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Disclosure: The Adizero x Allbirds running shoes was purchased with our own money.

Daily Running Co Sustainability Project

This review is part of Daily Running Co’s Sustainability Project where we run in pairs of shoes targeted to reduce our impact on the environment. As part of the Project, we want to assess and determine the experience, feasibility, and learnings from threading lighter as a user. At the end of the project, we will publish a report on our findings.

Introduction to Footwear

The Adidas x Allbirds 2.94Kg CO2E running shoes is a prime example of collaboration in the industry for the environment. If you like to find out more about this pair of running shoes, below is a link to my initial review.

Runner’s Profile

Prior to the review, it is essential to establish my runner profile for you to better gauge my opinions on the shoes. For example, a lighter runner will experience differently the effects of midsole compared to a heavier runner. I am on the heavy side for a runner (75kg – 80kg) range and stands at 1.75m tall. My average weekly mileage ranges from 30km to 35km. I am a mid-foot/fore-foot strike with a neutral foot. I am normally a US size 11 although it varies depending on brands.

Statistics of the Running Shoes

  • Weight: 186 grams (6.5 oz)
  • Forefoot Stack Height: 14mm (excluding the sidewalls)
  • Heel Stack Height: 24mm (excluding the sidewalls)
  • Insole thickness: ~ 3mm
  • Outsole rubber thickness: 1mm & 2mm in different areas.

Does My Five Key Pointers Still Hold After 100km?

My initial five key pointers were:

  1. Fits my wide feet well
  2. Worried about secured fit with a minimum upper
  3. Resilient midsole cushioning despite low stack height
  4. Thin Laces, a concern?
  5. Minimum outsole rubber, unknown durability

The five key pointers remain true over my 100km run in this pair of running shoes. The running shoes still fits well for my wide feet without any pressure points or discomfort. The thin laces are not a concern in providing functional lockdown, together with the upper, and even having an eyelet for runner’s knot. There are things which I discovered over my 100km run.

What Has Changed Then?

I discovered that the upper is unable to hold on when it comes to tight corners or speed workout with to-and-fro. The upper which is very minimum in terms of structure will not be able to hold the foot during sudden turn. It is normal for midsole materials to compress after running a certain distance in them. The Adidas x Allbirds running shoes still holds well to provide cushioning, but the forefoot compression can be felt during longer runs. While I had took it for runs up to 15km in a single run, I believe it is more suited for shorter runs up to 10km and speed workouts. Given the low stack height, it comes as no surprise that it will feel even more harsh after 100km. There is one way to overcome this, you can swap the insole and it could help provide the additional cushioning.

Image 1: Midsole Condition After 100KM

The durability of the outsole is going very strong. I am not sure what type of rubber compound is used here but it is good. With 100km, it is natural that there is some wear the lateral heel and forefoot area. I think it is worth giving praise to as there is only about 1mm of outsole in most areas and 2mm in the lateral heel and medial forefoot areas. It is likely that the EVA midsole will see some degradation as more more mileage is put in it.

Image 2: Outsole After 100KM

Durability of Pair of Running Shoes?

This pair of running shoes is likely to last, perhaps, till 300 km thereabout before the degradation affect performance. The outsole remains durable and strong even after 100 km. However, the midsole might compress further with longer usage for runs and it only has a low stack midsole. As such, the lifespan of the 2.94kg CO2e running shoes will likely be much more limited. Of the upper, midsole, and outsole, the midsole will likely be part which made the running shoes less usage. The other two parts are likely to hold well based off the current condition.

For sustainability, the lifespan of the footwear is equally important to reduce the number of times a runner needs to re-purchase. As such, companies embarking on sustainable products should take note to balance low carbon emission and durability.

Can This be a Potential Choice for Performance Running?

Yes, it can. There has been more instances where I reached for this pair for my workout. But it is not always, there is a limitation to what this pair can replace. For a marathon training block, I can utilize it during the initial buildup phase but not at a later stage. Additionally, I will not use this pair for any workout which might need you to change direction quickly, the upper is not going to hold you in.

Nonetheless, this collaboration project showcased to us that it is possible to get a performance oriented running shoe while reducing our carbon emission impact, The following are the few exceptions to the “Yes” I’ve provided

  1. In the market, there are many good or better options for runners who are looking at performance running shoes (w/o sustainability consideration).
    • For example, at a SGD170 price point, from the same brand, you have the SL20.3 (SGD 160), the Adizero Adios 7 (SGD 180).
    • From other brands, for example ASICS, has their Hyperspeed (SGD 129), Dynablast 2 (SGD 149). From Nike, you have the Rival Fly 3 (SGD 129) and the Winflo 9 (SGD 165). Reebok’s Floatride Energy 4 (SGD 139) is another excellent choice.
  2. The 2.94kg CO2e running shoes will be for runners who do runs lesser than 10km most of the times. Due to its specifications, the running shoes will have a more limited distance usage due to the cushioning it provides. You can take it for half-marathon if you are prepared and trained for it. Perhaps a faster runner can do it, but I believe majority of runners on the street will likely benefit from putting their money in other running shoes.

Conclusion

The collaboration between Adidas and Allbirds have showcased the possibility for competitors to come together and tackle the challenges we face today. With the collaboration, the partners were able to create a product that meets runners’ need for a sustainable and performance oriented running shoes.

The 2.94kg CO2e running shoes is a capable pair of footwear for runners looking for a sustainable option. However, runner should recognize the limitations posted by sustainability on the running shoes such as the materials and construction. The partners have done great job in achieving the world’s lowest carbon footprint running shoes.

Adidas has now created their own version of this collaboration the PARLEY X ADIZERO SHOES which has even lower carbon footprint at 2.4kg. The main change is in the upper which might result in better comfort and lockdown compared to the collaboration. I’m excited to see what the future of the Parley series and this model will be in the future.

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