Verdict from 14 experts and +100 user reviews

8 reasons to buy

  • Cushioning: The super plush feel of the Boost cushioning is highly praised by the majority of wearers.
  • Heel lock: The padded heel delivers great lockdown with no slippage or irritation, according to many testers.
  • Fit: A great number of runners love the sock-like feel of the UB20’s knit upper.
  • Toebox: Offers ample room to splay toes, according to people with medium-sized feet.
  • Traction: Quite a few runners note that the Continental rubber grips the roads excellently and doesn’t slip on wet surfaces.
  • Durability: Those who have put the Ultraboost 20 through 100 miles state that the shoe is holding up well, showing no signs of serious wear.
  • Easy on-off: Some users can slide them on and off without lacing.
  • Style: A vast majority of buyers consider this model a fashion statement and especially adore the NASA-inspired colorway.

4 reasons not to buy

  • Weight: The Adidas Ultraboost 20 comes on the heavy side and is even a bit heavier than the UB19. Avid runners complain that it is mostly felt on faster and longer runs.
  • Not for fast runs: As stated by most experts, the shoe lacks responsiveness and feels clunky when they try to speed up.
  • Midfoot cage: Most reviewers are put off by the restrictive feel of the added side panels. It also rubbed the foot for some of them.
  • Value: Many users think that its performance and updates don’t live up to a $180 price point.

Bottom line

The Ultraboost 20 is considered a great daily trainer for easy, recovery runs in modest paces. It performs best on medium distances but can suffice for a slow half-marathon. With its emphasis on style, the shoe is widely seen as an athleisure shoe or a fashion sneaker.

While you can expect the renowned comfort of the Ultraboost series, it is not the top pick among experts when it comes to running performance. They point to lighter and bouncier alternatives from Adidas and other brands.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

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Video reviews

Our reviews

83
/100 by , posted on .

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.

 

Adidas-Ultraboost 20-perf.jpg

 

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. 

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20.jpg

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.

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20-upper.jpg

 

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. 

Midsole

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. 

Outsole

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. 

 

Adidas-Ultraboost 20-outsole.jpg

Performance

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.

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20-performance.jpg

 

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. 

Comparison

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.

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20-versus-Saucony-Triumph-17.jpg

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.

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20-versus-Asics-Nimbus-22.jpg

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. 

 

Adidas-Ultraboost-20-versus-Nike-Epic-React-2.jpg

Conclusion

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.

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.

| Level 5 expert Verified
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.

Good to know

Lying in the outsole is the Continental Stretchweb technology that delivers a larger contact area for better traction on various surfaces. This highly durable rubber material also offers reliable protection against sharp objects and small rocks. This technology is also featured in the Adidas Adizero Boston shoes.

The Adidas Ultraboost 20 utilizes the Boost technology, which provides excellent cushioning and incredible energy return. The Boost midsole cushioning is compost of tons of little capsules that are made of polyurethane. This component gives the runner back up to 55% of the energy exerted in every impact. It helps the user run faster and more effortless. 

The Torsion system is also encapsulated within the midsole foam for an improved transition and propulsion. The Torsion spring is positioned in the center of the lower portion of the shoe, connecting the front and back of the platform. The spring transfers the strength of the feet from one part to another. It allows an independent movement for maximum flexibility and added stability. 

The upper of the Adidas Ultraboost 20 uses the Primeknit technology for a breathable, sock-like fit. The knitted upper is made from recycled waste materials that are intercepted from coastal communities and beaches before they reach the oceans. The upper keeps the foot well ventilated and cool for an extended period. 

The Tailored Fibre Placement (TFP) technology utilized in the upper provides stitching across every single millimeter for targeted midfoot support and breathability. 

The TPU midfoot cage and clip are designed to deliver extra support while the 3D heel frame is added to securely hold the ankle in place while running. The traditional lacing system is also used for a customized fit. 

  • The 20th edition of the Adidas Ultraboost is created as a symbol of the partnership between Adidas and the International Space Station (ISS). The passion for innovation has brought these organizations together. Inspired by their desire to empower the athletes of the Earth, they will send the Adidas Ultraboost 20 into the space to push the limits of possibility. 

How Ultraboost 20 compares

This shoe: 91
All shoes average: 81
54 93
This shoe: £170
All shoes average: £120
£40 £330
This shoe: 310g
All shoes average: 270g
100g 460g
Author
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.

jens@runrepeat.com