Allbirds sneakers are more popular than ever. The brand claims to make the “world’s most comfortable shoe” without actually looking like a comfort shoe. The shoes have long been a reader and editor favorite at Good Housekeeping for both wearing and gifting — the brand features basic designs that you can wear everywhere, and a unique construction that makes them feel super comfy.
Still, the brand makes a lot of bold claims about everything from comfort to sustainability to ease of use (no socks needed and machine-washable?). We couldn’t wait to put them to the test in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab.
Our team of fiber scientists reviews fabric-based products of all kinds, from clothing and footwear to home furnishings like sheets and towels. Our Lab experts evaluated Allbirds firsthand and wash-tested multiple pairs in the Lab. We also surveyed our panel to see what dozens of real users think of all of the brand’s styles. After reviewing over 1,300 data points, read on to see what we found — and get answers to the most-often asked questions about the super-popular sneakers.
Are Allbirds really that comfortable?
Yes! As a whole, the brand's shoes are exceptionally comfortable. 65 people of varying size, genders, and style preferences rated the styles comfortable to wear. In fact, 91% gave the shoes a perfect rating for comfort.
The Wool Runners are the most popular. Made with merino wool, the material is softer than regular wool and has temperature-regulating properties. Consumers say, "it literally feels like you're walking on clouds when you're wearing them," and, "they're the comfiest pair of sneakers I own." The only downside is a few said the wool made their feet sweat in warmer weather.
Most users say the shoes run true to size. They're available in whole sizes 8-14 for men and 5-11 for women. If you're in between sizes, it's best to size up. The sneaker styles are also good for people with wide feet because the upper fabric is flexible.
Are Allbirds shoes good for walking?
Yes, Allbirds are great walking shoes! Whether you're traveling, running errands, or wearing them for everyday use, Allbirds feel comfy even after walking for miles. One person on our panel wore the Wool Runners on a sightseeing trip to Italy: "The Allbirds were stylish enough to wear while also being comfortable on my feet all day." Another who owns the Tree Runners commented: "I've walked for 12 miles in one day with them and my feet didn't hurt."
Just keep in mind: they’re not intended to be athletic sneakers and don’t have the built-in arch support or traction of athletic shoes. Also, the sneaker styles are better for walking than the Breezers, which some users say feel less supportive overall and more snug in the toes (but that's expected for a pair of ballet flats).
Should you wear socks with Allbirds?
You certainly can wear socks if you prefer, but you don’t have to. The shoes don’t itch or cause irritation when you go sock-free and most people on our panel told us the shoes never smell. The Wool styles are mostly made of merino wool, which doesn’t absorb odors the way synthetic fibers like polyester do, and the Tree styles use a breathable mesh fabric on the top with a merino wool liner on the insole.
So yes, you can absolutely go sock-less, but if you can't bear the thought, the brand recently started selling socks specifically designed for wear with Allbirds shoes after learning that nearly 50% of Allbirds owners customers opt to wear socks with the sneakers.
Which Allbirds style is best?
Right now the brand makes five different shoe styles in either wool or "Tree fabric," a.k.a Tencel, a man-made fiber that uses wood pulp from trees as the raw material. All of the styles are available in classic colors that are more basic (like white and grey) along with limited edition colors that change over time. Here are the styles you can choose from right now:
- Runners: A basic sneaker and the most popular design. You can get Wool or Tree Runners for men and women, plus Wool Runners for kids.
- Loungers: A slip-on shoe that looks like a cross between a laceless sneaker and a slipper. This one also comes in Wool or Tree fabric for men and women.
- Skippers: A slimmer, lighter sneaker that has fewer laces and less coverage than the Runners. It's available for both men and women, but only in the Tree fabric.
- Toppers: A high-top sneaker that covers the ankle. Like the Skippers, this style comes in the Tree fabric and has options for men and women. They're slightly more expensive than the other styles at $115.
- Breezers: A ballet flat and the newest addition to the Allbirds lineup. Breezers are available in the Tree fabric for women.
Are Allbirds eco-friendly?
While no shoes are actually beneficial to the environment – i.e. all products have at least some negative impact – Allbirds takes a sustainable approach in the materials used for its shoes. The merino wool is considered a natural fiber and follows ethical standards, while the “Tree” fabric is made of Tencel lyocell.
The brand also uses other sustainable materials like recycled water bottles for the polyester in the laces, recycled cardboard that makes up 90% of the packaging, sugar cane in the foam sole, and castor bean oil in the insole.
One thing to note: The brand says the Tree styles are made of “tree fiber,” but there’s actually no such thing. Tencel lyocell is regenerated cellulose, meaning wood pulp from the trees that's chemically processed to turn it into a fiber. It's not totally synthetic, but it’s not “natural,” either. Still, it’s considered sustainable in the textiles industry because it uses less-toxic chemicals that get recycled in the production process, and the wood is from trees in sustainably-harvested forests.
How do you wash Allbirds?
First you’ll need to remove the insoles and laces and brush off any excess dirt. The brand recommends placing the shoes in a linen bag and machine washing in cold water on the delicate cycle with gentle detergent.
Don't put them in the dryer, though: the brand specifies that you should let them air dry. Heat and agitation from the dryer can cause felting, shrinkage, and wear and tear with wool.
When we wash tested both Wool and Tree styles in the Lab, they held up well in the washing machine, though the Wool style took over 24 hours to dry and showed more signs of wear than the Tree fabric. We also weren’t able to get rid of dark marks on the white fabric and sole of Tree Runners that had been worn for a week-long vacation. If you’re worried about making a mess, we suggest going with a darker color.
Pro tip: It's safe for Allbirds to get wet – after all, they’re machine washable! – but they're not waterproof, so don’t wear them in rainy weather. They won't get damaged, but your feet will get wet and the shoes will take a while to dry.
Are Allbirds worth it?
At around $95 for both men’s and women’s styles, these sneakers are not exactly inexpensive, but put it this way: not a single person of the 65 users we surveyed was disappointed with their Allbirds purchase.
On top of that, the majority said the shoes were worth the price and they’ve held up to lots of wear (with a few knocks on the all-white styles, which are harder to keep clean). The best part is that the brand offers a free 30-day trial so you can get a full refund if don't love them, even after they've been worn.
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