Allbirds Tree Flyers review: Tempo running shoes for eco-conscious athletes
Allbirds Tree Flyers review TL;DR: Allbirds’ new performance-oriented running shoe is big on cushioning and comfort but provides less energy return than other tempo trainers. At least it’s more sustainable.
I really enjoyed the Allbirds Tree Dasher 2; it’s a brilliant little running shoe for shorter distances and walking, the latter of which I do a lot. Based on my experience with the Tree Dasher 2, I was looking forward to testing the Tree Flyers, Allbirds’ first dedicated performance running shoes.
Allbirds recommends the Tree Flyers for everyday road running and tempo runs and it uses the new Swiftfoam which is said to be lighter and provide more rebound NOBULL Shoes Canada than the Sweetfoam, the foam used for the Tree Dasher 2 (and many other Allbirds running shoes).But do the Trees Flyer deliver the fast running experience it promises and should you pay top-dollar for this sustainable running shoe? Let’s find out.
ALLBIRDS TREE FLYERS REVIEW: PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
The Allbirds Tree Flyers were launched on 17 May 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Allbirds US(opens in new tab) and Allbirds UK(opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $160/£150.
AU price and availability TBC.
The shoes are currently available in six different colourways (I tested the Lux Beige model).
ALLBIRDS TREE FLYERS REVIEW: TECH
Allbirds is introducing a bunch of new tech in the Tree Flyers, most importantly the SwiftFoam, a new bio-based cushioning system made from natural and recycled materials. The SwiftFoam is 30% lighter than SweetFoam yet provides 25% more responsiveness. There is an ample amount of foam underfoot but Allbirds claims the Tree Flyers are swift as a… bird.
The FSC-certified natural rubber outsole features a zonal traction pattern that places rubber in high-wear areas to keep the weight down. That said, the Tree Fyers are not lightweight running shoes as such – the tested UK size 10 weighs 314 grams – despite the moderate stack height (30.5 mm under the heel and 22 mm under the forefoot). The Tree Flyers have a relatively aggressive 8.5 mm drop which is understandable; the shoes were designed for packer tempo runs, after all.
The upper is made from breezy FSC-certified eucalyptus fibres and there is an external heel counter for added stability. The Tree Flyers have a flared heel design for even more stability and to “keep the stride smooth and steady’, Allbirds says.
ALLBIRDS TREE FLYERS REVIEW: RUNNING PERFORMANCE
I was excited to try the Tree Flyers; Allbirds recommends the shoes for 10k+ runs and moderate speed which is just the kind of distance and speed I prefer. I took them for a spin on my lunch break not long after I received the review samples, only for a 10k at around 5:00 min/km pace.
I guess I was expecting a Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%-esque experience, considering that Allbirds markets the Tree Flyers are tempo shoes, but instead, I ended up having a different running experience altogether. First, the eucalyptus fibre upper is not quite as tight as I would expect from a tempo shoe; it wasn’t baggy but it had a lot of give for sure.
Also – and this is just a hunch, not an observation – I feel the upper will get baggier as time goes on; the fibres feel cotton-like, which is good from a comfort Oofos Canada point of view but not so good from an ‘I need my shoes to fit perfectly’ angle. I can envision the Tree Flyers ending up similar to those super-comfy t-shirts you love wearing around the house but wouldn’t dare wear outside.
As for responsiveness, the shoes were… fine. Definitely not as responsive as some other everyday trainers such as the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 but not terrible either. My legs didn’t feel super fresh after the sessions I had in the Allbirds Tree Flyers but I felt less sluggish when I used max cushioned shoes – it was somewhere in between.
ALLBIRDS TREE FLYERS REVIEW: VERDICT
With the Tree Flyers, Allbirds is trying to shift its image of only being the cosy-comfy sustainable shoe company. And while the shoes might not be able to compete with other tempo shoes from a performance point of view, they still might be a good alternative for athletes who care about the environmental impact of their recreational activities.
The SwiftFoam is lighter and more responsive than Allbirds’ Sweetfoam, and hopefully, the company will use it in other shoes. Even better would be if Allbirds found a way to insert a propulsion plate (sustainable, of course) into the foam so toe-offs are snappier.
The eucalyptus-fibre upper is comfortable, albeit not Chacos Shoes quite as tight as you’d expect from tempo running shoes. However, the tightness is spot on for everyday training: you don’t want your daily trainers to restrict your foot too much.
For now, the Allbirds Tree Flyers can only be recommended as a mid-distance everyday trainer and not as a tempo trainer. The hefty price tag might also put off some runners on a tight budget, but if you can afford it and care about the environment, you might as well give the shoes a try!
ALLBIRDS TREE FLYERS REVIEW: ALSO CONSIDER
Not quite a tempo trainer but you might want to consider the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24. These max-cushioned shoes are extremely comfortable but look less hip than the Tree Flyers. the Gel-Nimbus 24 is ideal for slow sessions and recovery runs.
If you’re after speed, have a look at the Saucony Kinvara 12 which is an actual tempo trainer with a responsive, snappy foam. It offers sublime ground contact without sacrificing comfort or cushioning.