Our verdict

Adidas' latest foray into the daily trainer game is the Adizero SL, which borrows design elements from the brand's premium lineup. At $120, it boasts a feathery weight, top-notch stability and fantastic breathability. The catch? The heel is on the narrow side, which might not sit well with heel strikers. Plus, even though it has a puck of Lightstrike Pro in the forefoot, we found the foam is quite firm overall and lacks energy return.

Pros

  • Spacious upper
  • Durable outsole
  • Highly breathable mesh
  • Surprisingly light
  • Stable for being a neutral daily trainer
  • Superb grip
  • Great value
  • Suitable for track workouts

Cons

  • Lightstrike feels like a brick
  • Low energy return
  • Heel is extremely narrow

Audience verdict

88
Great!

Who should buy

In our view, the Adidas Adizero SL is an excellent choice for:

  • Beginners embarking on their running journey, seeking an all-rounder.
  • Individuals who find the Pegasus too narrow and desire a wider alternative.
  • Runners who appreciate firmer midsoles and need a durable running shoe.

Adidas Adizero SL

Who should NOT buy

If a soft, cloud-like midsole is your thing, steer clear of the Adizero SL—it's on the firmer side. We recommend the ASICS Novablast 3, with its plush FF Blast+ foam, for the softness you crave.

For heel strikers who require added stability, this shoe might not work out, it's just too narrow. Consider the Hoka Clifton 9, which offers a wider heel base.

Adidas Adizero SL parts

Breathability

When we first opened the box containing the Adizero SL, we were beyond excited. The upper showed more breathable holes than we've ever seen before, so naturally, we couldn't wait to put its breathability to the test.

Our initial impressions were confirmed—this shoe is a winner in the airflow department. The smoke flowed through effortlessly, earning the Adizero SL a lab-tested 5/5 score.

The upper has hundreds of tiny holes, making it an ideal pick for hot summer runs.

Adidas Adizero SL microscope

To get an even closer look, we used a microscope. The holes look simply stunning, explaining why the shoe breathes so well despite having a thick mesh.

Adidas Adizero SL

What surprised us was that the Adizero SL achieves all this even with an interior layer lining the entire shoe. This layer is designed for comfort but it's so thin that it doesn't block the airflow at all.

Test results
Adizero SL 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 223 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Usually, shoes that excel in breathability don't hold up well when it comes to durability. But we found that Adidas has cracked the code by blending a robust mesh with big breathability holes, just like we mentioned in the previous test.

We put the shoe to the test in our lab using a dremel. It made a hole, but it wasn't nearly as bad as what we've seen in other shoes. We gave it a 3/5 score.

For such a tough test, that's a really good outcome.

Adidas Adizero SL Toebox durability
Test results
Adizero SL 3
Average 2.4
Compared to 157 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel collar is often a tricky area for shoe manufacturers. It's easy to make it durable by using tough material, but that usually sacrifices comfort.

We discovered that Adidas pulled off something amazing here. The heel collar scored a 5/5 in durability after our Dremel test. At the same time, it feels really comfortable.

The side-by-side comparison with the NB Rebel v3 is nothing short of remarkable. Hats off to Adidas for this one!

Adidas Adizero SL Heel padding durability
Test results
Adizero SL 5
Average 3.1
Compared to 153 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The first thing that caught our eye when we looked at the outsole was that it didn't have the Continental logo. This means that the Adizero SL doesn't use the German manufacturer's rubber. 

Adidas Adizero SL outsole

We were a bit let down by this, especially since Continental is known for making top-notch outsoles. But after putting this shoe through its paces in the lab, we found that the outsole is still really good.

We measured the rubber's hardness at 88.4 HC, which shows it's mainly built for durability. But don't worry about grip; it's just as good as most daily trainers out there.

Adidas Adizero SL Outsole hardness
Test results
Adizero SL 88.4 HC
Average 80.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 274 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

For our final test in the lab, we used the Dremel to check how durable the outsole really is. 

We discovered that the results are great, just as we expected from such hard rubber. The Dremel made only a 0.7-mm dent in the outsole. That's better than what we've seen in most other shoes.

Adidas Adizero SL Outsole durability
Test results
Adizero SL 0.7 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 135 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

We measured the outsole's thickness at 3.4 mm. This is a pretty average result, but in the best possible way. You can run confidently on light trails or any other surfaces without worrying about outsole durability with the Adizero SL.

Adidas Adizero SL Outsole thickness
Test results
Adizero SL 3.5 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

The moment we picked up the shoe in our lab, we were all struck by how incredibly light it felt, especially in comparison to the Nike Pegasus 40.

Eager to confirm our initial impressions, we put the shoe on our scale and got a stunning result: just 8.8 oz or 249g!

Adidas Adizero SL Weight
Test results
Adizero SL 8.78 oz (249g)
Average 9.35 oz (265g)
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The impressively low weight of this shoe becomes even more remarkable when you consider its generous stack height of 34.9 mm in the heel. That's a whole 4.7 mm more than the stack height of the previously mentioned Pegasus 40.

For heel strikers, even those who are a bit heavier, running in this shoe is a dream come true. It offers more than enough cushioning to keep you comfortable on everyday runs.

Adidas Adizero SL Heel stack
Test results
Adizero SL 34.9 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The stack height in the forefoot area is a bit higher than average, measuring 26.3 mm. We found that this makes the shoe a good fit for both midfoot and forefoot strikers. 

Adidas Adizero SL Forefoot stack
Test results
Adizero SL 26.3 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

The Adizero SL has an 8.6-mm heel-to-toe drop. In the running world, a drop between 8 and 10 mm is often seen as the safest bet for daily trainers.

