Why I returned my Allbirds Wool Runners & kept my Allbirds Tree Skippers and Tree Runners | Honest Review and comparison of Allbirds Wool Runners versus Tree Runners and Tree Skippers vs Wool Loungers
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Hi friends! Recently, I purchased three new pairs of Allbirds: the Allbirds Wool Runners in Kotare Jo (dark gray), the Allbirds Tree Runners in limited edition Kauri Cloud (Light Blue), and the Allbirds Tree Skippers in limited edition Kauri Rose (pink). These shoes are flying off the virtual shelves!
Even though I'm not a fan of the Allbirds Wool Loungers, I was excited about the new Tree lines. They're sustainable and semi-vegan shoes made with eucalyptus tree fiber sourced from South Africa. The padded insoles are made from Allbirds' proprietary merino wool, and the laces result from post-consumer recycled water bottle. Great!
I figured that with a thin and light material like processed eucalyptus fiber, the Allbirds Tree Skippers and Runners should feel more breathable, lightweight, and cooler than the wool lines. The pretty pastel colors of Kauri Cloud and Kauri Rose are so perfect for spring and summer.
Allbirds has not modified its pricing. Additional laces cost $10 for a boxed trio of different colors. Additional insoles cost $15. Each pair of Allbirds for women cost $95. Shipping for me was free. I didn't have to pay taxes. I looked for Allbirds promo codes or an Allbirds affiliate system with referral codes, but couldn't find any. (If you want $20 off Rothy's, here's a link for your first pair.)
Allbirds are shoes for minimalists. I could compare Allbirds Tree Runners to Deerupt Runners from Adidas, priced at $100. Both pairs are lightweight and similar in shape. If you search for other lightweight runners from Nike and Adidas, you'll find they're probably over $100. You can find good discounts with Nike and Adidas. You can get a pair of Nike Free RN Commuter 2017 for under $80 and score 8% back with Ebates. The difference is that Tree Allbirds are made from sustainable materials with lower carbon footprint, or at least that's what Allbirds advertises. Allbirds are also minimally branded, and without opportunity for customers to customize them, save for changing the laces, the insoles (dark gray versus black) and the color of the shoe itself.
Personally, I still feel the Allbirds shoes look very simple for the high price. They feel like fragile shoes with thin materials. In an ideal world, I would price Allbirds at $75 per pair, especially since the sourced materials are sustainable and not rare. If more people can afford Allbirds, more people would lower their carbon footprint through purchasing Allbirds Tree Runners and Skippers, and purchasing and washing less socks, since it's fine to wear Allbirds sans socks.
All of the Allbirds came in boxes that you can use if you need to send them back for an exchange or return. The Wool Runners came in the same two-compartment box that the Wool Loungers came in. The packaging for the Tree Skippers and Runners no longer consisted of the signature two-compartments. All the boxes have writing in the interior, taking away the need for additional printed manuals or paper. The boxes were easy to open, but I did cut my thumb pretty badly trying to peel off the plastic zip tie thing without using a scissor. See picture below.
With these three new pairs, I went with my true size, 8. All three shoes felt snug with the first fitting, but not tight or uncomfortable. The Tree Runners and Skippers felt looser and looser with subsequent use, as if my feet had stretched them with each wear. I found my heels lifting a third to half way up from the Tree Runners with each stride. With my left foot, my heel slipped all the way up from the Tree Skipper. To remedy that, I tightened my laces.
The Allbirds Wool Runners made my feet look huge and frumpy, just like the Allbirds Loungers did. It's like a thick wool sock with laces wrapped around my feet. The toe humps are visible for all three pairs of Allbirds, but more pronounced with the Wool Runners. My husband says it's a design flaw with Allbirds. I agree. If you have other thin shoes with mesh, you'll see that you probably won't run into the toe humps problem. My husband demonstrated with his Asics, and I noticed no toe humps with my Keds or Rothy's.
With the Allbirds Tree Runners and Skippers, my feet look slimmer. The Allbirds Tree lines, IMHO, are much more attractive than their Wool counterparts, though there are neither Tree Loungers nor Wool Skippers available yet, and I hope Allbirds keeps it that way. (Update 5/2018: Allbirds has released tree loungers.)
