Category Archives: Gear
This shoe review was submitted by Choon Yuen.
I have been asked about a few weeks ago whether I’m interested to review a yet to be launched running shoes in the local market. I thought WOW!! Me? Review shoes? I need to give myself a few pitches and slaps on the face to see if I were dreaming. It is truly a rare opportunity (secretly hoping more will come my way) to try out and write about a new shoe, without a second thought I said yes to the opportunity and whet goo goo goo ga ga about it LOL. I was very excited to say the least and took the opportunity on my off day from work to pick up the shoes and immediately. Met up with Frank, gave me a short introduction of the shoes and off I go for heat training that afternoon on the spanking new shoes. I had no prior experience running in any Saucony shoes albeit very good reviews on some of the shoes they produced e.g. the Kinvara series, so after clocking more than 60km over the past 3 weeks in the new Saucony Triumph ISO, it’s time for me to put my thoughts on the shoe on a clean sheet of paper without any bias opinion.
Saucony Triumph ISO is an 8mm drop shoe with a stack height of 31mm (Heel), 23mm (Forefoot). It’s a very well cushioned neutral shoe with a new upper fit ISOFIT technology which we will be going into a little bit more in details as we go along. The forefoot area of the upper is made of mesh material with visible large cut out for breathability purposes, which is then sewed to the ISOFIT at the midfoot area.
The ISOFIT upper wraps the feet adequately creating a sock-like feel for comfort and adaptability to the shape of your feet. It gives a nice wrap around holding the feet in place, preventing the feet from sliding around which could happened especially if you up-sizing the shoe size. The PWRGRID+ form grid midsole is taking charge in providing impact protection cushioning every stride on a longer run. The outsole comes with xt900 rubber near the heel area for durability while iBR+ is used for the forefoot area for further cushioning. At 10 oz on a US size 9, the shoe does very well in the weight department considering the amount of cushion Saucony puts in.
Although this is a well cushioned shoe, on the contrary the ride of the shoe gave sufficient ground feel making it somewhat responsive and yet giving runners a comfortable ride. This is evidence especially when you are running at a moderate to an easy pace run, but putting in some speed to the shoes immediately it feels a tad heavier which is weird giving that it only weighs 10oz. I suspect this is down to the amount of energy absorbed and returned by the midsole, having said that I’m just being picky and is not actually a deal breaker as this is not designed to be a racing flat. Breathability is not a problem for the hot and humid weather in this part of the world as you can see from the pictures below you can clearly see the “open pores”.
There are a few areas that I would wish for on an already good shoe. The inability to flex much has thrown in some constrain to the shoes as it gives rigid feel to the shoe and may not necessary work out well for everyone. Some weight can be taken away from the ridiculously cushioned at the achilles area which is really unnecessary and overkill. Finally the width of the forefoot is a bit tight, however you can always up-size the shoe as the ISOFIT will still effectively prevent your feet from sliding around.
My final thought on the shoe. The Saucony Triumph ISO is a decent shoe and it should excel in 3 types of running conditions. First of all, if you are thinking of increasing your mileage on the long run day, the shoe will gives you plenty of cushions keeping your feet away from impact fatigue. Secondly after a fast and furious race be it a road or trail race, it also works very well for your recovery run. Lastly if you are new to running, you won’t go wrong with Saucony Triumph ISO. However, this is not a fast shoe and if you are looking for a PB record breaking or a speed work type of shoes, this is not the shoe for you.
The Triumph ISO will be available at Running Lab sometime in May onwards retailing for RM469.
The usage of Bluetooth-enabled headsets and earbuds are fast gaining popularity amongst runners. Through casual observation of plugged-in runners as I went through my training runs last week at the park, I counted at least half of the peripherals worn were of the wireless variety. The advantage is obvious – less cables flopping around.
I love my music. I believe it has its place in a runner’s kit. The tunes will take away the boredom of a solo run in a looping course. The runner will find it easier to practice pacing with the aid of music. However, some of the reasons why I rarely do so are:
- I like to run light and dislike carrying stuff.
- Earbuds that fit my problematic ears are impossible to find. I’ve tried Sony (many variety including the version with ear loops), JBL and Yurbuds but they all slip out once I get all sweaty.
