Adidas Ultraboost 22 review TL; DR: an extremely well-cushioned shoe that fits the female foot perfectly for an uber-comfy ride.
If there’s one trainer I believe should be jumping straight to the top of our round-up for the best women’s running shoes, it’s the Adidas Ultraboost 22. This news might come as a surprise to anyone who knows me and the fact that the Asics Gel Nimbus 24 (and its previous iterations) has been my go-to running shoe for over a decade. But Adidas has been doing some amazing things in running shoe design and innovation in recent years. And on this occasion, they’ve truly surpassed themselves for the ladies.
Adidas first really got my attention in May 2021 with the launch of the uber-springy unisex Adidas 4DFWD. It was love at first sight (and first run) for me, and I wasn’t surprised to see these shoes head straight into our guide to the best running shoes.
Now, in an Adidas first, an all-female team has taken the hugely popular unisex Ultraboost shoe (launched in 2015) and given it a complete 360° makeover to create Adidas’ first ever (and long overdue) women-specific running shoe. The results, quite frankly, are astounding, and everything from the fit and comfort to the cushioning and responsiveness is a dream. They’re now my favourite shoes for running, walking and everything in between (see ya later, Asics). But what makes them so special? Read on to find out.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Price and availability
The Adidas Ultraboost 22 is available now for a recommended retail price of £165 / $190 / AU$270 from Adidas UK / Adidas US / Adidas Australia and selected third party retailers including SportsShoes.com. Make sure you check our Adidas discount codes to see if you can reduce the cost.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Tech and ergonomics
To create the women-specific Ultraboost 22 shoes, Adidas used an anatomy database of 1.2 million foot scans to help identify key differences in the female foot across the instep height, heel anatomy and gait cycle. Hundreds of prototypes later, the re-engineered and refined Ultraboost 22 now has a 360° improved fit for female runners that promises to meet their demands and deliver visible improvements in performance.
Multiple instances of fine-tuning help the shoe fit the female foot better, including a completely redesigned heel pocket that’s narrower right up to the Achilles tendon to help avoid slippage, chaffing and blisters.
You’ll find a shallower forefoot profile and a lower instep area - the latter of which is apparently significantly different on a women’s foot compared to a man’s - and they’ve even redeveloped the rubber outsole after an examination of the female gait cycle revealed that women tend to overpronate more than men.
Accordingly, the holes in the rubber at the rear foot area are now longer, larger and more flexible than on the male shoe so they open more when the foot lands, allowing the BOOST in the midsole to expand and stretch into the holes for softer cushioning, gentler landings and better support.
And speaking of the BOOST, the new PRIMEKNIT upper and LEP (Linear Energy Plush) torsion system combine with the BOOST midsole to increase responsiveness and deliver 4% more forefoot energy return than the Ultraboost 21 for women.
These small changes might sound insignificant when listed individually, but together they add up to one beautiful ride.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Aesthetics
The first time I wore my Ultraboost 22 shoes, someone remarked that they were the ugliest things they’d ever seen. Personally, I think they are a thing of beauty. Oh, and I don’t talk to that person anymore.
Yes, they’re a statement shoe with a chunky wedge of cushioning that’s 22mm high at the rear and 12mm high at the front (that means a midsole drop of 10mm, people), and they do have a rather large footprint. But there’s also something distinctly sleek and modern about them, and that feeling is undoubtedly aided by the slinky sock-like PRIMEKNIT upper made from 50% Parley Ocean Plastic.
The first drop in December 2021 gave us just one ‘magic mauve’ colourway. These days, you’ll find 21 designs in every kind of colour imaginable - plus a very snazzy limited-edition print - including all-black, plain white, cool grey, pretty pastels and bold brights. So, whether you’re a fitness fashionista or a total tomboy, there really is an Ultraboost 22 to suit every taste.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Running performance
Designed for everyday wear and long runs, the Ultraboost 22 shoes are one of the comfiest trainers I’ve ever worn – so comfy, in fact, you’ll never want to take them off.
They are an absolute dream on my knees, removing any kind of jarring or jolting, and this feeling continues throughout the body. I feel like the best, springiest version of myself, and all kinds of movement become easy and effortless. The only downside of this is that I’ve been wearing my Ultraboost 22’s for everything, so I probably need to invest in a second pair just for running.
Annoyingly, I’m unable to pinpoint the exact reason for this springiness. Is it the BOOST? Is it the new outsole that helps to make overpronation a thing of the past? Is it the female-specific fit? I just don’t know. But I’ve tried many other female-specific trainers over the years, and I can’t say they’ve felt like this. I can only assume it’s the combination of all the tiny adjustments and tailoring that add up to create the perfect running shoe for women.
Everything from the narrower S-curve heel to the footbed screams comfort, support and stability. The new silhouette of the upper is snug but roomy thanks to its stretchy, adaptive fit, and I’ve not once suffered from rubbing or tightness.
Weighing in at 283 grams, it’s not the lightest shoe ever, but you do feel like you’re walking and running on air. In terms of the midsole, the cushioning and energy return is amazing, while the new LEP torsion system definitely helps to improve the firmness, so you get a very responsive ride at the same time. To say I am impressed with the Ultraboost 22 is an understatement.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Verdict
The new female-specific Adidas Ultraboost 22 is not a marketing ploy designed to get women to splash the cash. It is a scientifically developed shoe based on anatomical data of the female foot and gait cycle that has been designed and tested by women for women.
The result is one of the best women’s running shoes around by a mile, whether you’re a total newbie to running or a seasoned marathon runner. The midsole scores extremely high on cushioning and responsiveness, while the upper is flexible, snug and supportive, so you can put in the miles in total comfort and confidence.
Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s a price worth paying for a shoe that’s built primarily with the female body in mind, and it’s perfect for heavy runners who want to look after their joints or for use on long milage days.
It should be noted that the Ultraboost 22 is not a race shoe, but then it wasn’t designed for speed. However, I’d be excited to see how Adidas take everything it has learnt about the female foot and incorporates it into other shoes going forwards. Ground-breaking stuff, in short.
Adidas Ultraboost 22 review: Also consider
Almost as cool and certainly faster than the Ultraboost 22 is the Hoka One One Mach 4. These women's running shoes have a luxurious feel with lots of padding and ventilation holes. The Profly midsole feels both soft and springy, so you get a double whammy of cushioning and a firm toe-off, making the Mach 4 one of the most adaptable shoes around.
For a less flashy and even softer experience, try the Brooks Glycerin 19. The shoes' blend of foam, air and rubber delivers super soft comfort while you're logging those long training miles. Brooks has extended the DNA LOFT to the whole length of the midsole, and you will feel the benefit of this extra cushioning from your first run. A great investment shoe.