ROBBE: If you haven’t gotten a Facebook ad for Allbirds, are you even eco-conscious? The New Zealand company behind the Cheerio-style lacing often seen on your brother-in-law during a backyard Bocce game makes some of the most sustainable shoes on the planet. They manage to do it while somehow maintaining a high level of comfort, something that other sustainable companies have a hard time pulling off (we’re looking at you, Veja).
But are they running shoes? That’s a question we *sort of* answered when we reviewed the Tree Dasher 1.0, and one that we’ll try to answer with the newest version of the shoe. I do want to preface this review by saying this is not a performance running shoe, so I’m not going to review it as such. This is a lifestyle shoe that can transition to a running shoe in a pinch, for 2-3 miles at a time. Beyond that, you need to look at a more traditional running shoe.
In this version of the Tree DAsher, the changes are minimal so there’s not much we can expand upon over v1. The Dasher 2.0 uses the same materials as the original Tree Dasher, including the eucalyptus tree material for the upper, the SweetFoam® midsole, and the natural rubber used in the outsole. According to Allbirds, this version makes an effort to offer an improved fit that keeps the comfort but makes it a better option for running.
Those improvements are as follows, according to Allbirds:
I agree with some of those points, but there’s still work that remains. Let’s get into whether this shoe will work on the run as well as it does off the run.
MERCER: The Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 is a solid update to the original Dasher, coming in with a new lug pattern and some changes in the foam that are ready for some leisurely morning runs before daycare drop off.
Going into this review, I was apprehensive about how my legs would respond to these shoes, especially this deep into the indoor track season. I didn’t want to get shin splints, but I can safely say that doing some easy, easy running in these was pretty fun.
RUBY: It’s not often that I get to try a new brand. Being someone passionate about sustainability and the environment, I jumped at the opportunity to give Allbirds a chance. Opening the box, full of curiosity and not at all sure what to expect, I was impressed by the quality of materials and attention to every detail from packaging to the eucalyptus fiber knit upper. Allbirds has really tried to create the right amount of nothing (in an environmental impact sense) with its SweetFoam sugarcane midsole and natural rubber outsole.
The Tree Dasher 2 looks and feels similar to Allbirds’ original Tree Dasher while coming in around a third of an ounce lighter. Compare the 10.3 oz for a US M9 with the 10.2 oz Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22, the 10.7 oz Saucony Triumph 19, or the 10.3 oz Nike Zoom Vomero 16, and the Dasher 2.0 is on par with its competitors in the easy run shoe niche.
ROBBE: I mean, I get why people love Allbirds and why they’ve become ubiquitous in the “comfort over culture” space. They are super comfortable, which– as I said in the intro– is hard for a sustainable company to pull off. Sustainability is a hot keyword these days in the land of corporate-speak, and while every company is integrating recycled content in their uppers, few have been able to pull it off in a midsole. The lone exception in running is probably the ASICS sugarcane midsoles (e.g. ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite), though I’m not sure how much of that comprises the final percentage of materials used. We’ve run in some absolute bricks of shoes that try and pull it off, and while I love eco-friendly construction as much as the next granola cruncher, I’m not trying to wreck the good pair of feet God gave me.
The good news is that Allbirds manages to pull off a decent midsole in the Tree Dasher 2.0. Not great, not terrible, but good for what it is. Walking around, I see why people love this. It’s great, the whole thing. But this isn’t a walking review, this is a running review. On the run, the ride is firm for sure. But it’s not the worst sort of “2×4” firm that’s reserved for shoes like the On Cloudswift. Instead, it falls somewhere in the range of the New Balance Kinvara 13. It works on getting you a few miles during a lunch break or while on vacation.
One of the most surprising aspects of this shoe was the outsole grip. I have to say, it’s one of the better grips I’ve tried in a running shoe. The patterned lugs are almost trail-worthy in that regard (though the knit upper would be a horrible choice in that scenario). On wet surfaces or just pavement in general, the outsole grips exceptionally well, so you’ll undoubtedly feel secure in any situation. This is a huge win in my book.
I appreciate the hyper-focus on sustainability, even if it comes at a bit of a premium. At $135, it’s not cheap for how simplistic the shoe is. But clearly, consumers are willing to pay for a product that carries a moral purpose, so I don’t think the price tag is unreasonable. I also suspect this shoe will last a long time because of that outsole and the fact that the midsole is already fairly firm to begin with. (We should note that this shoe originally was supposed to be $128, but supply chain and inflation issues are boosting almost all shoe prices by $10 in 2022).
Lastly, the width of the outsole provides decent stability by the very nature of its design. For someone with floppy ankles, I definitely appreciated that. I also think the width is a necessity because of the non-structured upper. Either way, I appreciate that it’s there.
MERCER: This shoe gave me massive Brooks Levitate Stealthfit vibes — similar foam durometer and a sweet and simple knit upper — everything you need in a shoe.
After a few weeks of running in Lightstrike and FF Blast+ and other super foams, it was going to be interesting to see how Carbon Negative EVA held up, and boy, it did. The ride reminded me of those everyday trainers like the New Balance Fresh Foam 880 or Brooks Ghost, and it had just enough cushion underfoot. The sculpting of the shoe adds some inherent stability, which we all need in life.
The longest I took this shoe was 3-ish miles at a comfortable jog, and this is where that shoe excels. The farthest I would willingly run in these is about 5 miles, and that’s pushing it just a bit.
One of the other significant updates was the outsole. Allbirds added a whole lot of tread on the bottom for some pretty insane grip on most surfaces.