This shoe is on the lower end of that range, so we think it could be a good option if you're not a fan of shoes with a 10-mm drop or higher.

Adidas Adizero SL Drop
Test results
Adizero SL 8.6 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

We measured the insole and found it to be 3.7 mm thick, which is slightly thinner than the norm, aiming for some weight reductions.

Adidas Adizero SL Insole thickness
Test results
Adizero SL 3.7 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 289 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The midsole is where this shoe really falls short for a lot of runners. With a hardness rating of 22.1 HA, it should be balanced, but it feels firmer than anticipated.

If you're into that old-school, natural running feel, then you might like it. And it's better suited for shorter runs than for long distance workouts.

Adidas Adizero SL Midsole softness
Test results
Adizero SL 22.1 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 221 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Secondary foam softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Adizero SL boasts "Lightstrike Pro" on the midsole, but don't be fooled. You might think it's packed with a lot of Adidas' premium foam, but that's not the case. 

We found a small piece of LSP in the forefoot area that gives a little extra bounce, but it's not a game-changer.

It's just a small part, and it's actually pretty firm! We measured it in our lab, and it scored a high 26.8 HA on the hardness scale. So, don't expect too much from it.

Adidas Adizero SL Secondary foam softness
Test results
Adizero SL 26.8 HA
Average 25.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We wanted to see how the Adizero SL would perform in cold weather, so we stuck it in the freezer for 20 minutes and we took a well-deserved rest.

Once we took it out, we checked the softness using our durometer. What we discovered was a hardness of 28.0 HA.

We found a remarkable 26.7% difference between the two tests, which is really impressive. Especially when you consider that Lightstrike is an EVA foam.

These types of foam usually don't do well in cold weather. Nonetheless, the fact that it's already a firm foam definitely plays a role in this great performance.

Adidas Adizero SL Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Adizero SL 26.7%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 220 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Sure, some people might not be fans of the foam's softness, but we discovered that it has its own set of benefits. One big plus is that you get a stable shoe without the need for any extra, intrusive features like medial posts.

Torsional rigidity

We found that the Adizero SL is really rigid and doesn't twist much.

We gave it a score of 4 out of 5 in our torsional rigidity assessment. That's a score you'd usually see in stability shoes.

Test results
Adizero SL 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 272 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

We also found that the heel counter is pretty standard, earning a 3 out of 5 in our tests. It does a good job preventing your heel from slipping and it's comfy enough.

Test results
Adizero SL 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 256 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

During our test runs, we felt really stable in the Adizero SL.

We discovered that a big part of this stability comes from the wide midsole. We measured it at 115.6 mm in the lab.

Adidas Adizero SL Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Adizero SL 115.6 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel of this shoe is really narrow, measuring just 81.0 mm.

This is a bad match for runners who need more stability and happen to be heel strikers. If that's you, we recommend looking for something wider and more stable, like the ASICS Kayano 30.

Adidas Adizero SL Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Adizero SL 81.0 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

A lot of runners like to use their daily running shoes for the gym or for walking too. If that's what you're planning with the Adizero SL, you're in luck.

We measured its flexibility in the lab and got a 22.3N result in our 90-degree bend test. This shoe is really flexible, so it works great for more than just running, like walking or going to the gym.

Test results
Adizero SL 22.3N
Average 29.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After another 20-minute chill in the freezer, we ran the flexibility test again. This time, we measured a 30.4N result. So yes, the Adizero SL remain ice-cold flexible!

That's a 36.1% difference between the room-temperature test and the cold test. That's a really impressive result, especially for a shoe that's easy on the wallet.

Test results
Adizero SL 36.1%
Average 36.3%
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Internal length

We measured the internal length of the Adidas Adizero SL and it came in at 269.8 mm. Now, you might think that's super precise, but keep in mind that Adidas sizing is based on EU sizes, not US sizes. So technically, it should be 263 mm.

But here's the good part—most US size 9 shoes are 270 mm long. So for many of you, they got it accidentally right!

Adidas Adizero SL Internal length
Test results
Adizero SL 269.8 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

We measured the toebox and found it to be surprisingly roomy at 102.4 mm.

Adidas Adizero SL upper roomy

This is a bit unexpected because Adidas usually makes shoes with tighter uppers. However, it's actually one of the widest toeboxes we've seen in daily trainers on the market.

Adidas Adizero SL Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Adizero SL 102.4 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We found that the same roomy design extends to the big toe area as well.

Adidas has made the Adizero SL shoe wide enough that even those of us with wide feet can stick with the standard size and be comfortable.

Adidas Adizero SL Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Adizero SL 79.1 mm
Average 78.1 mm
Compared to 168 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue on this shoe isn't gusseted. We'd have really liked it if they'd thrown in a semi-gusseted tongue—it would make those tempo runs and fartleks feel a lot better.

But at 120 bucks... you get what you pay for, right?

Adidas Adizero SL Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Adizero SL None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The padding in the tongue works well. We found that it keeps the instep comfy, so no worries about pain there. And since the Adizero SL is not meant for long runs, they didn't need to pile on extra cushioning.

Adidas Adizero SL Tongue padding
Test results
Adizero SL 4.1 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

There's a pull tab on the heel that totally reminds us of Adidas' marathon king, the Adizero Adios Pro 3.

Adidas Adizero SL Heel tab
Test results
Adizero SL Pull tab

Removable insole

We found that the insole in the Adizero SL is not glued. And because there's so much space inside this shoe, we easily swapped it with insoles from other shoes, no problems at all!

Adidas Adizero SL Removable insole
Test results
Adizero SL Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Reflective elements are missing, which is a bummer. It's like Adidas forgot about us folks who like—or have to—run when it's dark out.

Adidas Adizero SL Reflective elements
Test results
Adizero SL No