AS FAR as a casual travel shoe goes, Allbirds Wool Runners are hard to beat. Lightweight? Check. Comfortable? Check. Style? Check.
Allbirds are also unique: they are made from merino wool and are designed by Kiwi Tim Brown.
I’m a size UK8.5, but Allbirds only come in whole American sizes, so I wore a size US10 (UK9), which weighed around 490g/pair. They fit well enough, though there was a good 1.5cm between my big toe and the end of the shoe. Mostly I didn’t notice this, but because the shoe is so soft – it’s made from merino, remember – such a space invites forward movement of the foot when walking downhill. On one taxing downhill, holding onto my daughter’s pram, I noticed the weight of my feet stretched the upper where it joined at the toe so I could see the glue holding it to the sole.
That was early on in my testing and I subsequently wore them nearly every day for two months. They have otherwise held up well.
The uppers are made from superfine merino sourced in New Zealand and shipped to an Italian mill. The inner facing fabric is soft and itch-free while the outer fabric is slightly more durable and dirt-resistant. Just like merino clothing, the shoes are said to breathe, regulate temperature and be naturally odour-resistant. Even on hot days and with or without socks, my feet did not get overly warm.
There is a removable cushioned Ortholite insole which, especially when combined with the low-density foam and rubber outsole, I found to be too soft so by the end of a long day of walking and sightseeing, I had sore feet.
Allbirds are machine washable and I put them through a couple of cycles which seemed to give them new life.
Despite a few drawbacks, I enjoyed wearing the Allbird Wool Runner. It is an extremely comfortable shoe, though a higher-density sole would provide more comfort for travellers intent on pounding the pavement day after day.