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Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra trail running shoe review

Lightweight, supportive and well-cushioned, these trail running shoes tick all the boxes, making them a great option for first-time trail runners and seasoned pros alike.

Our rating 
4.8 out of 5 star rating 4.8
Blue trail running shoe

Our review

The super-comfortable, form-enhancing midsole, combined with supreme ventilation and a good level of traction, make this stylish trail running shoe a solid mid-price option for all abilities.
Pros: Amazing midsole comfort
Extremely well ventilated upper
Good traction on a range of terrains
Attractive style and colour choices
Cons: Laces have a habit of coming untied

The Terrex Speed Ultra is a very good-looking shoe (I have the blue rush/matte silver/turbo version). The eye-catching blue ombre hue, streaked with hints of silver and coral, is reminiscent of a dawn sky in spring. In fact, that’s a little bit how they feel when you first pull them on; light, airy and, to push the metaphor too its very limits, full of promise for what’s to come.

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My first impressions of this Adidas shoe were so good that I ended up running in them for over an hour. Subsequent longer runs have delivered a similar sense of satisfaction. So, what makes them so good?

One of the most exciting features is the Boost midsole, which is made from tiny capsules that are moulded together. The result is an extremely comfortable and responsive midsole, which not only absorbs energy as you step down on it – thus reducing impact – but also seems to push energy back into your foot and leg as you step up – it really does feel a little like you’re bouncing. This bounce-like effect improves the smoothness of your gait, reducing fatigue, and allows you to stay out on the trail for longer.

Another part of the shoe that impressed me was the mesh upper. It’s tough, which is great for runners who like to go off-piste through grassland and over rough, rocky terrain, but it’s also highly breathable. In fact, breathable is an understatement; the shoe is so well ventilated that it feels as if the air is rushing straight through it, keeping your feet cool and fresh.

The tongue is cushioned and attached to the main shoe with a sock-like construction that hugs the side of your foot. The effect of this, when combined with the lacing system (which is fairly standard), is a shoe that feels supportive, comfortable and flexible, with no slippage. One downside is that the laces are quite slick and have a habit of coming untied, forcing you to break your run – it’s worth pulling the knot extra tight to avoid this happening.

The lugs on the outsole (from Continental) are quite shallow compared to other trail running shoes, but the tightly packed, multi-directional pattern – inspired by gravel bike tyres – offers a solid level of traction, and I found them to perform well on wet pavements and muddy forest paths, as well as dry stone.

Dawn, dusk and night runners will appreciate the reflective strips on the outside of the shoe.

Terrex Speed Ultra fits slightly smaller than expected (I’m usually a UK 10, but UK 10.5 proved a better fit), and has a D width rating, which is standard in the UK.

The women’s version of the Terrex Speed Ultra shares all the same features as the men’s model, though colour choices are vary, and they are slightly narrower.

Facts at a glance

Also consider:

Brooks Cascadia 16 Trail Running Shoe

Brooks Cascadia 16 shoes are designed with some serious cushioning, so hard, rocky trails have minimal impact on knees and joints. In fact, putting them on feels like slipping your feet into a pair of cushions.

There’s a fancy-sounding ‘Ballistic Shock Shield’, too: basically a bit of plastic underneath running along the front half of the foot to lessen the impact of pebbles and hard surfaces. But if you just wore these shoes while out running in parched, craggy environments, you’d be doing them a disservice. They’re designed for all kinds of conditions, and great for running in the British countryside.

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The tread gives excellent grip and sheds well. On mucky runs through field paths, off-road in forests and on mossy ground, the purchase is excellent. Mud is nothing to them. Back on the hard paths, the support is very good both on the soles and at the sides, although they’re not quite as at home as on the trail.