Allbirds Tree Flyer Review: Flying in the Right Direction
ROBBE: I’m a pretty modest guy (said no modest guy, ever). As such, I’m not going to declare myself the world’s leading expert on Allbirds running shoes (a much-coveted title, I know). I will say that I’ve reviewed or at least run in every single Allbirds running shoe to date, which makes me the preeminent expert here at Believe in the Run.
From the Tree Dasher to the Trail Runner SWT to the Wool Dasher Mizzle, I’ve carried the weight of the Allbirds responsibility. In some ways, quite literally, as Allbirds — despite its looks — has never been known to produce the lightest of running shoes.
Added weight is somewhat part and parcel of a sustainable shoe, a value that is core to Allbirds’ brand identity. Allbirds is incredibly intentional about walking the customer through the entire production process of their shoes and disclosing the total carbon output for each pair. However, in the end, shoes made from sugarcane and castor beans just aren’t as light as bubbly, carbon-injected foams.
In my reviews of past Allbirds running shoes, I have to say it almost felt that Allbirds wasn’t trying to create an actual running shoe. Instead, it seemed like they tweaked a couple of components of the standard Allbirds model, slapped a running label on it, and said, “Hey, this is a running shoe now!” When really, it wasn’t.
Sure, you could run in the Tree Dasher, but take it more than a couple of miles, and your feet are in the blister danger zone. Quite frankly, the lockdown on the shoe was terrible because it just used the standard “Cheerio” lacing that’s used on all Allbirds shoes. Add a wider platform, and it was a recipe for foot carnage. Not to mention, the midsole was pretty firm on the run (though plenty comfortable for walking).
So wow, that was quite a back story, but I wanted to preface this review with my past experience with Allbirds running. Because of that experience, my level of skepticism coming into the Allbirds Flyer was high.
It seemed to have all the hallmarks of Allbirds pumper marketing used in the past: “Oh, this shoe was tested by like a thousand runners.” You’re going to need to define “runners” because they either gave you terrible feedback during the testing process, or they don’t actually run. “The lightest and softest foam ever by Allbirds, offering the most energy return.” I mean, if you call the feeling of mediocre EVA light and soft, then okay. And so on.
That said, when the Tree Flyer arrived on my doorstep, and I opened the box, I thought: “Wow, now this looks different.” And it certainly does. Design-wise, the shoe is the Tesla Cybertruck of running. The midsole has angular cuts and an extended heel, the eucalyptus upper has a strong and supportive heel collar, and the outsole lugs border on trail territory. In short, it looks just like an Allbirds, and yet nothing like an Allbirds. This is a good thing.
But could it perform? That’s the question I was begging to know.
MEAGHAN: We’ve seen a significant focus on sustainability in the running space over the past couple of years. While a wonderful concept, the materials required haven’t typically enhanced performance or comfort. But Allbirds has been all-in on this concept since inception, so it knows a thing or two about creating a low carbon footprint.
ROBBE: Straight away, the good is that the Tree Flyer is not a typical Allbirds shoe. As I mentioned, the design of the standard Allbirds is not conducive to running. The lacing system, the width, the overall ride of the shoe — it just wasn’t good for any serious running. I’m happy to report that the design of the Tree Flyer is none of those things.
For starters, Allbirds did away with the god-awful Cheerio hoops and replaced them with flat, reflective eyelets, which is a nice touch. The profile of the last and upper is much slimmer than the Tree Dasher, allowing for a really nice fit and lockdown. I was surprised by this and found the upper to be one of the better knit fits in recent memory. The heel counter has an almost helmet-like structure for above-average stability and protection, something the Tree Dasher severely lacked.
Put all these things together, and you have a nice and secure fit that rivals any other standard running shoe. On the run, I had no issues with movement, hot spots, or slippage (unlike every other Allbirds running shoe I’ve worn).
The midsole, with its Elon-inspired design, was another surprise on this shoe. Again, the midsole felt fine enough for walking around in the past, but it fell flat once it took to the streets. While the Tree Flyer midsole isn’t exactly on the same level as some of our favorite midsole foams like Asics Flytefoam Blast+, New Balance FuelCell, Skechers Hyper Burst, or Nike React, it provides a level of comfort and responsiveness that makes this a true runner. A close comparison in feel would be the Brooks Revel or Brooks Launch. I took the shoe up to six miles on a few runs and was happy with the performance each time.
