Verdict from 58 experts and +100 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Several testers noted that the Adidas Ultraboost had a fashionable design; they stated that it worked well as both an athletic shoe and a choice for casual walks.
  • The midsole unit felt lightweight, according to many runners.
  • A lot of consumers were happy about this shoe because it kept them comfortable as they tackled their running sessions.
  • The energy-returning Boost technology was deemed highly efficient.
  • Several users noted that the external heel counter kept the back of the foot in place, preventing in-shoe wobbling or accidental shoe removals.
  • The overall durability of this model was appreciated by those who have tried it. Many people agreed that the robustness of this model was on-point.

3 reasons not to buy

  • The price for a pair of the Adidas Ultraboost was considered by many to be expensive.
  • Some testers noticed that the raised traction nodes of the outsole wore off quickly, causing the shoe to lose its traction over the asphalt.
  • A few runners felt that the fit profile was a bit narrower than they expected.

Bottom line

The Adidas Ultraboost laid the foundation for the brand's renowned Ultraboost series. It is highly praised for the plush comfort and is most recommended for daily miles at slower paces. It is also a perfect option for casual wear if you look for a foot-hugging sensation and soft cushioning.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

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Video reviews

Our reviews

/100 by , posted on .

The Ultra Boost is a fun, fast shoe that's great for wearing around town and recovery runs, but lacks the structure needed for long runs for a hefty runner. 

What I'm looking for: A recovery shoe that's super comfortable and feels great as a "break" from my standard training shoe. 



Full disclosure - these shoes found me, I didn’t go out searching for them. I just happened across a neighborhood shoe store that was going out of business, and everything was half off.

I’m not the type to drop $180 on a pair of runners, so when I saw the UltraBoost under $100 I went for it. I actually used to mostly run in Adidas, but it’s been a few years since my Glide Boosts and I was excited to try the UltraBoost that I’ve heard so much about. 

A little more about me: I’m in my late 30’s, right now I’m averaging 30+ miles a week (combo of a track, street, and trail), and I’m 6’2” and 200+ pounds. This body is built for comfort, not for speed.

As a bigger guy who’s putting in decent mileage while training for a marathon, I don’t generally need a “stability” shoe, just something that helps my feet and knees deal with some extra pounding.

The shoes 

Alright, long story short, these are super comfortable. SUPER COMFORTABLE. Every time I leave the house I’m reaching for these. Short track workout? YUP. 

Recovery run? YUP.

Take the dog for a quick run? YUP.

The upper knit fits like a glove. A soft, flexible, supportive glove. The Primeknit upper provides a gentle yet comfortable sock-like fit that holds the foot securely in place but also moves and flexes with the foot through the running motion. 

The real gem here is the Boost cushioning. It’s fast, responsive, and fun and gives this shoe its distinctive feel. Because this foam is responsive, these shoes feel like they get faster as you run harder, and that’s where the become really fun. 

The boost sole: You get out what you put it 

Ok, I guess it’s actually the Boost cushioning, and more on that in a minute. The Stretch web sole itself is made from Continental rubber and provides nice tracking on the tarmac and the track.

I probably wouldn’t take this particular shoe trail running as the weblike structure leaves too many opening for twigs, rocks, and small feisty rodents to take you down. It’s great for city running though, and does a respectable job in both dry and wet conditions, even running down these San Francisco hills.

Back to the boost cushioning. I’ve been a fan of Boost for a while and find it both supportive and springy. It’s really fun to run on. The only drawback, for me, is that these feel a little bit soft.



After 6-7 miles, I find that my feet and ankles feel a little tired in these shoes, whereas my more structured long run shoes don’t have the same issue. Keep in mind I’m more of a Clydesdale than a racehorse, so your mileage may vary here.

I see plenty of people putting in long runs on these shoes. For me though, I’d rather have something that’s just a little more robust. 

I do love these for recovery runs and speed work. They make me feel fast, especially because they seem to work harder as you do. It makes for a really fun run, and I’m glad I have them for this purpose.

At a 10mm drop, they may feel a little chunky for some, but I generally like a shoe with a larger drop as they tend to keep me rolling smoothly while absorbing shock. 

