Hot on the heels of its first purpose-built running shoe, the Dasher, Allbirds is making some notable upgrades to appeal to more serious runners in its laid-back kicks.
I jumped at the chance to review Allbirds first Dasher running shoe in 2020 because the brand’s relentless marketing campaign, which aired on nearly every podcast I listened to, convinced me it was the real deal.
Knitted wool upper, natural materials throughout and a commitment to sustainability rang like a great product. But in the outdoor space, there’s no shortage of big commitments to sustainability, and big marketing to support it. The real test was whether this burgeoning brand really wanted to outfit real riders.
And after the test, the response was a resounding, somehow. The original Allbirds Knit Dasher was indeed a comfortable shoe, but it was obvious that fans of HOKA ONE ONE, Altra, Brooks and other running shoe brands would not become wholesale converts. It just didn’t feel like a running shoe.
Last month, Allbirds decided to change that with the Dasher 2.0. The brand claimed an improved fit and lighter weight, verified “over thousands of miles by nearly 100 amateur and professional athletes” to prove it.
So again, I jumped at the chance to become a believer myself. I’ve been running in the Dasher 2.0 for 2 weeks, driving 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 slippage and offers more support than its predecessor, delivering more confident and engaged strides.
Very serious runners can always opt for the proven brands, but anyone casually running for fitness (think less than 25 miles per week) may be surprised at the Dasher 2.0’s long-lasting comfort and consistent performance.
Review of Allbirds Dasher 2.0
Out of the box, you might struggle to see the difference between the Dasher 2.0 and its predecessor. They both sport giant 8-eyelet lacing and a cozy knit appearance.
But slip on the 2.0 and, if you try the first iteration, you’ll notice a marked improvement in fit and feel. My biggest knock on the original Dasher was its relatively sloppy fit compared to big name running shoes.
After the Dasher’s debut, Allbirds reformed the heel shape of the shoe to “better cradle the heel and eliminate slippage”. This is the biggest improvement I’ve noticed.
Although Allbirds did not choose to add eyelets to improve the fit, they managed to create a safer and more durable running shoe.
However, fans of traditional running shoes will still notice a difference; with less feeling of grip on the forefoot. But for logging miles of road—and not worrying about the pitfalls and support issues of trail running poses—I found the Dasher 2.0 met my fit requirements just fine.
Plus, it’s a much more comfortable shoe for transitioning into walking or, if you’re a commuter like me, starting the work day or catching up with friends.
Light lateral workouts were also nice. But with the soft, knitted, breathable upper, I still wouldn’t rely on it for seriously serious agility training.
Two other changes serve to improve the performance of Dasher 2.0. First, the midsole. Allbirds worked to make the midsole feel softer underfoot, while simultaneously reducing weight.
The result is subtle – 10.3 ounces versus the original’s 10.6 ounces – but an overall improvement. My kicks received more bounce than the originals, and the weight is great for my runs up to about 8 miles.
And the outsole has had a makeover. The inlaid dimples that defined the original Dashers now offer more aggressive and uniform dimples. Allbirds says it did this to improve traction and, interestingly, to improve the cushioning feel by “bumping” into the midsole.
Again, the sole updates are indeed an improvement, but they are overshadowed in the experience by the fit. All-terrain running shoes, it’s not.
But, in addition to the confidence offered by a vastly improved fit, cushion, traction and weight combine for an enjoyable run over short to moderate distances.
Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0 Specifications
Allbirds continues to put its hat on sustainability and natural materials. And the Dasher 2.0 improves on its function without sacrificing the hardware form the brand is known for.
The upper looks and feels pretty much the same as its predecessor, and for good reason: it carries the same TENCEL Lyocell (eucalyptus fiber) upper, sugarcane-based “SweetFoam” EVA midsole , FSC-certified natural rubber outsole, castor oil-foam sole, and merino wool heel lining.
Functionally, the biggest win here is breathability. Your feet are pretty much guaranteed not to get hot when you wear them. I expect spring and summer runs to be very comfortable in the Dasher 2.0.
The flip side, of course, is that they don’t repel water like a synthetic membrane would. Avoid puddles and spoil, 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 definitely superior running shoe compared to the brand’s first model.
Allbirds Tree Dasher 2.0
- Weight: 10.3 oz. (men 9)
- Drop: 7mm (heel-toe 22.5mm to 15.5mm)
- Price: $135