- The sound quality of “sports buds” aren’t that great. The music are either too tinny or bass-heavy.
With the launch of the award-winning Sport Pulse Wireless (SPW) late last year, the Danish company Jabra has suddenly made a compelling case for me to carry my phone along for some of my workouts. The SPW is essentially a set of Bluetooth (BT) 4.0 earbuds with a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) accurate Heart Rate Monitor. Jabra commissioned Campbell University in North Carolina, USA to independently verify the performance of the heart rate monitor technology for fitness and active usage. The comprehensive trial included runners on a treadmill and simultaneously tested Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless against a medical ECG machine. The results clearly showed an extraordinary accuracy with a 99.2% correlation. We’ll get to my field test observations shortly.
Before that, here’s the tech spec sheet for those of you techies out there.
The SPW comes in a sturdily constructed box with a magnetic latch. Flip that open and this is what you see.
Unzip the clam-shell case and here’s what you get.
The heart of the SPW lies in the left earbud, identifiable by the little heart icon you see below. There’s also the grey coloured Sport button in the middle which you press to start the tracking.
Readying the SPW
As with all new gear, it’s always best to temper the excitement by first charging the unit. To charge the unit, just pull aside the right side silicon EarWing to expose the micro USB port. Fully charging a unit will take up to 2 hours. While charging, a tiny red indicator will light up. The same light will turn green once the juice is fully topped up.
There’s an app for that, unless you’re a Windows Phone user
While the charging takes place, you will want to download the Jabra Sport Life app. You can get the app from iTunes [link] or the Google Play Store [link]. Sorry Windows Phone users – the app’s not available for you. I’m an app hoarder and I can tell you that this app is one of the most loaded fitness app out there. It utilizes your phone’s GPS for distance/pace/time/speed tracking, and reads out real-time customizable key metrics. The app even allows you to set your target pace, heart rate zone or interval training segments. Press the Sport button on the left earpiece and you can get auto coaching feedback. Then there’s the 3-mode fitness test function where you can run your own periodic analyses.
The 3-mode fitness tests are:
- The Rockport Test – designed to measure your VO2 max level, which gives you a precise measurement on the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity and guidance on how well it rates against your age, weight, and gender.
- The Orthostatic Heart Rate Test – monitors your current state and helps you understand if you’re overtraining or under stress.
- The Resting Heart Rate Test – a great way to understand your base fitness level. Over time you can see how your resting heart level is trending.
As you can see, it’s clear that the app was not designed as an after-thought.
On top of that Jabra Sound app [link] which comes free with every SPW purchase via a code redemption. This app complements the SPW by adding the signature Dolby sound to your music amongst many other features such as equalizers and playlist management. All rather impressive, and you can find out more about the app here.
This is a simple process of pairing the phone with the SPW, no different from pairing of your other Bluetooth accessories. Just enable Bluetooth on the phone, press the Multi Function button (the middle one on the control) and a voice with confirm your connection. Once connected, you’ll be able to see the battery status of the SPW on your phone as well (see screen shot below, indicator is to the right of the BT one). Now, if you own one of the newfangled phones with NFC, you can connect the two that way too.
Like all other lifestyle tracker apps out there, you’ll be guided through your profile setup, in this case a very quick process.
Next would be selecting the right EarWing and EarGel to fit your ears. The manual recommends the user to test out with all the sizes provided as not only will proper sizing enhance your listening experience and comfort, getting a proper fit will ensure the HR reading is accurate.
Just another step before you head out and that would be to calibrate your HR reading. I was seated when I did this and my HR read 58bpm. Not bad if I may say so .
After which you’re pretty much good to go. I was in a rush when I tested the SPW, so I didn’t toy around with the other tracking modes like target pace/HR setting. As mentioned earlier, you could even setup HR Zone Training or Interval Training, as well as your playlist of your choice.
Note: If Strava, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, and Endomondo are your preferred fitness apps, you’d be happy to know that the SPW works with them too.
The photo below shows how the buds look from the rear. The cord is very light and not too long. In my several sessions with them, it never got in the way of my run despite my attempts at dislodging it – very secure. My first run with them was a short 5K covering a number of training zones, from fat burning to cardio to VO2Max. For that run, I had the phone in my hand. As such the tracking was very accurate against my Garmin’s – from the distance, pace to the HR call-out. In fact whenever the variance of the HR recorded by the Garmin HR chest strap and the Jabra was within +/-3bpm. I was very impressed coming off the first experience.
