adidas’ Ultraboost 21 might be made for working out, but it’s anything but clunky. In fact, these shoes are the most stylish (and advanced) model in the Ultraboost line. They have the signature bouncy, Tic-Tac-looking sole but the shape has been streamlined and elevated. They’re the kind of sneaker you want to give, get and have multiple pairs as backups.
While the Ultraboost 21 debuted this February, adidas has been putting Boost technology into sneakers since 2013. Instead of using the classic EVA foam found in most running shoes at the time, adidas created its signature midsole with thermoplastic polyurethane (or eTPU) — a plush yet highly responsive material crafted by German chemists at BASF. The material uses tiny pockets of air to provide lightweight bounce, which makes these sneakers a favorite for running. (EVA is elastic, however it tends to be much softer than TPU, reducing the support needed for quick movements).
I admittedly hate running, but these sneakers actually got me excited to hit the treadmill for some oft-dreaded sprints. They’re soft, don’t cause my ankles to roll and or toes to curl up inside my shoes. Plus, my knee that tends to get grumpy on a run stayed silent. For a light jog or a few rounds of sprints, these felt supportive and bouncy enough that I forgot what I was wearing and just focused on the run.
I’ve also worn the sneakers for HIIT workouts, boxing, and a whole bunch of walking. I wear them four times a week, probably for four or five hours at a time and I’ve been doing that for a little over two months. I love them for HIIT and walking, but I don’t love them for boxing. Any movement that required a quick reaction time and any sort of jumping begged for the Boost’s soft bounce. But I found quick lateral movement and any sort of pivoting pattern you might do in boxing didn’t go quite as smoothly. My toes slide into the sides of the shoe, the side of my foot pushing the soft sock upper over the Boost midsole. Any movement up and down is great — but for side-to-side exercises, not so much.
That said, these shoes are easy on the joints — and eyes, too. Before the Ultraboosts debuted, running sneakers were typically chunky and worn as an “anti-fashion” statement at the height of normcore. While chunky sneakers have returned to the zeitgeist, they can be hard to pull off and style. Ultraboosts, on the other hand, are super versatile no matter which way your sartorial tastes lean. Even the most stylish A-listers like Hailey Bieber and Olivia Wilde wear Ultraboosts regularly. Perfect to wear to the gym or running errands, they look especially great with casual combos like crop tops and leggings or an oversized hoodies with split-hem cropped pants and tall white socks.
Beyond the street style photos I saw on Instagram, I found this to be true in my own personal experience. While I hesitated taking my white pair onto the New York City streets, I started wearing them during my weekly walks to and from the gym (a journey I began to help to clear my head during the pandemic). Now that more of the world has opened up again, my walks often include a stop at a coffee shop, the grocery store and, more often than not, a quick dinner with friends after a workout. I’ve become so accustomed to wearing my Ultraboosts and have fallen in love with the way they look, that I no longer hesitate to wear them with anywhere with practically anything.
All in all, these are some of the best adidas running shoes, best adidas shoes of all time, and best gifts for just about any person on your list. If they like the gym, they’ll like these. If they like sneakers, they’ll like these. And if they just like shoes that are comfortable and that they don’t have to think twice about putting on, they’ll like ‘em too.
I’m partial to the all-white colorway for optimal wearability, but the sneaker is constantly being released in fun color combinations. There are muted pinks and purples, off-white neutrals and some simple colorways with hits of neon — just the variety you need to grab a different color for every activity.