Monday, April 05, 2021

adidas Solarboost 3 Review: A stable performance!

Article by Nils Scharff

Link to all RTR-Reviews: HERE

adidas Solarboost 3 ($160/ 160 €)


It's been a while since I had the last adidas shoe on my feet. Last year I tested four models from the Herzogenaurach based brand - the SL20, the Adios 5, the Adizero Pro and the Ultraboost 20. While the fast shoes all presented good alternatives in their respective categories, the Ultraboost was more of a leisure shoe than a running shoe for me. And even with the other models, the Boost material was more of a heavy burden than a guarantee of performance. Now adidas has made the Solarboost 3 available to me - and the name says it all - Boost is still part of the product line. Can adidas pull off something magical with it in their stability model? Like you can already say I’m pretty skeptical about it. But of course I’m open to being taught better.


Super stable in all directions!

Stability features are not in the way - runs like a neutral shoe!

Great outsole!

Can also be used on mellow trails !

It actually runs pretty dynamically as soon as you increase the pace a bit!

Good vibration dampening!


On the heavier side, but “okish” for a stability shoe!

Not the most comfortable for recovery runs!

Materials seem a bit stiff on the foot - but the feeling disappears when walking!

Low toe box!

Tester: Nils Scharff

I’m 30 years old, living in Heilbronn Germany and I’ve done all sorts of sports for all my life, often 5-7 times a week. But my young running career just started 4 years ago with a company run which I joined together with some colleagues in 2017. From there I never let go. I ran roughly 1000km in my first year, doubled and then tripled that number in the following years. I've run 5 marathons to date with a PR of 3:14:49h. My other PRs are 17:32 for the 5k, 37:33 for 10k and 1:25:07 for the half.



  Official: 305g (men US9)

  Review unit: 315g (men EU 44.5 / US 10.5)

Drop: 10mm (32mm heel / 22mm forefoot)

Release: available from run specialists for 160 €/ $160

First impression and fit

The adidas Solarboost 3 came in a classic, black adidas box. What gets revealed once you open that box is still classically designed, but in perhaps the brightest neon yellow that I have ever seen. Awesome! At first I didn't really know what to think of it, but like the whole shoe, the colour grew on me over time.

But how does the adidas Solarboost 3 feel on the foot? Similar to last year's Ultraboost the material feels a bit stiff when you put the shoe on. The laces run through relatively few lace holes and need a little more force to be adjusted. But as the shoe wraps the foot quite nicely you don't have to do a lot of work. The lockdown around the ankle feels secure  - just as you want it from a stability shoe. The toe box is wide enough, but unfortunately a bit low (or maybe that's because of the size of my test model half size down for my true to size?).

For me, adidas has always been a brand whose shoes are slim and long. For example, 44 EUR has always been a perfect fit for all of the above models - with other brands I usually take 44.5 EUR. Unfortunately, I was given the adidas Solarboost 3 in size 43.5 EUR. Therefore the shoe has been a tad too short for me. It was OK for short and medium distances.

Therefore I go with my usual adidas recommendation: Buy half a size smaller in adidas models than you would for other brands and everything will fit as intended. Please note that those sizing recommendations are based on EU sizes. Brands tend to translate from EU to US or UK a little differently from time to time. Therefore make sure to take a close look while comparing!


My motto of the adidas Solarboost 3 for the midsole and the upper material is: much around the heel, only as much as necessary in the forefoot area. The base material is a firm, unyielding mesh material. There’s no soft inner liner in the forefoot area which ensures good breathability. As a result, the whole shoe feels a bit stiff when you slip it on, but the sock-like stitched tongue wraps wonderfully around the foot and ensures a pleasant and secure feeling. The tongue is adequately padded which ensures that there isn’t any discomfort through lace pressure.

Around the collar of the shoe there’s also more than enough padding. Here it could be dialed back a little for my liking. But nonetheless the foot sits securely and comfortably in the shoe. However, a few grams of weight could have been saved here. Additionally the protruding heel extension could have been reduced. It's comfortable and doesn't bother me, but I don't see how it makes a great contribution to the fit or lockdown of the shoe. 