To put the SPW through more , I made sure I wore them for my box jump drills 2 days later (I didn’t bring them along for the Shape Run as I prefer to race light). Again, the buds stayed put in my ears! You can get pumped up with a kick-ass playlist while you’re doing your weights, plyos, drills and so on. Not to mention having your HR read out to you at regular intervals. This is great stuff.
The 3rd run in the SPW was a mixed experience. I carried the phone in a waist pouch and the BT connectivity was occasionally wonky. This went on for a few kilometers when the buds died on me, its battery completely drained. I suspect the weak battery level was the cause of the unstable connectivity and I’ll be sure to report back after several more runs.
The Sport Pulse Wireless is able to capture a ton of data. Utilizing an accelerometer, it’s able to record what you see and more below. The mapping feature is achieved in conjunction with your phone’s GPS.
Listen, listen, listen!
One of the outstanding features of the SPW, other than the HRM function, is the sound quality. This earbuds have got to be one of the best, if not the best I’ve heard. I’ve dabbled in hi-fi separates some time ago to recognize that. The sound that the SPW dishes out have great separation. Highs doesn’t sound tinny nor wreck your ear drums. Bass is tight and punchy as how it should be. Once burned in, I’ll bet they’ll sound even sweeter. Instruments that get all muddled up in the mix when I listened using other brands are revealed. It has knocked my 3 Sony buds (RM300 and below) and my previous favorite, Griffin, out of the park. It performs better than the JBL too. I’ll admit that it’s the earbuds I use even when I’m not working out.
More running and working out to do then!
It’s only been a week of living with the SPW but I’ve thus far been impressed with it. While I don’t usually listen to music when I’m out running (I believe that at times, the runner needs to connect to and deal with the mental side of running), I don’t totally discount the fact that music does add to the enjoyment of working out, especially on easy and recovery runs or drills. Due to its feature-rich functions, I’ve yet to dig below the surface of what the SPW has to offer and I’ll be sure to do a follow-up post once I’ve bedded in after a few more weeks.
- Very accurate HR readings.
- Light and unobtrusive.
- Accompanying apps are well thought out and are feature packed.
- Great fit, 4 customizable fit.
- One of the best sounding buds that I’ve listened to.
- Works with a host of popular fitness apps.
- Supports NFC on top of the standard BT 4.0.
- U.S. Military standards for weather, shock, sand and dust protection.
- Jabra is an official performance partner for the ITU World Triathlon Series
- Jabra has won numerous accolades like the T3 Gold Award, CNet’s Editor’s Choice, Red Dot Mobile Choice – Best Accessory, CES Innovation, and iF Product Design Award.
- Premium pricing could put it above many’s budget. There’s the non-HRM Jabra Sport Rox Wireless which has many of the SPW’s features.
- Battery life of 5.5 hours could be better.
- Inconsistent read out of pace when the battery levels are low.
Word of caution: Please exercise caution when plugging in during an outdoor workout. Be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. The majority of my testing occurred at the KLCC Park where there are high human traffic. I don’t recommend running solo with the ears plugged. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume.
Disclaimer: The Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless is a review unit courtesy of Jabra Singapore. It retails for RM899 (post-GST) and is now available at all ALL IT Hypermarket Sdn Bhd, epiCentre, Machines, Radioshack and Viewnet Computer Systems around the country. You can learn more about the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless here.
Two Sundays ago, I spent the afternoon cheering on the triathletes at the Ironman 70.3 in Putrajaya. The day was a scorcher as with any other day of late. When I returned to the car, the thermo display screamed 42 Celcius! Frankly, the reading could be off by a few degrees and 36 Celcius would be about right. Regardless, that was a crazy condition to be out running.
But if you ever find yourself out and about, be sure to wear protection. Sunscreen on exposed skin, a cap, sunglasses and breathable apparel. adidas’s 2015 range of Climachill apparel arrived on our shores a little late for me to field test in the extreme Putrajaya conditions but I’ve since put several runs in the Uncontrol Climachill Tee (UCT) to know that the shirt’s tagline of “coolest shirt ever” isn’t entirely all hot air.
