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Adidas releases their new Ultraboost designed for women, by women, with a female-specific fit that’s tough to find in most running shoes.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 Review | $190
Weight: 10.4 oz. (women’s size 8.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (33mm heel, 23mm forefoot)
Why It’s Great
One of the not-so-secret truths of the running industry is that most women’s running shoes aren’t built with a women’s foot or gait pattern in mind. Bucking that trend, an all-women Adidas footwear team rethought, redesigned and re-engineered this popular cushioned cruiser to accommodate the specific foot shape and gait pattern of women runners. The new Adidas Ultraboost 22 is a maximally cushioned everyday training shoe—which dropped on Tuesday in a new, fresh colorway tied to a campaign to increase women’s running safety—that now offers a very specific women’s fit and ride.
The women’s version of the new Ultraboost 22 is built around a brand new last (the three-dimensional interior shape of the shoe) based on the foot scan data of more than 1.2 million runners in North America, Asia, and Europe. As a result, the shape of the new Ultraboost 22 has a narrower heel, a lower instep, and an S-curve heel geometry that works with a firm, low-profile heel counter that secures the rear of the foot while allowing the Achilles tendon to move freely.
Another big improvement to this shoe can be found in the new outsole design that provides more medial arch support and added forefoot propulsion from a rigid plastic insert (called a Linear Energy Push, or LEP) embedded in bottom of the midsole. Combined with a new stretch-knit upper made of recycled polyester and recycled plastic and a sock-like bootie construction, the revamped design delivers a more secure, comfortable fit, a more stable ride, and an average of 4 percent more forefoot energy return than last year’s Ultraboost 21.
- As with previous editions, the magically resilient sensation of the Ultraboost 22 comes from the thick layer of Boost midsole foam that provides a soft and very bouncy ride. Boost foam is an extremely buoyant material made from thousands of thermoplastic polyurethane particles that have been expanded to form closed cells around tiny pockets of air. Those particles compress when a runner’s foot hits the ground, then release with a propulsive sensation as the foot rolls through the gait cycle to the toe-off phase at the end of a stride.
- Although bouncy, the ride is very stable. When you roll from heel to toe through a stride cycle, you’ll feel the extra support under the arch. In some shoes with such high-stack midsoles (and with some previous shoes with Boost midsoles), there can be a feeling of slight instability based on the specific movement patterns of a runner’s foot. But thanks to the rigid plastic LEP insert under the medial arch, there’s a tinge of structure that guides a runner’s foot forward.
- The shoe was designed to fit comfortably snug, conforming around the shape of your foot. When you slip the shoe on, you’ll feel the close-fitting sensation from the Prime Knit upper that feels like your foot is securely anchored to the midsole/outsole chassis. The Ultraboost 22 fits true to size with a medium- to low-volume interior, but it might feel slightly more snug than your other shoes in the same size. (It’s only available in a B width.)
- The outsole features sections of firmer and softer material to alternately enhance traction and contribute to the resiliency of the midsole. Our wear-testers love that it provides excellent grip on wet and dry roads and gravel surfaces without catching pebbles.
- At 10.4 oz. (for a women’s size 8.0), the Ultraboost 22 isn’t a lightweight trainer. That’s nothing new for the Ultraboost line, but it’s actually lighter than last year’s edition. While it’s not as light and agile as other models in this category, the springy ride reduces the burden and prohibits it from feeling bulky.
- Some of our wear-testers with wider feet reported that the toe-box was narrow and excessively snug, a situation accentuated by the stretchy upper and interior bootie.
Who It’s For
The Ultraboost 22, like most of the recent Ultraboost models, can handle a wide range of training runs, but its sweet spot is slower to moderately paced runs of any length. It can definitely suffice for some faster running efforts—including tempo runs and longer repeats—but it’s not designed to be a speed burner for all-out racing, and its stout girth really doesn’t allow for it. It could be race-day shoe for 5K to the marathon if you’re willing to deal with the tradeoff of carrying a few extra ounces than you would in a race-specific shoe. If it’s the only shoe in your quiver, you’ll understand its limitations. But if it’s the shoe you choose for long runs or recovery runs, you might just know it for the pure effervescent joy it provides.
Adidas did a really good job of making women’s-specific enhancements to the Ultraboost 22. (And let’s hope more brands follow this trend!) If you like a cushy, comfortable shoe that provides a soft, springy, bouncy ride, then you’ll very likely love this version, even if the gender-specific improvements are only subtly detectable in every stride.