Adidas unveiled the new version of its much-loved Ultraboost running shoes earlier this year, promising a fresh update with a new look and more boost than ever before. But should you invest in this new derivative of the brand’s most successful running line? I slipped on a pair of the new Adidas Ultraboost 21 running shoes and took them for a test drive on the streets and beyond.
For this new version of the Ultraboost, Adidas worked closely with the Adidas running community and testers to create the new silhouette, which reimagines the original Ultraboost from the ground up. Re-designed from top to bottom, it is quite difficult to spot any similarities with the predecessor, the Ultraboost 20 and this latest iteration delivers a bold new design combined with the latest in performance technology.
Less fashion, more performance
The Ultraboost has always blurred the line between performance running trainer and lifestyle sneaker but the Ultraboost 21 is significantly more focused on performance, compared to the other Ultraboost models. With its, less fashion, more performance approach, the new iteration of the Ultraboost still looks incredibly cool but comes with some pretty impressive tech built-in to ensure you get a running shoe that performs for you on the road.
The shoe features a completely new outsole constructed with crystal rubber, a chunkier midsole with more boost and an updated upper too. The core development in Ultraboost 21 is the redesign of the shoe’s torsion system. The new Adidas LEP (‘Linear Energy Push’) provides a 15% increase in forefoot bending stiffness for a more responsive stride. This works alongside Adidas’ proprietary midsole Boost technology, which the brand says packs in 6% more boost through an exaggerated heel curve, providing runners with incredible energy return and comfort in every step. The radical new midsole design is completely different from any previous Ultraboost and gives you some serious spring in your step.
If you got lost in all that jargon, simply put; the biggest difference you’ll notice in this new version of the Ultraboost is that the toe curls up more in the front and the heel is way more spherical than previous editions. Like many other running shoes on the market right now, the Ultraboost 21 has a ‘rocker’ silhouette appearance. This makes it feel like you’re standing on more of an incline when standing on a flat surface, and it’s easier to tip forward and back. The idea with this heel shape is to capitalise on a more natural gait, and help propel you into your next step as you run. The shoes offer an almost exaggerated springy feeling to really energise your runs.
The right fit
This neutral running shoe offers maximum comfort and is ideal for everyday training runs or even a cardio session at the gym. The shock absorption of these runners is brilliant for anyone doing easy long or short runs, where comfort is the top priority. The biggest takeaway from the Ultraboost 21 for me is comfort. These shoes fit like a glove from the first wear and feel marshmallow-soft.
The sock-like one-piece Primeknit upper is constructed using Adidas’ sustainable Primeblue, a high-performance recycled material containing at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic. This super-soft upper greatly contributes to the superior comfort of the shoe. The elasticated upper offers a tight fit that feels similar to putting on a sock. From the first wear, it hugs and supports your foot in all the right places, enabling you to achieve the perfect lockdown. The shoe also features laces to help you lock-in your foot and tighten the fit, but honestly, I barely needed them to get a good snug fit thanks to the sock-like fit.
Another comfort-related feature I loved in these runners is the lip at the back of the shoe, which offers additional support and comfort for the Achilles tendon and ankles. This lip of the shoe is cushioned more than usual and comes up a bit higher, so it made sliding in and out of these shoes especially easy. Over-all, the snug fit and cushioned ankle support, gives you the feeling that you’re going to have a smooth, comfortable ride before you even hit the streets for a run.
Putting it to the test
I wore these shoes on several road and treadmill runs as well as for multiple high-intensity-interval-training sessions at the gym and have really been enjoying them. While the Ultraboost 21 is designed to be a running shoe, it’s also proven to be an incredible all-rounder for running and gym sessions.
Thanks to the super bouncy midsole, the shoes offer excellent responsiveness during runs. You get a distinct plush feel with these but then the energy return features kick in, and you feel like you’re being propelled into your next step. Running in these shoes feels great and they’re an excellent reminder of why so many people have fallen in love with the Adidas Ultraboost over the years.
Not only do they offer excellent cushioning and support to help protect my joints during long runs but they’re also super comfortable for gym sessions as well. These shoes are becoming my favourite shoes to reach for when I’m heading to the gym for a high-intensity cardio workout. Even with their curved shape, I was able to squat, plank, and even knock out a few burpees without feeling unsteady.
Weighing in at 340 grams, some runners may find the Ultraboost 21 to be too heavy for long runs but for my purposes they were perfect. They’re by no means heavy but with so many featherlight options on the market, the weight of these shoes is something to consider if having an ultra-lightweight running shoe is important to you.
You also get great grip and traction with these, thanks to the Stretchweb outsole made with rubber from German Continental (yes, the car tyre brand). If it’s a durable shoe you’re after then you can’t go wrong with the Ultraboost 21.
Is the Ultraboost 21 the shoe for you?
The new Adidas Ultraboost 21 is an excellent running shoe. Designed to offer maximum comfort with a few high-tech features, the shoe delivers on its promise as an easy running trainer. It’s the ideal shoe for casual runners who also want to use their running shoes for other purposes than pounding the pavement.
If you are looking for a reliable workhorse for your everyday training that will deliver a smooth ride every time, then the Adidas Ultraboost 21 will prove to be a great choice.
The Adidas Ultraboost 21 features at a glance:
- Optimised Boost – 6% more Boost capsules than Ultraboost 20 to provide runners with the perfect mix of support and comfort.
- Adidas LEP – newly redesigned ‘Linear Energy Push’ torsion system with stiffer, reinforced material in the midsole to provide runners with less flex in the forefoot and increased responsiveness.
- Primeknit+ – a more precise knit designed and forged for incredible support and enhanced movement, combining pure comfort with lightweight performance.
- Sustainable Support – Upper made with Primeblue, a high-performance recycled material containing at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic, reinforcing the Adidas 2015 brand commitment to sustainability.
The Adidas Ultraboost 21 is now available in a vibrant white and as well as a fluorescent yellow colourway on Adidas.co.za and in Adidas concept stores at a recommended retail price of R3,599. Further limited-edition drops are also available until stocks last.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.