When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Allbirds’ original Wool Runners are top contenders as the most comfortable everyday shoes, and we’ve been impressed with the brand’s foray into performance sneakers with the Allbirds Dasher (although, when the co-founder is a former professional soccer player, we can’t be too surprised). As you’ll see in our Allbirds Tree Dasher Relay review, there’s a way to have the best of both sneakers in this one laceless pair.
Like the Dasher, it’s a neutral, cushioned sneaker with a flared heel that’s designed to add stability and slow excessive pronation. It has the same propulsive bounce we raved about in our review of the Allbirds Tree Dasher, with extra cushioning and each of Allbirds’ sustainable materials: Merino wool as internal accents, sugarcane-based SweetFoam as soles, and a knit upper made from the company’s Tree fabric that uses eucalyptus pulp.
Like most Allbirds, they’re also machine-washable, and are similarly affordable to the sneakers listed in our guide to the best cheap running shoes.
What the Tree Dasher Relay is like to run in
In person, the shoes are as unbelievably comfortable as the Allbirds Dashers. The light knit is a resilient hammock on top of the foot and in the toe box. The fit is snug but flexible, and the temperature control is noticeably effortless.
And while more bouncy and overt than a typical minimalist running shoe, the internal cushioning doesn’t feel bulky or hot. The flared heel and cushioning may give the appearance of an ultra-cushioned option, but they feel far lighter — though not as light as my Adidas Pulseboost HD or the highly-reviewed Allbirds x Adidas collab sneakers (currently sold out due to their extreme popularity with eco-conscious runners).
When I first received the pair pictured above, I wore them for errands and on a quick neighborhood 5K. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a slip-on style for exercise — would there be chafing? Would they feel looser than I wanted? But I didn’t notice any difference between laced or laceless pairs while on the move.
In terms of style, I was surprised to like the way the laceless version looks. I expected to find the monotone laceless knit upper to code as overly pragmatic — like something you’d buy for a long hospital shift — more than aesthetically pleasing. But the knit is close-fitting and not bulky. With a pair of black leggings, they’re pretty unnoticeable and unimpeachable to me.
Having said that, if you’re only going to purchase one pair, and everything else is the same, I’d still recommend investing in the Dasher ($135) if you think you may want the customization of laces over the convenience of a slip-on style.
The bottom line
Ultimately, the Tree Dasher Relay ($135) shoes felt to me exactly like the Dasher ($135) — making the silhouette of slip-on vs. lace-up as the only substantial difference. In terms of comfort and performance, you can’t go wrong with either one.