Adidas' Ultra Boost is one of the best sneakers on the market.
Since Kanye West's performed in an entirely white pair of the sneakers at the Billboard Music Awards back in 2015, the Ultra Boost has blurred the line between fashion and performance sneaker more than few others. It's understated silhouette, simple colorways and woven Primeknit upper makes it the most stylish performance running sneaker made in recent memory (especially when worn with track pants). Most importantly, of the dozens of pairs of shoes I've worn in the past couple years, the Ultra Boost is decidedly the most comfortable. The full length Boost foam-lined sole kinda looks like you're walking on styrofoam. It feels like you're walking on memory foam.
But the original low top iteration of the SUPRA / LOCKER RISK RED / WHITE 08040-616-M retails at a hefty $180, in the upper price echelons of performance running shoes and certainly closer to luxury sneaker pricing than casual. Now, how would you feel if you added on an ankle sock and $40 to the price tag?
Well, Adidas did just that with the Men's Under Armour Renegade Mid MC Football Cleats (Black/Blue), released back in September of this year. Billed as a fall and winter weather-variant of the Ultra Boost, the ATR sports an ankle-height sock for increased stability and splash protection, plus a deeper-grooved rubber outsole for better traction while running in wet weather. The original's plastic lace cage is replaced with Primeknit fabric, plus a smaller box that sits atop the shoe. Finally, the ATR comes in darker colorways Men's UNDER ARMOUR UA Toccoa Trail Running Shoes Grey/Black/Blue (GREY),QUIKSILVER / MONKEY ABYSS SNDL BLACK / BLACK / BROWN AQYL100047-XKKCNike Big Bill 3.0 Golf Visor (Armory Navy/White), as to not show winter muck after a damp run. Adidas sent me a pair to review, so I took them not only to the damp streets of Portland, but to the streets of New York.
Nike Free46-0028,,QUIKSILVER / MOLOKAI INCLINE SNDL BLACK / BLACK / GREY AQYL100216-XKKSJordans foamposite-0103,,Nike Free45-1013,CONVERSE / WMNS BREAKPOINT SUNSET GLOW / PORPOISE 555918CBasketball Kobe-0581,.
The original Ultra Boost is an extremely popular fashion sneaker, and new colorways are regularly sold out online and in store (check Portland's CONVERSE / WMNS BREAKPOINT PINK GLOW 555920C for rare pairs!). The ATR keeps the original's subdued aesthetics, but the midtop construction adds a new design element which I think makes the sneaker well-suited for styling with jeans as well as athleticwear Basketball Durant-0305,CONVERSE / WMNS CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR LOW MENTA 155737CJordans 11-0195,.
As for the on-foot feel, the ATR is comfortable, but not quite as comfortable as the original Ultra Boost. Though the ATR's tougher sole provides better traction than the original it leads to an on-foot feeling that isn't quite as heavenly.
Further, the shoe feels slightly tighter-fitting and more socklike than the original. The ankle sock doesn't overheat the foot, but when tied tight, the tops of my feet develop a pinchy feeling after a few hours that doesn't Nike Free45-0942,QUIKSILVER / MOLOKAI SNDL BLACK / BLUE / BLUE AQYL100064-XKBBJordans 6-0196, when left untied (the laces don't reach the ground) or tied loosely.
As far as long-term wear goes, I took my ATRs to the streets of New York on a recent trip to test them out. They held up nicely during what I'd consider an everyday amount of activity (~2-3 miles of walking broken up with extended sitting breaks), my feet not getting particularly sore despite a long stroll through NIKE / WMNS AIR FORCE 1 07 BLACK / BLACK 315115-038. But on two particularly grueling days, the first, an hours-long punk show on wood and concrete floors, and the second, Man Max 95-0102,VANS / WMNS AUTHENTIC (DITSY BLOOM) TRUE WHITE VA38EMOMABasketball Durant-0303,, my dogs were certainly barkin' when I returned home. Though I don't consider those days representative of normal use, the ATR, despite above-average comfort, is not a miracle worker.
Now, what about actually running in my running shoes? I'm not a hardcore or regular runner: My cardiovascular health is slightly above average at best, but I can put away 5 kilometers without trouble, and I did just that on the treadmill and on Portland's waterfront.
On the treadmill, the ATR provided a solid, comfortable ride. Perhaps it is because running on a treadmill is excruciatingly boring, but I found myself paying more attention to my body during this run, and I noted that the ankle sock kept my feet feeling more secured than with my normal low top running shoe VANS / WMNS CARMELLE PRINT (WOVEN STRIPES) FADED DENIM / WHITE VZTRIM6.
However, the ATR really shined when running outside on a blustery November evening. Nike Free46-0185,VANS / WMNS ISO 1.5 (MESH) SANGRIA VA2Z5SN70Jordans 13-0215,, partially down the Eastbank Esplanade and back on a damp day. It wasn't raining, but it had rained plenty earlier, and the path was slick and covered with fallen leaves.
And I just completely disappeared into my run Jordans 31-0013,QUIKSILVER / BOTANIC 17 SWSH BOTANIC BLACK EQYJV03108-KVJ6Man Max 90-1151,. Maybe it was because the Old Town sign was extra-glittery that evening, but, Basketball Hyperdunk-0162,SOUR / WINDBREAKER NEON YELLOWNike wonen Flyknit-0132, as one wants when on a fairly intense run, I barely noticed the shoes on my feet as I jogged along the Willamette.Basketball Durant-0278,JORDAN / FLIGHT PANT GYM RED / BLACK 823071-687Nike Free45-0822, I had no issues with tightness, and the traction was excellent along wet concrete and the ostensibly slick floating metal bridge of the Esplanade. The only thing I really noticed was a slight bounce between my foot and the sole as I ran.
Now, is all of this worth the $220 price tag? If your running shoe or fashion sneaker budget is high, then Basketball James-0531,SUPRA / DASH TRACK PANT WHITE 103446-100Kid Max 2016-0004, nabs you a stylish, high-performing variant on a cool sneaker that'll help you push through Portland's blusteriest winter days. Yet, if you aren't committed to winter running, $220 is a high price to pay for a sneaker that mostly just looks cool. Basketball kyrie-0054,DC / EVANSVILLE S/S LILY WHITE STORM PRINT EDYKT03325-WCQ1MAN Max 2017-0007, As someone who gets my cardio in elsewhere, I wouldn't personally spend the $220 on a performance shoe which I am not using for its intended purpose.
Then again, I will be taking my next few runs to the streets in my ATRs as long as it isn't raining sideways.
Basketball James--154,SOUR / EAN S/S YELLOWJordans Sandals--193,
(Cool Stuff is a new feature at Willamette Week where we feature product reviews, roundups, sales and other commerce and shopping-oriented content. All Cool Stuff reviews are editorially independent, meaning we provide honest reviews and aren't paid by the brands we write about. If you do choose to purchase something after following one of our links, Willamette Week may receive a commission, which helps fund our journalism.)