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- Popular shoe startup Allbirds is best known for its Wool Runner ($95) that was launched in 2016.
- The sneaker is lightweight, breathable, machine washable, and sustainably made.
- Learn why they’re still some of our favorite sneakers after more than three years of wear.
In 2016, they launched their first shoe, the Allbirds Wool Runners — a sneaker that’s innovative, comfortable, and sustainable. The brand quickly became popular because of its use of merino wool.
Why merino wool makes sense for sneakers
Most people think wool would be hot and itchy, but Allbirds uses a proprietary dual-faced wool that’s super soft and itch-free on the interior and dirt-resistant on the exterior.
With Allbirds’ special construction, the wool actually has many natural properties that make for amazing sneakers. They’re lightweight and breathable, cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and for those that like to go sockless, they’re odor-resistant. And the best part is, you can throw these sneakers in the washing machine, instead of meticulously scrubbing away stains like you would with traditional sneakers. If you’re looking for a pair of sneakers that are comfortable, durable, stylish, and affordable, Allbirds is the solution.
Since it was first founded, Allbirds has expanded its product offerings significantly. It now sells eight shoe silhouettes total, from a high-top sneaker to a women’s flat, as well as three sock styles. And, in addition to wool, the company has experimented with other sustainable materials, including eucalyptus fiber for its Tree shoes, and environmentally friendly water repellent for its Mizzle shoes.
Still, the most popular and recognizable shoe from Allbirds is undoubtedly the Wool Runner, which many members of the Insider Reviews team have tried over the years. Read on for our thoughts on how they feel and fit, plus how they’ve held up since we first tested them in 2017.
Shop all wool shoes at Allbirds here.
Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter
September 2017 review: Before I even got to the actual shoes, my first impression on receiving my Allbirds Wool Runners was the box. As a sneaker collector, the box is sometimes just as important as the shoes themselves — it’s definitely something I wouldn’t throw away. Building on its efforts to improve sustainability, Allbirds ships its shoes in the same box that they’re stored in. The box unfolds and two separate compartments hold each sneaker.
Once I did get to the shoes, I was immediately impressed. When I think of lightweight sneakers, mesh or engineered knit comes to mind first — not wool. Upon learning about Allbirds, I actually thought wool sneakers were a bad idea, but the Wool Runners definitely proved me wrong.
The Allbirds sneakers are super comfortable, lightweight, and stylish. I’m able to wear them all day long because of the plush insoles and flexible outsole. I went with the Natural Grey pair for a minimal and subdued look, and I absolutely love them.
October 2019 update: I wore my Allbirds a few times after I initially reviewed them and they held up wonderfully. I can remember them being comfortable and surprisingly cool in warm weather, despite being made out of wool. As much as I liked them, I ended up donating them last year because I have way too many sneakers. They were still in lightly-used condition, so I can’t speak to how quick or badly they wear out.
Over the past two years, Allbirds has come out with several different shoe designs, but the original Wool Runner is still my favorite. I definitely wouldn’t mind owning another pair, but I know I’d have a hard time picking out a color — there are just so many great ones to choose from now.
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