At first glance, the UCT looks pretty normal, just like any other technical apparel out there. However, compared to adidas’s own Supernova, Response and Climacool series of apparels, the UCT has very little bulk. I’d say that they’re similar to the high-end gear in the AdiZero range. The grey color edition of the tee is nothing flashy, even downright mundane. What matters is that they’re lightweight and functional. The inside of the upper back of the tee (just under the collar) is where the main tech is. Tiny aluminium spheres dot this part of the tee. In theory, these provide instantaneous cooling effect upon contact with the skin. Then there’s the SubZero Titanium fibers in a flat-yarn configuration the entire shirt is made of. Holding the shirt up against the light, it’s obvious to see that the shirt is really breathable. On the right sleeve is a large adidas logo which appears to have a little reflective properties.
With the visual evaluation out of the way, there’s nothing else to be done except to just strip off my tee and put on the UCT right there in my cubicle. I’d just taken possession of the shirt minutes ago, you see. The passive cooling effect was immediately felt, but then I was in an air-conditioned environment. I needed to try it out in a hotter condition which meant heading outdoors. Coincidentally, it was lunch-hour. The decision to subject the shirt to a sweat test was an easy one to make. Together with a colleague we decided on nasi kandar fare at a nearby restaurant. Due to the breathable and lightweight construction of the shirt, I could feel the cooling effect whenever we caught a breeze. At the restaurant, the effect was reduced probably due to the fact that I was already seated.
As sweat trickled down my back courtesy of the curry, the cooling sensation returned. Now, since one doesn’t simply buy a special tech tee to offset the effects of spicy food, the next thing was to test it out on the run. Once the food was properly digested, of course!
I’ve worn the Uncontrol Climachill Tee 3 times since then. A short 5K, 6K, and a 12K. As with all well made apparels, I encountered no chafing over the course of all the runs and the material breathes very well. The darker color of the fabric posed no issues whatsoever. It didn’t retain heat, if that’s your concern. There were moments when the cooling effects of the tiny aluminium spheres were very tangible. I wouldn’t say the feeling persists through out the wear period but when the sweat comes into contact with the little spheres, I certainly benefited from the comforting cooling effect.
As far as t-shirts go, the UCT has minimal clinging when soaked in sweat. Equally important I didn’t end a workout smelling like a dead mongoose. In short, I enjoyed the apparel quite a bit and I’d be torn between the UCT and several other hot-weather tops that I’ve in my wardrobe.
I visited adidas’s KLCC boutique and saw that the Climachill range include sleeveless tops, and polo tees as well. There are more color options too. If you seek a functional top for your outdoor activities, check out the entire range at the stores.
Disclaimer: The adidas Uncontrol Climachill Tee is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. The UCT is already available at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM155.
Under Armour Malaysia promises to absorb the 6% Goods and Services Tax on all items, willing athletes and sports enthusiasts to continue excelling in sports.
KUALA LUMPUR, 1st April 2015 – While most Malaysians are concerned about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that has come into force today, athletes, fitness enthusiasts and loyal customers of Under Armour are able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Under Armour, one of the world’s leading sports brands and the second largest in the United States, has promised to absorb the 6% GST on all items sold in Malaysia. Customers will therefore enjoy the same prices on their purchases of Under Armour products, thus negating the impact of the new consumption tax.
“More and more Malaysians have cultivated a passion and love for sports and fitness, and we want to encourage this positive trend. By absorbing the 6% GST on all our items sold in Malaysia, we want to give athletes and fitness enthusiasts a reason to continue excelling in sports. We want to encourage active sports customers to seek the right products that will assist them to perform their best, to will them to become better and stronger athletes,” commented Michael Binger, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Triple Private Limited (Triple). Triple is Under Armour’s exclusive distributor in the South East Asian region.
With a penchant for innovation and performance, the brand has developed cutting-edge technology in sporting apparel, including its signature Compression Technology, driven by a vision to empower athletes everywhere to improve their performance.
Known for its bold, unconventional and attention-grabbing campaigns, sports label Under Armour is worn and loved by athletes around the world. Some of the brand’s ambassadors include personalities such as swimmer Michael Phelps, ballerina Misty Copeland and NBA player Stephen Curry.
