Traction Think of these Adidas Outdoor Terrex X-Kings as cleats for the trail, thanks to an outsole that uses rubber from Continental tire company and tread that mimics a mountain bike tire. The 3.5mm, multi-directional lugs gripped loose, sloppy terrain better than any other trail runner in our test, and they easily shed mud on fast-paced training runs in California’s Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. If you need traction more than waterproofing for your winter runs, these are your shoes.
Support Instead of gluing the outsole to the midsole, as conventionally done, designers attached the outsole directly to the upper. That allows for a 6mm-thick, removable EVA midsole that provides both support and customization. “I loved the versatility this provides,” one tester says. “If I want plush cushioning, I can leave the midsole in, or I can swap it out with a thinner insole (not included) or nothing at all for a more minimalist feel.” (Fit is roomier without the midsole, of course, but the lacing system snugs the shoe up fine.)
Comfort Testers’ feet felt comfortable after 10-plus-mile runs on everything from hardpacked fire roads to rocky trails, thanks to the soft padding. Testers also liked the flexible, sock-like upper, which has a bit of stretch to accommodate runners with wider feet. The quick-lace system dials in lacing with incremental adjustments. m’s 6-12