Allbirds’ Wool Runners Are Under $100 and Worth All the Hype
Like walking on clouds.
Collecting sneakers became a game during the pandemic. Like many, I turned to comfort, which contributed to a 25 percent increase in athletic footwear sales in 2021. I didn’t have a real need for any other shoes, and on the rare occasion I left the house, I was still wearing sweats. Midday dog walk? Sneakers. Quick coffee run? Sneakers. And it wasn’t just me—all my friends, guys and women—were discussing the same habits on our weekly Zoom catch-ups. But even now, there’s one pair I can’t seem to stop wearing: Allbirds Wool Runners ($98).
Allbirds’ sustainable wool sneakers aren’t anything new or high-tech per se (the brand launched in 2014 with this exact product), but they’re a staple in my wardrobe for one major reason: comfort. These soft, breathable, wool-wrapped shoes have walking-on-clouds cushy, bouncy, non-creepy hug level comfort. They’re so comfy you could wear them as slippers (I do).
But don’t just take my word for it—more than 2,200 customers rate these sneakers 4.8 out of 5 stars on the brand’s website, singing praises of their comfort, versatility, and fit.
Here’s my review of the Allbirds Wool Runners.
Allbirds Wool Runners at a Glance
- Machine washable
- Stretch out easily
- Lack grip
- Lack support
Allbirds Wool Runners Are the Definition of Comfortable
My shoe rack is overflowing with every trendy sneaker imaginable, but I gravitate to this pair again and again because not only do these sneakers feel dreamy, but they’re also surprisingly breathable (especially for being made of wool). They’re cozy in the winter, but the certified ZQ Merino wool upper and insole wick moisture and reduce odor enough to make them a summer staple, too. Synthetics like plastic (which most sneakers are made from) trap heat and moisture. The slight open-weave structure allows both heat and moisture to escape, keeping feet dry and comfortable. If you live in a hot climate or want something even more breathable, the brand’s Tree Runners ($98) are an excellent alternative, thanks to the knit eucalyptus fiber, which is super lightweight and allows for even more airflow.
Allbirds Wool Runners are also extremely easy to slip on—even when they’re laced and tied. I can get them on my feet in a matter of seconds, unlike some stiffer leather sneakers I own that have to be untied and tied with each wear. That’s an extra point for convenience.
There’s nothing in my closet they don’t work with. I own the Natural Grey color; I wear them with my aforementioned sweats, but they pair equally well with jeans and pants and don’t look out of place at a restaurant or bar. It’s the one pair of sneakers that could take me through a whole weekend away, no matter what’s on the itinerary. Which brings me to my next point.
They’re Easy to Pack
If you’re someone who’s prone to Tetrising extra sneakers in your suitcase, you need a pair of Allbirds. The soft uppers are malleable enough to slip into the side of a suitcase without a protruding heel or stiff shell taking up precious space.
They’re Machine Washable
Allbirds are meant to be worn often, meaning they’ll get dirty. Fortunately, you can suds them off in the washing machine. Just remove the insoles and laces, brush off excess dirt with a towel, and toss them in on wool/delicates cycle in cold water with gentle detergent (never bleach). Whatever you do, don’t tumble dry them unless you want to learn a new definition of “shrinkage.” Lay them flat to dry overnight, reinsert the insole and laces, and you’re good to go. I’ve gone through this process countless times, and they look as good as new after each wash.
According to Allbirds’ website, roughly 57 percent of footwear (and 64 percent of clothing) is made from synthetic materials derived from plastics. This is problematic for two reasons: 1. Plastics come from oil, a fossil fuel responsible for accelerating climate change; and 2. Plastics are endocrine disruptors linked to hormone-related health woes such as decreased sperm quality in men, heart problems, and certain cancers. As such, Allbirds felt compelled to use renewable, natural materials in the creation of its products wherever possible. This has meant inventing its own alternatives to petroleum-based synthetic materials, like SweetFoam®, the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA sole, and using recycled plastics as needed (all laces are made from one recycled plastic water bottle). The Wool Runners are carbon neutral thanks to these sustainable practices and offsetting emissions by funding high-impact carbon projects.
Allbirds Wool Runners are slipper-level comfortable, but we don’t work out in slippers for a good reason. These sneakers aren’t ideal for actual running, or any fitness activity for that matter (aside from walking). I’ve packed them for HIIT classes, and regretted my decision one burpee into the circuit. They offer minimal support in the arch and ankle and zero foot-hugging capabilities—no matter how tight I tie them. My foot slides around in the shoe when performing lateral movements, making it increasingly difficult to push off the sole without rolling an ankle. If you’re looking for a shoe that does it all—workouts included—Allbirds Wool Runners probably aren’t it.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re seeking comfort, versatility, or a sustainable footwear option, give the Allbirds Wool Runners a try. A few steps in, you’ll vow to never take them off.