Under Armour’s first Malaysian store opened recently at the iconic Suria KLCC, with several more in the pipelines, namely Pavilion, which is the second outlet that will be open in Malaysia on 6th April, Mid Valley (mid 2015), and Sunway Pyramid (late 2015). Under Armour is also available in sport specialty retailers as well as at selected gyms and studios.
- End –
About Under Armour, Inc.
Under Armour (NYSE: UA), the originator of performance footwear, apparel and equipment, revolutionised how athletes across the world dress. Designed to make all athletes better, the brand’s innovative products are sold worldwide to athletes at all levels. Under Armour’s wholly owned subsidiary, MapMyFitness, powers one of the world’s largest Connected Fitness communities. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland. For further information, please visit the Company’s website at www.uabiz.com.
About Triple Pte. Ltd.
Triple Pte. Ltd., a sports and lifestyle retailer, holds the exclusive distribution rights for the Under Armour brand across Southeast Asia. Under Armour is the fastest growing sports performance footwear, apparel, and accessories brand worldwide. Triple launched the first Southeast Asia Under Armour mono–brand retail outlet in Singapore and Philippines in early 2014. An omni-channel e-commerce is served out of Singapore across the region since Q4 2014. Triple is based in Singapore. Be Humble and Stay Hungry.
Issued on behalf of Triple Private Limited by GO Communications Sdn Bhd:
For media enquiries please contact:
Triple Private Limited:
Chief Marketing Officer & Founder
M: +65 9383 6863 | E: email@example.com
Press Release: adidas Climachill™ Delivers Maximum Cooling Technology For Improved Sports Performance
Kuala Lumpur, 3 April, 2015 – adidas today announced the launch of the new Climachill™ apparel range, headlined by a black training t-shirt that features intuitive body heat management technology to cool athletes in hot conditions. Perfect for the warm and humid climate in Malaysia, the adidas Climachill™ is designed to deliver maximum cooling benefit without compromising comfort or design.
“The body’s core temperature can increase by 3 degree Celsius when we are exercising. To maintain a stable temperature, your body needs to work a lot harder to lose excess heat. This may result in impaired physiological functions, which will ultimately affect performance,” explained Dr Maarten Hupperets, Director of Future Sport Science at adidas. “When it comes to performance, every degree matters. The Climachill™ apparel is the smartest and most advanced sporting product and can provide maximum cooling experience.”
For athletes who desire sophisticated solutions in order to regulate body temperature and remain cool in adverse conditions, the innovative Climachill™ apparel is their answer. In this cross-category collection, adidas has also launched training shirts in the most unconventional colour for athletic apparel-black-to showcase the process of the Climachill™ technology.
Employing industry-first 3D aluminium-cooling spheres, the Climachill™ apparel provides an instant cooling sensation upon contact. In addition to the aluminium dots, the ground-breaking SubZero flat yarn also contains titanium and is woven throughout the inside of each Climachill™ jersey to deliver more cooling capacity.
Malaysian athletes don’t have to be afraid of wearing black for fear of heat and they can now train harder, run longer and compete better.
The Climachill™ product range will be available locally from 6th April 2015 at all adidas Sports performance stores and adidas online store shop.adidas.com.my.
Watch the videos here:
Join adidas by following:
|HASHTAG||#adidasmy #uncontrolyourself #maximumcooling|
About adidas Malaysia
adidas was incorporated in Germany in 1949 by Adolf Dassler in Herzogenaurach, Germany – a name that stands for competence in all sectors of sports around the globe. The permanent passion for innovation, to give athletes the best products to support their ambitions, has turned adidas into a global powerhouse and market leader, making us one of the world’s most widely recognised brand symbols, the three stripes of adidas.
With the incorporation of adidas Malaysia in 1994, and over the years, the adidas brand continued to go through major product introductions, technological advancements and on enhanced brand positioning, making the three stripes brand a credible and premiere sports brand in the world.
The brand attitude of “All In or Nothing” encapsulates the vision and goal of adidas Malaysia in continuing to capture the essence of being the leader in the sporting goods market in Malaysia.