I should probably mention here that these are for a neutral runner, and while they do have a small wedge of plastic on the inner sole, they don’t really provide much “structure”. 

Primeknit textile upper: Fits like a glove

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these shoes are really comfortable. While part of this is due to the sole, it’s the upper that does a great job of hugging the foot and keeping it secure.

The sock-like woven upper has been around for a while now, and I feel like these shoes really do a great job with it. There are no seams to rub. Your foot is held securely in place, yet the whole upper flexes and moves with your foot. 

A big plus here is that the lacing cage across the midfoot is totally separate from the woven upper, so when you tighten the laces, it doesn’t pull or distort the upper at all.

These means that you can get a really secure fit without puckering or any other weird wrinkles. I have narrower feet, so this can be a problem for me in other shoes, but no issue here! 

The final thing to mention here is the heel cup. Instead of having a rigid back heel, these actually have a cutout in the supportive plastic around the Achilles.

This allows a little flex in the back of the shoe so that you don’t get rubbing and heel blisters. It still seems very secure, but also comfortable with that little bit of wiggle room.

Room for improvement

I’m probably nitpicking here, but the tongue and heel tabs seem a little long. They both extend past my low cut running socks, and I did notice a little rubbing on the front of my shin after a longer run in these.

Not a big deal to wear longer socks, but I just don’t see the purpose of having longer tabs here. Not a deal breaker, just a thing.



My only other complaint on these shoes is that they feel a little soft at distances over 6-7 miles (for me). Again, this might not be a problem for lighter runners, but I would need just a little more structure to make this my primary distance shoe. 


  • Fun, fast, and responsive shoe
  • The kids tell me these are stylish (actually the guy at the shoe store gave me like a 30-minute talk about how to make sure that I clean them as soon as they get dirty so that they stay “fresh” — not gonna happen, kid). 
  • Really, really comfortable. Becoming my go-to shoe for quick runs and errands. 


  • A little soft for hefty runners at longer distances


  • Adidas Primeknit textile upper
  • Flexible Stretch web Continental™ Rubber outsole 
  • Responsive Boost midsole
  • Weight: 10.9 ounces (size 9)
  • Midsole drop: 10 mm (heel: 29 mm, forefoot: 19 mm)

Final verdict

Would I buy these shoes again? Yes. Would I recommend to a friend? Yes.

They’re not my go-to distance shoe, but I really enjoy them for pretty much everything else! 


  1. A socklike woven upper and foam midsole make these shoe super comfy and FAST
  2. Heel cup allows some flex and movement at the back of the shoe to keep rubbing along the Achilles to a minimum, while still offering some support and stability.
  3. You can see the small plastic insert in the midsole here. Offers a little stability, but definitely NOT a structured shoe. 
  4. Continental rubber outsole provides good traction and flexibility, but wouldn’t take these trail running since foam is exposed across the bottom of the shoe. 
  5. So fresh, so clean
| Level 2 expert Verified
You can find me hitting the streets and trails around San Francisco, CA as a member of Run365 Run Club. I’ve been running my whole life, including competitive cross country in high school. These days, I mostly run for fun and to keep me in shape for backcountry adventures, getting in 20-30 miles a week. I love half marathon and trail races. I’m still shooting for a sub-4hr marathon and hope to hit it this summer!

/100 by , posted on .

I initially bought the Adidas Ultra Boost because I was traveling a lot for work, and I needed a shoe that could transition from a run to looking 'ok' with jeans if I needed to meet up with co-workers in the evening.

I also needed a shoe that provided enough cushion since I was still recovering from foot surgery. Overall, I think this shoe definitely checked all the boxes for what I was looking for, but I probably wouldn’t use it for my daily trainer


The shoe has a thick single-piece knit upper that is flexible and allows your toes to splay in the toe box.



This was really important to me since some shoes rub too much and cause blisters or result in another lost toenail. While flexible, the upper seemed durable and I don’t feel like it will wear down and create a hole.


