Adidas UltraBOOST shoes have ruled the roads (when running), the streets (when hanging out) and the catwalks (when posing) for the last few years. Now, the first major update to the brand that ate the world: UltraBOOST 2019 makes it springier and more comfortable. But of course it does. I'm going to stop using all caps for BOOST now, it's too shouty.
It’s fair to say that the original UltraBoost changed the world of running shoes. Its combination of bouncy Boost foam and a stylish upper prompted a wave of other brands taking up the formula to create street-smart shoes that had the technical chops for long distance running as well. Or maybe it was vice versa: great running shoes that also tempted dedicated followers of fashion. Either way there is a tonne of interest in Adidas Ultra Boost in its 2019 remix form.
UltraBoost 2019 doesn't have a lot to prove to either camp, but Adidas has nonetheless upped both the energy return and the comfort of the shoe, and changed its look (a bit). Because as much loved as the previous incarnation was, in the world of fashion, as in running, you can't just stand still, if you expect to get anywhere.
And with that profound observation, let's move on to the review.
Adidas UltraBoost 2019: the tech
To revamp the UltraBOOST Adidas stripped it down to its constituent parts and got rid of anything it could, with the resulting shoe being made from just 17 pieces. Of those 17, four are key to the performance of the shoe, starting with the Boost midsole.
There is 20% more Boost in the midsole of the updated UltraBoost, which makes it more responsive and probably more durable as well. Adidas has added the extra foam without increasing the weight of the shoe, which tips the scales at 310g (men’s size 8.5).
On top of the midsole you have the Primeknit 360 upper, which is now a full sock that wraps the foot and has targeted areas where more support is provided to keep the foot in place. The plastic midfoot cage has been removed from the shoe too and replaced with a mesh that doesn’t irritate in the way the cage could.
Built into the midsole of the shoe is Adidas’s Torsion System, which helps ensure a smooth transition from heel to toe when running, and at the back you’ll find the updated heel counter. This is no longer a full piece of plastic, but instead a plastic-wrapped wire frame, which gives your heel room to expand upon landing into the gaps where plastic previously restricted its movement. The idea is to add comfort while still providing stability around the heel.
Adidas UltraBoost 19: on the run
The changes Adidas have introduced are intended to double down on the best parts of the original UltraBoost – its comfort and bounce – and that’s what has been achieved with the shoe.
The extra Boost in the sole reveals itself first in how firm and responsive the ride feels compared to the original UltraBoost. Every step shows off the extra bounce, and the added firmness helps to produce a snappier heel-to-toe transition, making for a smooth ride even as you move through the gears towards something approaching race pace.
However, it’s undoubtedly on easy and long runs where the UltraBoost does its best work. Maintaining a pace over long distance feels easier when there’s that much Boost adding pep to each step, and cruising along in the UltraBoost 19 is an absolute delight.
The upper is certainly more secure than in past editions of the shoe as well. Even when rounding corners at speed your foot doesn’t move around in the knitted upper, with the less stretchy knit being noticeable in the forefoot in particular.
Both the updated heel counter and mesh midfoot section also add to the comfort of the shoe compared to its predecessor. The plastic cage on previous UltraBOOSTs in particular could be niggly, and this issue is completely removed by the mesh.
It’s still not a shoe that would be a first choice for track day or a fast 5K, with the hefty chunk of Boost on the sole feeling unwieldy if you try and sprint in it.
I'd also float a question mark over the updated style, which is certainly louder than the original UltraBoost, and has a slightly 'unfinished' look that might not appeal to as many as its more understated predecessor. It’s still a good-looking shoe, though and hey – you're buying it for the serious business of running, right? You want admiring glances for your gazelle like balance and speed, not your shoes.
Adidas UltraBoost 19: verdict
Adidas has ensured the first major update to the UltraBOOST is a success by focussing on improving what the shoe was already good at – providing a comfortable and bouncy feel to your runs.
There are more versatile shoes that will work better for fast running alongside easy runs, and some of them look as good as the UltraBOOST as well – the Nike Epic React or Adidas’s own SolarBOOST, for instance – but the UltraBOOST 19 still has its place as a great running shoe that doesn’t lack in style.