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 very 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 rocked the running world with the release of 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 keep an eye out for other tech 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 feet. Another Adidas hallmark is the Adidas Torsion System, which first debuted in 1988. It’s a lightweight plastic arch support that allowing 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.
How We Chose These Shoes
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, you can rest assured that we’ve thoroughly scrutinized the current Adidas lineup to select the ten best models below.
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 that creates excellent grip.
—BEST FOR HIKING—
Terrex Free Hiker
Adidas took its streetwear sensibility off-road with the launch of the Terrex Free Hiker in 2019. This eye-catching hiking shoe is a far cry from the drab, neutral-toned clunkers you’re used to seeing on the trail. And it’s not just for show, either: A full Boost midsole and a lugged Continental rubber outsole provide cushioning and solid grip in the dirt, and the Primeknit upper creates a sock-like fit. You can even upgrade to the GTX version (for another $25) if you want waterproofing.
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Solar Glide ST 19
Solar Glide 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 external heel counter for stability, and a Torsion System plate for arch support. Surprisingly, even with the added features, it’s still lighter than the similarly equipped Solarboost 19.
—BEST DAILY TRAINER—
The Adidas 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 before all else. “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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—BEST FOR MARATHONS—
Adizero Boston 8
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.
—BEST FOR FANS OF THE ORIGINAL BOOST—
The original Ultraboost remains a popular item for runners and sneaker collectors alike; its eye-catching aesthetics are obvious, but the shoe is about more than just looks. With its combination of optimal comfort and cushion in a lightweight package, it’s also a great option for high-mileage runners. Although it has less Boost foam than the Ultraboost 20, it still provides responsive cushioning and flexibility. Plus, the Primeknit upper wraps the foot like a sock, and the heel counter is designed to allow optimal movement of the Achilles tendon.
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—BEST WATERPROOF TRAIL SHOE—
Terrex Agravic XT GTX
Adidas has renewed its focus on high-performance trail running shoes in recent years, and the Agravic XT is a rugged product of that renewal. Its full-length Continental rubber outsole features deep lugs for superior traction, even in wet and muddy conditions, and a thin layer of Boost foam paired with EVA allows for good ground feel and energy return. A one-piece Gore-Tex bootie keeps water out, and a mid-foot wrap locks your foot in place on uncertain terrain.
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—BEST DISTANCE TRAINER—
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 same support tech as the Solar Glide (a sturdy guide rail, an anti-torsion plate beneath the arch, and a solid 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, and an air mesh upper with Tailored Fiber Placement that creates a snug, supportive fit.
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—BEST FOR CROSS TRAINING—
From soccer to basketball and beyond, Adidas makes footwear for all kinds of sports, so the company’s lineup is a good place to start if you’re on the hunt for training shoes. The AlphaBoost combines responsive Boost foam with dual-density cushioning and stability pods to create a wide, supportive platform for your feet—ideal for exercises that involve lateral movements. And with its Continental rubber outsole, this shoe provides good durability and excellent grip on a variety of surfaces.
Yeezy Boost 350 V2
In 2015, Adidas blew the doors off the sneaker market with the release of the Yeezy Boost line of shoes designed by rapper Kanye West. The release proved so successful that Adidas brought West on as a long-term partner in 2016, and new Yeezy shoes and apparel have followed since. These shoes combine Adidas’ latest performance tech (like Boost foam) with West’s unique style, and they have built a strong following among sneakerheads—and fashionable runners, too.