Tuesday, December 28, 2021

adidas adiSTAR Review. 9 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Beck

adidas adiSTAR ($130)


The Adistar is a brand new shoe with a throwback name, adidas has used Adistar for a number of different shoes in the past - but none of them are anything like the current iteration. Landing squarely at the intersection of an updated adidas Supernova Glide Boost (RTR Review), with a lifestyle aesthetic and vibe, and drawing cushioning inspiration from the big boys of running like the Hoka Bondi, the Adistar is a truly unique shoe. But does unique mean new, interesting, and awesome, or is it a polite way of saying don’t bother? Almost all the former, but for some runners, there’s a bit of the latter as well. Read on and I’ll explain.


-Comfortable upper that takes the best elements of the early Boost shoes, breathable and holds the foot well

-Repetitor midsole has an awkward name and a smooth ride and plenty of protection

-Enough Continental rubber to give plenty of grip and durability

-Great toebox width and height

-Doesn’t run nearly as heavy as it looks on the scale

-Recycled polyester and ocean plastic upper 


-Repetitor+ ultra firm midsole in heel is jarring to land on

-Breathable upper lets cold air in too

-Softer Repetitor midsole firms up quite a bit in cold conditions, not an ideal winter shoe

-Laces like to untie themselves, even with double knot

-Rocker geometry is very subtle


Weight: men's 11.2 oz / 318g (US9)  /  women's 10 oz / 283g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 12.06 oz  / 342 g US10.5

Stack Height: Listed men’s/women’s heel 37.5mm / 31.5mm forefoot, Measured heel 35mm

Available now including at our partner Running Warehouse here. $130

First Impressions and Fit

“adidas went and made themselves a Bondi'' was my initial takeaway, and dozens of hours later, that first impression still holds up. There’s no getting around it, this is a very large shoe in virtually every aspect, and while its stack height is near the legal limit, in many ways it feels even bigger. The Adistar looks far more striking than any Bondi thus far and has a real full-fledged toebox, which is more than any Bondi can claim. 

I’ve had some issues with adidas sizing over the last few years, but the Adistar fits very well true-to-size with about a thumb’s width in front of the big toe - great for a non-racing shoe. And make no mistake, this is certainly not a racing shoe, but it isn’t a sloppy fit either. The midfoot is average-to-slightly-wide, creating a very comfortable and accommodating platform.


The Adistar upper feels like an homage to early Boost era uppers, and for me that’s an incredible thing. The majority of the upper is engineered mesh that is incredibly breathable and stretchy in every direction. There are some overlays to limit the stretch in places where lockdown is a higher priority, but even in those areas the upper doesn’t feel overbuilt in any way. On my initial run I found that it was more breathable than I would like, with 17 degree temps and a slight wind cutting right through the shoe and freezing my feet, but in more normal weather the breathability is a non-factor and in the summer they’ll be a great shoe. 

The toebox is phenomenal, one of the best non-Altra/Topo toe boxes on the market, allowing your toes plenty of room to splay out, and with virtually zero vertical restriction as well. The non-gusseted tongue is well cushioned without going too far, and despite the lack of side reinforcement, I haven’t found the tongue to move at all midrun with just the single lace hole going through the center to keep it in place. 

The heel counter shape is somewhat traditional, rather than one of those emulating footwear in the North Pole. It isn’t very rigid as the shoe moves up your foot, mostly counting on the ultra firm heel to create the foundation of rear stability.

Lastly, the upper is made from 50% recycled polyester and 50% Parley Ocean Plastic, meaning it is more sustainable than most, which is a nice bonus - while the fit and finish is top notch, and very plush and soft to the touch.


Welcome to the polarizing part of the shoe. The Adistar introduces two new midsole materials in one shoe, confusingly named Repetitor and Repetitor+. First, Repetitor makes up the majority of the shoe, in my pair it's the white section, and it is a pretty soft and slightly bouncy foam. You’re not going to confuse it for a super soft Peba-based midsole, but it is plenty soft while still maintaining its shape and stability, and doesn’t leave you feeling like the shoe is collapsing in on itself in any way. 

