Our verdict

In the realm of running shoes, we've found that the Adidas Ultraboost holds its own crown as a bestseller, despite its steep £190 price tag. It excels in breathability, outsole durability, and above all, its versatility as a fashionable-and-cosy everyday sneaker. However, despite its widespread popularity, we noticed that the shoe doesn't mask its flaws when it comes to running—it's simply too heavy and the Boost foam felt boring in all of our test runs.

Pros

  • Exceptionally breathable upper
  • Ideal cushioning for heel strikers
  • Durable Continental outsole
  • Excellent foot lockdown
  • Comfortable sock-like tongue
  • Outstanding performance of Boost in cold temperatures
  • Works well as both a running shoe and a casual sneaker
  • Recycled materials

Cons

  • It's too heavy and Boost doesn't feel bouncy
  • Insufficient cushioning in the forefoot
  • Priced at £190, it doesn't quite match its performance

Audience verdict

89
Great!

Who should buy

In our opinion, the Adidas Ultraboost is an ideal choice if:

  • You're seeking a breathable shoe that can double as a magnificent casual sneaker.
  • You desire a durable daily trainer and the extra weight is not an issue.
  • The £190 price tag is not a problem.

Adidas Ultraboost

Who should NOT buy

We've concluded that for dedicated runners clocking high mileage, the Ultraboost may not meet contemporary expectations for a high-performance running shoe. In our experience, it's too heavy, lacks energy return, and we think it's priced excessively for the value it offers.

If you want a modern-day, cloud-like daily trainer, we recommend considering options like such as the Nike Invincible 3, which features a bouncy Pebax-based ZoomX midsole, or the ASICS Nimbus 25 with its ultra-cushioned FF Blast+ foam.

Adidas Ultraboost hands

Lastly, if you're a forefoot striker, the Ultraboost might not be your best choice. We suggest you consider the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 instead.

Breathability

The Ultraboost truly SHINES in breathability, leading the pack with its super-quick smoke expulsion.

We can count on one hand the shoes that outperformed this one in our breathability testing machine, earning it a solid 5/5 rating.

But, what's the secret behind its breathability wizardry? It all comes down to Adidas's smart design of their Primeknit upper. It sports oversized ventilation holes in the toebox and midfoot, which are clearly visible in our light test.

Adidas Ultraboost microscope

Finally, we turned to our microscope to get a detailed look at those ventilation holes. It reveals a fairly-dense knit pattern interwoven with these larger airflow perforations, working in harmony to achieve perfect breathability.

Adidas Ultraboost microscope close

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 226 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Knit uppers usually come with a trade-off: comfort for durability. The Ultraboost falls into this trap, being unbelievably comfortable yet incredibly fragile.

So it didn't shock us when our standardised Dremel test left the upper destroyed in no time flat and forced us to gave the shoe a 1 out of 5 in this test.

It's just the price you need to pay for its cozyness, and if you tend to wear holes in your shoes with your big toe or pinky toe, you may want to try the Ultraboost 22 or the On Cloudswift 3 instead as they sport a sturdier upper.

Adidas Ultraboost Toebox durability
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 1
Average 2.4
Compared to 160 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Fortunately, now we have good news! The shoe's heel holds up much stronger against damage compared to the toebox. Our Dremel test acted and we rated it at a satisfying 3 out of 5, surpassing the average shoe's performance.

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 3
Average 3.1
Compared to 156 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

A key contributor to the Ultraboost's immense popularity is its legendary Continental outsole. Our measurements placed its outsole hardness at 86.1 HC, which is notably above average.

Adidas Ultraboost outsole

The outsole features strategic cutouts, designed to reduce weight without compromising grip.

This measurement indicates that the outsole boasts an exceptional, long-lasting durability.

Adidas Ultraboost Outsole hardness
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 86.1 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

But, there's no better way than to put durability to the real test, right? With the application of 3.2N of force via our Dremel test, we witnessed a mere 0.64 mm of rubber flying away.

This outstanding endurance boost the already high-standing reputation of Continental's performance in Adidas shoes.

Adidas Ultraboost Outsole durability
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 0.6 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 138 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

And we must also factor in the thickness of the outsole. With a whopping 4mm of rubber, we're talking serious mileage with this shoe. Like, not just hundreds, but potentially even thousands of miles until you destroy the rubber. 

Without a doubt, the upper is likely to die waaaaay before the outsole.

Adidas Ultraboost Outsole thickness
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 4.0 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Weighing in at 11.3 oz (320g), the Ultraboost 1.0 is substantially heavier than the average running shoe. It's a glaring issue in today's world where lightweight footwear is the norm. For instance, another best-seller workhorse like the ASICS Novablast 3 weighs 8.5 oz (242g) and it has a higher stack height.

In summary, while we appreciate the durability and comfort of Boost foam, we can't ignore its tremendous weight. This likely prompted Adidas to introduce the new Ultraboost Light, featuring Boost but in a lighter package.

Adidas Ultraboost Weight
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 11.29 oz (320g)
Average 9.35 oz (265g)
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

With a generous 34.4 mm of height, this shoe is certainly a top pick for heel strikers. In fact, it's this feature that has made it a crowd favourite across all the Ultraboost editions.

It's worth noting that our measurement exceeded Adidas's official 22mm mark by over 12mm, which is insane. This discrepancy is due to the Ultraboost's initial launch before the World Athletics guidelines for measuring drop—which we adhere to strictly in the lab.

These guidelines stipulate that stack height should be measured inclusive of the insole and outsole and on the same point in every shoe. Adidas, however, measured only the foam and used a different reference point.

Adidas Ultraboost Heel stack
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 34.4 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

On the other hand, for those of us who predominantly strike with the midfoot or forefoot when running, this might not be a top road running shoe despite its £190 price tag.

The calliper-based measurement comes in at just over 20.2 mm, which, to be frank, feels really low. It's a big head-scratcher, especially considering that this shoe is often marketed as a go-to for long-distance running. No way, Adidas!

Adidas Ultraboost Forefoot stack
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 20.2 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Both measurements translate to a staggering 14.2-mm heel-to-toe drop, a jaw-dropping result that counts among the steepest we've ever logged in our lab.

It's fantastic news for heel strikers. However, it's an awful drop for those who tend to be midfoot or forefoot strikers. And it's too far away from the official 10-mm drop stated by Adidas.

Adidas Ultraboost Drop
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 14.2 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

With a thickness of 3.7 mm, the insole provides ample comfort. We genuinely have no complaints about it despite being thinner than the average.

Adidas Ultraboost Insole thickness
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 3.7 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Now, let's talk Boost. Back in 2013, this TPU-based foam took the world by storm with its springiness and dreamy soft feel, as we explained in our advanced guide about foams. And it delivered world records in long distance running.

Yet, a decade later, it's evident that while it's fine for walking or the occasional jog, it doesn't quite make the cut for serious runners.

Adidas Ultraboost foam

With the advent of superfoams such as ZoomX and Lightstrike Pro, Boost now feels a bit old fashioned. But let's not overlook its durability and its excellent performance for walking and light jogging. That makes it a top-notch shoe for casual runners.

We recorded a measurement of 19.9 HA, indicating that it's softer than your average foam. Yet, we noticed that this plush sensation is more evident during a walk. When you pick up the pace to run, the foam feels a tad firmer than expected, although it's not firm by any means.

Adidas Ultraboost Midsole softness
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 19.9 HA
Average 21.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 224 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

With a measurement of 22.9 HA, the midsole retains a balanced feel in cold temperatures. It's neither too plush nor too firm.

Although Boost might appear a bit dated, its performance in chilly temperatures remains exceptional.

It hardens by only 15.1% in the cold—a result far superior to the average increase of 26.9%. This characteristic ensures an excellent run even in the coldest days of the year.

Adidas Ultraboost Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 15.1%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 223 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Having put the Ultraboost through proper testing, we can't exactly tag it as a "stable" shoe. Still, the plastic-made three-striped midfoot cage—which doubles as a lacing cage—and the heel clip do give neutral runners sufficient stability.