What is great, however, is the heel cup! It’s an inner heel cup - or should I say two? It’s divided into two parts! Along the achilles tendon / the black stripe there’s just soft padding. The two parts of the cup are placed to the right and left of this sensitive area. This has no negative influence on the heel hold, but protects against any irritation in this area - great! The half-cups extend relatively far and high around the heel and thus meet the requirements of a stability shoe.

There are quite a few reinforcements on the adidas Solarboost 3. The inevitable adidas stripes are thick on both sides and increase the hold in the metatarsus. They are supported by another layer that runs below. 

The forefoot is also supported by an overlay on each side which ensures excellent lateral support. The whole thing is completed by the mandatory reinforcements around the lacing (where the flat laces do their job well), as well as some toe protection. The latter is relatively stiff and therefore fulfills its purpose perfectly. However, the forefoot is cut fairly flat and narrow.

The nicely designed insole curves up on the side and thus provides additional stability. It actually has some side wings that aid this effect. It is also perforated in the forefoot, which benefits breathability and water drainage.


The midsole of the adidas Solarboost 3 basically consists of three components:

There’s the obligatory Boost material made from its TPU pellets. And there’s quite a bit of it!! In the heel, the midsole alone of the Solarboost is 32mm thick, in the forefoot it is 22mm. This results in a relatively high 10mm drop. It is interesting that the Boost sole is notched in two places. This supposedly contributes to better flexibility and thus a more pleasant footstrike.

Along the top, the Boost midsole is surrounded by the so-called Control Rail. This is clearly recognizable from the outside in its gray color and directs the rolling movement of the foot in the desired path. It thus counteracts both overpronation and supination.

The last component is the Linear Energy Push System (LEP). This torsion system is known from other adidas models such as the Boston and is in Ultraboost 21. It is a rigid plastic bridge that connects the forefoot and heel on the bottom of the midsole. The aim is to achieve better energy transfer and, above all, to keep the unstable properties of the soft Boost material in check.

The asymmetrical placement of the sole rubber in the heel area and the wedge shape of the heel are also noticeable (see picture). The Boost material seems to be clearly thicker on the medial side and thus counteracts overpronation. In addition the adidas Solarboost 3 basically has a downward sloping platform. The sole is thicker/wider on the bottom than on the top. This creates additional stability. The midsole is rounded off by a small medial support under the heel.


The outsole of the adidas Solarboost 3 doesn't have much to do with usual outsole designs and is therefore exciting per se. In the center there is a large groove showing exposed Boost material and the LEP system. This groove helps to direct the toe off process. An outer ring of outsole rubber runs around the entire shoe, which increases the stability of the shoe as well as it’s traction. An additional sole element is attached centrally under the forefoot, which primarily improves grip. But it’s also cut into several small flex grooves which make the toe off quite flexible.

Of course adidas uses a rubber compound branded by Continental in the Solarboost 3. This has not shown any weaknesses in my previous tests and doesn’t here as well. The stabilizing outer ring seems to be made of a firmer compound - which makes perfect sense. The egg-shaped forefoot pod as well as the gray rubber at the heel seem to be softer in comparison. They are made for better traction in the first place.

The outsole cutouts are nicely balanced with the stiff LEP system. Additionally they improve traction and reduce weight. Overall, I think the outsole of the adidas Solarboost 3 is well made. It reinforces the stability aspect of the shoe without revealing any other weaknesses.


At this point I am trying to ignore the fact that my sample of the adidas Solarboost 3 is half a size too small for my feet. It didn't bother me most of the time anyways and could be left aside completely for most of my runs. 

As I said, the shoe fits perfectly on the foot - nothing rubs, nothing pinches. At the same time, support and stability in the shoe are excellent in all directions. In fact, both properties are so good that the adidas Solarboost 3 works not only on roads but also on easy trails. The good outsole contributes to this as well.

The shoe rolls surprisingly smoothly and naturally. Actually, one should assume the opposite, with the very large LEP system on the underside. But the plastic part literally disappears when running slow. The Boost midsole gives the heel a pleasantly soft, but not spongy running feeling. But at the forefoot the combination of Boost and the grey material of the Control Rail doesn’t quite do it for me on recovery runs. It’s not forgiving enough. Since I run more over the mid and forefoot, the adidas Solarboost 3 will not be my first choice for tired legs. 

