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What is the secret to a comfy sneaker? Merino wool might not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind, but ever since Time dubbed Allbirds as “the world’s most comfortable shoe,” I’ve been curious to try them out. I knew merino often comes into play for outdoor athletic clothes, but does wearing it on your feet really work — that is, would the shoes live up to the hype?
Now that it’s cold enough for sneakers made of sweater to sound like a win, I decided to put them to the test against Allbirds’ long list of claims, which is impressive enough to doubt.
If you’re not familiar, the New Zealand label made a splash with its debut last March, introducing its $95 “Wool Runner.” On top of being ultra lightweight and insanely soft, the material features odor-minimizing and moisture-wicking properties. Great for anyone anti-socks, and even better for those who keep sustainability top of mind; even the soles are green, made with polyurethane from castor beans.
Based on looks alone, the shoes are an easy contender for an everyday favorite. In the US, they come in two colors available for both men and women: “natural black,” which looks more like a dark charcoal, and “natural grey,” which features a heather gray upper and contrasting light gray sole. Both are simple enough to wear for either work or play; there are no logos, embellishments, or crazy designs, just uncomplicated, uniform sneakers.
While the design is sleek, the real selling point is how they feel. You can almost compare wearing Allbirds to wearing Uggs, or wrapping your feet up into your softest blanket. TL;DR, yes, they really are one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet.
That being said, and despite the name of the product, these aren’t running shoes. The soles are super flexible and have minimal grip, so they aren’t quite stable or supportive enough for any vigorous impact or long-distance running. The shoes are perfectly comfortable for a full day of casual wear, but this isn’t to say they can’t be incorporated into your active routine, too.
I’ve personally been wearing the sneakers to my daily boxing classes — without socks, per suggestion. Turns out, I was able to check off every box on the brand’s list. My feet didn’t feel too hot while working out but stayed warm when I was outside in the cold. The shoes dried quickly (and fresh at that!) despite my sweaty workouts. Plus, all it takes is a toss in the wash to clean them.
The $95 sneakers come with a 30-day trial period — no questions asked, free return — but chances are you’re not going to need it.