Allbirds Day 2

I am always searching for the perfect shoe. That one shoe I can wear all the time (or nearly). Ever since Vivobarefoot cancelled their awesome Terra Nova II line I just can’t find the one true shoe. I stumbled across Allbirds and it had many of the words I like: wool, all natural, etc. I couldn’t find any description about stack height or drop but figured what the heck, a comfortable pair of wool shoes would be nice, right?

I ordered the shoes and unboxed them. Put them on and immediately thought: $100 slippers. I wore them around the house for a bit and thought yep, slippers. Now it’s day 2 and a little cool in the house so I put my slippers on after reading that Allbirds offers a no questions asked 30 day refund policy. Good on them for this; I would have returned them after Day 1 otherwise. As I ease into these for the day I have early observations:

  1. These are not minimalist shoes. I like a very thin sole (see Vivo’s chart here) e.g. 3-5mm. Allbirds doesn’t claim these as minimalist by the way but I was hoping. There is also a noticeable drop from heel to toe, maybe 2-3mm or so.
  2. The toe-box is narrow. Since the upper material is stretchy this is okay, but the bottoms constrain those of us with hobbit feet. You’d think a company using New Zealand wool would accommodate hobbit feet.
  3. I normally wear 11.5 – 12 (45-46 EU) and these are a *snug* size 12. I assume with the wool and such they will sag out a bit over time.
  4. The insole is *thick* and spongy. Hate it. Will look for another insole.

Overall – I will try these out for a few days. These aren’t a replacement for the Terra Nova II (aka the perfect shoe) but worth a try.

Why do they stop making great products?

The verdict: pretty good. My feet were never cold and  really enjoyed wearing a thick wooly sock. The ground-feel was nice although not as crisp as the FiveFinger KSOs, closer in feel to the Bikilas I wore for the Dublin Marathon. The footbox is wide, no hot spots, just generally good. The one thing I noticed is they are louder than the FiveFingers. Running barefoot or in FiveFingers you run almost silently, ninja-style. It’s one of the treats of running barefoot is to job next to someone in traditional shoes and hear them clumping and galumphing along. The EVO II’s are just a little less quiet somehow.

Source: Terra Plana Evo II | Bricin

I wrote this review five years ago. Since then I learned that a) this was about the best shoe ever made and b) somehow the company is now Vivo Barefoot. These shoes were great and I bought several pairs of them as I wore them out. My son wore a few pairs out too. And I bought some of their dressier versions for work. The Evo II was waterproof, solid enough to wear daily to Crossfit, mountain bike, and dressy enough for work. Loved this shoe and they simply don’t have anything like it anymore.

So why did they stop making these? The only reason I can figure is that some of the shoes had trouble with the glue. Some pairs would simply separate the upper from the lower. I assume all those returns were expensive and since I was apparently the only person buying them they discontinued these shoes. Some running shoe manufacturers do a similar thing to ensure that you keep buying a new and often more expensive shoe. In this case though there is nothing for me to “upgrade” to.

Backpacking North: wear lighter shoes, not heavier

Backpacking North: wear lighter shoes, not heavier

Adam™ | Altra Zero Drop Footwear – Not My Cup of Tea

I’ve been running minimalist for a few years now and have made my way through several pairs of FiveFingers, two pairs of Terra Plana Evo IIs, and a bunch of skin as I ran truly barefoot last summer.

In the interest of broadening out I tried the Adam, but Altra. Nice and comfy in the store, kind of cool as they felt like I imagine ninja shoes or ballet slippers. Very light, very smooth.

But then I tried running in them and nope… not going to work. First of all there is the rubber-ized toe cap. Because of the way feet (mine anyway) work when running minimalist you curl your toes up a bit during the stride. And so each time the toenail of my big toe would grab the edge of the toe cap. Not painfully but certainly not something I want to have happen for miles on end.

So the shoe was relegated to casual wear. Yes, I wear stuff like this to the office nowadays. But this morning all my other shoes were either wet or missing so I strapped these on and went to Crossfit. Mistake. The shoe did fine during warmups. Felt squishy but as Susan points out my feet are supposed to be their own support, I don’t need shoes for that. True enough. But the trouble happened with double-unders (jump rope). Every jump it seemed like either the shoe stuck to the ground or the jump rope or something. The bottoms were just… sloppy is the best word I could find. And it threw me off a lot, I got the rope stuck into the velcro straps, it was a disaster. Shoes were fine doing deadlifts and squats. I suspect the jumping mechanic is just not their strong suit.

So… I have a pair of shoes I don’t want to run in and can’t take to the gym. Looks like my casual shoes for a while.

Adam™ | Altra Zero Drop Footwear – Not My Cup of Tea

Adam™ | Altra Zero Drop Footwear – Not My Cup of Tea

Adam™ | Altra Zero Drop Footwear – Not My Cup of Tea

Wore the Evo II’s on the plane home today. Very comfy airplane shoes, good breathability. Like wearing slippers.

Pictured here are the shoes in a 1st class “partner” seat, ie the seat a companion can sit in and dine with you. Pretty swanky BA.

Terra Plana Evo II

Terra Plana Evo II