I’ve been an Allbirds aficionado for years. I gazed longingly at the wooly soft plimsolls that my then-startup colleagues wore for months before finally caving and ordering my own. Since then, I’ve purchased pairs for every member of my family. They’re my go-to airport shoe. My go-to I’m-gonna-be-on-my-feet-all-day shoe. My inconspicuous but supportive shoe. But now, they’re doing something new: They want me to go into the great outdoors.
Allbirds recently revealed its latest style, the Trail Runners SWT, a running sneaker designed for all terrains. SWT stands for sugar, wool, and tree—the natural composition of the shoe. The $138 sneaker—available for both men and women—is made with a Merino wool recycled poly ripstop material, which offers durability and thermoregulating properties. It also features an eco-friendly, extra-cushioning SweetFoam midsole (made from sugar cane) and a eucalyptus tree fiber-knit interior that’s sweat wicking and created for all-day breathable wear.
The Trail Runner SWT’s soles are designed to mimic mountain bike treads, laid out in a curved, bulbous texture, with placement inspired by artist David Hockney’s swimming pool paintings. The design also allows the grippy soles to soften the impact of rugged terrain while providing cushiony and reactive traction. Allbirds says it put the shoe to the test, handing it off to the likes of pro runner Jorge Maravilla and running coach Iman Smith and having other runners log more than 2,000 miles on trail runs and hikes.
I am an Allbirds minimalist. I like my simple, clean Tree Runner in Kaikoura White. And my cozy Wool Loungers in a nubby charcoal grey, named Natural Grey. The Trail Runner SWT appeals to my sensibilities, as well as those who want sneakers that scream “we’re here!” from the pavement. The shoe comes in a limited edition shade called Diablo, which is an an orangey-red and reddish-orange that cannot be missed. The other two shades, iterations of off-white and black with charcoal grey accents, are more my speed.
I received a pair of Trail Runner SWT sneakers in charcoal-y black. They’re exceptionally lightweight and feel just as softly snug as my other wool Allbirds. My partner wears Allbirds’ Wool Dasher Mizzles for rainy day runs and they feel comparable, with a sturdier base and extra friction via the elbow-macaroni-shaped treads. The likeliness of my running through the woods in the near future is . . . well, unlikely. But the likeliness of treading up and down slick subway platforms and icy Boston sidewalks is imminent.
Allbirds has proven to be thoughtful in its fabric choices, avoiding clogging up the environment with harmful waste. It also eschews manufacturing practices that pollute the earth. Still a key part of reducing waste is consuming less: We should only be buying things we truly need. The Trail Runner SWT, for me, checks a few boxes. While wearing them, I can survive an urban landscape compounded with a New England winter—and head out of the city for an unpaved weekend hike. They are stylishly minimal enough to fit into an everyday wardrobe, but also constructed to endure the elements, if need be. You probably never truly need any fashion item, but as a blend of form and function, shoes certainly come pretty close.
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