Our verdict

Not only is the Adidas Samba famous for its classic aesthetics, but we also found it exceptionally durable for the price point. Despite some minor flaws, the shoe's incredibility remains unchanged as we choose to focus on the greatness it brings to the table. Part of the Originals collection, the shoe's combination of good looks, high-quality materials, and reliable comfort resonated very well with us.

Pros

  • Clean and minimalist style
  • Unbelievably affordable
  • Real leather and suede
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Long-lasting construction
  • Lighter than average
  • Highly flexible build
  • Good grip for casual use

Cons

  • Poor breathability
  • Tongue slides to the side
  • Not for all-day wear

Audience verdict

90
Great!
  • Top 2% most popular sneakers

Who should buy

We believe that this classic silhouette is a must-have for people who want the following:

  • an Adidas Originals sneaker that stems way back from the '50s
  • an exceptionally durable yet affordable pair of genuine leather kicks
  • a minimal and versatile kick that's easy to match

Adidas Samba review

...not to mention that this Adidas kick is regularly donned by supermodels and Hollywood stars these days!

Who should NOT buy

Technically, the shoe has no foam midsole to provide a well-cushioned ride for long hours on the feet. If you prefer that plush supportive underfoot experience, we recommend the Adidas Alphabounce+ or the Supernova+.

The color choices for the Samba are quite limited. If you need more hues and you need them bright and bold, have a look at the Adidas Gazelle.

Adidas Samba lab test

Breathability

If you see a Pinterest photo where the Adidas Samba completes a light summer outfit, don't believe it! Made of genuine leather and suede, this shoe is NOT your best bet for dog days.

To prove our point, we ran a smoke-pumping machine test in our lab. As you can see in the video below, only a thin streak of smoke is getting out of the Samba, and it escapes only through the gaps on the sides of the tongue. For that reason, we rated this Adidas shoe's breathability as 3 out of 5.

If keeping your feet feeling fresh is a priority, you may want to enjoy one of these best summer sneakers instead.

Our transparency test doesn't help this Adidas sneaker look any better. There is not a single perforation or a breathable mesh panel on this upper!

Even looking at the Samba through our microscope, all you see is a solid layer of leather or suede.

Adidas Samba microscope

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

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

Up until 2012, the Samba's upper was made of kangaroo leather. That's because compared to calfskin, it is more durable, softer, and offers a much more responsive ball touch. But the brand wisely chose a more ethical route and refused from kangaroo leather.

But is the new full-grain leather genuine? Let's find out.

Disclaimer: Please note that we are testing the Adidas Samba Leather version of the shoe.

Holding a butane torch against the leather section on the heel for a few seconds, we found that it did not catch fire. We then scratched it with a leather scratch awl to check how easily the material gets damaged. Finally, we repeated the same procedure for the suede overlay on the toebox.

Our verdict: both leather and suede are genuine on the Adidas Samba! However, the white piece at the top of the collar is fake leather.

Adidas Samba Leather quality
Test results
Samba Real suede

Toebox durability

Even though we already had an insight into the shoe's upper durability, we still put it through our demanding Dremel test.

After 12 seconds of drilling at a relentless speed of 10K RPM, the tool didn't even eat through the suede layer! This definitely puts the Samba onto the more durable side of our spectrum. On a scale from 1 to 5, it earned a 4 from us!

Adidas Samba toebox durability test

Test results
Samba 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Despite the fact that the shoe's interiors are not made of real leather, its heel collar lining showed solid wear resistance.

Giving it a good drill of 4 seconds at 5K RPM, the damage was really minor. We saw a scratch that did not interfere with the shoe's comfort and integrity. This led us to give the shoe's heel collar lining a solid 4 out of 5.

Adidas Samba heel padding durability test

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

Outsole hardness

The Adidas Samba features a gum rubber outsole, so we did not expect it to be very hard. Pressing our durometer against it, we got a reading of 76.9 HC. This is indeed on the softer side of the spectrum and is 9% softer than the average sneaker sole.

For that reason, we do not expect it to last as long as the harder rubbers would (think Adidas Continental).

Adidas Samba Outsole hardness
Test results
Samba 76.9 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

Our concerns were backed up by the Dremel test. Holding the tool against the rubber for a good 22 seconds at an abrasive speed of 10K RPM, the damage was visible to the untrained eye.

We measured the dent with a tread gauge and found it to be 1.9 mm deep. That is among the deepest we've seen on sneaker outsoles.

Adidas Samba outsole durability test result

Test results
Samba 1.9 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

But don't worry, the outsole on the Adidas Samba won't melt that fast. Based on our caliper measurement, the shoe's lower rubber layer is 4.7 mm thick and is equipped with pretty toothy lugs.

So, even though it is a gum sole, it will take months before the outsole shows significant signs of wear.

Adidas Samba Outsole thickness
Test results
Samba 4.7 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm

Weight

On foot, the Adidas Samba doesn't feel heavy at all. And it also turns out to be that way on the scale.

Weighing 12.1 oz (342g) in a men's US size 9, this Adidas silhouette is 2 ounces lighter than the average sneaker.

This contributes to the shoe's minimalist appeal for sure.

Adidas Samba Weight
Test results
Samba 12.06 oz (342g)
Average 14.04 oz (398g)
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.62 oz (301g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Samba doesn't have a midsole per se, which makes it feel very low-profile and close to the ground. Using a caliper, we got as little as 19.3 mm of heel stack. This is nearly half an inch thinner than average!

In the era of chunky dad shoes and platform kicks, the Adidas Samba really feels like something else.

