“Adidas makes hiking shoes?” I can just imagine the surprise of those who didn’t notice that last year one of the biggest makers of athletic shoes in the world leapt full-force into the outdoor market with Adidas Outdoor footwear and apparel. They’ve already won some awards, and we had the chance to check out one of their leading footwear products from their Terrex line—the Fast R Mid GTX.
The first thing that stands out is the mid-rising Ortholite upper and its construction. It’s lean and not padded traditionally, giving it slim lines and a no-nonsense, form-follows-function appearance. It looks more like a foam rubber sock than an upper. It laces up with wiry static lacing with an ingenious side hook that lets you get in and out of them fast (taking forever to get mids on and off is a pet peeve of mine, so kudos here).
Continental—yes, that Continental that makes your tires—provides the rubber for the Traxion outsole and gets some branding love in the process. I found well-lugged Traxion sole provided excellent grip on a wide variety of surfaces, though we really didn’t forge any algae-covered rocky streams (we could have, as the “GTX” is for GoreTex).
Adidas adds their popular adiPrene+ midsole to cushion the forefoot, and a clever heel design with 3D Formotion unit enhances motion control and downhill comfort. I found the Fast R’s sole very comfortable and both well-cushioned but with excellent feel and control.
Any complaints? That innovative Ortholite upper, which adidas says provides good foot climate and comfort, left me desiring more comfort for the balls of my ankles during a break in period of about two hikes. I suggest wearing well-padded hiking socks the first few times and not drawing the lacing system too tight until the shoes have broken in a bit. Properly broken in, I was able to wear much lighter socks and lace to my comfort level, which let my feet breathe pretty well in the Fast Rs, even when hiking in warm conditions.
At $195 on zappos.com or gearcoop.com, the Fast Rs are pricey, and adidas is counting on brand cachet and high technology to convince you the price of entry is worth having adidas to run in and hike in. Worth it? Do you buy Continentals for your car, or save a few bucks on a lesser-rated brand? Value can be very subjective, but this isn’t a bad parallel.
Adidas’ Terrex Fast R Mid GTXs bring a ton of technological innovation as light-weight, mid-rise hikers that excel at bouldering as much as supporting a pack’s worth of extra weight. After overcoming any initial concerns I had during break in, the Fast Rs have proven comfortable and lighter than some mid-rise competitors and are a great option when you need more support than a low-rise hiking shoe (which they offer in other Terrex models). Look out as adidas and Continental take over the outdoor world!