But as soon as you run a little faster the LEP system, in conjunction with the two midsole materials begins to work. A gentle feeling of propulsion sets in at speeds just above marathon pace and makes running effortless. As a result, the Solarboost 3 runs definitely lighter than its 315 grams suggest. Even short stride sessions could be completed passably. Sure, it is still not lightweight. But if you only have only one shoe in your closet the Solarboost can handle an occasional quicker session.

And while impressively versatile,  the adidas Solarboost 3 manages to maintain a very high level of stability at all speeds almost unnoticed. The control rails work so well that you actually don't even notice they are there. This makes the shoe equally suitable for neutral runners , overpronators and supinators.

Conclusions and recommendation

As mentioned in the beginning, my expectations of the adidas Solarboost 3 were not the highest. But this time adidas taught me better! Sure, the Solarboost is not the lightest, fastest, most comfortable, softest, most stable etc.. But it just doesn't do anything wrong and does a lot of things very well! 

The upper material is rock solid, the lockdown is excellent. I really liked the heel construction and at least for me the degree of stability is more than sufficient. The fact that the Control Rails disappear within the overall concept of the shoe make it a great allrounder for almost every type of runner and also for most surfaces. 

Anyone looking for a stability shoe should definitely take a look at the adidas Solarboost 3. And for everyone else I can recommend the Solarboost for daily training kilometers up to the long run. It's a shame that my test model was a bit too small - I think otherwise I would have kept it in my rotation.

Score 9.1 / 10 (-0.4 for a somewhat not so forgiving forefoot at slower speeds; -0.3 because it should be a little lighter; -0.2 for the slightly too low toe box)

I'm afraid I'll repeat myself at this point but it will be exciting to see if and when adidas will finally say goodbye to the Boost material. A material with similar properties, but significant weight savings, would raise the Solarboost 4 to another level! If the forefoot were given a little more cushioning and the drop was reduced to 6-8mm, I would be perfectly happy!

Link to the original German language review of the adidas Solarboost 3: HERE


adidas Solarboost 3 vs. ASICS Gel-Kayano 27 ( English Multi Tester Review German Review)

Both shoes are of high quality and fine-tuned to the smallest detail. The stability features are very unobtrusive in both - but still noticeable in the Kayano (but also more pronounced), while they almost disappear in the Solarboost. While similar cushioned, the Solarboost is more dynamic. The Kayano is more comfortable for the slow things. Both EUR 44.


adidas Solarboost 3 vs. ASICS GT-2000 9 (German Review)

Both shoes have a similar level of stability and are also comparable in terms of dynamics. The GT2000 is significantly lighter, but also offers less cushioning from front to back. Since the Solarboost uses the more unobtrusive features and runs lighter than it is, it would be my choice between these two. Both EUR 44.


adidas Solarboost 3 vs. Salomon Predict RA (English Review)

The Predict is not a stability shoe per se, but works with a sophisticated system of decoupled individual components in the sole. These are modeled on the bones of the foot. That worked great for me - one of the most stable shoes I've ever worn. Just like the Predict, the Solarboost can be used by neutral and stability runners, but it does not come close to the stability level of the Predict. On the other hand ,it runs much more dynamically and somehow feels more modern on the foot. The Predict RA is a bit outdated (that's why there is also a Predict 2 which I haven’t run in yet), which is why I would choose the Solarboost here. Both 44 EUR.

adidas Solarboost 3 vs. Saucony Endorphin Shift (German Review, English Review)

Again - a very stable neutral shoe and one of my favorite shoes from last year. The Shift offers more cushioning, but thanks to the Speedroll technology it also manages faster speeds. If you like a more classic run feel or are looking for one shoe for everything, choose the Solarboost. If you are looking for something especially for longer runs and have a second, faster shoe in your rotation choose the Shift. Solarboost EUR 44; Shift 44.5 EUR.

adidas Solarboost 3 vs. Saucony Ride 13 (  English Review German Review)

Since the Solarboost can also be used well for neutral runners here is a comparison to a stable but neutral daily trainer. In principle you can run anything in both shoes. The Ride feels softer and more comfortable on the foot and protects the forefoot better. That's why it's even better for me for slow runs. It's also a bit lighter, but of course less stable at the same time. The Solarboost has the softer heel and is more stable. Solarboost EUR 44; Ride 44.5 EUR.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from adidas . The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!
Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

1 comment:

Nils said...