Both Allbirds and Adidas make running shoes. In many ways, they are direct competitors. It’s refreshing in this regard that the two were able to come together for a common good. The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e Running Shoes combine one company’s vast experience in performance running with another company’s mastery of sustainable materials. The result is a pair of running shoes that require less than 3 kilograms of carbon emissions to produce – the smallest ever made by Adidas.
The goal is high-level and deserves to be celebrated, but tennis also needs to be good for running. Does it matter how much carbon emissions are being reduced if nobody wants the product? Making bad shoes that no one buys is still putting more stress on the planet than saving it.
Fortunately, the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e shoes work well – overall. I have some hesitations about its long term durability. These running shoes are definitely firm and intended primarily for faster runs, but in that context, I like what they offer.
- Comfortable fit in every aspect
- Midsole offers a balance of bounce and stiffness
- The shoelaces look fragile
- The thin upper may not survive while the midsole
Shop at Adidas.
Overall, the shoe is very standard, with a regular fit, lace-up closure and textile upper. The midsole is made with 17% sugarcane-derived material and the upper includes recycled materials.
The rubber sole is a little curious. It feels smooth but doesn’t feel smooth or slippery while running. The most notable spec for me was the 5.4 oz weight.
After trying on these shoes, I think the most interesting part is their materials. If you didn’t already know that reducing carbon emissions was their goal, I don’t think there’s much to give away – these running shoes don’t feel compromised. But still, some of your material choices can stand out as unique.
The top, for example, is very thin. There are a lot of thin shoe uppers out there. Typically, they are in the service of a fresher, more airy feel on your foot. In this case, the top is thin to reduce the amount of material used. It’s flexible enough not to stand upright on its own.
Out of the box, these shoes are noticeably light – a little unbelievably actually. The tongue is a puffy foam that is nice but feels cheap, like it’s a second thought. The midsole is firm but flexible. The shoelaces are the most delicate I’ve ever gotten my hands on.
Seeing the shoes from a distance, it’s less obvious that there isn’t much between the foot and the pavement. Up close, though, it’s much easier to see that the excess has been cut off from the product.
Minimal material is less of a concern for support, or even comfort, and more of a concern when it comes to durability. I’ve had a lot of running shoes develop holes in the toe area. So that gives me a break here.
When rubber meets the road, the most important aspect is the performance of these running shoes. Out of the gate, the incredible feeling of lightness really helps give them a boost. My legs, free of almost any weight, seemed to move higher than usual. That initial, slightly unexpected feeling wore off after several runs, but I never stopped feeling agile in these shoes.
In my experience, it takes at least 10 miles to feel the new running shoes. Most have a honeymoon phase, which also happened with the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e shoes. I felt fast with almost no side effects during this first phase. After those 10 miles or so, in three runs, my toes experienced some discomfort that wasn’t present when 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 felt to the road. This forms a real connection with the cement under your feet that helps encourage you to maintain a faster pace.
If you travel regularly, these might be perfect to take with you. Shoes don’t take up a lot of space and don’t add much weight to a bag. Chances are you won’t be running long distances during a business trip.
Personally, I found 3-4 miles to be the most I really wanted to run in these shoes at the same time. I had no problem putting them on day after day and doing it again: that 30+ minute run got close to peak time without becoming uncomfortable.
Should you buy the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e?
Even without the context of trying to make more sustainable running shoes, I think the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 Kg CO2e provides enough performance to warrant its creation. You won’t want to run a half marathon in them, and probably not even 10K, but they’re incredibly light and work well for quick runs over shorter distances.
My biggest hesitation is that the combination of premium price and fine materials can wear out much sooner than other similar running shoes. The need 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 was not a factor in my 25+ miles in these shoes. Every time I tie them, I hold my breath in anticipation of the laces snapping, but they still haven’t. Maybe they never break. The mission is big here, and the product is worthy of consideration. I just hope this is simply the beginning of the project and not the finish line.
Buy it at Adidas for $120.
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