Support and Comfort
All three of the shoes feel comfortable. Surprisingly, the Tree Runners feel like they support the ankle more than the Wool Runners. My ankles just collapse in the Wool Runners. The Tree Runners have a more narrow profile, so they make the feet look slimmer. At the same time, I feel my big toe is pushed into a bunion-inducing position, with the toe area of the shoes so narrow.
Within less than a minute of wear, my Allbirds Wool Runners attracted fur and hair. I'm not kidding. My puppy just walked by and whatever fur she shedded in those seconds, ended up on my Wool Runners.
For both of the runners, the sole wedges out in the back. When we were walking, my husband stepped on the back of my runners, twice. I guess the soles were designed to be longer in the back to afford additional stability and heel push off with running? Just watch out for pedestrians on busy streets stepping on the back of your runners. (Or clumsy husbands stepping on your shoes, haha.)
The Allbirds are all machine washable but need to be air dried. Some recommend removing the laces and insoles, putting the Allbirds in a sensitive linens bag, and then washing them in the washing machine. Others also recommend just lightly brushing off the dirt and grime from the shoes first. I like to use Magic Eraser on the white soles of my shoes.
The top of my Tree Skippers and Runners got stained pretty easily. They aren't all-weather shoes. They aren't very protective of the feet or supportive. I don't recommend working with patients in Allbirds, especially if you deal with heavy equipment or bodily fluids like I do!
I felt the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers were not as breathable and cool as I thought they would be versus the Wool line. My feet sweated so much in them. I took them off after half an hour of wear, slipped them back on and they felt hot! Luckily, the shoes don't retain moisture and they're not smelly.
The Tree Skippers have laces, but these laces are different from the Runners, and Allbirds doesn't sell these type of flat laces on their website. At least not yet.
And of course, for every pair of Allbirds, there are the blasted toe humps! For some reason, they're more visible with the Wool Runners and Loungers versus the Tree versions.
The Tree Runners and Tree Skippers are made in China, as the label on the tongues say. I don't have a problem with that, as long as the materials used are non-toxic and there is good quality control.
-Great exchange and return policy that focuses on the consumer. Wear them, wash them, try them out for thirty days. Return or exchange within that time frame with no questions asked!
-Machine washable shoes with great new colors.
-Made with sustainable and proprietary materials. I'm hoping the Allbirds will come out with a fully vegan line soon. Fingers crossed!
-Comfortable shoes you can walk, run and drive in, though I don't recommend you run with the Tree Skippers. They may slip off your feet! The shoes are very flexible and very light.
Return Yay or Nay?
Allbirds Wool Runners (Score: 3.6/5) : YAY! I returned them. Allbirds allow you to exchange worn pairs or insoles within 30 days of purchase, no questions asked. Great! We don't have an Allbirds store in Seattle, like the one in NYC, so I have to buy them to try them.
Allbirds Tree Runners (Score: 3.9/5): 50/50! I'm debating whether to return them or not. My only other pair of sneakers is a pair of Hoka One One Runners, and I can't drive in them. I can drive with my Tree Runners. I honestly think I will keep my pair of Tree Runners. Their soles, insoles, and laces are the same as the Wool Runners, so given the choice of Wool Runners versus Tree Runners, I will pick and keep the Tree Runners.
Allbirds Tree Skippers (Score: 3.9/5): NAY! These are so cute. I've been dying to own a pair of pink shoes. I think these are perfect. I feel like I'm walking on clouds. I just wish the heels don't slip up at all when I'm walking. It does force me to walk with a more heel to toe gait. I wonder if should exchange them for half a size down. Then they might be too snug. I also refuse to wear sock with Allbirds. The whole point for me to buy Allbirds was to find a shoe I can wash and wear sans socks.
I won't be returning my pair of Allbirds Tree Skippers. Some people say the style is very old fashioned. I think they're very stylish, actually. I guess in the end I opted to return both my Allbirds Wool Loungers and Wool Runners. I'm not a big fan of the Allbirds wool line, but I do like the tree line! So, my friends, which pair will you try? What do you think of the Allbirds Tree Skippers and Tree Runners. Do you feel that the Tree line is better, or the Wool line is better? Do you crave for a fully vegan shoe from Allbirds? Let me know your thoughts! This is a drama free zone. Happy walking and running!