You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Allbirds' first running sneaker is lightweight, breathable, and perfect for everyday running - here's what we thought of its performance

INSIDER logo INSIDER 4/7/2021 insider@insider.com (Mara Leighton)

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

a man holding a frisbee: Allbirds © Allbirds Allbirds Dasher (Men's) (small)Dasher (Women's) (small)

Today, Tim Brown is probably better known for his success as the co-founder of a D2C giant than for his years spent in professional soccer.

Allbirds, Brown's venture with biotech engineer and renewables expert Joey Zwillinger, is hard to one-up.

But as of April 2020, after years of planning and hundreds of prototypes, Brown's worlds are merging in one performance shoe: The brand-new Allbirds Dasher ($125).

The Dasher is Allbirds' first performance sneaker. It combines all of Allbirds' sustainable materials into one neutral running shoe: merino wool for internal accents, sugarcane-based SweetFoam for its soles, and a knit upper made from the company's Tree fabric that uses eucalyptus pulp.

The Dasher is available in sizes 8-14 for men and 5-11 for women, including half sizes, and in four vibrant but still relatively neutral colors: Geyser (light blue), Cyclone (light green), Flame (light orange), and Thunder (charcoal grey). Brown told Business Insider that after years of being sent loud, bright sneakers in professional sports, he just wanted to create something different. "There's a calm to the Dasher that I really like. It's what we refer to internally as 'the perfect amount of nothing.'" Since the initial launch, Allbirds has also released more than a dozen limited-edition colors to choose from.

According to the company, the Dasher is responsible for + 9 kg of carbon emissions per pair produced. Through the company's Allbirds Carbon Fund, those emissions are offset to zero.

To make sure the Dasher would pass every test, Brown and Zwillinger enlisted a team of amateur and professional athletes - some former peers of Brown and even Olympic hopefuls - to pressure-test their prototypes.

The anatomy of the Allbirds Dasher

The Allbirds Dasher ($125) in Geyser. Allbirds © Allbirds The Allbirds Dasher ($125) in Geyser. Allbirds

The Dasher has a flexible, lightweight upper to stabilize the foot and aid in your body's natural temperature regulation. Inside, there's a contoured footbed - made out of castor bean foam - for arch support. Outside, there's a flared heel (the wide, contoured base) for better stability and to slow excessive pronation. It's made from the company's responsive sugarcane-based SweetFoam. And, finally, there's a natural rubber outsole to help beef up the durability of those areas (like the heel) that see the most wear.

According to the company, the Dasher meets typical running show standards - so you should plan to replace them after 300-500 miles on average.

What the Allbirds Dasher is actually like to run in

a pair of feet: I tested the Allbirds Dasher sneakers in a women's size 9 in the Cyclone colorway. Mara Leighton/Business Insider © Mara Leighton/Business Insider I tested the Allbirds Dasher sneakers in a women's size 9 in the Cyclone colorway. Mara Leighton/Business Insider

The Dasher ($125) has more cushioning than I'm used to from neutral sneakers, but it was buoyant and noninvasive (read: neither heavy nor cumbersome) while I ran. It was the first 5-mile run I've taken in neutral sneakers in my new neighborhood - replete with steep inclines, hard concrete sidewalks, and uneven trails - without developing shin splints.

I appreciate that the wider base lends some added stability, and that the Dasher does so via a contoured base that doesn't negate the freedom of a knit upper or neutral shoe. The eucalyptus knit is flexible, secure, and, like most knit sneakers I've tried, I'm not worried about it stretching out. The knit may be a touch less breathable than my go-to Saucony Kinvara 10s, but I've been preferring the Dasher since it arrived for the added cushion.

In terms of looks, I'd agree it's the "perfect amount of nothing" as Brown described it but a few dissenters I know disliked how wide the laces were. If you're interested in buying yourself a pair, I'd recommend ordering your usual size, too. -Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Unboxing the Allbirds Dasher and running in them produced two very different experiences. At first glance, the cushioning (particularly in its wide heel) gave the impression these would feel similar to styles from Hoka One One or even Nike's ultra-cushioned ZoomX Vaporfly. Putting them to pavement felt like anything but.

Though the Dasher's cushioning is more noticeable than a minimalist running shoe, it never felt overly bulky. The wide platform produced solid stability on both city sidewalks and uneven park paths and offered just enough spring in each of my steps.

I did, however, occasionally clip the inside of my legs with the protruding cushion in the heel but only needed to slightly change my stride to account for it. Perhaps over longer distances, an altered stride would become noticeable in terms of fatigue but I didn't feel a difference across my 2- to 5-mile runs.

Its sock-like knit upper also delivered a comfortable fit throughout which was especially noticeable on the top of my foot and in the toe box. Though snug, the flexibility of the knit allowed the shoe to adapt to my foot as I ran. Temperature control is another added bonus as the upper offers increased breathability, too.

The Dashers may not do enough to sway you from your tried-and-true running shoes but for the casual runner, they're worth the $125 price tag. -Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The bottom line

Despite a collective hesitation that Allbirds - incumbent of D2C comfort - and its natural materials would be able to execute a performance shoe with the same precision as its cozy wool runners and loungers, the Dasher speaks for itself. It's a great neutral performance sneaker.

Allbirds used its sustainable materials to make an affordable, reliable everyday runner that performs like any good running shoe would, with the added perk of more eco-friendly materials and carbon offsetting.

The Dasher is a great option for anyone looking for a neutral running sneaker to take on daily runs. It's especially good for people who want to support sustainable business models, and for fans already in the Allbirds camp for its clean, trademark designs.

Dasher (Men's) (small)Dasher (Women's) (small)
Read the original article on Insider
AdChoices

More from INSIDER

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon