Oversized, maximalist soles have taken the running world by storm the past several years, with new materials promising record-shattering benefits. Unfortunately for many runners, the only thing larger than the soles on these monsters has been the price-tag.
These supportive, heavily cushioned trail shoes are a good entry point for neutral runners hoping to dip their toes into the oversized trend with a giant, fat sole and an extremely reasonable price tag.
While I am personally a fan of lightweight shoes with less cushioning and a smaller heel-toe drop, I found I appreciated the extra cushioning on the Response Trail. On shorter recovery runs, it reduced impacts, and it helped smooth out rocky and uneven trail surfaces.
This shoe is not without its downsides, however. I found the Response Trail’s oversized sole is not as light as advertised, which was particularly disappointing in a trail shoe.
Cornering and sharp turns were harder than they should have been with the extra weight. The steep heel to toe drop also makes climbing difficult, and forefoot striking is nearly impossible even on level ground, forcing an occasionally irregular gait.
Finally, I found it took a long time to break these shoes in, with the high arch remaining uncomfortable until the shoes had nearly 40 miles on them.
This shoe is a tank. The sole is 30mm thick at the heel, and flares outwards from the sides. While that size is exactly why runners would seek out this shoe, there’s a significant weight trade-off, with the men’s version clocking in at about 12oz.
For more duck-footed runners, that heel flare is also a problem. I found I had to adjust my gait at first to stop the heels from kicking into my calves. Once I got used to it, this was fine, but it took some time to adjust at the start of my first several runs in these shoes.
On level terrain, the highly cushioned sole felt soft and smooth, though not as cloudlike as some entries in the maximalist genre.
Difficulties came when the upper got wet, or uneven terrain demanded quick turnover. When wet, the upper swelled and added significant weight to the already heavy shoe.
On uneven terrain, though the big lugs ensured a smooth ride, the heavy, relatively inflexible sole made it difficult to maintain a high foot speed and a quick pace.
While everyone’s foot shape is different, this model didn’t seem quite right for me. Sizing was tricky, and this shoe contributed to some serious blisters. The arch support also felt unnatural even after I’d been wearing the shoes for some time.
I also found the toe box unnecessarily wide. While toes need room to breathe, this shoe left too much room for them to slide around. Particularly in a trail shoe, that much excess space can be painful.
I found the sole handled pavement and roads with minimal wear and tear. Also, the heavy lugs were well-suited to sloppy and muddy conditions.
While most shoes lose their spark and crush out after 300 or 400 miles, I have put 200 miles on this pair so far, and fully expect them to be good for another 300 at least.
The Adidas Trail Response has several clearly conflicting demands on its design, and while plenty of other companies have solved the conflicts involved here, none have done so at this shoe’s price point.
If you’re willing to experiment, the Trail Response can’t be beat.
That said, I found it was far better suited to dirt and gravel roads than to true trail running. Its weight makes for an unresponsive shoe, particularly in damp conditions.
And, though its sole is excessive for the physiological demands of road running, it still held up a lot better than many trail shoes do on pavement.
This shoe is worth the investment. For the right runner, this should be an excellent trainer. I’m looking forward to Adidas ironing out the kinks in future iterations.
Good to know
- The Adidas Response Trail is a versatile running shoe that’s primarily meant for trail running. It makes use of a modern layout to appeal to people who want their footwear to have a more pleasing look. The soft and breathable engineered mesh serves as the upper unit, and reinforcing it is a waterline overlay that staves off mud and mild splashes.
- Underfoot cushioning is the responsibility of the Boost midsole foam. This full-length material attenuates impact shock and energizes the toe-off. Beneath the midsole is a Traxion® outsole, which is made up of an abrasion-resistant rubber. Gripping lugs amplify grip over the various outdoor surfaces.
The outsole unit of the Adidas Response Trail features the Traxion® outsole, which is a rubber compound that covers the entire platform. Its job is to protect the foam midsole from the abrasive nature of the trails. It also doles out surface grip.
Traction nodes pockmark the external pad. These prominent protrusions are responsible for heightening surface control on the trails. Moreover, their multidirectional configuration makes it easier for runners to handle unpredictable trail conditions, such as rocky slopes, upward runs, and downward traversals.
The Response Trail makes use of the Boost™ cushioning system. It is composed of thousands of tiny TPU pellets that have been fused together. Its purpose is to cushion the impact when landing the foot on the ground, then provide an energized bounce during the toe-off.
Serving as the primary cover system is a soft and cloth-like engineered mesh. Its goal is to give a lightweight and comfortable wrap that feels like an extension of the skin. It has breathing slits that permit air into the foot-chamber.
A synthetic material reinforces the silhouette. It takes the form of the Adidas three-stripe design and the anti-tear layer of the lacing system’s eyelets. It also serves as a waterline that surrounds the bottom part of the upper unit, shielding the mesh from exposure to mud and water.
Semi-flat laces allow the runner to adjust the fit. These stretchy strands are anchored to the tongue via a securing hoop, thereby preventing tongue-deviation.
An internal heel counter and an external back overlay hold the Achilles and ankles in place, thereby preventing in-shoe quivering and accidental shoe-removals.
The lightly padded tongue and collar support the upper dimensions of the foot while also preventing any irregular movements in the foot-chamber.
A pull-tab is stitched to the back part of the collar. This loop of fabric helps the runner when it comes to donning or removing the Adidas Response Trail.