Then there’s Repetitor+, which is the blue section in the heel, and it is the very definition of firm. There is no give whatsoever to Repetitor+, so much so that it might as well be a weightlifting shoe in that section. What’s more, landing on the heel is outright jarring - which for me, as a midfoot striker, only happened when I was trying to make it happen. In some aspects, this could double as a daily trainer and form training device - any heel striker that wants to change their stride could utilize the Adistar in that way, but otherwise heel strikers be warned.

The Repetitor portion of the midsole has surprisingly good flexibility for the thickness of the midsole, and visually there’s a somewhat pronounced rocker geometry up front. However, the rocker appears to be a much bigger visual factor than how it runs. It is definitely felt while standing or walking, but during the run, the rocker all but disappears. That doesn’t mean it makes the shoe sluggish by any means, but I’ll cover that in Ride.

Lastly, the stack height and overall size of the shoe is a bit of a conundrum. It’s listed at 31.5/37.5 with a 6mm drop, but I measured my 10.5 at 35mm in the heel, so likely at 29 in the forefoot. That’s a few millimeters down from the other brands' massively cushioned shoe (Hoka Bondi is 36/40), but the Adistar feels every bit as big, if not a little bigger. It doesn’t feel ponderous on the foot, but runners will need to want a big shoe in order to enjoy the Adistar.


The Adistar outsole is a mix of Continental rubber in the high wear areas and a decently wide strip of exposed midsole running along the center of the shoe. As with other adidas shoes that employ Continental rubber, the grip and durability are both top notch. Even on my extremely cold initial run, I had a few slightly icy steps, and was surprised that I had even a little confidence and minimal slip. It doesn’t hang with the Saucony Peregrine Ice+ rubber that’s designed for ice, but the Adistar has lots of tacky rubber. The exposed midsole central channel doesn’t appear to have any potential failure spots where premature midsole wear could compromise the shoe, it’s well designed to keep the wear on rubber.


I touched on this slightly above, but the Repetitor midsole has a really satisfying squish. They have just a little bit of bounce, but you’re not going to confuse it with the Nike ZoomX Invincible Flyknit or Skechers Performance Max Road 5. On the flip side, it isn’t nearly as pillowy soft as the New Balance Fresh Foam More v3, which can be a good thing. The FFMv3 is so soft and unresponsive it is really best used for only your easiest runs, where your legs and feet need a break. The Adistar is more versatile than that, and could easily be a solid daily trainer, provided you follow the mindset that most of your daily runs should be pretty easy (and you don’t heel strike!). I haven’t been able to confirm the material of Repetitor, but I’m assuming it is a fairly soft flavor of EVA, because on that cold weather run, the midsole was noticeably firmer - and that doesn’t usually happen with other types of midsole foams.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Adistar came out of nowhere and really surprised me. At first glance it seems like it might be a pure lifestyle shoe, not really fit for running , but it can really perform as a dedicated runner. 

The upper is top notch, and the fit and design are very accommodating, making it one of the more comfortable shoes released in the last year. 

The ultra firm heel feel will be a deal breaker for heel strikers, but could double as a training device for runners trying to change their stride. 

I see this as a fantastic option for relatively new runners , looking for a shoe that is going to be comfortable for lots of miles. It offers a great looking shoe at $130, which is now well below what many premium big stacked shoes sell for, and with plenty of Continental rubber to keep the shoe lasting a long time. 

If you can stay off the heel, and don’t let the number on the scale scare you, there’s crazy levels of value and every day performance to be found.

Jeff’s Score: 8.85 out of 10 

Ride: 8 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka Bondi 7 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. The Bondi stack height is slightly bigger (and 6 grams lighter in the same size) and has a softer ride, a more cramped toebox and with an upper that isn’t as nice as the Adistar. Bondi is preferable for dedicated easy days, Adistar better as a well cushioned daily trainer.

