Sometimes trail running shoes can fall into the trap of being a bit too beefy for their own good. When this happens they might have the traction to handle tough trails but the comfort aspect may be lacking or the flexibility of the shoe may be lessened to account for technical terrain. In the case of the shoe we’re going to be looking at today – the adidas Adistar Raven Boost – there is a line that runs through much of the areas I’ve just mentioned that this shoe addresses. Does it go well? Let’s see.
Earlier in 2015 I looked at the Terrex Boost GTX from adidas [LINK] and one of the biggest takeaways I had from that experience was the incredible traction of the outsole rubber on that shoe. Today, with the Raven Boost, the same rubber is employed made by Continental.
On top of the grip provided by the material itself, the lug pattern is inspired by the Continental Trail King mountain bike tire (seen here). Additionally, in the particularly high-abrasion areas of the outsole ADIWEAR is employed to increase durability over the long haul. All of this material is arranged in a full-contact, 4mm deep pattern of 67 lugs.
The traction of this rubber is amazing. Honestly, there are only one or two other things out there that match – strictly on a material level – the grip of this Continental rubber. On a particularly gritty and hard “run” (run = run/hike/scramble/climb) just prior to writing this review, I found myself on lichen-patched rock faces with grades up to about 40% and the grip was spot on. Additionally, the lugs patterned after the Continental Trail King did a great job on rockier and more technical bits and also cleared well when mud was on the menu.
As the name of this shoe indicates, Boost foam comes into play in the midsole of the adidas Adistar Raven BOOST. In this iteration, Boost comes in as a full length midsole. From its appearance it looks as though the Boost only shows up in the rearfoot but that isn’t the case. The bit of EVA that we see in the front half of the shoe is actually something of a cradle to support the Boost foam in that area and is only surrounds the perimeter of that area. The remainder of the midsole adds stability to the Boost material by flaring it out past the profile of the upper, especially in the heel which you can see in the image below.
So here’s the thing about TPU foams like adidas Boost; while they’re wonderfully bouncy and cushy, there can also be a bit lacking in the stability department (and so I’m clear, I’m not talking about “stability” as in a “stability/motion control” shoe, I’m talking about just being stable on a level surface). In the case of the Adistar Raven Boost I think that adidas has mostly done a good job of accounting for this. First, the rearfoot being wider than the upper does keep things where they should be for the most part. There is a bit of a limit to this though when it comes to off-camber terrain. Particularly on harder surfaces when the angle underfoot gets beyond about 35% or so you need to pay extra attention to the rest of your body because the shoe is going to want to roll a bit. Of course, this is a pretty steep angle with which pretty much any shoe would have a hard time dealing.
As someone who’s a solidly midfoot/forefoot runner, I appreciated the added platform stabilization of the EVA perimeter. It gave me the perception of confidence and even on pretty extreme terrain. From a cushioning view, the Raven Boost offers a lot and the combination of that with the resiliency of the foam itself gave me a lot of bounce even after hours on my feet (one in particular which was over 3 hours). The midsole also had no break-in period for me at all and felt the same at about 60 miles (that’s right, I put more miles than usual on this shoe) as it did out of the box.
For our spec-head friends out there, the stack heights of the Adistar Raven boost are 34mm in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot (both including the lugs) for a net drop of 10mm.
The body of the upper of the adidas Adistar Raven Boost is made from a dual-layer mesh with the outermost layer being wide open to keep air flow going and the bottom layer keeping out particles and debris. The support structure eschews the recent trend of welded/bonded/3D-printed overlays and instead goes with more traditional, stitched on synthetic overlays. The rear two-thirds of the shoe has a large, sweeping piece of ripstop support material that stays on the lower half of the upper and creates a very secure build where a shoe needs it the most. The front third of the shoe gives way to a rubberized material for its supports that encompasses the shoe from the ball of the foot all the way around to the fifth metatarsal head (just behind the little toe). The tongue and full gussets form somewhat of an interior bootie construction which extends down to the midsole. The lacing system on the Raven Boost is a pretty standard speed lace system with the eyelets sitting up, helping contend with undue downward pressure on the foot.