Moving onto the outsole, the rubber coverage is plenty sufficient. In fact, the lugs are aggressive enough that the Flyer could easily move into the light trail category. It has to be one of the more aggressive outsole patterns in a road shoe. I’m not sure of the reasoning for this, but I don’t hate it at all, as it doesn’t impede the comfort of the ride.
All in all, I have to say — this is a pretty good running shoe and a nice leap forward for Allbirds.
MEAGHAN: I had pretty low expectations for the Allbirds Tree Flyer, primarily because Robbe has been testing Allbirds shoes over the past couple of years, and he hasn’t exactly raved about them. I was happily surprised when I first laced the Tree Flyer up and found it fit well and was really comfortable.
The upper is designed with Allbirds’ signature eucalyptus tree fiber material, which is soft and extremely stretchy. Knit uppers can be hit or miss for me, and this one works. The external heel counter looks harsh, but it works well in keeping the foot locked down. I didn’t have any issues with rubbing or hot spots.
What’s most exciting about this shoe is beneath the foot. The Allbirds Tree Flyer comes with a brand new midsole, SwiftFoam, which is 30% lighter than Allbirds’ previous foams and happens to be a lot more responsive. I enjoyed the ride quite a bit. Yes, it feels like you have one slab of foam under your foot, but it’s a really decent slab. It feels durable, bouncy, and generally enjoyable out on the run.Shop Tree Flyer – Men Shop Tree Flyer – Women
ROBBE: This is kind of wild, but I don’t have a ton of bad to say about the shoe, keeping in mind the audience, consumer, and general purpose of Allbirds footwear. If I dinged it anywhere, it’d be that the upper will be warm in the summertime. That kind of comes with the territory of knit uppers.
Actually, I do hate one thing about this shoe — the laces are absolute garbage. Pull them out and throw them out as soon as you get the shoe (not very sustainable, I know). They’re the worst laces I’ve ever used, coming untied multiple times on the run (even while double-knotted!). I’ve never experienced that with a shoe before, and I have no idea how that made it past quality control.
As for the price, $160 is getting up there. Especially for a shoe that’s generally simple and comparable to Brooks shoes in the $100 range (like the Revel and Launch). But if you want to go green on your feet, you got to go green with your wallet as well. If that’s important to you, then it may be worth the splurge.
Lastly, the weight isn’t great. I’m looking forward to the day when a company can make a sustainable/green/non-synthetic shoe that is lightweight without sacrificing comfort/structure/security, but that day has yet to arrive.
MEAGHAN: While the flat laces do a nice job locking the foot down, they don’t stay tied. I had to stop and re-lace my shoes on pretty much every run. I also found the upper to lack support when picking up the pace. No issues on easy runs, but that eucalyptus is a little too stretchy for post-run strides.
This shoe is also not light. My W7.5 came in at 8.75oz or 282 grams — about an ounce heavier than most daily trainers in my rotation.Shop Tree Flyer – Men Shop Tree Flyer – Women
ROBBE: The Allbirds Tree Flyer is more than adequate for what it is — a lifestyle shoe that can be used as a performance shoe when needed. In fact, I’d say that the script has flipped, and this is more of a running shoe than a lifestyle shoe. Allbirds fans looking for an actual running shoe will be more than happy.
I’ll give credit where credit is due — despite several mediocre attempts at a run shoe before this, the Tree Flyer gives Allbirds some legitimacy in the run space. Is it going to blow your mind? Doubtful. But the Tree Flyer will give you a versatile shoe with a compelling design that’s more than suitable for all your running adventures. Speaking of adventures, the shoe may be one of the best travel shoes out there for runners: It looks good with everything, packs down nicely, it’s great for walking, and definitely works for running.
MEAGHAN: Allbirds gets kudos for innovating with eco-friendly materials, and the Tree Flyer is definitely a step in the right direction. This shoe works well for shorter, easy runs (3-5 miles) and transitions well as a casual day shoe. While it will cost you a hefty $160, you can feel good about your purchase, knowing the shoe’s carbon footprint is only 9.92kg CO2e. However, if you’re all about performance, it’s still pretty hard to go green.
You can pick up the Allbirds Tree Flyer for $160 by using the shop link below and check out our review.Shop Tree Flyer – Men Shop Tree Flyer – Women
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