The midsole, however, is the star of the show and I think the reason is the Boost line. The midsole is Boost material throughout so you get that nice bouncy midsole from the heel to the toe. 


The ankle collar has a lot of thick padding, which I think is to keep it secure. 

But I found that it added a lot of extra weight and wasn’t too supportive. The tab at the back of the collar was nice since it helped get in and out of the shoe quickly. 



The shoelaces are attached using this thick plastic piece that I feel didn’t allow for good lockdown since it created a lot of pressure points.

This was definitely my biggest problem while running in the shoe since I didn’t feel like I could make a lot of lateral movements. 


The shoe’s outsole is a grippy continental rubber. The outsole is nice, but it’s very thin and is wearing down quickly after 50 miles running and a lot of walking.

This shoe is also not ideal for anything beyond pavement or a hard-packed trail since you won’t really get a good grip on any other surface.


This shoe is heavy! Don’t expect a lightweight foam shoe like the Vaporfly, but you definitely get the benefit of the energy return from all that beautiful Boost material.


In short, this was a fun shoe to run in. My favorite type of running to do in the shoe is hill repeats.  

The forefoot of the shoe is thinner but well cushioned for the uphill and springy comfortable on the downhills. It is a very cushioned shoe and I found that I could do treadmill runs, outdoor long runs and everything in between with very few issues. 



I found that the energy return made me feel like I'm faster than my normal runs, which is generally the pace of a turtle running through peanut butter.

I ran into some issues when I tried to take corners or do lateral movements. I found that my foot was moving around a lot in the shoe since my foot wasn’t very secure in it. If you don’t do a lot of sharp turns or have a foot shape that lends itself to a good lockdown in this shoe, you probably won’t have any issues. 


This is an expensive shoe, especially considering the durability factors mentioned above. However, if you opt for the Parley version, you can take solace in the fact that you are contributing to less ocean plastic. Also, it is definitely good looking.


  • Cushioning
  • Very responsive and springy ride
  • Flexible midsole
  • Knit upper is comfortable and doesn’t restrict foot
  • Stylish shoe that you can walk around in
  • Fit true to size


  • Heavy
  • Lockdown is either difficult or uncomfortable
  • Not well suited for surfaces beyond pavement or treadmill
  • Durability concerns with the outsole
| Level 3 expert Verified
I'm a running nerd. I watch running/endurance events in my free time and spend hours reading gear reviews. I have completed over 2 dozen running and triathlons. I am solidly in the “mid-pack” group. I enjoy lacing up the shoes and getting a run in whenever I can whether on the road, trail or even the treadmill.

/100 by , posted on .

Adidas Ultra Boost was first released in 2015 and acquired significant good reviews and comments both on the internet and from close friends.

That intrigued me to try it out.


Appearance & Color Variation

As of now, I believe they have more than 30 color variations.

I choose the standard black for no particular reason, just maybe because after a while the dirt is less shown on the fabric.

In my opinion, Adidas could have worked harder on the appearance, as you can see it's just plain black throughout the entire shoe and the sides as well. I would prefer to have other colors on the side and back of the shoe for instance.


Comfortability & Upper

When you wear the Ultra Boost, you feel your feet is wearing a sock as the Primeknit make the fabric really soft and comfortable.

On the upper part, you can feel no manufacturing seam, and despite my concern on the first days, it is very well built.

As you can see below, after several months of usage it is still in good shape, it's just like new.



In terms of ventilation, it is also good and this new Adidas technology gives a smooth step feeling not only to the upper part but to the feet as a whole.

In terms of weight, it is also remarkably light for the amount of cushion it posses.

Running (Cushion, Stability & Sole)

As just said before, even though its lightweight, Ultra Boost provides a good amount of cushion, giving a smooth ride to the runner.

However, and this is very important for me and all the runners with ankles issue, the stability on the Ultra Boost is not good at all, and you can easily twist ankle and foot while running.

I tried to simulate on the photo below what happened to me a couple of times.



I believe this happens because there is no structured support that wraps up the ankle where they applied the same fabric as the rest of the shoe. This makes the ankle area very smooth as the rest of the shoe.

For that, I give a strong minus.

