When Allbirds arrived in 2016 with simple, comfortable sneakers that were a sign of environmental awareness and fun, they had a home run. In 2018, the direct-to-consumer shoe brand claimed to have sold more than a million pairs of their sugarcane-soled sneakers. As they continue to delve into different plant materials (breathable eucalyptus fibres) and categories (mix-and-match athleisure, shock-absorbing carbon-negative sandals), their sneakers also received upgrades for serious runners. Their latest running shoe, coming out this week, is called the tree flyer, what the brand calls its ‘most technical style yet’.
The $160 Tree Flyer is a performance and support oriented design made for distance running. It joins Allbirds’ popular and well-reviewed $135 Tree Runner 2, designed for lighter workouts, released as a model update earlier this year. The sneaker features the new, more cushioned SwiftFoam castor bean midsoles, replacing their signature Sweetfoam. we asked businesstraverse.com editor-in-chief Amy Farley, a casual runner who puts in many, many more miles than I do, to put them to the test. Although she declined to take them on an Ironman because of my story, she did say, “I can’t talk long distances, but I can say that over a four-mile run – paved and unpaved – they feel great. I usually walk in a pair Hoka Bondi X shoes, which are known for their ultra-springy and rocker-shaped midsole. The Allbirds Tree Flyer midsole, which has a similar albeit less pronounced shape, feels slightly stiffer than Hoka’s; but my knees and back, which are only two years away from disc surgery, didn’t seem to notice.”
The brand said they sent samples to more than 130 runners, who together represent the Tree Flyer through nearly 4,000 miles – seeking feedback on the shoe’s more technical elements (traction, rebound, toe spring, et al), as well as durability and comfort. For Amy, the Tree Flyer offered more arch support than other running shoes she owns, but the secret really is in the versatility. “The big difference,” she says, “is the eucalyptus fiber upper, which wraps around your foot like a snug, breathable sock. You usually notice it when your foot is in a new shoe. When I put the Tree Flyer on, I felt my feet as if they came home.” Another bonus with the tree flyer, according to Amy, “They’re cute — they look technical without being overly open about them . . . I’m looking at you Hoka Bondi X. I’ll probably wear them not only for running, but also as walking and running shoes.” standing desk footwear.’