Allbirds has dropped a brand-new high-top sneaker made with a sustainable foam sole — here’s how it feels in person


Insider Picks

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  • Allbirds makes the “world’s most comfortable shoes” out of soft, machine-washable merino wool.
  • The startup followed its cult-favourite Runner ($US95) with two releases of equally “smart” and eco-friendly materials:sneakers made out of tree fibre, and flip-flops made from the world’s first-ever sugarcane EVA foam.
  • Allbirds just released Tree Toppers ($US115) that combine all three Allbirds materials into one high-top sneaker.
  • We tried them out, and the Tree Toppers are incredibly comfortable, stylish, and breathable.

If someone described their shoes – let’s say, from across a dinner table – as “the most comfortable pair they have ever worn,” you’d probably conjure up a homely but dependable pair of clogs hidden underneath the tablecloth. There’s nothing wrong with them; they do one job, and they do it so well they can’t do anything else – like look good.

And yet, the merino wool sneakers that snagged the colloquial title of “the world’s most comfortable shoes” also happened to be really cool looking. Where ergonomic clogs failed in Silicon Valley and New York City, Allbirds runners ($US95) flourished with ease.

The San Francisco-based startup knows how to make comfortable shoes that look good. And they opt to do so out of smart, eco-friendly materials: sneakers made from super-soft, merino wool, skippers made from eucalyptus pulp, and flip-flops made from the world’s first-ever sugarcane EVA foam.

As of November 2018, Allbirds has combined all three of its cult-favourite materials into one shoe: the Tree Toppers ($US115).

The classic high-tops have a sugarcane EVA foam for the sole, super-soft merino wool on the inside, and eucalyptus tree fibre on the outside. You can pick a pair up in four colours at the moment: two core colours of Kauri Jo and Charcoal, or two limited edition colours of Zin (red) and Fiddle Leaf (green).

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The new Allbirds Tree Toppers are available in four colours. Allbirds

$US115 isn’t cheap, but Allbirds are a particularly good place to invest that money if you’re willing to buy fewer but better shoes. They’re some of the most comfortable, low-maintenance pairs we’ve ever found, and you’ll find at least one of our product viewers – people with more granular knowledge of products than is probably healthy – opting to wear one of its styles around the office every day. They travel well, feel good, and a purchase of one Allbirds pair also happens to support better, more sustainable business practices – as recently seen in the company’s decision not to patent the world’s first carbon-negative EVA foam so other companies could use it. It’s also a bonus that you can throw them in the washing machine and they look like new again 30 minutes later.

We tested the Tree Toppers ahead of their November 14 launch, and we found them to be pretty great overall. The tree fibre is breathable and flexible, the sugarcane foam responsive and plush, and the super-soft merino wool is warm and comfortable for the interior. All in all, it’s a great shoe – if you like the look, you won’t be disappointed by the feel.

Shop the Tree Toppers here, or continue to our reviews for the men’s and women’s versions below:

Shown in Zin, $US115 Allbirds

Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter: Women’s Tree Topper, $US115 (4 colours)

Allbirds’ Tree Toppers are probably the most comfortable pair of Allbirds I’ve tested – probably because they’re essentially flexible, secure gloves made from all the materials that have made Allbirds famous.

I was concerned the high-top style may feel stiff or unnaturally thick, but the tree fibre is responsive and flexible throughout – fitting close around my ankle without any of the chafing that you might expect from wearing ankle socks with high-tops for the first time. It feels effortless. The Tree fibre is as breathable as it was in the Tree Runners, the interior merino wool is still surprisingly soft, and the carbon-negative foam soles as sturdy and bouncy as any other. It’s a good mix of the warm and cosy properties of the wool shoe and the light breeziness of the Tree collection. All in all, I love them. I’ll probably wear them frequently into work, on the weekends, and for travelling.

Shown in Kauri Jo, $US115 Allbirds

David Slotnick, Insider Picks senior reporter: Men’s Tree Topper, $US115 (4 colours)

I’ve been an Allbirds fan for a year or so. My Tree Runners were a summer staple, and I wear my Wool Runners pretty much any time I travel – they’re breathable but warm and comfy, and they’re just as well suited to a day walking around a city as they are to spending 10 hours in the air in an economy seat. They’re not the best rain shoe, but they compare reasonably well to any other pair of sneakers.

The Tree Toppers feel like a comfortable middle ground, with the light airiness of the Tree Runners, but insulated enough to wear around on a drizzly November day in New York City. The high-top style lends well to jeans or even chinos, and they feel snug and supportive without sacrificing comfort. I suspect these will become my next staple.

Buy a pair of Allbirds Tree Toppers for $US115 on the company’s website.