For the sole, it is good for different types of soils and more importantly, durable. The grip is also very good but just not in line with the stability needed.



As you can see, even after all these months, it looks just like new throughout the shoe.

The only thing that I disliked here is what I highlighted In the photo above, the excess of the sole on the back part which is longer than the foot itself.

It made the shoe just ugly, but I believe its objective is exactly to make the sole more durable. Anyways, my comment is noted.

For the back part, I was disappointed with the lack of reflective light in order to provide a safe ride for night runners.


The Day After

Before reviewing shoes, I always like to wait for the day after to completely evaluate it not only during the exercise but also its effect on my body after it.

And with Ultra Boost I got just what I expected. Very few leg sores due to its good cushioning system, but quite significant amount of pain around the ankle.

From the photo below you can see how lacking the support around the ankle is in comparison to similar premium shoes.



On the left part from the photo above, you can even see how the shoe lost its format around the ankle, which is very disappointing for the price you pay for.


  • Durable well-built shoe with good upper support and high-quality materials
  • Great energy returns while running, improving overall running experience


  • High price tag
  • Bad stability despite the amount of cushion it provides
  • Bad support around the ankle
  • Lack of retroreflective light on the back part for night practices


The Adidas Ultra Boost is indeed a new era for the cushioned shoes because of its soft solid fabric, weight, and comfortability.

It is a very flexible shoe with good responsiveness during exercises and even after several months it still looks just like new. It's also a very well built and durable shoe.

However, it lacks good stability and support around the ankle, so if you have ankle issues it is not recommended for you, or if you are planning to use it on uneven terrains.

In other words, its best fit for treadmills, but then again, is it worth the price you pay? You tell me.

| Level 3 expert Verified
I'm a runner with over 10 years of experience across different brands, shoe styles, and race types. I've already participated in 5K, 10K and half marathon races across the world and believes running is one of the best activities to maintain body health, relax your mind and make friends.

/100 by , posted on .

At this point, almost everyone has heard of the Adidas Boost technology.

The Adidas Ultra Boost is one of the most comfortable and responsive shoes I have worn, and one of the sexiest too, but it came at a hefty price.



After putting over 500 miles on these shoes, the Ultra Boost has served me well for both short and long runs. Although a lot of people have complained about the breathability of the shoe, I never had an issue with this.

The primeknit fit my feet well and never felt too constrictive. The lightweight design never felt like it was weighing my feet down, even 10 miles into a run.

As you start seeing the outsole wear out, you will barely notice a difference in the comfort of the Boost midsole. It stays just as comfortable and responsive 300 miles in as it did the day you put it on.

One issue I did have with these was when I would stand for a long time, they made my heels hurt. If you're not moving for a long time the shoe can get a bit uncomfortable, almost as if it was too soft.



This has to be the best-looking shoe you could wear. It goes with absolutely everything. Put on some shorts and go running. Come back, shower hopefully, and put on some casual clothes and put these suckers back on. They go well with any outfit you could think of.

There are more color options for you to pick from than I could name here. Warning, some of the more exclusive colors can go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Absolutely insane!

Due to the overall popularity of these, they can be hard to find in your preferred color and shoe size so be ready to shop around a bit.



I own the Adidas Ultra Boost 2.0. The 1.0 had a lot of issues with the outsole wearing out too fast but with the 2.0 and forward, Adidas introduced the much more durable and grippy Continental outsole. Running hundreds of miles, and wearing them often to school and around town, my Ultra Boost finally started cracking and wore off after one year.

As long as you get a pair with the Continental rubber outsole, these will last you for hundreds of miles. They have great tracking no matter the conditions due to the Continental rubber outsole. Don't get caught in heavy rain in these though, you'll feel like you are running in a swamp.



Ah, the price. Short and to the point - way too expensive! What the heck is Adidas thinking about making these $180?

The hype around these shoes for runners and casuals means that these shoes never go on sale, and finding them in your size can be a challenge in itself.