New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. Similar to the Bondi, the FFMv3 is all about comfort, performance be damned as you squish into it and never want to leave. The Adistar prevents that from ever happening, with the ultra firm heel keeping you from ever sinking in. The FFMv3 toebox is good, the Adistar’s is even wider. If the FFMv3 is like an old Lincoln Town Car, comfort over everything, the Adistar is like the mid 80s Mercedes S-Class - it’s comfortable, but it still performs. For pure squish, stick to the NB, for more versatility, Adistar all day.

Altra Paradigm 6 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. Altra’s biggest stacked road shoe, the Paradigm 6 was the first of its line to use their latest midsole material, Ego Max, and Ego Max is outstanding. Soft and bouncy, but still controlled, the slightly lower stacked Altra feels every bit as cushioned as the Adistar, Ego Max is that good. It’s an Altra, so you know the toebox is a winner, though I prefer the slightly more structured upper of the adidas. There’s a $30 difference, which isn’t nothing, but if you can stretch your budget, and don’t mind a zero drop shoe, I’d give the advantage to the Paradigm.

Brooks Aurora-BL (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. My single favorite shoe of 2021, the Aurora-BL is lighter, bouncier, and squishier than the Adistar - but it also costs 50% more and is less durable. The Adistar toebox is even more accommodating than the Brooks, which is pretty good itself. If budget isn’t an option, you should track down a pair of Aurora-BL, but if you can’t stomach a $200 trainer, the Adistar is not a bad way to go.

Brooks Glycerin 19 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. The Glycerin is Brooks’ long time big cushion trainer, and the 19 is one of the best they’ve ever made - but worn against the Adistar it feels only slightly cushioned. The Brooks upper is a little more plush, and the heel is much softer, while both toeboxes are very close in width. The $20 advantage pushes the Adistar over the top.

Puma Magnify Nitro (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size, with the Puma almost being a half size large. The Adistar easily wins the upper contest (especially in the toebox, but the feel and hold are also better), and I’d give it the slight edge in the midsole department. The Puma midsole is a little firmer than Repetitor, and has a little more bounce to it. And while Continental rubber in the adidas is impressive, Puma’s Pumagrip is on another level when it comes to tackiness. The adidas comes in $10 less, and that’s the shoe I’d recommend for most runners .

Saucony Triumph 19 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. Both uppers are great, and I really enjoy the Saucony’s PWRRUN+ midsole, but the increased Adistar stack height is hard to overcome. Heel strikers will likely favor the Triumph, everyone else should consider the Adistar. 

Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. Saucony’s other high stacked shoe, the Endorphin Shift is firm with a very pronounced rocker. The Adistar has a softer ride, more plush upper, and much more stable (likely due to the extra midsole width) ride, while the Shift is smoother and faster while being every bit as protective. If you like rocker geometries, get the Shift, otherwise, take the adidas.

Skechers Performance Max Road 5 (RTR Review)

Both fit true to size. Another one of my favorite shoes of the year, the Max Road 5 seemingly has it all - light weight, great cushioning, incredible bounce, $135 price tag, comfortable upper (with ample toebox), and good stability, the Adistar really only has durability (and a $5 discount) to go along with a slight stability increase. As much as I enjoy the Adistar, it’s hard to ignore the Max Road 5, and unless you hate a fun bouncy ride, that’s likely the shoe to try out.

Tester Profile

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less.Jeff runs 30 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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Anonymous said...

Woh! Baby got stack! 301.5mm forefoot!? I mean, I like 'em rockered and big, but that's a bit much. First thing my eyes went to. ;-) Thinking of Sir Mix-A-Lot, he does reference Flo Jo in his iconic song. Just an interesting FYI for the day for the running community.

Jeff said...

Yeah, 301mm would be excessive, as it stands the 31 that it is has plenty of cushioning up front.

Anonymous said...

Adistar n bondi 8 which one is more durable ?

Jeff said...

I'd probably say Adistar, or at least this version of it. That super firm heel is likely going to outlast humanity, so if you come down on the heel you'd wear through several pairs of Bondis feeling any degradation in the adidas.