Upper features at least 50% recycled content, high EVA midsole, raised sidewalls for stability, Traxion outsole
Cushioning is great
Secure, comfy fit gives immediate confidence
Light for a rugged shoe
Wide base and toe box
Transitions easily between terrains
Energy return a little lacking
Heel rub without higher socks
Not for fast running
What I’m Looking For
Trail running for me means getting out of the precincts and onto some peaks. Pounding concrete is no good for my soul nor my ongoing recovery from a touch of spinal surgery with its inherent high impact. So now when I say ‘peaks’ I mean mildly elevated plateaus or the rolling hills of the Somerset countryside where the going is generally good to firm.
I love trail running for the variety of terrain you can wrap into a single run and of course that endorphin rush of freedom that kicks in running through wide open spaces. I’m certainly not in it for any particular competitive sense, nor am I a sucker for crazy-tough endurance slogs. I also like to mix it up with a gravel ride. Use the wheels to get quickly to a certain spot, lock up and then head out on foot to explore less rideable routes, then ride back (ideally downhill) for a feed and a cold shower.
As a result I do like a light shoe with tidy traction and decent support, but nothing too chunky. I do, though, like a mean front guard to stave off any toe-throbbers. The shoe should also be low to the ground and keep stability over the hidden humps and bumps of fields and slippy limestone. A bit of waterproofing helps a little way during the mild, mild winters we get here in the mild, mild West, so I’m warm to a bit of Gore-Tex action. But it’s pretty much impossible to keep your feet dry running in winter, whatever shoe you choose.
Adidas (O.K, TERREX at least) are going big on environmentally-conscious messaging and eco-innovation. How do I know this? Well, by the time I’ve got the shoes fully out of the box and ready to put on, I’ve counted at least four separate signals of their sustainable practice credentials. This is a great thing. I hope it’s true.
I’m curious about the design. This outdoor market-focused division of adidas, so the spun yarn goes, grew from humble roots in the late ‘70s developing approach shoes for Reinhold Messner for some of his (what were then anyway) pretty trailblazing expeditions to Everest.
These early versions carved a new path for lightweight trekking shoes. Then, more recently the adidas Outdoor division that launched in 2007 metamorphosed into the TERREX brand we recognise today around 2011, honing its focus on this eco-innovation idea by rethinking materials and designs as well as opening up to regular partnerships with sustainability specialists and manufacturers. It also cunningly bridged the gap between cool urban fashion and genuine outdoor performance wear and has comfortably straddled that gap ever since. I’m not saying they’re solely responsible for the gorpcore trend but, let’s face it, they’re a culprit. Trail running is now also one of their fastest growing categories but I think it’s fair to say that true outdoors nuts are a little wary of adidas and Nike encroaching onto their turf. The feeling is that, with these brands (ACG in Nike’s case) it’s style over substance.
Why this potted history lesson? Well one of the reasons I’m curious about the TERREX SoulStride is because the upper features at least 50% recycled content and I do wonder whether there is any trade-off on performance as a result. But, at first glance, despite a little bit of that visible binding glue (don’t know about you but that always gives me the willies about new shoes), these look impressively sturdy although I feel like the material is thinner than other TERREX shoes that spring to mind, like the TERREX Agravic TR, and they are very light for a rugged shoe. The raised walls give them the right amount of ballast and the toe looks roomy. The look is ever-so slightly retro in a pared down way but with little glimpses of modern cool, like the fluoro markings here and there. Feels like this is an unashamedly functional design with some subtle flashes of flair you associate with sneaker world brands, but no overkill. Is this a conscious move to counter the style-over-substance claim they know they will face? Definitely maybe.
The look is ever-so slightly retro in a pared down way but with little glimpses of modern cool, like the fluoro markings here and there.
Decent trail runs usually involve a blend of ascents and descents and that terrain variety I mentioned earlier. I’ve now used these shoes for five or six different runs and I’ve also found they’re not out of place on the treadmills and mats of my gym as well. In fact, they were more than adequate there.
The run routes I like are around Cheddar Gorge where you get craggy limestone, churned up and gnarled paths up and along the clifftop run at the Gorge’s edge. It also includes ‘Hell’s Steps’ – a slightly melodramatically-named series of wood-buttressed steps which are great for calf burn. I’ve also taken these shoes for a few spins around Bristol’s Ashton Court which is about 850 acres of grassland and woodland with additional wooded trails peeling off. It is veined by a few tarmac tracks. Following my physio’s counsel, I’ve been building my stamina, fitness and resilience back up, bit by bit, so these runs have varied from a gentle 3km to just a few just shy of 10km.
Who are these shoes for?
Although they did feel a little unusual when I first put them on – wide, high and bit torpedo-y, I quickly warmed to the SoulStrides. I felt instinctively that they actually suited where I was in my ‘trail running journey’ – coming back from injury and rehab and easing myself back in. With that in mind, these would be a cracking option for trail running newbie or casual as well. The price fits this beginner billing too, especially if you dig around a little for the best deal.
One thing though: I doubt you’re going to be setting any fastest known times in these kicks. It felt like the accent was very much on stability and comfort in terms of performance rather than speed. But, you know what? That’s alright by me. You are going to need some high heel socks for those raised sidewalls, mind.
these would be a cracking option for trail running newbie or casual as well. The price fits this beginner billing too, especially if you dig around a little for the best deal.
What stands out?
Thought and time has obviously been invested in the design of this TERREX range to appeal, even subliminally, to the runner who just doesn’t cover different trails and terrains but other sports and adventure activities too. Someone looking for a trail running shoe that will double up for gym time, cycling or even just long periods working on your feet would do well to pick up a pair of SoulStrides.
That roomy toe never feels too generous and the raised side walls give you firmer footing and immediate confidence. Adding into this the aforementioned cushioning and you do feel like you can take on more in terms of testing terrains and distance too.
Cushioning and Traction
The High EVA midsole and the Traxion outsole do form something of a deadly duo here. For the best part of 10km on some of these test runs, I didn’t feel any strain at all on contact and heel-strike with the different terrains – limestone path, arable field, dried-in dirt track and bridleway.
I think the canny mix of L-shaped and rhombus-shaped studs on the lug sole gave me easily enough purchase on all the aforementioned tracks, although I did not try them in the wet.
Value for money
On the adidas site these retail currently at the £85 mark but a simple Google reveals availability at other retailers for nearly half that price. That really puts the shoes at a very agreeable price point especially considering that I’ve already mentioned these would be a great shout for a beginner.
BASE Bottom Line
I think it’s pretty tricky to hit that sweet middle spot – appealing to the aesthetic concerns of the casual outdoors activity fan and the heightened awareness of the true outdoor aficionado. In fact, it’s probably an underrated achievement. But with the SoulStride, adidas has achieved that by dialling down design embellishments, pitching it at the right price point, and creating a multipurpose shoe that benefits not only beginners but also runners with busy lifestyles who can’t carry masses of kit all the time, and wait for an opportune window to get a blast of exercise.
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