Tread lighter on the planet with these shoes made from … wool and sugarcane?
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Taken up running yet? If COVID-19 lockdowns have forced you onto the streets it’s likely you’re looking for a new pair of running shoes. Obviously, you’re going to go for a pair made from injection-molded nylon, synthetic rubber, and plastic. There’s no other choice, right? Cue the Allbirds Tree Dashers, a pair of eco-friendly and sustainably sourced running shoes made of all-natural materials.
Allbirds Tree Dashers: design
Made by San Francisco-based Allbirds, Tree Dashers are running shoes made from renewable natural materials. Specifically, the materials used are eucalyptus tree fibers, Merino wool, and sugarcane. Allbirds is also the first fashion brand to label all of its products with their carbon output; manufacturing a pair of Tree Dashers means emitting 9kg of carbon dioxide, which Allbirds claim is almost 30% lower than the estimated average trainer.
In pure design terms the Tree Dashers look a little like slippers, but with chunky soles. Although the laces on top slightly detract from the slipper-look, the material used on the upper is a super-soft and super-thin mesh, while the elasticated collar make the Tree Dashers easy to slip-on. TravGear’s review sample of the Obsidian color in size 11 weighed a lightweight 363g each.
Allbirds Tree Dashers: features
What goes into the Tree Dashers is ingenious. The upper mesh is made from TENCEL Lyocell, a fabric made from cotton scraps from the textile industry and sustainably-sourced wood pulp, as well as a lining of merino wool mixed with a little recycled polyester. The midsole, meanwhile, is made from SweetFoam. It’s Allbirds’s carbon negative green EVA material that’s derived from renewable sugarcane (SweetFoam – geddit?). Using ethical materials is a great idea. In fact, TENCEL Lyocell fabric is light on water usage, too. However, it’s the decision to use synthetic materials – albeit recycled – in the shoes’ hard-wearing areas is just as important because it adds durability. A pair of shoes made entirely from merino would not last long. So we’ve got high hopes for the longevity of the Tree Dashers.
Allbirds Tree Dashers: performance
We all know that running shoes fashioned from petroleum-derived synthetics work. So what about wool, sugarcane, and wood pulp? SweetFoam is pretty sweet. It’s got a reasonable amount of springiness and cushioning, which makes both walking and jogging a joy, though they can be slightly slippery after rain. TravGear’s feet always feel comfortable and well supported by the curved insoles that offer decent arch support without overdoing it. As an aside, TravGear wore them without socks for a few days with merino’s anti-bacterial properties appearing to work well … though time will tell on that one. They also pack really well. Seriously – they go into any kind of luggage since they flatten down to almost nothing. TravGear almost never goes anywhere with more than one pair of shoes … maybe that’s about to change.
Allbirds Tree Dashers: conclusion
Really comfortable, really easy to slip-on and wear, and great for long-haul flights (where they feel like slippers), quick jogs, and in the gym (where they feel like running shoes), the super-lightweight Tree Dashers are a highly impressive pair of eco-friendly all-rounders that are ideally suited to travel of all types.