Adidas earned its place in the footwear and athletic apparel industries by staying true to what motivated its founder, Adi Dassler, nearly a century ago: listening to athletes, and making products that address their needs. Dassler started a shoe company in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1924, and he scored his first running shoe successes soon afterward—Lina Radke won a gold medal at the 1928 Olympics while wearing his shoes, as did Jesse Owens in 1936. Dassler’s commitment to innovation and performance became a hallmark for the company (which he gave the moniker Adidas in 1949) that grew the three-stripes brand into a household name.
The Age of Boost
More recently, Adidas shook up running shoe construction with its Boost foam in 2013. Instead of traditional EVA, this new cushioning material used thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) capsules developed by the German chemical company BASF. The resulting foam delivered responsive support that was more durable and provided greater energy return than earlier cushioning systems, and Adidas dubbed it Boost. The foam debuted on the Energy Boost shoe in 2013, and it set a new standard for superior cushion that didn’t add weight or degrade after high mileage. Rival shoemakers quickly followed suit with their own proprietary cushioning materials, which sparked the current foam craze.
Adidas continues to refine Boost, but there’s other tech worth noting as well. Tailored Fiber Placement debuted in 2018 with the Solar Boost, and this new design technique, which involves individually placing each fiber of the upper, creates an extra snug fit around your foot. Another Adidas hallmark is the Adidas Torsion System, which first debuted in 1988. It’s a lightweight plastic arch support that allows independent movement of the heel and forefoot. It’s found on many of the company’s kicks, including the UltraBoost, and it helps alleviate arch strain by letting your foot move more naturally and adjust to uneven ground as you run.
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Our team of over 350 wear testers includes runners of all ages and speeds living both locally near our Pennsylvania headquarters and across the U.S. Between our testers and Runner’s World staff, we’ve run in many of the Adidas models below. And for those that we haven’t personally laced up, we rely on our research, consultation with brand reps, user feedback and reviews, and our own extensive experience with both running and the running shoe industry. We also check data from our RW Shoe Lab, where we’ve tested and re-tested the energy return of Boost foam, measured the flexibility of Adidas’s stabilizing Torsion System, and assessed the traction of its Continental rubber outsoles. Regardless of which shoe you choose, rest assured that we’ve thoroughly scrutinized the current Adidas lineup and found the best.
The iconic Ultraboost shoe might look like streetwear, but there’s plenty of performance technology behind this fashion-forward model. The latest version sticks with the same formula of the Ultraboost 19: The midfoot wrap utilizes a flexible mesh to move with your foot, the Primeknit upper is constructed with Tailored Fiber Placement for a snug fit, and a generous wedge of Boost foam in the midsole creates a springy, well-cushioned ride. Plus, it all rides on a Continental rubber outsole with excellent grip.
—BEST DAILY TRAINER—
The new Supernova is a revelation for Adidas’s Supernova line—and for the $100 shoe category across the board. Previous renditions were well-cushioned and protective for long runs but clunky and heavy underfoot. Now, the shoe feels like one of the smoothest around, with Boost heel cushioning that soaks up braking forces and seamlessly transitions to a soft EVA foam forefoot. At 10-minute pace or five-minute pace, the Supernova feels brilliant and more lively underfoot. The mesh upper is similarly great, with no hot spots or uncomfortable seams, and a snug midfoot fit that opens up into a spacious toe box.
—BEST MARATHON SHOE—
Adizero Adios Pro
Instead of a plate, the Adios Adizero Pro uses five carbon-fiber rods placed in line with the metatarsal bones. This makes the ride a little more controlled than shoes with a full plate, which can sometimes feel unpredictable at toe-off. However, even with its towering 39mm midsole of Adidas’s LightstrikePro foam, the shoe felt quick, responsive, and reliable. (Plus, a part-carbon fiber, part-nylon heel plate also boosts stability at the ankle joint, which can help when your form fatigues in those final marathon miles.) The one real drawback is that the outsole skimps on traction; it’ll suffice for dry roads but won’t deliver the grip of Continental rubber.