However, if you're someone who needs a more substantial stability feature, it's worth looking into options like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 or the Adidas Adistar 2.0.

Torsional rigidity

The Ultraboost exhibits flexibility akin to a yoga teacher. That's a score of 1 out of 5 on our scale!

We're pretty sure that this shoe's is one of the less rigid we've ever tested. And that's a major reason why we grab it for all-day walking and slow runs.

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 1
Average 3.2
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The Ultraboost doesn't have a traditional heel counter, and this was one of the main innovations that Adidas brought to the table with the original model. Instead, it features two plastic pieces that give the heel some lateral support, and these are what make the heel moderately stiff. 

We rated it at 3/5, slightly stiffer than the average, and we're happy to report that we didn't experience any heel slippage, which was a pleasant surprise given the limited lacing options of this shoe.

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 259 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

With a forefoot width of 107.3 mm, it's clear—one more time—that Adidas has designed this shoe primarily for heel strikers, overlooking the needs of other runners.

Adidas Ultraboost Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 107.3 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

This explains why the heel is wider than that of the average shoe. Measuring 91.1 mm, it provides a generous landing zone for runners who predominantly strike the ground with their heels.

Adidas Ultraboost Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 91.1 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

This is just the opposite of the super-rigid carbon-plated shoes like the Nike Alphafly 2. In fact, it took just a 10.1N force for us to bend it to 90 degrees.

This places it among the top 2% of the most flexible shoes we've examined in our lab.

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 10.1N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Thanks to the TPU-based Boost, it keeps its properties regardless of how freezing it gets outside.

We only had to step up our force—no need for any extra workouts in the gym—to 12.2N to bend it to the measuring point.

That's a 20.3% increase. When you compare it to the average increase of 46.3%, it's clear that we're dealing with a truly world-class performance in this department.

Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 20.3%
Average 36.2%
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Internal length

Adidas sizing chart tells that a US 9 shoe should measure 270 mm. We clocked it at 270.1 mm!

We've never seen anything this true-to-size—Kudos to Adidas for this one.

Adidas Ultraboost Internal length
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 270.1 mm
Average 269.2 mm
Compared to 160 running shoes
Number of shoes
259.9 mm
Internal length
280.4 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

We measured the upper at its widest part, registering a narrower-than-average result: 95.9 mm.

However, here's a crucial point here: the Ultraboost's Primeknit upper is known for its super-stretchy nature, which we showcase in the video below.

After hitting the roads or just walking around in these shoes a few times, we found them really spacious.

Adidas Ultraboost Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 95.9 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

No worries when it comes to the big toe area—there's loads of space for your toes to wiggle around!

Adidas Ultraboost Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 76.2 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 171 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

While not everyone loves this style of sock-like tongue, in the case of this shoe, it really hits the mark. We wouldn't want it any other way in a shoe named "Ultraboost".

Adidas Ultraboost Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 Sock like

Comfort

Tongue padding

When it comes to comfort, the Ultraboost pulls out all the stops thanks to its crazy-plush sock-like tongue.

At a thickness of 10.9 mm, it's practically double the average, and it provided a cloud-like feel for our instep. We just loved it!

Adidas Ultraboost Tongue padding
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 10.9 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Removable insole

Swapping out the insoles in the Ultraboost is quite a common practice in the sneaker world. And here's a handy tip we can share: if you feel the shoe doesn't offer as much volume as you'd need, you have a couple of options:

  1. If you're using the shoe solely for casual wear, you can try to remove the insole and see if it feels good.
  2. If you plan to run in them, consider swapping the original insole for a thinner one. This can give you those few extra millimetres you're after.
Adidas Ultraboost Removable insole
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Adidas Ultraboost doesn't come with any reflective bits. So, if you're a night owl and love those afterwork runs, this might not be the shoe for you. Lack of visibility features is a definite downside for us.

Adidas Ultraboost Reflective elements
Test results
Ultraboost 1.0 No