Travel Gear Review: Allbirds Merino Wool Slip-on Shoes

Sep 16, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Walking around airports in open-toed shoes can feel a bit, um, gross, not to mention chilly when you’re actually on a plane — there’s a reason airlines give business- and first-class passengers comfy socks. But since we can’t actually travel to our destinations wearing socks and slippers, finding the right pair of shoes is crucial.

Enter Allbirds Loungers, which feel (and sort of look) like slippers, but are far more comfortable than the cardboard-soled version offered in hotels. In fact, Allbirds just might be your next go-to travel shoe.

The San Francisco-based shoe company launched in early 2016 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $100,000 for its pair of Wool Runners that were “so soft you can wear sockless.” The shoes quickly became favored by the Silicon Valley crowd, notching several favorable write-ups in travel publications for their wearability. But its new Wool Loungers, launched in April, make even more sense from a travel perspective: they’re light, comfy and literally go with everything. Did I mention you don’t need socks?

Image courtesy of AllBirds.

The Specs

Founder Tim Brown hails from New Zealand — “the land of 29,221,344 sheep,” according to Allbirds — where he came to notice the merits of merino wool: It’s breathable, moisture-wicking and somehow not at all itchy. The shoes are available for $95 online or at Allbirds’ concept store in San Francisco; the second, brand-new shop in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood opened this week.

Available only in whole sizes from size 5 to size 10 for women and size 8 to 14 for men, the site’s online fit finder asks a few questions and recommends your ideal size — a size 7 fit was perfect for my typical size 7-7.5 foot.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 11.48.32 AM

The Look

One of the shoe’s best features is its simplicity. A tiny tag on the heel is the only semblance of a logo, and the rest of the shoe is so innocuous that it could, in the words of fashion magazines, “transition from day-to-night with ease.” They’re less conspicuous than sneakers and the lack of laces and external detailing makes them easy to take off and put on again.

Currently, they’re sold in six colors for women: “classics” in grey and black and “limited edition” in moss, plum, navy and pine — men also have the “classic grey” and black options and “limited edition” moss and plum colors.

Where to Wear

Here’s the one downside: You probably won’t want to rough these up. While sneakers would do well to protect you during a thunderstorm or could easily double as hiking shoes, the Loungers are best for city walking or, yes, lounging so you might want to travel in the Loungers and pack a sturdier shoe for any intense sight-seeing.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 11.48.45 AM

The Details

One perk if you want to give them a try: the warranty lets you exchange them after 30 days for any reason, no questions asked. The shoes are also machine washable and odor-minimizing, which is good news for anyone who’s returned from a trip, opened their luggage and found all of their clothing and gifts smell like dirty shoes. And with a sole made of foam and rubber, the shoe is feather-light.

The Takeaway

After walking many miles in the Loungers in my home city, hiking up stairs and sweating through a humid summer, my gray pair of Allbirds Loungers hardly took a beating. A darker color may attract more heat, but the moisture-wicking wool kept my feet dry, even without socks. Finally, a travel shoe that doesn’t scream “tourist” can easily navigate everywhere from the TSA line to rolling hills and won’t stink up my suitcase.

Would you purchase a pair of these shoes? Let us know in the comments below.

All photos courtesy of Allbirds.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.