RUBY: What a good-looking shoe! Allbirds is out here making other brands and their eye-watering, fluorescent-colored sneakers look bad. Launching in three limited edition colors (Rad Rust, Natural Black, and Hazy Cocoa), the Tree Dasher 2 has style and substance. The eucalyptus fiber upper is comfortable and well-made, refined without loud logos or overlays.
Given its subtle tones and premium look and feel, the Tree Dasher 2 stands out for its versatility. It’s a great crossover run-walk-casual shoe, capable of handling long days on your feet alongside easy runs and gym sessions. Honestly, you could consider Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 the 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner of the shoe world!
Instead of adopting traditional petroleum-based foam, the Tree Dasher 2 rides on a bed of Allbirds’ signature SweetFoam. It’s made with sugarcane for far less environmental impact. Given how stable and sturdy the midsole feels, it’s surprising other brands haven’t made the switch to more environmentally friendly materials. Just a heads up, I found this shoe did require a little bit of breaking in — the feel underfoot certainly improved after a couple of miles, providing a more cushioned and plush ride.
So far, I haven’t noticed any issues with durability, so Allbirds’ green approach seems to be working well. Even better, if they get dirty, simply machine wash on cold with a mild detergent and leave to air dry.Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Men Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Women
ROBBE: The upper is great… if you’re not running. I have so many issues with brands that pigeon-hole themselves (pun intended) into certain design elements that affect the performance of their shoes or hold negative connotations around it. I’m talking about things like On cloud pods, ASICS GEL, and in this case– Cheerio lacing. I don’t care what kind of upper you put on a shoe, you just cannot get a good running lockdown with this lacing system.
This may work for runners with large volume feet, but for us narrow footers, secure is not the word. I will say, I felt like the heel lock is better in this version of the shoe, but otherwise, on the run it felt like a slip and slide lubed up with bacon grease. My forefoot was all over the place, and around the 4-mile mark on both my runs, I developed a hot spot that was precipitously close to morphing into a large-scale blister. After that, I couldn’t run in them and had to Band-Aid my foot while doing my long run in another model.
Lastly, for how few materials are used in the construction, it isn’t a light shoe. It’s not egregious, and it falls into the range of a typical daily trainer, but it’s not as light as you’d think it was just by looking at it.
MERCER: The Eucalyptus upper is downright bad. There’s just no reality where I could achieve a good fit on this upper. I found myself sloshing around and I have wider feet. I can’t imagine our man Thomas wearing this shoe.
Also, the upper is thicker than an ugly sweater. If Allbirds shaved some of it off, they could probably get under 10 oz, which would be a pretty good accomplishment.
RUBY: Much like Adrienne mentioned in our review of the original Tree Dasher, the fit lets this shoe down. I expected Allbirds to make significant revisions to the upper and lockdown feel in the Tree Dasher 2.0, but perhaps we’ll have to wait for the Dasher 3.0. Without an extra eyelet to tie a runner’s knot, the seamless one-piece upper needs to fit snuggly and embrace the foot in a warm hug. While the fit was fine for casual walking and low-impact movements, the shortcomings are immediately noticeable when running.
My ankles and the outsides of my feet felt unstable and loose, and each stride felt like a game of ankle-injury Russian roulette. The laces appear more of a decorative add-on than a functional element: no matter how hard I pulled the laces, the upper fit didn’t change. No doubt, this shoe is best suited to a slower speed, and I’d be cautious about running faster than 5km pace and stick to smooth surfaces like roads or treadmills.
With pretty standard-shaped feet, not particularly wide or narrow, I usually wear a US Women’s 9.5 without any issues. The Tree Dasher 2, however, was not quite a goldilocks fit. Despite the upper feeling loose when running, the length came short. Consider sizing up by a half size, especially if you’re between sizes.Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Men Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Women
ROBBE: Look, this isn’t a performance running shoe, at all. But it works for someone who wants an extremely comfortable walking shoe and runs a couple of miles every now and then. For the eco-conscious casual runner, this shoe is a delight. It’s also a phenomenal travel shoe. It packs down to nothing, it gets you quickly through security, and it can offer everything you need for either a day of walking or a couple of miles in the morning.
While I wouldn’t roll it into my marathon training rotation, and while I’d be careful if you’re prone to hotspots behind your big toe, I do think the shoe has a place in the world. Allbirds fans should be quite pleased with this update.
MERCER: The perfect fit for this shoe is the runner who wants a good walking shoe that they can use to run a mile or two. Overall, I think it’s incredible what Allbirds is doing for the environment and inspiring innovation. All they have to do now is fix the upper, and I’m sold.
RUBY: It’s no marathon shoe, but the Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 does have its niche. A sturdy and stylish casual option also capable of going the distance of a short easy run, this shoe makes the perfect travel companion, especially if you’re taking hand luggage only. Without room to pack separate dress shoes and trainers, the Tree Dasher 2.0 is your solution to getting in the miles away from home. The same can be said for those run commuters or lunchtime runners. Allbirds has created a premium sneaker neat enough to pass as a work shoe.
For newer runners skeptical about investing in a shoe solely for running, the Dasher 2.0 is a great compromise, suitable for getting out for a few miles a couple of times a week, hitting the gym, and wearing day-to-day.
If you care about sustainability and making environmentally friendly choices, then the Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 is the way to go. Allbirds hasn’t nailed it yet for my personal needs, but they haven’t missed the mark either. It’s much like early On Running and Under Armour models. The Allbirds running range is certainly worth keeping your eye on — with each iteration of the Dasher, Allbirds is closing the performance gap on their competitors, having left many of them miles behind as far as sustainability is concerned.
You can pick up the Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 for $135 straight from Allbirds by using the shop link below.Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Men Shop Tree Dasher 2 – Women
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