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5.1 oz. (144 g) for a US M9,
4.3 oz. (122 g) for a US W7
17 mm in heel, 11 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)
Gym-based workouts and walks around town
Sugarcane-based EVA midsole, Eucalyptus upper, SweetFoam insole
CHAD: When Robbe called out for volunteers to review a non-running shoe, I jumped at the chance. I enjoy strength training and spinning on my non-running days as cross-training to keep my fitness balanced, so I figured I’d be up to trying something new. The shoe in question was the Allbirds SuperLight Trainer, which is designed for use in the gym or as an everyday lifestyle shoe.
For those not familiar with Allbirds, the name of the game is sustainability and lowering the carbon footprint involved in the production of its shoes. The SuperLight Trainer has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any shoe in the Allbirds lineup at 2.13 kg CO2e, and it features an upper made of eucalyptus fiber and recycled polyester on top of a green EVA midsole made from sugar cane. Heck, we only have one Earth; you have to applaud a company for doing what it can to reduce its impact.
MICHAEL: Strength training, HIIT workouts, cross-training. Whatever you call it, I don’t really do it consistently — ever. But that won’t stop me from resolving to start a new program every few weeks to help keep me from getting injured. To be fair, running at lunch is way better than lifting at lunch, so I usually stop before long. When I started reviewing the Allbirds Superlight Trainer, I had just begun one such strength training routine inspired by the guru Jeff Browning. Perfect time to review this shoe, right?
Well, that lasted like three weeks, and I never actually completed a strength workout in this shoe. That being said, I still have some thoughts to add that might be helpful to someone interested in the Allbirds SuperLight Trainer for general use as a stylish recovery shoe, a walking shoe, a green grocery-getter, or a companion for long days in the office or the hospital floor.
CHAD: There’s light, and then there’s super light, and the SuperLight Trainer is exactly as advertised. Once on the foot, it just about disappears, coming in at an infinitesimal 5.07 oz. for a US M9. I was concerned that such a light shoe would be flimsy and not provide any support for my foot, but boy, was I wrong. The midsole is very sturdy underfoot, and the upper wraps around the foot nicely. I found the fit to be secure but not suffocating, and the mesh is plenty breathable.
Another positive of the SuperLight Trainer for me is that with the way the forefoot and midfoot are designed, they fit perfectly in the toe clips of my spin bike, almost as if designed for it specifically. Given the smaller profile, the SuperLight Trainer fits way better than the old Brooks Adrenaline 20 I had been using. If you’re someone who enjoys spinning but doesn’t wear clip-in cycling shoes, this would do the trick.
I also find that the midsole has the firmness I would look for in a lifting shoe. When doing legwork exercises, I don’t want much, if any, squish or wiggle from my shoe underfoot. The midsole composition appears to be fairly dense, which provides a decent platform for those heavy lifts.
MICHAEL: Starting off our good section, I’m going to echo Chad’s thoughts here; this shoe is light. Walking, jumping, and basically everything feels awesome in such a featherweight shoe. While I wasn’t able to get in any HIIT workouts, I have no doubt this lightweight design would feel pretty great when lactic acid starts to build up, and you have like 15 more box jumps to do (at least, I think that’s what HIIT workouts are).
Moving on with the upper, an ultra-light mesh keeps things secure. While this doesn’t have nearly the soft, comfortable feel of Allbirds’ wool uppers from other models, it does do its job of keeping the foot securely in place. A foam insert at the heel counter keeps the shoe from slipping, and a partial-booty construction provides a snug fit through the midfoot. During some summer walking, I actually found the SuperLight Trainer very comfortable sans-socks, especially with how breathable this mesh is.
As Chad said, this midsole is pretty firm, with both good and bad implications. For me, I found the firmness to provide nice stability when walking or standing, a great feature for walkers or workers in the shoe. Additionally, some sidewall foam cradles the foot and helps boost that stability.
Additionally, even with all of the thought towards lightweight construction, Allbirds found some room in the bill of materials for two patches of tacky rubber underneath the ball of the foot and the heel, a really smart move for a HIIT shoe. Without this, sweaty gym floors or yoga mats would quickly become akin to ice patches. This is also a helpful touch for the Allbirds-wearing grocery shopper — no one wants to slip in spilled oat milk on aisle three in Whole Foods.
Lastly, it has to be said that Allbirds is pretty goated when it comes to sustainable footwear. To my knowledge, there’s really no competition when it comes to a company with a comparable breadth of models, all made with serious transparency and thought into making their footwear with as little of a carbon footprint as possible.Shop Allbirds SuperLight Trainer - Men Shop Allbirds SuperLight Trainer - Women
CHAD: That firmness I spoke about in the section above also ends up here. In addition to gym workouts, I took this shoe on some walks with my kids, typically no more than two miles at a time, but my feet were feeling it a bit afterward. I’m not sure I would wear this as a lifestyle or daily use shoe because of the discomfort.
Also, as a word of caution, check the sizing guide before you buy. The US M11.5 that was sent to me is significantly smaller than any other shoe I own. Most running shoes I own that are a US M11.5 are a 46 on the EU size chart, but the SuperLight Trainer is a 44.5. I know one of our female reviewers got this shoe sent to her in her normal size, but it didn’t fit her at all, which is why you’re only hearing from Michael and me.
MICHAEL: In such a lightweight package, there are bound to be a few trade-offs when it comes to comfort. The SuperLight Trainer is no exception, and the culprit here is a pretty firm and uncomfortable midsole. For walks in the neighborhood (of which I enjoyed many in this shoe) and trips to the store, this wasn’t at all a problem, but for those hoping for much cushion, I’d stay clear and maybe look towards Allbirds’ more traditional lifestyle shoe options. For gym work, however, I don’t think this will be any problem, and in fact will probably perform better for lifting and plyometrics than a soft, squishy EVA would.Shop Allbirds SuperLight Trainer - Men Shop Allbirds SuperLight Trainer - Women
CHAD: Plenty of companies claim to be moving towards sustainability, but there’s no question that Allbirds is leading the way in the footwear market. I think what’s most impressive about the SuperLight Trainer is that not only is the carbon footprint so low, but it’s also a quality gym shoe. The overall quality wasn’t compromised in the name of sustainability. Next week, I’m starting a new strength training and resistance program at the gym I go to, and I have no qualms about wearing the SuperLight Trainer for my workouts.
MICHAEL: All(birds) in all, the Superlight Trainer is a great lifestyle option with a little workout versatility mixed in. It’s light and comfortable for daily wear and is ready to work as hard as you do for HIIT workouts, yoga, or some light lifting or strength training — if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve been enjoying this shoe for a few weeks now for evening walks around the neighborhood and grocery runs, and it performs well at both with a lean carbon footprint.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that while Chad and Caryn had issues with their sizing, I had no problems with mine. Thankfully, Allbirds has a no questions asked return policy in case your sizing doesn’t work out.
You can pick up the Allbirds SuperLight Trainer for $120 from the Allbirds website using the buttons below.
An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016. Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.More from Chad
An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.More from Michael