Allbirds: The Perfect Travel Shoe?

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When I saw an article with the kinda clickbait-y title, “The Most Comfortable Shoes in the World,” I rolled my eyes a bit but definitely clicked on it. Because I like to take one pair of shoes with me when I travel: the ones on my feet. So I was curious what had been singled out as “the one.”

My go-to for the past XX years has been New Balance, which are comfy as heck. But they do have that appearance of “casual athletic” and of course the big reflective “N” logo all over them. I’ve been comfort-over-style, essentially. When I spend hours a day walking, I’d rather be comfortable and dowdy-looking than the alternative.

Enter Allbirds (what a name, eh?).

allbirds review

Hanging in my new Allbirds shoes

The idea of a comfortable and attractive shoe lured me in. They come in a limited range of basic colors, they’re $95 a pop, and the founders are super committed to design, sustainability, and high ethical standards.

“What the heck,” I thought as I placed my first order. If they last 6 months, it’ll be worth it.

They arrived this week. Here’s what I think so far.

My Allbirds review research

I didn’t commit based on a single review. But a quick Google search brought up a ton of resources to discover more about Allbirds. Firstly, the tops made of wool. That doesn’t mean they’re hot – it means they’re reactive and durable. If you’ve ever hiked in SmartWool socks, it’s a similar idea. Then I learned the rest is made from all-natural materials.

allbirds review

Refreshing: a simple, comfortable, logo-free shoe

The colors are neutral and practical. There’s nothing flashy about them. You can wear them with pretty much any outfit. And the heel is thick with plenty of cushion.

They even ship in a box that uses less cardboard.

Well how bow dah?

They only come in two styles at the moment: runners and loungers.

Runners are your basic day-to-day shoe, with laces. Loungers are slip-on and def have a more casual vibe. I ordered a pair of gray runners for my Allbirds experiment.

Ready for the world’s most comfortable shoe

Apparently, you can wear them with or without socks. They’re breathable. Water-resistant. And many reviews say they hold up well past the 6-month mark.

Here are a few other resources I consulted before I purchased a pair:

So far

I’ve been wearing them around town for a few days, and so far: wow! They’re like walking on a cushiony cloud.

As soon as I got them, I took the dog around the block and the lily white bottoms instantly got a patina of sidewalk sludge. But it wiped off easily. And the wool tops tend to “repel” most everything.

The bottoms are mostly flat, but have little grooves (you can see in pics above and below). The flatness is good because they don’t track in much dirt from outside.

I wore them during a bout of rain and didn’t notice any water getting down to my socks. I expect it would eventually if you stay out in it for a while but 1.) that sucks and 2.) that’s any shoe. The wool does dry much quicker than what I’m used to, though.

I don’t think I’d wear these to the gym because I don’t want to wear them out prematurely.

The heel gets these little crinkles

Also because, after a few days, the middle part of the heel already shows signs of wear. I mean, it’s a pretty thick heel to begin with, so I was kind of expecting that. Or maybe I just have a heavy tread? It’s not bad or anything, but I wouldn’t want to do say, cardio, in these. Or go on a run.

But for strollin’ around town, they’re pretty dang comfy.

What I’m hoping to get from these shoes

During my recent explorations in Brussels, Amsterdam, and Prague (BAP), I walked a lot in my New Balances.

Did I really walk 4.5 miles around Prague?

Like, a few miles each day.

The eventual fate of all my shoes

I ordered my last pair of New Balance on December 3rd, 2016. And the pic above is July 1st, 2017. So a solid 7 months of wear.

Inevitably, the insole slips around, and the inside back heel (particularly in my right shoes) are ripped to literal shreds. I’m a faster walker, I run a lot, I am NOT kind to my shoes.

But, this pair cost me ~$45 – a full $50 less than the Allbirds.

What I want from this pair is for them to look this good after the 6-month mark:

And I want them to be the one pair I take with me on my travels: comfy enough to wear on a plane, walk around new places, and look good throughout. Considering they’re over double the price I currently pay for a pair of shoes, that seems reasonable. I’ll have to post another update one way or the other.

Allbirds review bottom line

Comfortable shoes are an essential part of my travel experience. I’ve tried to wear cute shoes before and ended up with blisters, foot pain, and the feeling of not wanting to walk any more. Which sucks when you’re in a new place (this happened to me in Osaka). After some trial and error, I default to New Balance shoes most of the time – especially when I travel.

So when I heard about Allbirds shoes, I dropped $95 on a stylish-looking and comfortable pair of wool runners. I replace my shoes about every 6 months, so if they hold up for at least that long, I’ll consider it a success.

I’m looking forward to traveling and taking these along for the ride slash walk. And so far, so good. They’re extremely comfortablePerhaps the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn (time will tell). They still new to me, so I’m not completely sold just yet. Although reading lots of positive reviews has me hoping for the best.

