Our verdict

This iconic silhouette from the Adidas Originals has been a mass favorite since it was first released in the '60s. For us, it is hard to go wrong with its classic style, excellent quality, and various choices in colorways – all at an affordable price. Having verified these features on our rigorous testing, we ultimately understood its widespread popularity. Since it is among the most famous lifestyle kicks in history, copping multiple pairs wouldn't be excessive.

Pros

  • Timeless elegant look
  • Excellent value for money
  • Real suede
  • More than 20 colorways
  • Promising durability
  • Flexible design
  • Supportive foothold

Cons

  • Poor breathability
  • Tongue is rough and squeaks
  • Not for all-day wear

Audience verdict

95
Superb!

Who should buy

There is absolutely no walking by the Adidas Gazelle if you're looking for the following:

  • a timeless Adidas Originals silhouette from 1991
  • an elegant sneaker made of genuine suede
  • an easy-to-style model that comes in 20+ colorways
  • an excellent value for money

Adidas Gazelle review

Who should NOT buy

The Gazelle's tongue can be a headache. If you want to avoid chafing and squeaking, we recommend the Adidas Superstar or the Adidas Campus 00S for their softer and better-padded tongues.

The shoe's suede upper may also feel too stuffy on a warm summer day. If you prefer fresh feet, one of our best summer sneakers is likely to suit you better.

And if you need a pair for extended periods of standing and walking, it is a better idea to get a well-cushioned Adidas shoe instead. Like the uber-comfy Alphabounce+ or the Supernova+.

Adidas Gazelle lab test

Breathability

The vivid color options of the Gazelle scream summer. But its toasty suede upper whispers the opposite.

When we used a smoke-pumping machine to check the shoe's ventilation capacity, we found that it was not such an airy sneaker. The smoke (air) was only able to escape from the gaps on the sides of the tongue.

It means that once this Adidas shoe is fully laced up on foot, it will get even less breathable. Thus, we rated it as only 3 on a 1-5 scale where 5 is the most breathable.

Checking the shoe's upper transparency was also in vain as there are no ventilation holes whatsoever.

Test results
Gazelle 3
Average 3.1
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

According to Adidas, Gazelle comes with a suede upper and synthetic lining.

Equipped with a butane torch, we burned the shoe's upper materials for a few seconds to check their genuineness. Next, we tested the burnt parts with a scratch awl.

In the end, we found that the suede is real whereas the white overlay and the inner lining are indeed fake/synthetic.

Adidas Gazelle Leather quality
Test results
Gazelle Real suede

Toebox durability

A sneaker with real suede in the upper is a wise choice if you want truly long-lasting footwear. Let our Dremel test reassure you of the Gazelle's incredible durability.

Raising the speed to the unforgiving 10K RPM, we held the tool against the shoe's toebox for a whole 12 seconds. And the result was truly stunning.

Seeing just a little dimple on the upper, we were amazed at the wear resistance! On a 1-5 scale, we rated the shoe's toebox durability with the highest score of 5.

Adidas Gazelle Toebox durability
Test results
Gazelle 5
Average 3.6
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The inner lining is usually a pretty delicate part of a shoe's upper. But not in the Adidas Gazelle!

Even though it's just a thin synthetic layer, it managed to stand against the Dremel much better than the average.

After 4 seconds of drilling, the tool only scratched the topmost layer without ruining the shoe's integrity. For that reason, we rated the heel padding durability with a high score of 4 out of 5.

Adidas Gazelle Heel padding durability
Test results
Gazelle 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Seeing how strong the Gazelle's upper is, we couldn't wait to see if the outsole lives up to that standard too.

First, we checked how hard the bottom rubber is. With a durometer measurement of 83.9 HC, it is nearly the same as the average. Normally, there is a correlation between the hardness of rubber and its longevity.

Adidas Gazelle Outsole hardness
Test results
Gazelle 83.9 HC
Average 85.0 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC

Outsole durability

Now it was time to apply our trusty Dremel to the outsole rubber as well. The 10K RPM speed is relentless but so is the Gazelle.

After the long 22-second drilling session was over, we saw that the rubber did not give in that easily!

