Though it takes aim at a more fleet distance shoe, Allbirds gives rise to a more stable, comfortable line of all-fitness footwear.
Jumping, juking, stepping, and planting — I find myself continually reaching for the Allbirds Tree Flyer for daily strength, conditioning, and agility workouts. Trouble is, that’s not its designed function. By its own account, Allbirds built its latest foray into performance footwear for faster, longer runs.
“More Bounce, Less Ounce: the Tree Flyer is a high-performance dream for distance running,” the brand’s teaser for the Tree Flyer reads. But while the Flyer, launching worldwide today, indeed trims nearly a full ounce off the brand’s last big running release (the Tree Dasher 2.0), I just have not fallen in love with it as a running-specific shoe.
Ordinarily, that would relegate it to the secret and ever-growing pile of not-reviewed shoes — an odiferous mound of ignominious torture-tested kicks festering somewhere in a forgotten storage loft at GJ HQ. But the Tree Flyer holds a redemptive secret: It’s a damned good all-around fitness shoe.
I’ve been wearing a pair of Tree Flyers ($160) for daily workouts — I mix it up with stair runs, agility workouts, and gym routines — for about a month. And I’ve worked them in as a mainstay when conditions are just right.
In short: Allbirds’ trademark natural and lower-impact materials and construction processes give the Tree Flyer superior comfort in hot conditions, and unrivaled peace of mind for a product category typically defined by high-waste, high-impact manufacturing.
The Tree Flyer offers superior support and fit over its predecessors, and exemplary breathability — resulting in a truly comfortable, reliable pair of shoes for daily fitness routines. The knock is that for serious runners, the Tree Flyer can’t quite compete with established running shoe brands when it comes to big comfort and speed over big miles.
Allbirds Tree Flyer Review
I suppose there are two ways to review this shoe. The first is how well it stacks up to its own advertising.
Allbirds markets the Tree Flyer as a “light,” “springy” shoe built for distance running. I can attest to the shoe’s svelte weight; it comes in at just under 9.5 ounces for a men’s size 9. So, it’s plenty lightweight — that checks out.
But springy? Allbirds claims it retooled its midsole with new processes and ingredients. Whereas the Tree Dasher line used SweetFoam, the Flyer boasts “SwiftFoam” — advertised as 30% lighter and with 70% better rebound. As noted, the foam contributes to the notable absence of grams.
But as for its “springy” energy return, it did not feel as dramatic as I’d hoped. And compared to the likes of HOKA, Altra, Brooks, and other major players in the dedicated running space, the SwiftFoam — more environmentally pleasing though it is — doesn’t quite hold pace.
A note on its eco-friendly story: SwiftFoam uses a blend of recycled materials and castor bean oil resin. So it certainly adds a positive twist to the midsole, often the more nefarious element in shoe manufacturing.
Fly Into Fitness
However, as I mentioned, there’s another way to evaluate these shoes. How do they perform outside of their designed purpose? This is where the Tree Flyer soars.
Allbirds also revamped the upper design and construction. It still uses its knit eucalyptus tree fiber — still the Holy Grail of breathable materials — but provides a sleeker and more supportive fit than the Tree Dasher.
The brand also flared out the heel, adding overall stability and balance to the shoe, and built neutral traction channels to the natural rubber outsole. What does that mean functionally?
The supportive upper, stable silhouette and “bitey” sole make for a wonderfully pliant and supportive shoe that performs great in agility exercises — think up and down stairs, box jumps, calisthenics, and even jumping rope.
It’s also worth noting that Allbirds opted for an aggressive stance with the Tree Flyer. It has a 30.5mm to 22mm heel-toe stack — a noticeable 8.5mm drop. The effect is a more forward-leaning foot position that keeps you on your toes and, from my testing, helps maintain high-tempo footwork.
Clear for Landing
The Tree Flyer will not replace my tried-and-true running shoes (probably to the chagrin of the Allbirds marketing and design team). But — and that’s a big but — it will remain in my stable of daily workout wear. Strictly as a runner, I like it a little better than the Tree Dashers I’ve also run in. After all, it is noticeably light and a bit more supportive.
But where this shoe absolutely shines is in high-intensity workouts, where feet can get sweaty and footwork is varied. It’s stable, breathable, and aggressive — and for that, I call it a winner.