What do you get when two adidas designers go for a mountain bike ride and fantasize about a shoe as sticky as their fat tires? Answer: the Terrex Fast R. After their ride, the designers adjourned to the lab and developed a hiking shoe outsole using the Continental rubber compound found on their knobbies. According to Continental, the proprietary Black Chile rubber has a 30-percent higher adhesion rate than regular tires. The unique material, combined with tirelike, L-shaped lugs, gives the Fast R exceptional traction on all surfaces including ice, slush, mud, and scree.
Plenty of other hiking shoes have good traction (and some even have tread made from rubber-tire material), but the Fast R’s grip on wet surfaces and steep trails exceeds any other shoe we tested. “It was like wearing instep crampons,” says one tester who wore the Fast R up packed snow on Arizona’s 12,637-foot Mt. Humphreys. “I was cruising up supersteep hills,” reported another tester after a speed hike/run across mossy rocks in Washington’s La Camas Park. “On descents, I picked up speed because I knew the grip was there.”
The Fast R is equipped with a thin plastic shock plate between the midsole and outsole that shifts backward up to one cm upon impact. It not only cushions during heel strike but brakes forward momentum on steep downhills. A wing-shaped plastic exoskeleton wraps the forefoot for lateral stability. $155; 1 lb. 9 oz.; m’s 6-14; adidas.com/outdoor