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This New Running Shoe Is Better Than It Has Any Right to Be

The first run-specific sneaker from eco-friendly Allbirds sufficiently outperforms our expectations.

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Nick Kova

Since 2014, Allbirds has made sustainability sexy. The brand became the go-to sneaker for coffee runs thanks to its lack of bold logos and an effortless pull-on style. Recently, the brand began to tangle with the big running shoe makers by launching its first performance sneaker. We’ve been running around in the Dashers for the past month — going around the block, on long walks and, of course, lots of short runs, sprints and long runs mixed in between.

What We Like

The Lifestyle Look

These sneakers really do double-duty: they look great with jeans or casual shorts, yet they perform on a three- to five-mile run. Did we mention they’re machine washable?

The Supportive Upper

The one-piece upper is knit from FSC Certified eucalyptus trees, a lighter, eco-friendly alternative to merino wool. Since it’s all once piece, you don’t feel the upper stretching or rubbing in weird ways. There are no hot spots.

The upper stretches less than Adidas Primeknit (found in Ultraboost) and Nike’s Flyknit fabric (like in the Joyride Run) but more than the upper in Nike’s Pegasus 37 or New Balance’s Fresh Foam More v2. Your feet have a decent amount of support as you pivot to change running lanes on the track or quickly turn a corner to avoid having to stop at a light. The slightly wider toebox helps with fit, too.

That It’s Environmentally Friendly

Many running shoes are made with plastic, and while that’s slowly changing — thanks to Adidas’s efforts in its Ultraboost 20s, and Nike’s use of recycled polyester and plastic water bottles — Allbirds has always been at the front of that curve. The Dashers are no different. The dual-density SweetFoam midsole is the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA — it’s an alternative to the typical petroleum-based kind. Castor Beans make up the liner, and a blend of eucalyptus and merino wool cover the toes and the heel.

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nick@nickkova.com

Watch Out For

Lack of Ankle Support

Recreational runners will love these shoes, but we wouldn’t recommend them for super long runs or speed/track workouts. Heel locks protect your ankles, and you can’t add one here; there’s no extra lace hole. There’s also not a ton of support from the laces. If you’re prone to ankle issues, make sure you’re able to swap out for something more supportive.

The Weight

While 10.6 ounces isn’t hefty… it’s not incredibly light either. You’ll find that weight variation falls in line with our recommendations for long run day sneakers and easy run day sneakers. I didn’t notice it on my runs (or walks), but I wasn’t doing track laps all that often.

For context, Under Armour’s HOVR Sonic 2 is 10 ounces, Mizuno Waveknit R2 is 10.2 ounces, Brooks Ghost 12 is 10.4 ounces and Asics Gel-Cumulus 20 is 10.5 ounces. Adidas Ultraboost 19 is 10.9 ounces. We wouldn’t recommend this weight for a racing shoe as those tend to be less than 8 ounces (New Balance FuelCells are 7.3 ounces and Nike Vaporfly Next% shoes are 6.6 ounces).

Is it for me?

If you like having one sneaker for everything (walking/running/Citibiking), the answer might be yes. Same if you travel often and are tired of packing more than one pair. If sustainability is crucial to you as a runner, Allbirds are worth a look and a handful of miles. If you’re training for a race, we recommend you rotate sneakers and use the Allbirds Dasher as your easy run shoe.

Verdict

Allbirds and Adidas recently announced a partnership to create the lowest carbon emissions shoe ever, which makes us wonder if there may be a bit of cross-pollination in the Dashers, too. The versatility is pretty impressive here, and the performance is beyond what we expected for a debut running shoe.

Buy Now: $125

Allbirds provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

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