Have you heard of Allbirds? If you have a pair, what do you think after an extended test run? (Gosh, I’m so punny.)

Also see: 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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  1. I’ve had mine just over a year and they need to be cleaned off but have held up well. I usually only wear them when the weather is nice so they don’t get the worst wear but they are definitely like walking on a cloud.

  2. Well, Allbirds look comfortable. They should be flying off the shelves. That’s because birds have wings and can fly. Also, puns are FUNNY! (They really are!)

    Do they get stinky when wet?

    • Not really. The wool doesn’t really retain (m)any smells. They just smell like… shoe. So far.

      And I love your pun, keep ’em comin’! :p

  3. Just got my first pair of the trainers today.
    I’ve never worn a pair of shoes this comfortable.
    Just this morning I noticed that my CTO wears a pair of AllBirds trainers, asked him about them and he said “I have two pair, Ive worn these for 2 years. I love them. Wouldn’t wear anything else”. The shoes looked a month old, they were. bit pouchy in the toe box, and he’s washed them 4 times in the past 2 years. But they look great.
    I typically go through a pair of trainers every 6 months, so I’ll see how these do.

  4. For the Runners – Does anyone have a problem with the big toe area getting a little bubble in the wool? I have worn mine a few times and I’m afraid of busting through on the big toe area on my trip overseas. Thoughts?

    • I haven’t had that with mine but I know what you’re talking about. I wouldn’t be concerned about it ripping – wool is extremely durable/pliable. You should be fine. 🙂

  5. Loved my all birds shoes for a few months then developed a hole thru the wool at the big toe. I did not even wear them that much

    • That happened to mine, but only after I’d worn them, like, 5 days a week for over 6 months, which is about as much wear & tear as I would put on another shoe for about 2 years. It did not happen with my second pair – maybe more durable fabric now, and I’ve been making sure my big toenails are trimmed (the shape/arc of your toe might also be a factor).

    • I had a hole in the same place that only went through the knit lining. I’d read a suggestion about a similar issue on another shoe that has worked for me well.

      Applying some moleskin (the kind intended for feet) to the inside of the toe box in the area of concern alleviated the issue and is thin enough to be inobtrusive. A side benefit is that it’s just as cozy as the original.

    • My gym shoes tend to wear out to nubs after about 6 months. But so far the Allbirds are going strong! I think I’m gonna have Allbirds as my everyday shoe and another pair for gym shoes – that should get me a lot more life out of both pairs! How often do you replace yours?

      I LOVE the Allbirds!

  6. Absolutely love my Allbirds! Comfortable and holding up well – It’s like not wearing a shoe! I don’t wear them in the snow but any other weather they’re fine. For equivalently comfortable jeans you should check out – Mugsy Jeans Bluejeans that feel like sweatpants. Now if I could just find the perfect shirt. Any suggestions?

  7. Loved these shoes initially, but they gave me plantar fasciitis after a few months of wearing them. They are just too soft with not enough arch support. I tried them with an arch support insole and that helped slightly, but ultimately I had to return to my Nikes to get rid of the pain I still had in my feet with Allbirds. Really bummed these didn’t work out as they really were (initially) the most comfortable shoes ever.

  8. I got a pair of Allbirds for a trip to Paris. They’re super comfortable, but I’ve never had a pair of shoes that smell so bad. I’ve walked about 70 miles in them so far and they stink so bad that I have to wash my feet in the shower every evening when we get back from the day’s adventures.
    I had to buy a new pair of shoes in Paris, mainly for the flight home. Once I get back home and can wash them often, maybe they’ll be ok, but as the lone pair of shoes for a walking intensive vacation, they are no good.

  9. I’m a one-shoe traveler as well and I swear by Rockports and Merrells. 5 weeks in Europe at a time and they still hold up for several months afterwards. Both brands have what looks like a nice unassuming Oxford that goes with a t-shirt & blue jeans or a sport coat & slacks.
    I never heard of Allbirds until a recent promotional email from Nordstrom who just started carrying them.
    I’ll check in with your Allbirds experience as you wear them (out).

  10. I regret to have bought a pair earlier this year. They didn’t survive 6 month. Pro is basically the first 1-2 month – you never wear a shoe like this before. Good looking. You tell friends. But con comes right after, starting around 3 month mark.

    First you notice it is way too slippery for many daily activity, like a small hike, carry grocery and walk uphill, or maybe run a bit to catch a bus. It is absolutely NOT a pair of running shores.

    Then, around 5 month mark, you find holes in the inside of your shoes. Not just me, my wife, and her friend. There are four of us bought the shoe together. And 3 has the problem.

    Then, at 6 month mark, I find my foot hurts – the sole of the shoe has worn out. Creases on the midsole. I am a 160lb male who averages 10K steps a day. And I have a pair of Altra for running.

    I think the most critical issue is the sole problem. I am not even reaching out to them to ask for a replacement – I don’t want to hurt my feet again.

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