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Trail Runners

What We’re Testing Now: This Ultralight Trail Running Shoe Doesn’t Skimp On Comfort

The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra provides plenty of cushion without the weight.

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There’s no reason a trail running shoe that’s this light should be this comfortable. When I first put on the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, the thought that went through my mind was, “Oh, great, I can’t wait to feel every rock underfoot on the trail today.” But as I set off down the Cache Creek drainage near my home in Jackson, Wyoming—and on every other run I’ve taken since—I immediately noticed that the shoe’s construction floated me down the trail.

The Terrex Speed Ultra’s smooth ride is the result of using two materials in the midsole: a molded EVA layer on top and a layer of encapsulated PU on the bottom. The EVA provides cushion, the PU ensures a springy step and resists compression, and both of them together are ideal for moving fast and nimbly, and covering long distances through off-camber terrain.

Another notable element is the tongue design. Rather than a “floating” tongue that’s separate from the rest of the upper, this shoe has two stretchy gussets on either side of the tongue that allow your foot easy entry, but hold it in place once it’s in the shoe. With the gussets providing slight compression and the laces locked down tight, the Terrex Speed Ultra felt like a natural extension of my foot as I moved down the trail. (In truth, I hardly noticed it at all, which is probably the best quality a trail running shoe can have.)

The mesh upper has proved plenty breathable on days in the high 80s, and seems to be durable so far. TPU overlays around the toes (including on top of the big toe) have protected me from knocks. The Continental outsole grants dependable traction on dirt singletrack and medium-sized rocks, although I think the shallow, uniform V-shape lugs would lose a little grip in mud or on rock slabs. As long as I’m not running on those, though, the Terrex Speed Ultra will be one of my go-to footwear choices for the rest of the summer.

$160; Buy Now

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