when running on the pavement, even when it’s wet. The outsole has also been designed to have a good amount of flexibility for a smooth heel-to-toe transition on the run.
Allbirds Tree Flyers review: Performance
I ran in the Allbirds Tree Flyers for a few weeks and have mixed feelings. Compared to the Tree Dasher, the Tree Flyers are firm underfoot — despite the thick midsole, you don’t feel like you’re sinking into this shoe. Instead, it feels like it’s deadening the impact of your stride. This took some getting used to, and after a few miles, it did feel a little more responsive, although there are definitely better midsole foams on the market. That said, there aren’t better midsole foams that are as good for the planet, so it really depends on what’s more important to you as a consumer.
On faster, tempo sessions, the Allbirds Tree Flyers felt a little clunky, yet on slower, ploddy miles, they were comfortable and reliable. This is the shoe you reach for on easy runs between three to six miles, not a half marathon, or for a race.
Compared to the Tree Dasher, the shoe definitely has a better underfoot expereince on the run. The Dasher felt a little ploddy after too long, whereas the Tree Flyers are more responsive, they’re just not the shoe I’d reach for if I was heading out for a longer, or faster session.
Allbirds Tree Flyers review: Verdict
In 2022, I love the brand message that Allbirds is promoting — we all need to care more about the environment and make better decisions as consumers when shopping for products. This isn’t the cheapest shoe on the market, but it is, by far, the best carbon-neutral running shoe out there, and for a lot of consumers, this will be what matters most.
When comparing the Tree Flyers against some of the best running shoes on the market, Allbirds are moving in the right direction, but they are not quite there yet. It’s a decent everyday shoe, and a vast improvement on the Tree Dasher, but it’s not a performance shoe by any means.
Allbirds has marketed this shoe as a performance, long run shoe, but I’d disagree — this is the shoe you reach for on days when you’re run-commuting to work, then wearing the shoe all day in the office (in my opinion it looks cool enough to pair with jeans, or a skirt).
If you are looking for a more versatile shoe around this price point, it’s worth taking a look at the Nike Pegasus 39, the New Balance 1080v12, or the Brooks Glycerin 20, although none of these shoes will be as good for the planet.