With the help of a tread gauge, we measured the depth of the damage at 1.2 mm. That is right about the average of our lab-tested sneakers.

Adidas Gazelle Outsole durability
Test results
Gazelle 1.2 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Despite the fact that the shoe's entire platform is made of rubber, we only considered the thickness of the bottom-most layer (below the vertical pillars). That's because when that one is gone, the whole shoe becomes pretty much unwearable.

Our caliper returned 3.4 mm which is pretty thin for a sneaker. That certainly helps to keep the weight of the shoe down but makes us a little concerned about the long-term outsole durability.

Adidas Gazelle Outsole thickness
Test results
Gazelle 3.4 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm

Weight

Wearing the Adidas Gazelle for a few hours straight, we never felt like it was dragging us down. In fact, it felt on the lighter side of sneakers.

Adidas Gazelle silhouette

To back up our experiences, we put the shoe on the scale and found that it weighs 13 oz (369g) in a men's US size 9. For a low-top kick, this weight is right about average. Certainly not among the lightest on the market.

Adidas Gazelle Weight
Test results
Gazelle 13.02 oz (369g)
Average 14.04 oz (398g)
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.62 oz (301g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Much like the Samba, the Adidas Gazelle is a very grounded sneaker. But it is a few millimeters taller than its counterpart.

Using a caliper, we measured the shoe's stack height at 23.3 mm in the heel. This is notably lower than the average.

Adidas Gazelle Heel stack

Adding to that the total absence of a cushioned midsole, we get a big no-no for all-day wear. Even though the Gazelle has a comfortable step-in feel, it really lacks underfoot support for long periods of wear.

Test results
Gazelle 23.3 mm
Average 31.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
18.7 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, this Adidas shoe gets even lower. According to our caliper, the stack height comes in at only 15.0 mm under the toes.

Low enough to feel the small pebbles on the ground. Watch out!

Adidas Gazelle Forefoot stack
Test results
Gazelle 15.0 mm
Average 20.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

There is not a drastic difference between the shoe's heel and forefoot stack heights. Based on our measurements, it is lower than average at 8.3 mm.

Not having an elevated heel is yet another factor that makes the Gazelle feel so minimal and down-to-earth. Whether or not that's a good thing, depends on the wearer's preference only.

Adidas Gazelle Drop
Test results
Gazelle 8.3 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Insole thickness

Some underfoot padding is provided by the shoe's insole to buffer the foot from the rubber sole. But our caliper shows that it's pretty minimal too - only 4.3 mm thick.

Adidas Gazelle Insole thickness
Test results
Gazelle 4.3 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.3 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

It is pretty unlikely that stability would be a concern in the Adidas Gazelle. Being such a low-profile shoe with a firm midsole, it made us feel planted on the ground at all times.

Not to mention that the suede upper offers a highly supportive foothold on the sides.

Torsional rigidity

Another contributing factor to the shoe's stability is a fair amount of stiffness in its sole.

When we tried to twist the Gazelle torsionally, we found much more resistance than we felt in the Samba. For that reason, we rated the Gazelle's torsional rigidity as 3 out of 5 whereas the Samba came at only 1.

Having such a low-stacked and stiff sole minimizes the chance of ankle twisting to nearly zero.

Test results
Gazelle 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

There is also a reasonable amount of sturdiness in the shoe's heel counter.

Giving it a good push and squeeze in a manual assessment, we rated the heel counter's stiffness as 3 out of 5, where 5 is the stiffest.

On foot, this translates into a firmer heel hold. But not a restrive one as there is still enough give for the ankle.

Test results
Gazelle 3
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The platform width of the Adidas Gazelle is pretty similar to that of the Samba. And it is not a wide one.

Measuring the widest part of the forefoot at 102.2 mm, we found that it is slightly narrower than average. This helps the sneaker feel lighter and more minimal.

Adidas Gazelle Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Gazelle 102.2 mm
Average 109.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel of the Gazelle's platform shows 72.0 mm in the widest part. This is even narrower than the Samba (75.4 mm) and, consequently, narrower than the average.

If you are coming from a wider platform, like the New Balance 574 for example (114.3/80.2 mm), it is likely to feel odd at first.

