There's a new version of the 'world's most comfortable shoe,' and it's made from trees - here's our verdict
- Allbirds recently released shoes in both a new style and new fabric.
- They're made from tree pulp fiber and look closer to boat shoes than traditional running shoes.
- I took the new shoes on vacation to put them to the test.
- I found the light, stretchy knit fabric to be perfect for hurrying through the airport and walking all day through theme parks.
- Still, I'm not sold on the look.
When I heard that Allbirds was releasing a new shoe made from tree fiber, I was naturally skeptical.
How could that be comfortable? Would that be durable? What would that even look like?I've finally tested the shoes - a version of the Tree Skipper in the "stone" color - and what I found, I liked. While they aren't great for every situation, neither are the original wool Allbirds, dubbed "the world's most comfortable shoes" (ever wear them in the rain?).
The new Tree Skipper is certainly a summer shoe, designed for wearing in warm, sunny weather. So I took advantage of a trip to warm, sunny Orlando, Florida, to really put the shoe through its paces.
What I found was that it's the perfect shoe for breezing through the airport and walking all day through theme parks.
First, a little bit about the shoe's attributes
The shoe is extremely light. There's almost nothing to it, really. The fabric has a great stretch to it, and it's soft to the touch. It's also a loose knit, which keeps your feet cool even if you're wearing socks.
The stretchability basically makes it so that you never have to tie the shoe, and you can slip it on and off. This makes it especially useful for going through airport security lines, helping you to breeze through in a flash - well, as fast as possible, anyway.
The stretchability also makes the shoe fit a little differently from previous models, and if you don't tie it tight enough, it'll easily fall off your foot in the heel. Overall, the fabric is a win, though.The other killer aspect of the shoe is its comfort. It's not the cozy, enveloping softness of Allbirds' wool shoes. It's more of a lighter feeling, where you hardly know it's there. While $95 is a little steep for such a minimal shoe, comfort in certain situations is worth every penny.
Don't expect to slip your foot in and immediately be blown away by how comfortable it is. It is very comfortable, for sure, but it's nothing extraordinary.
Where the shoe exceeds, however, is all-day comfort. You wouldn't expect a shoe so light to have much support, but my feet felt great all day long. While others in my family were complaining after a few days walking around Epcot and Magic Kingdom and standing in (ridiculously long) lines, I never felt a single tinge of pain or tiredness in my feet while wearing the new Allbirds.
I'm still not convinced about one thing, however
And that's how the Skipper shoe itself looks. From some angles, I really like the way it looks, and I see the inspiration Allbirds took from traditional boat shoes. From others, I felt like I was heading into my double shift at Orlando General. It was like a kaleidoscope, changing and morphing based on how you looked at it and in what light.
Even now, I'm not quite sure how I feel about the looks. I certainly don't think they're as stylish as Allbirds' other models, the Runner and the Lounger. It's possible the color was what threw me off, and the tan just looked too similar to my own skin color.
I'll still wear the Allbirds Tree Skippers because I love how they feel on my feet, but I don't think I'll be wearing them when I'm trying to dress to impress. I see them as more of a utilitarian shoe, and I'll be reaching for them for my next flight, if not the next rooftop BBQ.
Allbirds provided the author a pair of shoes for the purposes of review.