The perfect shoe is the shoe that doesn't need to be tied. And preferably aren’t Crocs.
For years, strangers have often told me I had loose laces walking – stopping to tie them is often a minor inconvenience to getting where I need to go. In that regard, the Allbirds Tree Loungers integrate a heady combination of comfort, aesthetics and value with its laceless vision, promising to be that Toms upgrade from the 2010s.1
Designed as a quick grab-and-go errand shoe, the Allbirds Tree Loungers retail for $98. However, as excited as we were for them to be a full replacement for everyday sneaking, they actually aren’t our first pick if we knew we were going to be actively on our feet all day.
For those office workers—raise your hand if you are one 🙋—the Loungers aren’t a terrible shoe. If the daily commute means heading out on a car or a train, and/or sitting down at a desk for the work day, these are decent.
Besides, who has time to stop and -tie- their shoe? Exactly.
How the Tree Loungers differ from the others
For context, Allbirds are on constant rotation in our shoe closet: The Tree Runners, Tree Dashers, and Tree Breezers all make occasional appearances in the wardrobe (in our opinion, the merino wool is a bit too heavy for everyday use).
Generally speaking, Allbirds usually delivers when it comes to comfort, though there are minor nuances between the different shoes. For instance, the Breezers aren't great for wide feet.
It is also pretty consistent when it comes to the level of care and upkeep required of each shoe — which is often more than what we would like. But, c'est la vie, and you can't have the good without the bad.
Not to mince too many words, but the Allbirds Tree Loungers are really designed for lounging.
That means, rolling around on the living room couch on a lazy Sunday, and oh crap, there’s an oat milk emergency. And for whatever reason, you decide it’s a lot easier to pop out of the house to grab said oat milk around the corner, so you do it. And for some reason, we imagine this vision of you being in L.A. while you’re doing this.
Or for taking out the trash. (It’s our favorite shoe for taking out the trash.)
Picking up that Amazon package.
But if you’re going to run out for a full day? That’s when things get a bit finickier, and we hesitate briefly at the shoe rack before selecting our footwear of choice.
For instance, it is possible to see how much more traction the Runners have simply by looking at the soles of each shoe (Loungers on the left; Runners on the right) in the below picture. The grips are slightly more pronounced in the Runners.
Constructing a laceless utopia...
Made out of the same sustainable materials as the Tree Runners, the Tree Loungers are primarily composed of eucalyptus tree fibers from a factory in Vietnam.
The eucalyptus fibers lend them to be cool enough to wear in most warm temperatures. It's also a decent spring and fall shoe (and can be sustainably worn in 40°F temperatures with socks).
In our opinion, it's a summer shoe that happens to have a lot of versatility. Winner winner chicken dinner.
That doesn't mean it is the perfect, slip-on utopia vision that it promises. Curiously enough, its laceless construction, is in some ways, its downfall.
This is further compounded by the fact that the Tree Loungers are only available in whole sizes, though we were able to get it in our normal Allbirds size. However, if it had been possible, we would have preferred to go half a size down. There were times where we felt it was just a tad too big.
Most noticeably, the Tree Loungers are missing a heel tab and ankle collar present in the Tree Runners, which affected walking performance significantly. These construction differences amplified certain things: For example, the absence of an ankle collar meant there was a lot less ankle support.
(It is worth noting this writer has a particular problem with weak ankles, after years of practicing figure skating and ballet. At least we know what it takes to have proper foot support?)
For reference, here is a quick diagram showing different parts that make up a shoe:
The lack of ankle support is noticeable, and also strangely, because of this construction, the Allbirds no-show socks, the Trino Hiders, often roll and bunch up because there is no ankle collar to keep socks in place.
These shoes are better with an ankle sock than a no-show sock, but problems pervade no matter what type of sock you’re wearing.
(I don’t like stopping to tie my shoes, but I dislike stopping to readjust bunched-up socks in my shoe even less.)
The back of the shoe also sits slightly lower, because of the missing heel tab.
Our walk from our apartment to the local Trader Joe’s (which is exactly 1.9 miles, or a 30-minute walk, one-way) often showcases a few of these problems. That 3.8-mile roundtrip walk will also happen to be the longest distance we prefer to walk in these shoes at any one time.
(The Tree Breezers suffer from similar-ish problems. In terms of comfort, putting aside aesthetics, our preference between the Loungers and the Breezers reside with the Loungers. The Loungers are also able to accommodate wider feet significantly better than the Breezers.)