—BEST FOR RACING—
Like the Adios Pro above, the Adizero Pro also uses a winning combo of Lightstrike and Boost foams. Of course, one look at the difference in stack heights will tell you it’s obvious this shoe uses much less of both. But the two materials work together just the same: Boost gives the shoe a softer landing with solid absorption, while Lightstrike keeps the ride responsive and remarkably smooth. However, the plate sandwiched between the midsole and the sockliner is made from Carbitex—instead of regular carbon fiber—which gives the shoe a little more flexibility at toe off. It’s also been tuned to flex at a 30-degree angle, the sweet spot for a propulsive feel that won’t place too much stress onto the metatarsals. All in all, you’ll get less midsole cush compared to the Adios Pro but a much stabler ride and improved ground feel.
—BEST BUDGET SPEED TRAINER—
What do you get if you take an Adidas Boston, swap out the Boost foam, and knock several bucks off the price tag? The SL20. Longtime wearers of the Boston line will feel at home once they slip their foot in and experience the traditional fit from Adidas’s fastest shoes. Anybody accustomed to a cushier, beefier daily trainer will like the lightweight pop the “Super Light” delivers for uptempo sessions. And all will appreciate the dependable Continental rubber covering the entire forefoot, which held firm even on rain-slicked sidewalks. “I would say that this shoe feels like a cross between a Brooks Launch and a Saucony Kinvara,” one tester said. “However, I’d definitely want a little more cushioning for long runs.”
SolarGlide ST 3
SolarGlide shoes are designed for distance, and the ST in particular is aimed at runners looking for a little more support. Underfoot, you get a springy three-quarter-length Boost midsole and Continental rubber outsole for good cushioning and traction, along with extra support tech added in. This shoe comes with a Solar Propulsion Rail (a layer of firmer foam that guides your foot), an discreet internal heel counter for stability, and a Torsion System plate for arch support.
—BEST FOR RECOVERY RUNS—
The Pureboost Go is a versatile option for runners who want a shoe that can do a little bit of everything—even look fashionable when paired with everyday garb. Still, complete with a full Boost foam midsole, a thin rubber outsole, and a breathable upper that offers a bootie-like fit to gently wrap your foot, this is a running shoe first. “Whether I was on the road or gravel trails, the Adidas Pureboost Go made running on any terrain effortless, with minimal fatigue,” one wear-tester said.
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Adizero Boston 9
The Adizero Boston is the rare racing shoe that’s also a comfortable everyday trainer. Its pared-down Boost midsole provides a springy feel and also saves weight, so it’s easy to pick up the pace in this shoe. Although it’s not as plush as other Boost models, it still packs a good amount of cushioning, and its breathable mesh upper and grippy Continental rubber outsole make it a well-rounded choice for training and racing.
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Terrex Agravic TR GTX
Adidas has renewed its focus on high-performance trail running shoes in recent years, and the Agravic TR is a rugged product of that renewal. Its full-length Traxion rubber outsole features deep lugs for superior traction, even in wet and muddy conditions, and an EVA-based midsole allows for good ground feel and energy return. (Though it lacks the thin layer of Boost foam that gives the Agravic XT a little more softness underfoot, the TR compromises by saving you some weight and cash.) A one-piece Gore-Tex bootie keeps water out, and a midfoot wrap locks your foot in place on uncertain terrain.
—BEST FOR LONG RUNS—
The Solarboost is the kind of shoe that’s built to handle the rigors of distance training while keeping your feet comfortable and supported. It utilizes the support tech similar to the SolarGlide (a sturdy guide rail, an anti-torsion plate beneath the arch, and a solid internal heel counter), but includes some key upgrades, too. In the midsole, there’s a full-length layer of Boost cushioning for additional comfort and responsiveness at toe-off, and an air mesh upper with Tailored Fiber Placement that creates a snug, supportive fit.