Both Allbirds and Adidas make running shoes. In many ways, they are directly competitive companies. It is refreshing in this sense that the two were able to come together for a common good. The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94kg CO2e Running Shoe combines one company’s extensive experience in high-performance running with another company’s mastery of sustainable materials. The result is a pair of running shoes that requires less than 3 kilograms of carbon emissions to produce, the lowest level for Adidas.
The goal is great and worth celebrating, but the shoes must also be good for running. Does it matter how much carbon emissions are reduced if nobody wants the product? Making shoddy shoes that no one buys is still putting more stress on the planet than you’re saving.
Fortunately, the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e shoes perform well, overall. I have some doubts about its long-term durability. These running shoes are definitely supportive and primarily intended for faster runs, but in that context, I like what they offer.
- Comfortable fit in all aspects.
- The midsole offers a balance of rebound and stiffness.
- The laces feel brittle.
- Thin upper may not survive as long as midsole
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Overall, the shoe is very standard, with a regular fit, lace-up closure, and textile upper. The midsole is made with 17 percent material derived from sugar cane, and the upper includes recycled materials.
The rubber sole is a bit curious. It looks smooth but doesn’t feel soft or slippery while running. The most notable spec for me was the weight of 5.4 ounces.
After trying these shoes, I think the most interesting thing is their materials. If you didn’t already know that reducing carbon emissions was your goal, I don’t think there’s much to give you away: These running shoes don’t feel compromised. But still, some of your material choices may stand out as unique.
The upper part, for example, is very thin. There are a lot of skinny uppers in shoes. They are usually in the service of a cooler, fresher feeling on the foot. In this case, the upper part is thin to reduce the amount of material used. It is flexible enough not to stand upright on its own.
Out of the box, these shoes are remarkably light, a bit unbelievably light actually. The tongue is a puffy foam that feels good but looks cheap, as if it were a second thought. The midsole is firm but flexible. The laces are the most delicate that I have put in my hands.
Viewing the shoes from a distance, it is less obvious that there is not much between the foot and the pavement. Up close, however, it is much easier to see that the excess product has been removed.
The minimal material is less of a concern for support, or even comfort, and more of a concern when it comes to durability. I have had many running shoes that develop holes in the toe area. So, that gives me pause here.
When rubber meets the road, the most important aspect is the performance of these running shoes. Out of the gate, the incredibly light feel really helps give them their lift. My legs, free of almost any weight, seemed to move higher than normal. That slightly unexpected initial feeling mostly faded after several runs, but I never stopped feeling nimble in these shoes.
In my experience, it takes at least 10 miles to get familiar with new running shoes. Most have a honeymoon phase, which was also true for the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e shoes. I felt fast and with almost no side effects during that first phase. After those 10 miles or so, in three runs, the balls of my feet experienced some discomfort that hadn’t been present running in other shoes.
After 25 miles, I mostly got used to the minimal cushioning the midsole foam provides. I’m not familiar enough with barefoot running to make the comparison here, but these shoes are the closest my feet have ever felt to the road. This forms a real connection with the cement under your feet which helps you maintain a faster pace.
If you travel regularly, these may be perfect for packing. Shoes don’t take up much space and don’t add much weight to a bag. You probably won’t be running long distances on a business trip.
I personally found 3-4 miles to be the most I really wanted to run in these shoes at one time. I had no problem putting them on day after day and doing it again: that 30+ minute run approached rush hour without getting uncomfortable.
Should I buy Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e?
Even without the context of trying to produce more sustainable running shoes, I think the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e provide enough performance to justify their creation. You won’t want to run a half marathon in these, and probably not even 10K, but they’re incredibly light and work well for quick runs over shorter distances.
My biggest concern is that the combination of premium price and thin materials could wear out much sooner than other similar running shoes. Having to produce twice as many shoes because the materials don’t hold up doesn’t seem smart for the planet either.
To be clear, durability hasn’t been a factor in my 25+ miles in these shoes. Every time I lace them up, I hold my breath in anticipation of the laces breaking, but they haven’t yet. They may never break. The mission is excellent here and the product is worth considering. I just hope this is just the start of the project and not the finish line.
Buy it at Adidas for $120.
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