If anyone has been on a roll when it comes to releasing new shoes, it's Allbirds. Recently, the brand has been expanding past its casual roots and leaning into performance. Their newest release is the Tree Flyer, the brand's next step into performance footwear. Lighter, more technical and featuring a brand-new midsole, the Flyer is being marketed as the brand's most top-level runner to date.
After wearing the Flyer for two weeks, however, I see the shoe as more of an everyday wear or travel option, and less as my new favorite technical running shoe. Here's why.
The Flyer is lighter, but still feels weighty.
I've run in a lot of shoes, and I've learned by now that when it comes to fit and feel, first impressions are rarely wrong. Don't get me wrong; a shoe can definitely grow on me, but in nine cases out of 10, I can tell by the end of the first run how I'm going to feel about the shoe.
The Flyer uses a SwiftFoam midsole — which, according to Allbirds, is 30 percent lighter than its proprietary SweetFoam, has increased cushioning and energy return with a rebound of 70 percent and is more efficient and faster than its predecessors. I've run in the SweetFoam shoes, and although these new SwiftFoam shoes did feel bouncier than their sweeter counterparts, I still didn't get the energy return I'm used to with my other running options. At just under 10 ounces for a men's size nine, the Flyers are right in line with typical shoe weight; it was the absorptive qualities of the midsole that zapped my energy and left my knees sore on longer runs.
The Flyer excels for casual wear.
When I wore the shoes during long travel days where I wanted more support than a boot or sandal, the Flyer was a great choice: the shoes are breathable and soft, and easy to get in and out of during airport security. The upper is made from breezy FSC-certified eucalyptus fiber, and the knit construction kept my feet cool and comfortable, even on longer runs.
The Flyer's got style.
The most interesting aspect of the Flyer is its visual presentation — particularly the sole. In order to improve its technical nature, Allbirds designed a flared external heel that provides additional support through impact. Its geometric shape is as much eye-catching as it is comfortable, and elevates the shoe beyond the typical runner.
Beyond the flared heel, Allbirds included a number of features to make the Flyer comfortable and efficient during wear. The flat laces are easy to cinch and tie, stay put and have a nice hand-feel. The toe spring was increased for better transitions, and while I didn't notice a dramatic improvement there, it was still a comfortable ride. Additional features include an updated traction pattern on the sole for increased grip, and new reflective eye-stays for a little extra safety during morning and evening runs.
Would I wear the Flyer for my runs moving forward?
Probably not — but I will be wearing it for long travel days, work events where I'm on my feet for hours on end, or just to run errands in something more supportive than a sandal. The Flyer still has a place in my rotation, just not the one that Allbirds intended. While it's great to see the brand lean more into technical prowess and performance, there's still plenty of road ahead to run.