Editor Note: Jeff tested the Gore-Tex version of the Agravic in the rock and snow above Boulder, CO. Sam tested the non Gore-Tex version on dry NH single track and roads.
Either shoe is ready for just about anything you can throw at it.
Enter the Agravic.
The rock plate in the forefoot is slim and flexible, but combined with the substantial outsole offers bomb proof protection from the hardest hits on the sharpest rocks, while still maintaining relatively good trail feel and torsional flexibility.
As sticky as the rubber compound may be, it is of a somewhat hard durometer, which is excellent for durability and longevity, but comes at the cost of a compliant ride and dulls the properties of the Boost midsole. At moderate speeds and/or on softer ground, it is hardly an issue, but at higher paces on hard surfaces, it feels a bit hard and “slappy”.
This shoe also features a 6.5mm drop, which I find falls into middle ground that should satisfy all but the most ardent low drop aficionados, as I personally can rarely differentiate 4mm from 12mm on rocky, steep, technical terrain which this particular shoe is made for.
Sam: I don't entirely agree with Jeff on the Boost in this shoe. Without Boost and with the usual EVA midsole and the huge lugs I think the shoe would run like a dead brick. Despite the thick, firm lugs, I can feel some pop for sure from the Boost and welcome the Boost cushion, particularly on hard surfaces such as road. The non Gore-Tex Agravic weighs about 0.5 oz less than the Terrex Boost.The shoe flexes nicely for its intended purpose despite the presence of a substantial stiff plate below mid foot running between the 2 white marks in the picture below. This plate stabilizes the mid foot but also contributes, along with the lugs, to some slapping on firm smooth surfaces such as asphalt.
Being a waterproof Gore Tex shoe, the tongue is of course well gusseted with Gore Tex material and does a very good job keeping moisture out. The tongue is thinner and more flexible than on the previous Terrex Boost and a bit longer/taller, which I found to be very welcome.
Sam: I to wonder why such thin cord laces. Yes, an improvement over the quick lace but why not as Jeff suggested thicker laces to better wrap the foot given the fairly stiff upper. The laces on my non Gore Tex version appear even thinner! The thin leatherette un padded tongue on my non Gore-Tex version made cinching to the right pressure, without to much pressure, challenging at times. This shoe could use a padded tongue of some kind in my view.
The Gore Tex membrane is very effective at keeping out moisture, whether it be in snow, or an outright soak in the creek (being careful to not go too deep). I ran in snow and felt no moisture and even stood in standing water for several minutes with no seepage or soaking through. The water just beads up on the outside of the shoe and rolls off. Common complaints for Gore Tex is that shoes with the material are too hot, but I did not find that to be the case with the Agravic, using them on days where the temperature was in the high 60’s to low 70’s and would forget even that the shoe has a Gore Tex membrane. In temperatures down as low as the mid 20’s and snowing, my feet were toasty warm, even while wearing a thin synthetic summer weight sock.
Sam: I don't see the non Gore-Tex upper as being particularly well draining as the overlays where midsole meet upper extend 1/2"-1"all around. On the flip side these overlays keep puddle splashes into the shoe at bay. Given most of the upper has no lining with the mesh fine gauge, it should absorb little water or debris and breathe moderately well.
Sam: My fit at the sample's half size up was fine. I agree the lacing is tricky especially if the use is on rough terrain where foot hold is key.
Though the Boost material has a responsive feel to it, this shoe is a bit limited by its weight and thick outsole in my opinion to be a high performer. My US size 10 test shoes weighed in at close to 14 oz. each, ~1.5 oz. more than the already seemingly heavy Terrex Boost which I weighed in a side by side comparison with the same scale. Yes, the Agravic has a Gore Tex membrane, which expectedly adds a bit of (worthwhile) weight, but a size 10 shoe nearing 14 oz. is, in my opinion, flirting with low top hiker status. Though the Agravic does feel a bit lighter on the foot than the measured weight would imply, it is a heavy shoe.
Despite the weight though, it does run surprisingly well at moderate to slower speeds and is a relatively agile and stable shoe, especially in technical terrain (with much credit going to the outsole). Any limitations (weight, less forgiving cushion on hard surfaces) only become evident at higher speeds.
This shoe is great for those looking for a top quality training shoe with the very best traction, water resistance, protection and durability, but are less concerned with high end performance or plush comfort/cushion.
Sam: I would agree with Jeff. This is one durable shoe best suited to rough mountain pursuits where grip is key. This said I have also run them up to 10 miles on the road and while somewhat slappy the ride was more than adequate and comfortable and far better than many heavy duty trail shoes taken on the road.
La Sportiva Wildcat 2.0 GTX – similar weight, Gore Tex, great traction, but has a more precise fitting upper and is a more comfortable shoe with better cushion. Better for full days on the feet. The Agravic though has a much grippier outsole for a wider variety of terrain and conditions. Quality and longevity, especially in regards to the outsole favors the Agravic.
Saucony Xodus 6.0 GTX – similar weight, protection and quality, great dry traction. Better comfort and cushion for longer days. Again, the Agravic though has a much grippier outsole for a wider variety of terrain and conditions. Quality and longevity is similar.
Montrail Trans Alps Outdry – better cushion and comfort, similar weight and quality. Agravic again has better traction and is more stable.
adidas Response Trail Boost (review)-softer ride, more flexible. Agravic has a more supportive upper particularly at the rear of the shoe.
adidas Raven Boost (review)-very plush ride, supportive soft upper, suitable for long slow miles on any terrain. Agravic is more protective on rocks and more agile.
adidas XT Boost (review)-far more agile, lighter and faster, not as protective. A shoe right between Agravic and XT Boost would be ideal
Jeff's Score: 4.6 out of 5
-0.1 for lacing issues
-0.1 for lack of cushion around heel counter/ankle collar
-0.1 for weight
-0.1 for hard ride
Sam's Score: 4.6 out of 5
-0.1 for lacing and tongue issues
-0.1 for weight
-0.1 for over done mid foot stabilizing element leading to slapping and weight.
-0.1 for over agressive lugs which add to weight, 5mm would be fine instead of 6.5mm
The Agravic was provide at no charge to RoadTrailRun. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several. He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands. Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
Also direct from adidas Outdoor below