  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Stays responsive no matter how many miles you put on them
  • The 2.0 and forward have a durable outsole
  • Great design
  • Large color selection
  • Soft inner lining


  • PRICE!
  • Certain models can be hard to find in your size
  • The plastic pieces scratch easily
  • The white boost yellows with time, unwashable
  • Gets wet easily in rain


The Adidas Ultra Boost is an incredibly expensive but a versatile shoe. Whether you're running a half marathon or going out on a date, these will serve you well. The price tag is heavy but they are a good value due to the hundreds of miles you will get out of them.

The shoe is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable making it the only shoe to date I would wear without a sock. I would not recommend it to anyone in a really wet climate as these don't mix well with rain.

Price tag aside, these were the first Adidas Boost I purchased. I instantly fell in love and now own 7 different models.

| Level 3 expert Verified
Hey, I'm Sebastian, a runner with about 4 years of experience, mostly in mid-distance races. With 30+ miles a week of running, I enjoy all training days from track workouts to half marathon Sunday runs. I rotate about 3 shoes at a time while running to make sure I give each running technology a run for its money, and to give the best opinion I can while not being bias. Recent Times: Mile: 5:54, 5k: 19:58, 10k: 43:27.

/100 by , posted on .

I heard about the Ultra Boost from a mate, he told me that nothing can compare to the comfort you get from the Adidas Ultra Boost. I decided that I had to get a pair in order to cure my curiosity.

At first glance, the Ultra Boost seems to break all the norms. The upper is made of a knitted like material the midsole looks like polystyrene balls glued together. It really had my curiosity going and I could not wait to get my feet into them. Yes, it had the looks, the bounce, and comfort like a slipper.

Now for the true test, is it a running shoe or just a comfortable slipper?


Midsole & Outsole

The midsole is comprised of full Adidas Boost material from hill to toe. The outsole is Continental rubber which this model calls stretch web.

Midsole has a bouncy effect. When you first place the shoe on and start jumping on the spot, you get a good feel of comfort and cushioning.

The profile of the midsole is rather flat when on your feet as there is not much structure to support the mid and front foot. This does not make it a contender for a good racing shoe nor does it have enough structure for a marathon shoe.

Outsole has the Continental logo branded into the rubber. My first run in the Ultra Boost was 21km on asphalt. I expected a tough outsole – however, there was excessive wear by comparison to my Supernova Glide Boost. The stretch web outsole smoothed out quite quickly and you're basically left with a slick punched sole.



Often the words referred to is sock-like; here the appropriate metaphor would be “slipper-like”. The Primeknit upper is nothing short of comfort. Upper at the toe box area has a stretch knitted material that is airy and comfortable.

There is no tongue, which has the disadvantage of not having enough padding between the foot and laces. The laces can be felt on the bridge of the foot, if too tight.

The plastic cage keeps the foot locked down without a slide. The cage is made of a thick plastic and contradicts the whole concept of breathability and comfort.

I feel that the cage structure could have been made from a cloth material rather than plastic, Nike uses thin “flywire” -  Adidas could have been a little more innovative with the lockdown system.

I do like the idea of the external hill support with the split, combined with an extra overhang of the Achilles' lip, making foot insertion really easy. In fact, I barely do my shoelaces with the Ultra boost, it slips on and off.


  • Comfortable
  • Bouncy boost midsole
  • Easy slide on and off – slipper like


  • High Price
  • Outsole not durable
  • Plastic cage could be softer/breathable
  • Laces can be felt on the bridge of the foot


The Ultra Boost is a comfortable shoe; the primeknit upper hugs your foot without any constraint. Your feet have a true sense of freedom, comfort and loads of breathability. The bouncy boost midsole offers plenty spring under your foot when running.

The excessive wear on the outsoles is disappointing to me, especially when one considers the price; I expected a lot more mileage before seeing such wear.

The Ultra Boost for me makes an ideal treadmill shoe, the soft outsole takes away that “clanky” sound at impact you normally get from a tough carbon outsole.

The outsole with the extra overbite at the hill makes for a good hill strike on the treadmill. I have seen this on trail shoes, but not really on road shoes.