Adidas Gazelle Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Gazelle 72.0 mm
Average 83.9 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Transitioning from heels to toes feels pretty natural in the Adidas Gazelle. This is thanks to its minimal sole which bends along with the foot in a very natural way.

To give you a more precise idea of how flexible this Adidas shoe is, we used a gauge that measured how much force it takes to bend the Gazelle to a 90-degree angle. Turns out, that it needs only 13.8N which is about 40% less than it takes for an average sneaker.

It is also the same amount of force as the Adidas Samba required.

Test results
Gazelle 13.8N
Average 23.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N

Grip / Traction

As you can probably tell by now, the Adidas Gazelle and Samba have a lot in common. But there is one aspect where these shoes differ a lot - it's the traction pattern.

Adidas Gazelle Lug depth

Adidas Gazelle

We believe that the difference is due to the initial purpose of these sneakers. The Gazelle emerged as a training/gym shoe whereas the Samba stems from soccer/football. This may explain why the latter has a much more aggressive lug design and pivot points.

Adidas Samba grip

Adidas Samba

But for most casual scenarios, both Adidas shoes work quite well. Unless it's raining. We found that the Gazelle is a bit slippery on wet surfaces but you probably wouldn't want to wear a suede shoe in the rain anyways.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Measuring the widest part of the Gazelle's toebox, our caliper returned 97.5 mm. This is within the average of casual sneakers but is slightly on the narrow side.

We think that people with wider feet probably won't feel as comfortable in this Adidas silhouette.

Adidas Gazelle Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Gazelle 97.5 mm
Average 99.4 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
111.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

As for the toebox width around the big toe, we measured it at 75.7 mm. Again, close to the average but not so accommodating for wider feet.

Based on our measurements, the Gazelle's toebox shape and width are nearly identical to the Adidas Samba. If you've worn the latter, it is safe to go with the same size. But compared to the Adidas Superstar, the Gazelle has a more tapered and narrower tip of the forefoot.

Adidas Gazelle Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Gazelle 75.7 mm
Average 76.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
65.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
101.3 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Gazelle's tongue has no gussets on the sides. But we didn't really find them necessary as there was no shifting or bunching.

But, unfortunately, the shoe's tongue can be a real deal-breaker for the Gazelle for other reasons (see the section below).

Adidas Gazelle Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Gazelle None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Measuring the tongue with a caliper, we found that it is pretty thin at only 2.8 mm.

Adidas Gazelle Tongue padding

But this wouldn't be so much of a problem if it wasn't for its very rough, almost plastic-like, nature that kept cutting into our ankles mercilessly. Wearing taller socks may not be such a bad idea, at least the first few times.

Adidas Gazelle flex

But to our great regret, this was not the only problem with the shoe's tongue. Another major mood-killer is the squeaky sound. It is produced when the rubbery material on the tongue comes in touch with the synthetic lining inside the shoe.

There are a couple of tricks that can help the situation though:

  • applying some Vaseline to the lining where it meets the tongue
  • sewing a small piece of soft fabric inside the shoe, near the topmost eyelets
Test results
Gazelle 2.8 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
23.0 mm

Heel tab

No heel tabs here but the collar extends up high making it easier to grab when getting the shoe on.

Adidas Gazelle Heel tab
Test results
Gazelle None

Removable insole

You can customize the in-shoe experience by swapping the insole. It is not attached to the bottom of the shoe and can be replaced easily.

Adidas Gazelle Removable insole
Test results
Gazelle Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Adidas Gazelle has no reflective elements.

Adidas Gazelle Reflective elements
Test results
Gazelle No

Style

In 1966, the Adidas Gazelle was first introduced as a performance training shoe. It was the first shoe from Adidas to have a suede upper since, during that time, leather was more commonly used for shoes.

Adidas Gazelle lacing

We love the classic and adaptable look of the Gazelle. This ageless Adidas silhouette manages to mix sporty vibes with a chic and sophisticated look. As a result, we get a clean and straightforward style that goes well with a variety of our outfit choices, from street style to a semi-formal look.

Adidas Gazelle silhouette

Because of its extreme popularity, different variations of the Adidas Gazelle sneakers have surfaced throughout time, allowing people to have a lot of choices that would suit their taste when grabbing a pair of these classic sneakers.