Health & Fitness | November 9, 2021 11:29 am

Allbirds, Of All Brands, Makes Our New Favorite Running Tee

Your dad's favorite shoe company cracked the code on athletic tops

Man running in Allbirds running tee
Allbirds makes our new favorite running shirt
Allbirds

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It would appear that Allbirds is now an athleisure brand.

That certainly wasn’t the pitch when the company was founded seven years ago — when it took in six figures in five days on Kickstarter for slip-on sneakers made from the Merino wool of New Zealand’s happiest sheep. It wasn’t even the pitch last year at this time, when Allbirds expanded its menu of footwear and dropped its first pair of running shoes: the Tree Dashers.

These days, though, Allbirds is also in the business of cardigans, tube socks and running apparel. There are lingering questions on the San Francisco-based label’s health (some have suggested that Allbirds is filling out its shelves to justify last year’s $1 billion valuation, others contend this is a natural progression for a creative and celebrated design house) but you don’t really have to get bogged down in all that.

Instead, just take the words of verified buyer “Tommy S.,” who recently reviewed the Natural Run Tee, the premier athletic top from Allbirds’s new line: “God, I love Allbirds. It’s such a breathable shirt. Everything they make is eco-conscious and makes me feel great buying/wearing it.”

allbirds running tee
Here are the Natural Run Tee’s fabric stats: 45% Merino Wool, 36% Recycled Polyester, 19% Tencel Lyocell.
Allbirds

We agree with Mr. S. The activewear space has gotten so crowded that if you’re going to break in, you need to do so with a bang. Well, Allbirds has accomplished that goal thus far, and they’ve done so by leaning on what it does best: source the most planet-friendly fabrics possible and weave them into something functional and comfy.

Similar to Patagonia, Allbirds has caught flack in the past for having a somewhat boring or conformist fashion selection. Wool Runners are the preferred trainers of LinkedIn influencers, guys who go out in college football polos, and dads who need to sleep on planes. We get it. But also similar to Patagonia, Allbirds’s commitment to sustainable practices is very real. The Natural Run Tee continues that tradition; it’s made from a blend of Merino wool and eucalyptus tree fibers, and its footprint starts at 9.2 kg CO2e. Allbirds buys carbon offsets on behalf of the consumer to bring that number to 0 kg CO2e for each tee.

The earth-first approach isn’t just an angle — it’s why the Natural Run Tee works. These materials are fantastic, and assuming they’ll form the cornerstone for future running collections to come, Allbirds is onto a winner. I’ve run in tops from a ton of heavy-hitters (Nike, Tracksmith, Janji), and this entry is right up there. My favorite features? It’s light as hell, has just enough looseness around the chest, the seaming is designed to prevent chafing, the sleeves sit high and out of the way on the shoulders, and there’s has a textured-pebbled finish that does an excellent job of wicking sweat.

As always with Allbirds, too, there’s an effortless minimalism to the look. This tee goes with just about anything, because it doesn’t have any neon logos or stipes splashed across the chest. (On this point, Allbirds has clearly tapped into the true activewear aesthetic.) If there’s one head-scratcher for me, it’s the kangaroo pouch on the right hip. It isn’t supposed to carry your phone — more so cards or a key — but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with something jumping around, and likely out of there, on a run. Perhaps the next pocket will have a zipper.