In conclusion, I have found a place for the Ultra Boost and that it is destined for a life on the treadmill. That is not necessary a bad thing or a bad buy from my part, it, therefore, fits into a niche part of my shoe cupboard. I have done 200km on the treadmill with the Ultra Boost and will continue to use it for that purpose.

Now if you don’t own or have access to a treadmill, the Ultra Boost makes great slippers.

| Level 3 expert Verified
I am an avid runner. Depending on my training needs and goals, I mix and match my runs between road, trail and treadmill. My passion and experience for running has got me in tune with my body and its needs. As my body needs nutrition, so does my feet need shoes. Healthy body and mind, with sound choices, makes my experience positively unforgettable.

/100 by , posted on .

I would like to talk about my first pair of Adidas Ultra Boost that I used for walking around and run just a few times.



For me, this design started with the Yohji Yamamoto's Y3 shoe Qasa. It’s a sock shoe. I love the puller that is part of the upper and it’s not one more piece in the shoe.

This silhouette and full bootie construction are now becoming a “normal” design on almost brands. But the design has become a trend because it’s very comfortable. The bootie construction gives much more comfort to the foot than a regular design, with tongue, quarters, vamp.


They are neutral type runner shoes, but I’m a little supinator type or also known as under pronation. So I felt the extra stress on the outer side of the foot when running. Because it’s a sock shoe, it promotes the natural movement and that is so nice.

But for walking, it’s okay because the counter molded heel provides a little stability and at the same time gives the optimal movement of the achilles.

The upper adapts to the foot because the Primeknit stretches and comes ventilated in some places where it is needed and with closed knit in other zones. For me, this shoe also has a nice toe box.



The TPU cage that wraps around the midfoot is a little hard and can be a little softer. Don’t fasten the laces too tight or you will feel the pressure at the instep. I know it’s a sock-like shoe but always use a sock or feel pain and gain some blisters.


The soles don’t have the best grip ever coming only with an average grip. I don't recommend stepping on wet surfaces.

The sole, however, will wear out fast if you run a lot. Also, because they don’t have big lugs, the outsole is not so suitable for trail running. Just go take runs on the road and city parks if you want to go running with this model.


The Boost material from BASF it’s not so durable. I have this shoe for 3 years now and it’s still okay only because I don’t run much with them.

The Boost midsole gives you a great cushion and propulsion but on the other side sacrifices stability. In this shoe, you can’t have the best of both worlds.


I just run a few times with this shoe and found out that the Boost is very responsive ( maybe sometimes too much). It’s perfect when you are running in front very fast, but if you want to turn quickly, you'll need to be careful because the midsole is very responsive, and you will feel your foot jump a bit out of control.



I run with my feet too close to each other, the sole of the Ultra Boost is a bit too wide because sometimes I hit the sole while running. Another concern is the 10mm drop midsole, which for me is too much, for flat and uphill terrain. It can also affect downhill runs as the midsole gives you too much energy return downhill.


I love this shoe. It’s the kind of shoe that I like to use when I’m tired of classic sneakers and my feet need to rest when I’m walking. It feels like having a massage when walking.

| Level 1 expert Verified
Hi all, Pedro is my name aka pedroartoon, I’m a “kid” that lives the dream. I’m a footwear designer and I love it. But also a sneaker geek. I love everything about sneakers and shoes. I’m not a brand addict, what I love is a good sneaker (design, comfort).

Good to know

Adidas hypes the Adidas Ultraboost as “the best running shoe ever.” Such a bold claim is primarily anchored on its innovative and revolutionary Boost midsole foam that is not only very cushioned but also superbly responsive. The superior responsiveness of the shoe is supported by The Three Stripes’ assertion that it is 20% more responsive than any of the Boost models.

More than just the extremely responsive and cushioned midsole, the Ultraboost boasts of ¾ one-piece Primeknit upper that hugs the foot in comfort. A Stretchweb outsole delivers more than adequate grip on the road and light trail while the newly designed split heel counter prevents slippage in this area and eases the pressure off of the Achilles.

