Adidas Terrex Swift R3 hiking shoe review: soft, strong, and really quite rugged

When boots are too much, and lighter hikers not enough, step forward in the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 shoes

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe
(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
T3 Verdict

The tech-packed Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe is a solid performer for challenging trails and hills. A deep heel cup, waterproof option, and stiff sole unit add security and robustness.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Unexpectedly robust for the weight

  • +

    Deep heel cup offers support

  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Waterproof option

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Potential overkill in summer

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The Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe is a summer 2021 update to the stalwart Adidas Terrex Swift R2, a popular hiking shoe won plaudits for support and robustness. Overall the Adidas Terrex Swift line has been crushing trails for over a decade, and this addition to the range doesn't disappoint. 

In fact, Terrex in general pops up regularly in both our best walking shoes for men or walking shoes for women rankings (for a taster of some alternatives, head to T3's Adidas Terrex Skychaser XT review, or Adidas Terrex Swift R3 review). So how do the Terrex Swift R3s match up?

These hiking shoes come with a UK RRP of £130 for non-Gore-Tex, and £140 for the waterproof model as tested here. They're not brand new now, so you should be able to pick them up for less than that if you're savvy, or manage to snag an Adidas discount code. Read on for our full Adidas Terrex Swift R3 hiking shoe review.

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 hiking shoe review: design

The Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe is not a shoe for the traditionalist. There’s a lot of tech packed in here, and the overall design makes this pretty clear from the outset. Essentially the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe has a trail-running heritage, but has been beefed up quite considerably for hiking services. This is most visible in the surprisingly stiff sole unit, which features a near-solid ‘promoderator’ midfoot, as well as a rock protection plate in the forefoot. 

As with previous designs, the heel sits much deeper within the shoe than expected, adding a sense of security that’s out of proportion to the weight of the shoe - a mere 395 grams. 

The Continental rubber outsole features substantial 4.5mm lugs for multi-surface grip in another trail-running nod, and the R2’s pull-tab lacing has been scrapped, to be replaced by standard laces with tube eyelets – perhaps the only place where Adidas has gone for a more traditional option.

A robust RPU overlay offers extra protection to the edges of the foot, and interestingly Adidas offers both membrane and non-membrane versions of the shoe, depending on whether you want to prioritise weatherproofing or breathability.  

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Adidas Terrex Swift R3 hiking shoe review: performance and comfort

As with previous Swift iterations, the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe offers a real sense of security and robustness on the foot. Far more like a hiking boot than a shoe, which is partly the stiffness of that midfoot, partly the deep heel cup, and partly due to the added bulk of those RPU overlays. A lightweight but cushioning midsole adds to that sense of protection too, as does the slightly more robust and slightly less breathable waterproof membrane wrapped inside the upper. Indeed, there’s so much stiffness in the shoe that we initially noticed a touch of heel lift, an unlikely occurrence in most shoe tests. 

That stiff midfoot provides a great platform on sloping terrain, just like a boot where you can use the edge to cut into the turf (albeit less successfully than a boot due to the lesser ankle support). The ankle support may not be quite up to boot-level, but it is certainly unusually good for a hiking shoe. The cushioned midsole adds a plushness to the ride, which is also enhanced by that stiffening armour, which lets you float over the rough stuff with ease. 

The toe-box has a particularly wide set of lace eyelets, which helps pull that area in tight, and it’s easy to get a good fit without fiddling around with the lacing too much, which is aided by the friction of the tube-style lace grommets. The top pair of eyelets are nicely-finished aluminium through-rivets, which should stand up to a lot of punishment.  

Grip is good too, thanks to those substantial lugs, and the Continental rubber offers decent traction on all but the most polished rock. 

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 hiking shoe review: verdict

The Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe is an unexpectedly robust contender, as well as maintaining a light weight, which is no small feat. We like the effective lacing system and the super-robust outsole and rock plate that’ll see off pretty much any challenge. The armoured upper is also made of tough stuff, and won’t let you down in scree and gravel either, and there’s plenty of plushness and comfort in the midsole to keep you comfortable all day. The only note of caution is the obvious downside of armouring up - breathability on hotter days is relatively low, which is presumably why there’s a non-Gore-Tex version to up that airflow. 

That said, the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe offers great protection, good grip and robust build quality – a pretty solid combo.

Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.