First let me say that on the last run before this review, I beat the ever-living hell out of these shoes. The terrain I was on varied widely from dirt road to dry, rocky trail to bare rock faces and loose forest floor. Up until the loose material on the forest floor, which I pretty much had halfway up my shin at times, the upper of these shoes kept everything out with the possible exception of the finest, most powdery dust. On top of that, it was no fault of the shoe to let in debris from the loose forest floor since I was covered in the material and even the most tightly-laced hiking boot would have been beaten up.
Another thing about that final run was the amount of SEVERE off-camber running/walking/scrambling I was doing. In fact, I went through one 30 minute period where I’d bet I was at a 25°+ lefthand camber nonstop. This part of my adventure was incredibly frustrating and had my feet and legs torn to bits from simply staying upright but the upper of the Raven Boost stayed strong and never once faltered in it’s structure of support.
The amount of foam in the tongue and collar were perfect for me though the tongue’s lace garage was interesting. Where speed laces are often meant to reduce bulk and the hassle of actually tying a shoe, the garage at the top of the tongue where the excess was meant to be stowed was simply too much. Yes, there was ample room to stow the laces but it made the tongue rather high and stuck out. With that said though, it was not uncomfortable at all, just kind of strange looking.
Before we get into the specifics of fit, I wore my typical size 11 in this shoe and was comfortable with that, lengthwise. I may have been able to go up a half size but felt like that would be too much. I should also say that the Adistar Raven Boost comes in at 11.9 ounces in my size 11’s (and oddly, less than 1/2 ounce heavier in the men’s 9 at 11.5 ounces).
Starting with the rearfoot of the Raven Boost, the tab that comes up from the achilles area looks as though it may make the shoe feel higher than typical but it didn’t actually come off that way to me. The heel cup is nicely shaped internally by both the sockliner and the midsole which overlaps a bit. When I got to the midfoot and forefoot straight out of the box, I was a bit worried if I’m being completely open with you. This thing felt snug. My solution to this was to completely loosen the laces as far out as I could get them and then re-do them as my foot wanted. When I opened them up there was plenty of room for my very average foot to be comfortable and then I could also go back and get the laces right where I wanted them. With this said though, these are definitely worth trying on before jumping in. If you’ve got a wider foot you’re going to be taking a small gamble (unless you can take or ship them back for free – then, who cares) as there isn’t really room to accommodate a wider foot.
On my long runs, and the one that was crazy off-camber for so long in particular, this shoe’s fit stayed consistent. The laces and upper material didn’t stretch out, even after going through a water crossing (which I hate).
If you’ve not tried Boost foam – or any other TPU foams for that matter – then you may not know quite what to expect. For me, this is a cool juxtaposition of resilient and cushy – giving the foot a comfortable platform without letting it sink in over time. On rocky terrain, particularly more jagged stuff, I did wish there was a bit of a rock plate in the midsole but the foam was passable for the most part. When I was on trail that let me open up my stride a bit, the bounciness of the Raven boost felt really nice but there isn’t a whole lot in the way of torsional rigidity to give the shoe more snap than it has, which I think could be a nice addition.
This is a very comfortable ride that I can see taking people for long runs. That gnarly run I keep referring to was 4+ hrs long due to the terrain (though only about 10.2 miles) and the last two miles are on a firm, dirt road. Even those last two miles felt good in this shoe which was something I didn’t expect at all.
As is evidenced by my putting more than my typical ~40 miles on a shoe, I enjoyed the adidas Adistar Raven Boost. There are certainly individual aspects of it that appealed to me but moreover, it was just a shoe that was easy to put on and go. The fit needs a bit of adjusting (and perhaps some changes in the next version) but it held up very well for me and kept me going, even when the rest of me was beat up. At $150 (or about $99 in some of the links below!) it’s certainly not the cheapest thing in the world but it’s also a very solid shoe for the money – and I’d personally pay extra simply for the grippiness of the rubber!
Check out the adidas Adistar Raven Boost and help support gearist by checking out the links below!
Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).