For additional information and assistance, please contact:
|adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Tel: +603 7494 9512
|ROOTS Asia Pacific (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Kimbelle Lee / Charmaine Goh
Tel: +603 7494 0292
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
I’ve put more miles following my first review [read it here] of the Ultra Boost (UB), specifically clocking a total of 65K in them. Therefore it’s time to put my thoughts into a follow-up take on the shoe. For the most part, things are pretty much the way there wer per my initial take.
The ride experience of the UB sees no change. 65K isn’t plenty of miles for a pair of running shoes after all. Furthermore, the Boost midsole is widely regarded as being one of the most stable (in terms of characteristics) and durable in the market today. I believe you’ll get the smooth, protective and enjoyable feel throughout the lifespan of the shoe. In fact, I reckon the midsole to outlast the outsole, which show a little wear on the nubs. The thing is this – outsole design in the form of nubs or nipples will wear off quicker than conventional threads. Less surface are in contact with the ground and therefore whatever wear and tear would be more apparent. This does not necessarily mean that the rubber isn’t durable, however. It’s just because of the design.
Other than the smooth silky ride, the Ultra Boost did pretty well in terms of breathability. This isn’t so much of a concern for runners in temperate countries but in hot and muggy Malaysia, how well the shoe “breathes” is a huge factor. In the photo below, you can see the green of my socks peeping through the knitting – air just passes right through. Needless to say, I very much prefer this knitted upper to the TechFit one on my retired Energy Boost (EB).
There are a few areas where the UB could do better. Firstly, the weight. The UB would surely be one of the shoes I’d reach out for if I’m attempting a road ultra due to its fit, cushioning and impact protection but the thought of carrying that much weight over 60K or more is quite daunting. The PrimeKnit yarn, the plastic lacing system, the substantial heel counter and midsole shank all conspire to weigh the shoe down. Perhaps adidas sees the market differently but I’m all for using less material in production.
The Stretch Web outsole could definitely be improved. It doesn’t do well on wet surfaces at all due to the minimal ground contact by the nubs. They seem to be susceptible to quick wear-off especially on the feet of runners who scrape the bottom of their shoes with each step.
Last but not least, the premium pricing of the UB presents a hurdle to most runners. For the masses, there are thankfully many options available. The EB (now version 2) which rides firmer in the forefoot is a popular alternative. The Glide Boost would also be a viable option if providing a more stable platform. These are the more substantial shoes if you’re so inclined. The lighter ones would be the Tempo Boost, Boston Boost and Adios Boost. More models are being updated to the Boost midsole, so the choices available can only become more bewildering.
However, if you intend to invest in the Ultra Boost, I’d suggest that you upsize by half from your usual adidas sizing. I wear a 10 but opted for a 10.5 for the UB which gives me more room in the toe box.
To read my review of the other adidas Boost models, check out my gear review page.
Disclaimer: The adidas Ultra Boost is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. The Ultra Boost is already available at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM650.
Hot on the heels of a shoe review, comes… another shoe review! This time it’s the premium-priced (let’s not beat around the bush) latest Boosted model from the German sporting giant. The Ultra Boost (UB) is a new addition to the expanding range of shoes from adidas featuring the midsole which debuted in the Energy Boost back in 2013.
Since I’ve clued you in on the UB’s premium positioning, let’s get that part out of the way, shall we? It retails for RM650, which means it shares the upper echelon pricing as the adios Boost, adistar Boost and Springblade Drive 2.0. I view shoes in this price bucket as niche. Sometimes companies do turn POC (Proof of Concept) projects into production runs although this may not have been the intention of the UB creators. According to adidas, the goal was to “create a shoe that unleashes the full potential of the amazing BOOST foam while at the same time ensuring an unsurpassed adaptable fit in the upper.” ARAMIS system (same tech used by NASA, Boeing and leading aerospace and automotive industries) was used to measure and map out zones of higher and lower deformation which can be as much as 10mm in the forefoot area just before push off. The upper wasn’t only the area to be scrutinized since the outsole is one large high-stress part of a shoe. You can read the interesting story that went behind the conception of the Ultra Boost here.
The result? Foot-conforming PrimeKnit upper and Stretch Web outsole as well as other complementary components you see below. The video that follows shows the assembly process.
