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Allbirds Takes Bigger Strides Into Performance Running Shoes: Dasher 2.0 Review

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 running shoe(Photo/<a href="https://www.kendrasmithphoto.com/">Kendra Smith</a>)
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On the heels of its first purpose-built running shoe, the Dasher, Allbirds makes marked improvements to woo more serious runners into its casual-looking kicks.

I jumped on the chance to review Allbirds’ first Dasher running shoe in 2020 because the brand’s implacable marketing campaign, broadcast on almost every podcast I listened to, had me convinced it was the real deal.

Knit wool uppers, natural materials throughout, and a commitment to sustainability all sounded like a great product. But in the outdoors space, there is no shortage of great commitments to sustainability, nor great marketing to back it up. The real test was whether this burgeoning brand was serious about outfitting real runners.

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 running shoe
(Photo/Kendra Smith)

And after testing, the answer was a resounding, sorta. The original Allbirds Knit Dasher was indeed a comfy shoe, but it was evident that fans of HOKA ONE ONE, Altra, Brooks, and other running-first shoe brands would not become wholesale converts. It just didn’t feel like a running shoe.

Last month, Allbirds set out to change that with the Dasher 2.0. The brand claimed improved fit and lighter weight, verified “over thousands of miles by almost 100 amateur and professional athletes” to back it up.

So once again, I hopped on the chance to become a believer myself. I’ve been running in the Dasher 2.0 for 2 weeks, logging about 40 miles to get a feel for what’s new and how it performs.

In short: Allbirds backs up its promise of improved fit and lighter weight. And it does so without sacrificing the sustainability commitments it’s built on. The shoe suffers less heel slip and offers more support than its predecessor, providing more confident and committed strides.

Very serious runners may still opt for the proven brands, but anyone who runs casually for fitness (think under 25 miles per week) may be surprised at the lasting comfort and steady performance of the Dasher 2.0.

Allbirds Dasher 2.0 Review

Out of the box, you might be hard-pressed to see the difference between the Dasher 2.0 and its predecessor. They both carry Allbirds’ trademark 8 jumbo-eyelet lacing and cozy knit appearance.

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 running shoe

But slip the 2.0s on and, if you tried the first iteration, you’ll notice a marked improvement in the fit and feel. My biggest knock on the original Dasher was its comparably sloppy fit when weighed against big-name running shoes.

After input from the Dasher’s debut, Allbirds reformed the shape of the shoe’s heel cup to “better cradle the heel and eliminate slip.” This is the biggest improvement I noticed.

Though Allbirds didn’t opt to add eyelets to improve the fit, it succeeded in making a more secure, supportive running shoe.

Fans of traditional running shoes will still notice a difference, however; with less of a clutched sensation over the forefoot. But for logging road miles — and not worrying about the pitfalls and support issues trail running poses — I found the Dasher 2.0 met my fit requirements just fine.

What’s more, it’s a much more comfortable shoe for the transition to walking or, if you’re a run-commuter like me, beginning the workday or meeting up with friends.

Light lateral workouts felt good as well. But with the soft, knit, breathable upper, I still wouldn’t rely on these for very serious agility workouts.

Gentle Sole

Two other changes serve to upgrade the Dasher 2.0’s performance. First, the midsole. Allbirds worked to make the midsole plusher underfoot, while simultaneously trimming weight.

The result is subtle — 10.3 ounces versus the original’s 10.6 ounces — but an improvement overall. My foot strikes received more rebound than the originals, and the weight is great for my runs up to about 8 miles.

And the outsole received a facelift. The inset dimples that defined the original Dashers now offer up more aggressive, uniform lugs. Allbirds says it did this to improve traction and, interestingly, enhance the sensation of cushioning by “pistoning” into the midsole.

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 sole

Again, the updates to the sole are indeed an improvement, but they are outshined in the experience by the fit. All-terrain running shoes, these are not.

But, in addition to the confidence afforded by a vastly improved fit, the cushion, traction, and weight combine for a pleasant run of short to moderate distance.

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 Specs

Allbirds continues to hang its hat on sustainability and natural materials. And the Dasher 2.0 improves its function without sacrificing the material form the brand is known for.

The upper looks and feels much the same as its predecessor, and with good reason: It carries the same TENCEL Lyocell (eucalyptus tree fiber) upper, sugarcane-based “SweetFoam” EVA foam midsole, FSC-certified natural rubber outsole, castor bean oil-based insole foam, and merino wool heel lining.

Functionally, the biggest win here is breathability. Your feet are pretty much guaranteed to not get hot when wearing these. I expect spring and summer runs will be very comfortable in the Dasher 2.0.

The flip side, obviously, is that these don’t repel water as a synthetic membrane would. Avoid puddles and slop, and you’ll be fine.

The Dasher 2.0 also has the same 7mm drop profile. All in all, these small changes result in a definitively superior running shoe compared with the brand’s first model.

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0

  • Weight: 10.3 oz. (men’s 9)
  • Drop: 7mm (22.5mm-15.5mm heel-toe)
  • Price: $135

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