I’ve been curious about Allbirds since I heard about them from a friend who described them as “like walking on clouds.” As someone who has trouble finding shoes that fit (my feet are on the wide-ish side), I’m always on the lookout for cute and comfy shoes.
Allbirds says they are eco-friendly, too, which is a huge plus in my book. The startup says that the merino wool they use requires 60 percent less energy to produce than the typical synthetic materials used in shoe production. The wool is also ZQ-certified, “which means it meets stringent standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare.” The insoles are made out of castor beans. Even their shoe box supposedly uses 40% less materials than a traditional shoe box.
Another plus to the shoe? They’re light. I was about to go on a trip and was looking for a lightweight pair of shoes to pack in my suitcase. Luckily, there’s a concept store here in San Francisco so I could check them out in person. (It’s not open on the weekends, though.)
As of this writing, the shoe only comes in two styles, one with laces (the wool runners), and one without (the wool loungers). Here’s my friend trying on the wool loungers and me in the wool runners.
The wool runners were too athletic-looking for my taste. (I wanted something for everyday wear, not for running.) Plus, I have to admit that I’m lazy when it comes to laces. If I have to, sure, but in general I try to avoid laces. So I opted for the wool loungers, which are slip-on. For whatever reason, the wool loungers also fit the shape of my feet better, which was surprising. I thought they’d be the same as the runners since there’s only two styles of shoes. Both shoes were quite cushiony. My friend complained that he was slipping out at the heel too much in the loungers. When I took them home, I realized that I also slipped out of them a bit, but not too much to be annoying.
Here’s that box that they say takes up less materials to make.
And then you roll the ends open like so:
Tada! This is the black, by the way, which looks like more of a dark gray to me.
The shoe is designed to be worn without socks. (That’s an ankle wrap on my left foot. I had an ankle sprain at the time.)
I wore them for a few days before my trip and was impressed. No break-in time needed! I was afraid they wouldn’t be supportive enough — they don’t really look like they would be, but my arches were ache-free. The only problem was that something was rubbing the back of my right foot. I couldn’t figure out what it was because it didn’t look like anything was there, but this isn’t the first time this has happened to me and I have a trick for it: I take an emery board (like this) and file a little bit on the inside edge of the shoe. Problem — whatever it was — solved.
So I packed them up and off we went on a three-week trip. After about a month of wear, here’s what I have to report:
Aesthetically, I wish they were a little less round in the toe and a tad more tapered, but that’s not a deal-breaker. As to performance, they are not without issues. The shoe is made out of wool, after all, and can run hot. There were days when I was walking around in 70-degree weather and my feet felt sweaty. Not horribly sweaty, but definitely warm and moist. I run kind of cold in the first place, so this might be a problem for someone who runs hot. I wouldn’t wear these on a warm day. On occasion, I’d discover little fluffs of wool escaping from the inside of the shoe. Should I be worried about this? I don’t know. Lastly, I got caught in a sudden downpour and these shoes cannot withstand that. I walked back to my hotel in sad, soppy wet shoes. They did not dry overnight.
On the day I had to wear other shoes because the Allbirds were drying, I discovered that I missed them. They were more comfortable than I realized. I wore another pair of flats and my arches started aching right away. I wore the Allbirds almost every day of my trip — sometimes walking up to ten miles a day — with no problems, except for the getting-soaked-in-the-rain part.
Allbirds gives you 30 days to try their shoes. If they don’t work out for you — even if you’ve worn them — you can send them back. I love this so much, because like I said, I’m a person who has a hard time finding shoes that fit well. I’ve wasted so much money on shoes that don’t fit or are uncomfortable. After trying these for a month, I’m happy to report that I won’t need to send them back. They’re my go-to pair now when I’m running out the door. I’m not the only one who likes them; apparently all of Silicon Valley wears them. This is not a selling point to me, but oh well, you can’t keep a good thing secret.
By the way, this review is not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with Allbirds. I bought these shoes myself, which retail for $95.