When I picked up the Ultra Boost the first time, it felt like a substantial shoe. I’d opted for a US10.5, up from my regular US10 because of my past experience with the Energy Boost (EB) and Boston Boost 5 (BB5) which both ran a little tight in the toe box. It’s bulkier than my recently blooded shoes and accentuated by exaggerated upward spring on both ends. The UB also has a very prominent heel tab.
The PrimeKnit upper is just as impressive. Not only you can see that the high stress areas are reinforced by close weaving but the whole upper fits like a bootie negating the need to lace up tight as you would a traditional shoe. If there’s a purpose for the long heel tab, it’s to allow you to grab and pull when putting the shoe on. The fit is very snug, very sock-like and almost immediately you’ll feel as if there’s a slight midfoot bump reminiscent of the out of production Skechers GOrun 3. The upper stretches in every direction and thus is more accommodating than say, the Boston Boost upper. Due to a low toe box, the upper could be felt rubbing on my big toe – I’ll cover this in a moment. The step-in feel is plush and walking around in the UB is extremely smooth, unlike the Energy Boost and the performance oriented Boston Boost.
In evaluating it, I was determined from the very first run to really put the shoe through the wringer. I would be a bit more lenient if it is a sub-RM450 but well, it’s not. My first run was a 6K, which covered a wide variety of surfaces on straights and twisty paths between Jalan Binjai-KLCC Park-Mandarin Oriental Hotel driveway-Pinang-Kia Peng-Stonor. Surfaces covered were tarmac, concrete, tiles, bricked pavements, synthetic track, grass and packed earth sections. Conditions were warm and humid, with no rain that evening. The plan was to have a slow and easy recovery run what with 2 quality back-to-back sessions over the weekend. The Ultra Boost blew those plans away. Once the body warmed up after 1.5K, the pace just kicked in. I was conscious at the back of my mind to reel back the pace yet at the same time I wanted to put the shoe through the challenge.
Anyone would’ve had no problems believing me had I reported that this bulky (and heavy) shoe stood no chance on the twisty and congested (it was packed with tourists and I had to slalomed my way through) route I took that day. But the UB was anything but that. It had to be the snug upper which totally locked down the foot despite the frequent directional changes. The low toe-box turned out to be a non-issue due to its highly stretchable properties. The designers well and truly got that part right. Because it was unbelievable, I went a second round. At a faster pace. Same eye opening experience. I had to remind myself that it was my easy day and stop at the end of the second loop.
It was still too early to form any judgment. The next day, I pulled on the UBs again. The menu was an easy 10K and again I failed to keep to the plan of going slow. This time, I took another newly mapped route that’s turning into a personal favorite: Binjai-Tun Razak-U-Thant-Ampang Hilir-Raintree Club-back to the KLCC Park. It had poured like crazy but slowed to a light drizzle as I started off. This second run would reveal much more about the shoes, both good and bad.
First, the good. The shoe pretty much retained all the positive attributes I experienced the day before, from the smooth and quick transition, fit and the upper breathability. The bad? The almost non-existent traction on the wet surfaces especially on the tiled and brick pavements. The little rounded nubs which are also spaced quite apart are simply not for such running conditions. I walked around corners and up the pedestrian bridges to avoid face-planting on my run. The Ultra Boost’s outsole feels nowhere near as assured as the BB5’s Continental rubber. The other thing worth mentioning is that while the PrimeKnit upper is very breathable, it’s also susceptible in letting in rainwater. It’s not a unique attribute of the UB but a trade-off of ultra breathable uppers.
The two most recent runs were both slower, one a 6K and the other a 16K on the hard pavements and sidewalks of Putrajaya. The Boost midsole offer the necessary protection for my legs and I appreciated the bouncy feel in all my strides. In all my runs in the Ultra Boost, there had been no chafing, hotspots or any rubbing, even by the extended heel pull tab. Because the tongue is integrated to the upper, there’s no slipping and sliding.
Reviewing the Ultra Boost has really been more about the wear experience than looking its inherently unflattering specs in terms of weight and pricing. I admit that I had some apprehension going in to the review but am glad to have some doubts struck off for the most part. I’ll put more miles into them before returning with a wrap-up take on the shoe.
Disclosure: The adidas Ultra Boost is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. Initial review is based after running and walking in them for close to 42K. The Ultra Boost is already available at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM650.