Written by Neil Bryant - www.ultrarunninglife.com
Now, I would say that I have tried a fair few pairs of shoes over the previous eight years that I have been running, but somehow I have managed to dodge Adidas and Nike shoes completely. Now, I am not sure why this is. Maybe none of the shoes have called out to me or maybe there is some subconscious reason why. What ever it is, when I first saw a pair of the Adidas Adizero Xt 4′s in a magazine I was interested. They looked pretty low to the ground with a low heel. They looked like they weren’t over engineered like so many shoes were from these companies. I was straight away Googling them to find out some more information. The heel to toe drop was 6mm, the grip looked quite aggressive and they weighed 280 grammes. Not bad at all! My final demand was a stiff forefoot or a rock plate. I couldn’t find anything online saying they had a rock plate but apparently were quite stiff. I needed to find some in a shop to check them out.
Then I forgot about them. I do this all the time. It was filed away in my shoe cluttered brain for a while till I saw a pair in a shop. What was the one thing I needed to know about these shoes? Ah yes, the forefoot protection! I prodded them and bent them in my hands. They felt great. Plenty of protection and the forefoot was certainly a good shield from sharp rocks. They felt good and light. The tread was very impressive, being deep and labelled by the tyre manufacturer Continental, who’s tyres I use on my road bike. They know their rubber! This of course didn’t guarantee that they would fit my feet well.
Finally months after first setting eyes on them I got a pair from a shop using a token which meant I paid a paltry £45 for them! Bargain! I didn’t get to wear them till the Endurancelife South Devon Coastal Trail Half marathon earlier this year. I was running the half and not the ultra because I was still recovering from Trans-Europe so had barely run over the last three months. I was still not fully recovered and rather unfit. Conditions were muddy so I looked through my shoe quiver and decided on the Adizero Xt 4 with their quite meaty tread.
I was impressed and wore them on some other occasions but they hadn’t quite gripped me like the Mantra. Then I moved to The French Alps a couple of months ago and they slowly began to rise up in my pile of favourites. I ran a few times in conditions where the Mantratread was lacking a little. Out came the Adidas. This happened more and more. If I knew I was going to go quite high and be encountering snow then these were the first choice.
So lets go into a little detail about the build of this shoe.
These things are bright in the orange and blue colourways I have them in. The orange is BRIGHT! Enough of the superficial. The first impression I got from these shoes was that they are not too heavy but the uppers feel like they will maybe outlast the sole which is becoming more and more a rarity these days with lightweight trail shoes. I have built up a pretty substantial mileage on some testing Alpine terrain and it looks as good as new minus the dirt. The fine mesh is soft and great for drainage and for keeping your feet from overheating and getting too sweaty.
Around the eye holes and reinforcing the shoe around the heel and all around the toe is an added layer of synthentic leather that is quite thick and certainly helps protect your toes from toe stubbing. The tongue I really like. It is soft and a little stretchy and fairly thin. I find too many shoes have really thick tongues which is completely unnecessary for my use. There is nothing remarkable about the laces though are a little short for me. Anyone else who owns this shoe find this?
The heel is rather low which I really like the feel of and has a fairly solid heel cup. Around the toe box there is also a stiff thin layer over the mesh which has been titled Sprint Web by Adidas. I believe this is the same stuff that is used to add some structure to their compression wear.
The midsole as already mentioned is pretty minimal. The stackheight of the heel is 25mm with the forefoot at 19mm giving a drop of a very reasonable 6mm. This is the same drop as the Salomon Mantra another favourite of mine but overall it raises you 4mm further from the ground. You must take into account the fact the the Mantra is very sparse on tread in comparison to the Adizero Xt 4.
The material that the midsole is constructed from what appears to be one variety. The Adidas website states that Adiprene+ is used in the forefoot to maintain propulsion and efficiency. I can only assume that a different material is used for everything other than the forefoot.
The sole is as I have mentioned before, pretty chunky. Nothing too heavy though. There are plenty of fell shoes out there that have a deeper more aggressive tread if that is what you’re after. The unusually shaped studs on these shoes are wells spaced meaning that they rarely clog up in thick mud. The studs around the lateral edge of the forefoot seem to flare out a little for some reason. Whether this improves traction a little I don’t know but I found they really helped to kick steps into the snow! The tread is decent all over except in the midstep where there is a multitude of small spiky parts that gave me some grip confidence when using my midstep to step over large sharp rocks and fallen trees etc.
So, as previously mentioned, these shoes tick all the boxes on my current trail shoe shopping list (Drop, weight, forefoot protection, tread) but what about the actual fit and feel? These shoes fit me very nicely. I have worn these for some big days out in the mountains, in lots of snow, draining the water from torrents very quickly, in very warm dusty conditions where the mesh allows my feet to stay cool enough to keep them relatively comfortable. The tread seems to work well in most conditions. They are ok on wet rock and fare well on loose rock. I have never felt that I have needed anything more.
They have a noticeably round outsole meaning that they ‘role’ along all the way from footfall to the toe off which a few other shoes do and is a nice sensation feeling very natural. I reach for these often. When it’s snowy, muddy, wet and whether it be a short day or long I like them equally. On the rare occasion that I am on tarmac, they are perfectly adequate. Actually they are pretty comfortable on the road. If I was into road running I would certainly want to check out Adidas’ road shoes.
Overall I love these shoes. It took me a while to get to know them, but now I consider them before each run and more often than not they are the chosen ones! Adidas own Salomon so maybe there has been a bit of a crossover of knowledge. I will certainly be looking at Adidas shoes in the future with new interest and I may even get another pair of these when or if they ever wear out!