Friday, March 18, 2016

adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic and Agravic GTX – Extreme grip and protection for just about any terrain.

Review by Jeff Valliere with Sam Winebaum

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.
adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic GTX; All Photos Credit Jeff Valliere

The $150  new adidas Terrex Agravic GTX weighing in at an advertised 12.5 oz/355g. (US size 9) is a monster of a shoe with it’s very aggressive Continental rubber outsole, energetic Boost midsole and supportive/protective Gore Tex upper.
The $135 non Gore-Tex Agravic weighs in at 11.1 oz/315g. Stack heights in both are 24.5mm heel/18mm forefoot, so 6.5mm drop. Both also available in women's versions. Available now.
Either shoe is ready for just about anything you can throw at it.

First impressions

The toothy Continental rubber outsole is the star here and is the first thing that jumped out at me, looking ready for snow, mud, rock, ice and steep off trail use.  The shoe is reminiscent of the adidas Terrex Boost (RTR review here, now called the SkyChaser), but is a huge improvement.  Despite looking very much related, the Agravic has been revamped significantly with a more forgiving and compliant upper, a more beefed up and sturdy heel counter (the Terrex Boost had none to speak of), improved traction, better lacing and most importantly, improved fit.  The original Terrex Boost had a really odd fit that pinched the widest part of my (somewhat narrow to average) forefoot at the outbound lace holder overlays, yet left my toes swimming with way too much room at the tip of the shoe.  Though it never caused me any significant issues, it was really distracting and somewhat uncomfortable.  Despite a very fair trial period, they soon ended up in my give away pile of shoes.

Enter the Agravic.


In my opinion and for my terrain preferences, the outsole is hands down the highlight of the Agravic.  The Continental rubber outsole is made of a very sticky rubber compound that grabs like gecko feet.  Coupled with very deep 6,5mm well shaped and well-spaced lugs, the Agravic sticks at least as well, if not better than my very favorite go to sticky/luggy shoes (TNF Ultra MT, Salomon S-Lab Wings SG, La Sportiva Bushido for example).  I was able to test the Agravic in a wide variety of conditions from (almost always steep) dry technical rocky trails, wet technical rocky trails, slush, frozen slush, dirty ice, sheer ice, snow of varying consistency, steep off trail (dirt, pine needles, loose rock, etc….), smooth single track and hard pack dirt roads of varying gradient.
There were many times I approached potentially slippery areas with a bit of apprehension, knowing that most shoes would slip in the identical circumstance, but aside from a few minor (but expected) slips on sheer steep ice (where only metal would get any bite), these held very well almost all of the time.  Over the course of a few runs, as I learned their traction limitations (or lack thereof), I  developed an amazing sense of confidence about foot placement and hold .
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”.


The adidas Boost midsole material gets widespread and almost universal praise for its blend of cushion and responsive properties.  Though I have recognized the quality of the Boost material in various adidas road shoes, I have not found that it shines in the Terrex Agravic, nor the aforementioned Terrex Boost.  Though I find it to be reasonably responsive, the heft of these two shoes feel somewhat contradictory and the substantial Continental outsole acts to counteract the intended feel of the Boost material.  As mentioned earlier, it is hardly evident at slower to moderate speeds, but when pressed at higher speeds, it is evident.
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.


The upper on the Agravic GTX is a durable mesh with strategic and effective welded overlays, on top of a fully wrapped Gore Tex membrane.  Overall, the upper is somewhat stiff, but I found that it softened a bit over time and is much more compliant and forgiving than the Terrex Boost.  Padding in the heel counter/ankle collar is very minimal and there were times where I felt like it could use just a slight bit more (on steep climbs with thin sock), but that is just a comfort preference.  Heel hold was generally good though.
Sam: The upper on the non Gore-Tex Agravic is a single layer of very tight mesh with overlays, the only lining being at the heel counter. The color variations and fine finish of the various overlays is particularly subtle and striking.

The rubber toe bumper is low profile but substantial and integrates well with the mesh upper and continues around the entire perimeter of the shoe just above the midsole, forming somewhat of a rubber tub that even further reduces susceptibility to moisture penetration.
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.

The laces, though a huge improvement over the quick pull laces of the Terrex Boost, could still be improved.  I found them to be a little too thin and I have a difficult time getting the desired snugness I am looking for when there is minimal resistance though the woven lace loops or eyelets.  I think this shoe could benefit greatly from thicker laces (preferably sausage link) and also from an additional lace eyelet or loop (there are only 5 total).

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.

Fit is true to size and I very much appreciate the improved “normal” toe box.  I found the width to be perfect, enough room for comfort, swelling and bit of splay, but fitted well enough for good hold in rough terrain.  Overall foothold is good if one is very careful and precise with lacing, but as I mentioned earlier, it takes a bit of work to get the laces snugged up enough to really hold the foot as I would like.  Those with larger volume feet may not have a problem, but it took a concerted effort for me to get 90% of the way there.
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.
Suggested Use
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'.

Reviewer Bio

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.

The Terrex Agravic is available from Running Warehouse!
Men's here
Women's here

Also direct from adidas Outdoor below


Anonymous said...

just wanted to confirm that there is actually a thin rock plate in these shoes. This is the only site I see it mentioned. It does not mention this on Adidas's site. Thanks for any info.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
The plate is more a mid foot stability, rock plate as it does not extend as far forward towards the toe as the typical rock plate. I don't believe there is a rock plate further forward. Approximate location is illustrated in a picture in the review. There is no rock plate per say further forward of just behind the white mark on the sole towards the toe. This said there is also good protection from the outsole plus the dense EVA layer below the foot. Hope this helps. Thanks for Reading!
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Anonymous said...

How would this compare with the salomon slab wings (SG too) or the sense pro 2, if you have had a chance to try?
And do you feel the drop difference especially on the road, unfortunately all my runs start and end with those.
Thank you and great work, you seem to review the most interesting shoes IMO.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
I have run both the S-Lab Wings and non goretex Agravic. No question the Wings is better door to trail and I must say for 90% of uses. Its upper is one of the best I have ever run in if snug as a trail shoe should be. It doesn't have the pop of the Boost but its outsole is more versatile. The Agravic would be a bit more appropriate for super steep scrambling, maybe a touch more agile less stiff than Wings and for use in deep deep muck or snow all of these only barely. The drop is not noticeable. All of this said the Wings is $45 more expensive but as I said in the review here you get what you pay for in the Wings. Thanks for reading! Sam, Editor Road Trail Run

Anonymous said...

The outsole of this thing is definitely a monster but, for me, everything else fails miserably. So disappointed... Cannot run with them more than 15K without my feet hurting terribly. (80kg/1.86m).