Allbirds Tree Flyer – Triathlete Running Shoe

Before Merino, those looking for the warmth of fleece jackets and socks had to contend with itchiness and shrinkage. Before “nut milk” and other non-dairy alternatives, consumers with lactose intolerance had to eat sticky soy milk or gray water called rice milk. Likewise, prior to the Allbirds Tree Flyer ($160), those who wanted planet-friendly running shoes had to put up with heavy, unresponsive shoes that lacked the performance of unstable competitors.

Related: The best lightweight trainers this fall

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Allbirds Tree Flyer Review: The Basics

With “SwiftFoam” from Allbirds, Tree Flyer brings performance to the eco-trainer space and becomes the brand’s first aggressive foray into performance running. Sculpted in an engineered, sharp, heel-wide design for added stability, the New Zealand and American brand’s contemporary footwear is always fresher and softer. Add a sock-like stretch woven eucalyptus upper with a solid recycled plastic heel and a certified natural rubber tread for a complete sustainable package.

(Photo: Adam Chase)

Related: Can running shoes become sustainable?

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Allbirds Tree Flyer Review: What Works

SwiftFoam is way better than other eco-oriented midsole materials—and even better than the materials used in the Tree Dasher from Allbirds. Made with castor beans, SwiftFoam is 48% bio-based and uses a low-temperature foaming process, and best of all, it feels lively with energy returning on impact. Compared to the Tree Flyer’s flexibility, other bio-based running shoes are energy-absorbing only shock absorbers, and none of the descending foot force returned to the running gait.

Tree launcher on the left, tree flyer on the right (Photo: Adam Chase)

Allbirds do not compromise the Tree Flyer’s performance to meet their stringent environmental standards. And unlike some competing “earth-friendly” shoes from major shoe brands, Allbirds shoes are not recyclable or assert that their shoes are “recyclable” when recycling requires buyers to disassemble the shoe first to keep the upper or midsole from landfill. Can consumers really make such a huge effort?

While many brands have fortunately stepped up and revamped manufacturing processes and/or incorporated earth-friendly materials to reduce their impact on the planet, using ingredients that look like they’d be more suitable for a cookbook than a shoe recipe—such as banana oil, sugar cane, and rice husks—often the resulting shoes perform. Half-baked and often run more like a flourless batter than a sponge cake. Not so in Tree Flyer.

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Allbirds Tree Flyer Review: What’s Good

While the Tree Flyer is a marked improvement over other eco-oriented attempts at performance running shoes, at 9.5 ounces for a men’s size 9, it’s heavy enough and lacks a petrochemical and carbon-fiber super rocker shoe like the Allbirds you’d better come down to. training days.

The woven upper, while comfortable, has plenty of stretch at the front of the shoe, the toe stand is roomy enough for a fairly high stack height and the heel geometry is so oversized that the Tree Flyer didn’t bend with agility.

At $160, the Tree Flyer, with its carbon-neutral, low-impact construction and Allbirds sustainable practices of using natural materials and financing carbon projects to offset their emissions, appears to be a fair price, especially when you consider that it looks good with jeans and is stylish enough that it could double as a dress shoe in some circumstances.

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Twelve years ago, the green silence of the Brooks was way ahead of their time. It weighed just under 7 ounces and boasted more than 75% recycled materials using biodegradable foam, a burrito tongue and ran like a real racing flat. The Allbirds Tree Flyer is the first decent shoe since Green Silence that stands out for both environmental characteristics and performance. Sadly, it’s usually this or that, but thanks to the efforts of Allbirds, Tree Flyer isn’t an either/or problem. You can, again, have both.

Let’s hope the company has set the pace that others will soon hit, so we, as conscientious consumers who don’t want to compromise on performance to feel better about the impact of our purchases on the planet, can have a profit. Just as we feel when we put on a pair of merino wool socks or order a cappuccino with oat milk.

Related: Green Triathlete: 23 ways to help the planet

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