I can see why the Ultraboost is so popular as a sneaker. It’s comfortable and has a plush midsole, but it’s not the best running shoe on the market.
premium Boost cushioning
excellent outsole durability
not a performance running shoe
lacks upper lockdown
on the heavy side
knit rubs the ankle
What is Adidas Ultraboost all about?
I’ve tested several shoes from Adidas, but this is my first time testing the Ultraboost. It was bound to happen one day since I like cushioned shoes, and the Ultraboost is one of their most cushioned shoes.
For the 20th edition of the Ultraboost, they collaborated with the ISS and several colorways that were inspired by this. When I saw this, I just had to get a pair.
The Ultraboost is a neutral running shoe with a 12 mm forefoot stack and a 22 mm heel stack, which makes for a 10 mm drop. The Ultraboost is not a very light shoe, with 270 grams in the women’s model.
I like the collaboration with the ISS with a kind of mother of pearl / metallic look for the stripes and the heel counter. I also like the colourway where they have the Boost midsole in that colour rather than the white, but unfortunately, that wasn’t available.
The rights and wrongs of a knit upper
The knit is actually quite comfortable and pretty supportive. The shoe is basically a one-piece knit upper, but the midfoot cage is separate and holds the laces rather than the laces being part of the upper.
I do think that’s an improvement compared to having the laces within the knit fabric itself, but still not a huge fan of one-piece knit uppers.
The problem with having the laces being part of the upper when it’s a one-piece knit is that the knit starts folding in on itself when you lace them tightly.
That issue is resolved by having the eyelets being part of the cage, but it still doesn’t give you the same lockdown as a traditional upper, and there are no extra eyelets to adjust the fit. There are actually just four eyelets rather than 5 of 6.
The tongue is quite high, and the shoe’s collar sits more on my ankle than around it. When not moving in them, it’s actually alright, but the upper starts to rub my ankle when I start moving.
The issue with a one-piece knit upper is that you can’t really adjust it. With a separate tongue, I might have been able to adapt it to fit my foot a bit better, but in this case, that’s not possible.
Classic Adidas Boost comfort
The midsole of the Ultraboost is, of course, made out of Boost. There is 20% more Boost than in Ultraboost 18, which is the same as in the 19. There is enough cushioning in the heel to make this a suitable shoe for heel strikers.
The outsole is, as you might have expected, made out of continental rubber. The Ultraboost 20 has the same stretch-web outsole as a lot of other Adidas running shoes. Good traction and good durability.
How Adidas Ultraboost 20 rides
The Boost midsole makes for a pretty soft ride, which is good for heel strikers. But the fact that your foot can’t be locked down properly due to the knit upper and the lack of extra eyelets makes you slide around in the shoe a bit, which isn’t ideal for running.
The Boost is plush, but there is not a huge energy return. It’s not a very fast shoe. The weight also doesn’t help. It’s more a slow, long-run kind of shoe than a speedy, long-distance racing shoe.
Adidas Ultraboost 20 in comparison
vs. Saucony Triumph 17
The Triumph 17 has quite a large stack height with 25.5 mm in the forefoot and 33.5 in the heel, but it’s still 9 grams lighter than the Ultraboost, which has significantly less stack height.
The Triumph’s PWRUN+ midsole looks a bit like Boost, but the Triumph is a bit plusher due to the higher stack height. The upper of the Triumph is also more plush than the knit of the Ultraboost.
vs. Asics Nimbus 22
The Nimbus is often regarded as quite a heavy shoe, but the Nimbus 22 comes in at 255 grams, while the Ultraboost comes in at 270 grams.
The upper and midsole of the Nimbus have a bit more of a plush feeling than the Ultraboost, but the Nimbus is quite a heavy heel due to the gel, while the weight distribution of the Ultraboost is a bit more evenly spread out.
vs. Nike Epic React 2
The Epic React 2 also has a one-piece knit upper, although a bit of a thinner knit than on the Ultraboost.
Due to this, both shoes have some lockdown issues, although the lockdown of the Epic React is a bit better than the Ultraboost. The Epic React midsole is a bit bouncier than the Ultraboost and seems to have a bit more energy return.
Wrapping up Adidas Ultraboost 20
Don’t get me wrong, I like Boost, but the upper makes it hard to get the right lockdown you need for a running shoe.
Adidas has since launched the Adidas PB, which has the same midsole, but a lighter upper, which isn’t a one-piece knit. That might give you a better lockdown to make it more suitable for a running shoe.
However, It’s a great shoe if you are looking for a running shoe that you might also be wearing as casual wear. It’s a comfortable and fashionable hybrid shoe.
I’m Marijke, on social media also known as Heart Runner Girl. I love trying new things and inspiring others to get moving. I’ve started running in 2014 and I run races all over the world. My favourite distance is the marathon, but I also run shorter distances. I’ve ran the Berlin Marathon in 2017 and the Paris and New York Marathon in 2018. My goal is to one day become a six-star finisher.