The outsole literally resembles the form of a web as it is rightfully called the Stretchweb. Like a real web that adjusts to the spider’s movement, Adidas’ proprietary outsole rubber adapts and stretches to maximize the power of every stride. Additionally, it offers flexibility and an element of natural running.

The midsole is undoubtedly the domain of 3,000 blown TPU energy capsules. According to Adidas, the Ultraboost has an astounding 20% more of these shock-absorbing and responsive thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) pellets than any of the other Boost models. It means that there are 20% more pellets that lock themselves together to take on the impact of every stride and convert the same impact for a truly responsive ride. The same midsole element is used in the new Adidas Ultraboost 19

Another technology in the midsole is the Torsion System or the plastic bridge insert that offers torsional stability and enhanced transition without adding weight.

An engineered mesh that has precise stretch points that hugs the foot like a second skin. Adidas’ digital knitting process uses synthetic yarn that produces extremely breathable, supportive, and lightweight one-piece upper. Altogether, the engineered mesh and Primeknit material, adapt to the runner’s foot while offering maximum comfort and support.

Inside the shoe is a lightweight sockliner that enhances the plush comfort even more.

One very noticeable part of the upper is the sleek and catchy heel counter that cradles the foot in support and prevents untoward movement in this area. Comfort and stability are offered by this innovative heel structure.

The Ultraboost is one of the flagship shoes in the Adidas stable of performance products. Many people have stood by this road companion’s capacity to provide enjoyment throughout the running sessions. The Boost™ technology certainly gained traction as one of the most reliable cushioning systems in the world, especially since many people have taken the time to experience it and feel the reactive and impact-resistant nature of the amalgamated thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) pellets. It’s clear from the start that boost™ was here to stay.

Interestingly, most shoe companies didn’t immediately challenge the popularity of Boost™. In fact, the widely used ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) didn’t phase out over the decades. A bevy of road running shoes still continues the trend of EVA utilization, though the need for innovation and change eventually stirred the companies to a thoughtful implementation of creativity and scientific methods. Midsoles apparently needed to be bettered to retain consumer interest and, maybe, encourage new ones.

The need to innovate

Nike, arguably one of Adidas’ most prominent competitors, sought runners out, asking them what they wanted for their running shoes. The general consensus was that people just wanted a cushioning system that offered high levels of energy-return, a lightweight ride, and flexible experience that accommodated the natural movement capacity of the foot.

The challenge for Nike was creating a technology that would permit such desires and implementing it in shoes that kept up with the current expectations of consumers. Enter the “React” foam and the Nike Epic React Flyknit. It’s not the first shoe to ever use the React, but it’s the one that people are comparing to the Adidas Ultraboost the most.

Let’s get to know what Nike did to challenge Adidas’ licensed midsole technology. But it’s also good to see the rest of the features in each shoe.

The material composition of Ultraboost and Epic React Flyknit

The outsole units of the Ultraboost and the Epic React Flyknit are the ones that bear the most difference; while the former has a rubber compound that fills the surface of the sole unit like a grid or web, the latter only has rubber on the heel and forefoot to ensure targeted protection and traction.

The upper unit of the Adidas Ultraboost is made of engineered mesh, a material that has a cloth-like quality. It’s relatively well-known and is used in many running shoes. On the other hand, Nike’s offering is graced with the proprietary Flyknit material, a knitted textile that is stretchy yet securely woven. It is one of the first knit-uppers to ever be featured in the market. A cleatie construction allows people to experience a sock-like fit, though a lacing system is still in place.

Now, to the midsole. It’s always been clear that Boost™ is the main competition of the React foam, but the latter is vastly different in design. The compacted TPU pellets of Adidas’ line works to provide a springy and well-cushioned ride. The React aims to do that and more.

Nike’s creative minds created the formulation of the React unit to welcome the desire for balance in every aspect of the performance. They wanted to give a luxurious underfoot experience and a springy ride without putting too much weight, sacrificing flexibility or bringing too much energy-return. The piece that went out of the mold is arguably more substantial in form than the one licensed by Adidas. No compaction was involved as it’s a single-piece foam. Ripple-grooves (zigzagging trenches that line the external surface of the material) help in heightening responsiveness and flexibility.