Adidas Samba Heel stack
Test results
Samba 19.3 mm
Average 31.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
18.7 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

As you could probably guess by now, this Adidas shoe is also not very tall in the forefoot either. Measuring as little as 11.9 mm, it is about 0.3 inch (7 mm) thinner than average.

Adidas Samba Forefoot stack

Be careful not to step on any rocks out there!

Test results
Samba 11.9 mm
Average 20.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

Considering the difference in stack heights, the shoe's heel-to-toe drop is not very steep. At 7.4 mm, it is about 3 mm lower than average.

Combined with the shoe's lack of cushioning, stepping on the heels too hard is not going to feel pleasant in the Adidas Samba.

Adidas Samba Drop
Test results
Samba 7.4 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Insole thickness

The insole doesn't give a lot of hope for comfort either. Measuring it with our caliper, we got as little as 3.3 mm. That is certainly not enough to compensate for the lack of a foam midsole.

Although we found the Adidas Samba comfortable enough for a few hours of wear, we cannot recommend it for long hours of standing or walking.

Adidas Samba Insole thickness
Test results
Samba 3.3 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.3 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Because the Adidas Samba is so low to the ground, it almost feels like you're standing barefoot! And the change of feeling unstable or twisting your ankle is pretty minuscule in that case.

Torsional rigidity

This Adidas shoe is incredibly pliable. This was confirmed in our manual check of its torsional stiffness. Technically, there is none, so we rated it with the lowest score of 1 out of 5.

While this could be a problem for high-stacked shoes, it is not a problem with the Samba at all. Lack of torsional rigidity doesn't affect stability in its case.

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

Heel counter stiffness

Our heels and ankles sat very securely inside the Samba all throughout the wear test. There is a good amount of stiffness in the shoe's heel counter to hold the rearfoot firmly in place. On a 1-5 scale, we gave it a pretty high score of 4.

But be careful: the shoe's collar has a synthetic leather lining inside and very little padding. This is likely to cause rubbing at first. We recommend wearing taller socks at least the first time you take the Adidas Samba out. 

Test results
Samba 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The platform of the Adidas Samba is not particularly wide. Based on our caliper measurements, it is actually narrower than the average among sneakers.

In the widest part of the forefoot, our tool showed 102.4 mm. That's about 4 mm narrower than average, but don't worry, it is not narrow enough to make the Samba feel unstable. In fact, it is even a tiny bit wider than the Adidas Gazelle and the Adidas Superstar.

Adidas Samba Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Samba 102.4 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

In the widest area of the heel, we got 75.4 mm. This is only a couple of millimeters narrower than the average and never compromised the steadiness of our landings.

Adidas Samba Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Samba 75.4 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

Flexibility is where the Samba beats many other sneakers these days. Amidst giant rockered platforms that don't seem to bend at all, this Adidas sneaker feels very old-school (as it should).

Measuring how much force it takes to bend the Samba to a 90-degree angle, we found that it requires only 13.7N. Based on the force gauge measurements of other sneakers, the Adidas Samba is 40% more flexible than average!

Test results
Samba 13.7N
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

With its roots in indoor soccer (football), the Adidas Samba certainly carries over the best outsole practices to prevent the wearer from slipping. We see pretty aggressive two-directional lugs in the shoe's midfoot and heel.

Adidas Samba grip

Meanwhile, the forefoot features a large pivot point under the ball of the foot and three suction cups around it that help to balance grip with swift direction changes.

We found that this setup worked well in all urban and casual scenarios that we've put the Adidas Samba through. Even on wet floors, we weren't worries about losing our step.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

People with medium-width feet like ours have nothing to worry about when it comes to the Samba's toebox fit.

We measured the widest part of the forefoot with a caliper and found that at 98.1 mm, it sits exactly at the average of sneakers.

Its leather upper did not feel restricting at all. Even when we first donned the shoe out of the box.

Adidas Samba Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Samba 98.1 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

There is not much tapering here either. With a caliper reading of 75.6 mm at the big toe mark, this Adidas shoe has an average-sized toebox tip.

But for people with wide feet, it might still be a better idea to size up.

Adidas Samba Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Samba 75.6 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

There are no gussets on the sides of the tongue which is a shame because we did experience some occasional sliding.

Adidas Samba Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Samba None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The Samba uses a fairly thin tongue which returns only 3.1 mm on our caliper. That's about 50% thinner than average and it just goes along with the minimal nature of this Adidas shoe.

Adidas Samba Tongue padding

As you can see, padding is not very abundant anywhere throughout the shoe.

Test results
Samba 3.1 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
23.0 mm

Heel tab

There is no heel tab on the Adidas Samba but it never got in the way of sliding the shoe on easily.

Adidas Samba Heel tab
Test results
Samba None

Removable insole

If walking around with nothing but rubber underfoot does not appeal to you, you may want to insert a custom onsert. The stock insole is removable in the Samba.

Adidas Samba Removable insole
Test results
Samba Yes

Background

Before the summer of 2022, the Adidas Samba was only popular among sneakerheads and indoor soccer players.

But after a few celebrity photos showing off this Adidas silhouette, the shoe's popularity began to rise at light speed. The demand reached stratospheric levels by September 2023 increasing by a whopping 900%! That's when the Samba ended up completely sold out for the first time in its history!

This Adidas sneaker first appeared as a soccer (football) shoe in the 1950s. It was named after a Brazilian dance in an attempt to appeal to the South American audience during the World Cup in Brazil.

The Adidas Samba has since evolved into a sporty minimalist sneaker and even into a classy chic shoe on the feet of Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber!

Adidas Samba silhouette