Wool Sneakers That'll Make You See Past Synthetic Knits
Wool Workout Sneakers for Any Season
In 2016, a new start-up called Allbirds seriously switched up the sneaker game with an unlikely ingredient: wool. What you think might be reserved for your favorite sweaters or scarves is actually a great fabric for workout sneakers: It wicks moisture, minimizes odors, and regulates temperature (both hot and cold!). That's why Allbirds cofounder Tim Brown thought it would be the perfect footwear fabric.
Brown created the company with cofounder Joey Zwillinger to find new uses for natural resources rather than relying on synthetics. Their shoes are made from merino wool, which they say has a carbon footprint that is 60 percent smaller than typical synthetic materials, and castor beans, a sustainable green polyurethane source for the insoles. And because they have the perfect fitness-meets-lifestyle look, you can wear them through your whole day (workout included) and through any weather.
While Allbirds led the wool-sneaker charge, other brands are starting to hop on the trend. You might not want to toss your high-performance running shoes yet, but these are a great option for those who want a more sustainable trainer that goes from studio to street.
APL TechLoom Breeze Merino Wool Sneaker
Hot LA-based shoe company Athletic Propulsion Laps (APL) teamed up with The Woolmark Company to create the ultimate technical-knit wool sneaker. It's APL's most sustainable and lightweight shoe to date and is crafted with 80 percent Australian Merino wool. If you love APL's original model, don't worry: The wool upper will hold up just as well as their other sneaks. The APL x Woolmark collab shoe is still knitted with APL's patented TechLoom technology to remain flexible but hug your foot for maximum support—and stand up to your toughest workouts.
Giesswein Wool Cross X
Meet the world’s first high-performance sport shoe with a lining made of 100 percent merino wool. It comes from The Giesswein Wool Lab team (which develops innovative and sustainable fabrics from wool). And because merino naturally neutralizes unpleasant smells and wicks moisture away from your foot, you can sport these shoes sans socks. The inside isn't the only cool part: They're designed with micro-grip technology so you can wear these while cross-training or tackling trails.
Baabuk Urban Wooler
Baabuk, a 5-year-old Swiss start-up, raised money on Kickstarter to fund their unisex Urban Wooler sneakers. All of Baabuk's sneakers and slippers are made with a single piece of wool felt (from 500 adorable Swiss sheep) and the soles are made from natural rubber, leather, or recycled tires. This all-black pair looks so chic (and will go so well with all your printed workout leggings), but you can also snag them in head-turning red or bright purple.
Hoka One One Hupana Wool
This neutral running sneaker packs all the top-performance perks of your usual pair of Hokas—plus, all the advantages of being made from a natural fiber. The wool fleece upper feels like your favorite pair of comfy reading socks on top of Hoka's dreamy, cushion R-BOUND midsole and outsole. Translation: They're just about the comfiest running sneakers money can buy.
Merrell Riveter Wool
These wool shoes from legendary hiking boot brand Merrell may not be insanely high-tech for hitting the trails—but their breathability, heel air cushion technology, and M Select GRIP outsole promise they'll get you through any indoor or outdoor adventure.
Le Mouton Merino Wool Sneakers
You can snag these Le Mouton merino wool sneakers right on Amazon (and take advantage of that free, two-day Prime shipping). With an 84 percent Australian merino wool upper, a 100 percent merino lining, and a style that's super similar to Allbirds, they'll be just as comfy, odor-wicking, and versatile—promise.
Xero Shoes Pacifica
If you're into wool for the ~natural~ vibe, take it to the next level with these minimalist, barefoot-feel shoes from Xero. These sneaks have zero drop (meaning there's no difference in height from the heel to the toe) and a wide toe box that lets your toes spread—both designed to allow for naturally optimal posture, balance, and agility.
Sustainable footwear brand Earth shoes has an affordable wool sneaker that'll rival the look of your trendiest kicks. You can feel extra good about your purchase too: For every Earth shoe purchased, the company plants a tree.