To add extra structure to the underfoot experience, both companies employed their own version of an underfoot support unit. Adidas utilized the Torsion System, a thermoplastic layer in the midsole, to support the muscles and tendons of the midfoot. Nike’s choice was an injected heel clip that can be clearly seen from the back of the shoe. The task of this clip is to stabilize the heel of the foot while also attenuating impact shock.

A healthy competition

Many elements of the offerings from Adidas and Nike are stark images of each other. While some of them may be implemented in unique ways, it’s clear that they’re all for the betterment of a person’s performance.

Adidas paved the way for running shoes that are of superb quality. Every year, the brand finds new ways to make the running experience as pleasant as possible. Nike and other companies are also part of this cycle of innovation and integration. The Ultraboost and the Epic React Flyknit are only two examples of friendly competition causing positive waves to the sports industry. There are more to come, and inventors and shoemakers are there to see them through.

Neutral shoes similar to the Adidas Ultraboost

Brooks Glycerin 16

The Glycerin series has always been a pinnacle when it comes to providing copious amounts of underfoot comfort and excellent performance on the roads. People were highly appreciative of it as it’s apparently one of the neutral running shoes that have cared for their feet during their time on both flat surfaces and groomed trails. The new DNA Loft midsole technology also received waves of positivity for being highly responsive and durable. Even the design was given due praise for improving upon its immediate predecessor and working its way towards a simple yet contemporary look that’s great for both exercise and daily walks.

Altra Escalante 1.5

The Zero Drop specialization of Altra Running is in full swing with the Escalante 1.5. This shoe can be worn for daily speed training, yet it can help in doling out high levels of performance during races. The external pad features the FootPod technology, a pattern of grooves and traction centers that complement the bending capacity of the tendons and joints of the foot. A full-length, foot-shaped foam with a roomy forefoot construction permits the relaxation of the toes. Rounding out these form-accommodating elements are the InnerFlex midsole-integrated flex channels and the stretchy yet cloth-like engineered knit façade.

Skechers GOrun Ride 7

The Skechers brand has always been interested in perfecting the running form of a person. In fact, the designs of their shoes encourage an apparently more efficient way of taking each step, particularly the midfoot-striking technique. The GOrun Ride series has always been a proponent of such a method, and it is one of the reasons why the GOrun Ride 7 still has the Skechers-led Midfoot Strike Zone technology, which is fundamentally a slightly convex midsole shape that inspires the runner to land on the midfoot rather than the heel. Such action aims to mitigate the impact and cause speedier transitions through the gait cycle. Other conventional design elements such as an uncluttered façade and responsive underfoot experience help to better the performance.

Mizuno Wave Rider 22

The Wave Rider is one of Mizuno’s most enduring series. It has taken over 20 forms, evolving with the times and providing some of the most reliable products in the market. The purpose of the Rider products is precise yet straightforward: offer a robust and comfortable running experience that feels consistent, even after long miles.  It features a bevy of technologies in the midsole like the full-length U4ic and the U4icX heel piece for well-rounded cushioning, as well as the thermoplastic Cloudwave layer that offers extra bounce and shock-attenuation. On the upper of the Mizuno Wave Ride 22 are the engineered mesh and Dynamotion Fit, stretchy and non-irritating elements that secure the foot and keep it in place.

Under Armour Dash RN 2

The Dash RN 2 from Under Armour is an entry-level road shoe that caters to those on a budget and those who still desire sporty shoe-façades and highly functional features. This shoe is lightweight and straightforward in its purpose. It has a cushioned foam midsole, a traction-ready outsole layer, and a ventilated upper that’s supported by stitched overlays. Some said that the silhouette of the Dash RN 2 is a throwback to early models of running shoes, the ones that date back to the early 2000s. Still, it’s considered as one of the most accessible models in the Under Armour stable, offering just the right performance for neophyte runners and exercise fans.

How Ultraboost compares

This shoe: 88
All shoes average: 82
56 95
This shoe: $180
All shoes average: $119
$40 $300
This shoe: 10.7oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
2.8oz 15.4oz
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Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.