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adidas adiPure Adapt: The Ugly Duckling of adidas’ Natural Running Line

adidas Adipure AdaptShoe giant adidas is about to release three new shoes in what it is referring to as its “natural running collection.” The shoes are the Adapt, Gazelle, and Motion, and the three shoes allow for a step-down approach to running in less shoe.

According to Running Warehouse, the Motion is a 7.5oz, 8mm drop shoe (stack height = 23mm heel, 15mm forefoot) targeted as a first step toward less shoe:

adidas Motion

Running Warehouse lists the the adidas Gazelle as a 6.0oz, 6mm drop shoe (stack height = 17mm heel, 11mm forefoot) that would seem to fit squarely in the transitional category:

adidas Gazelle

Running Warehouse lists the adidas adipure Adapt as a 4.8oz, 4mm drop shoe (stack height = 15mm heel, 11mm forefoot) – this is the most minimal of the three shoes:

adidas Adipure Adapt side

I believe in being brutally honest when I write reviews, and this review is a good example. I’ve had the adidas Adapts since early this year, but will openly admit that I have not run in them very much. My reason is a rather silly one, but it’s one that I think is going to cause a lot of problems for this shoe: it’s really ugly. In fact, I ran in them yesterday so I could at least provide a few comments on fit and feel on the run, and before I left the house my wife caught sight of me and asked what the heck the things on my feet were. She said they looked like superhero shoes (she also told me Saucony Hattoris looked like prison loafers – she keeps it real!). I have to admit she’s right – pair them up with some blue tights and I could be fighting crime in no-time!

The other major problem is that others who have seen the Adapts have commented that they look like water shoes. And yes, they do. $90 water shoes to be exact. I think adidas is going to have a very difficult time finding a market for these shoes for these two reasons: aesthetics are a problem (at least put some white adidas stripes on them!), and they look like shoes you could buy for 5 bucks at Target.

adidas Adipure Adapt top

Now, I know plenty of people who could care less what their shoes look like (I personally like a more traditional looking shoe), so I do feel it’s warranted to make a few comments about how these shoes feel. The stretchy upper of the Adapt is actually pretty cool. It feels like the material compression shorts are made of, and it has PU overlays that are spaced to allow stretch in some areas moreso than others. However, a drawback to the material and to the form-fitting nature of the upper is that the shoe runs pretty warm (though it was raining hard when I ran in them yesterday and splashing through puddles felt great!). The shoe is reasonably foot-shaped (seems like a strange thing to say about a shoe), but the stretchy upper does compress my little toe a bit.

adidas Adipure Adapt sole

The best part about the adidas Adapt is the sole. It’s not a barefoot style sole, and is actually pretty well cushioned. There is rubber in all of the right places for a forefoot striker, so I expect sole durability will be quite good. The sole actually feels as if it’s curved a bit so that the center of the forefoot sits a bit lower than the medial and lateral edges, probably due to the stretch upper pulling up a bit at the sides – I actually found this to feel really good when forefoot running in them – allowed for a nice lateral to medial role as the sole compressed (note: the U-shaped sole in side-profile is also due to the stretch upper pulling up at the heel and toe – it flattens once you put your foot in it). The sole is plenty flexible, and felt really comfortable on the run.

Now, the big issue is that even though they feel good on the run, I would not buy this shoe myself. I simply could not stomach paying $90 for what looks and feels like a high-quality water sock. When I first got them I didn’t know about the other two shoes in the adidas natural running line, and I’m pleased to see that the Gazelle retains many of the features I like about the Adapt, and vastly improves on the aesthetics. I’m very much looking forward to trying out that shoe.

If I were adidas, I’d add some stripes and laces to the Adapt for round two, or at least a more pleasing design on the upper along with a lower price tag. But, nobody would have predicted that the Vibram Fivefingers would have been such a hit, so maybe my personal concerns are unwarranted. However, if I were a betting man, I’d bet the market for the adidas Adapt will be very small.

Should you wish to prove me wrong, the adidas Adapt can be purchased at Running Warehouse, along with what I predict will be the more popular shoes in the series: the Gazelle and Motion.

Curious to hear your thoughts – would you buy this shoe?

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Nicholas Pang says:

    Based on the poll I did in May, Gazelle and Adapt are running head to head with only 3 more votes for Adapt. I’ve been wearing all 3 since May and my review will be coming out in a week or so…

  2. Richard Ayotte says:

    I’ll wear anything if it’s good.

  3. First thought I had when I saw the Adapt…Spiderman’s shoes! I’ve never done well in shoes without laces (velcro, zipper, otherwise) so will pass on these.

  4. Sorry, I won’t run in slippers.

  5. Jonathan Goshea says:

    I love ugly shoes, or so I’ve been told. Who doesn’t want to look like a super hero when running??? The book was good but feel sad you are judging the shoe by the looks, since I read the book. tsk tsk tsk

  6. Don’t care about the look, just how it fits/feels. I even have a pair of the “prison loafer” Hattori and Newton Distance (which I feel are some of the most ugly shoes ever made).
    However, the $90 price tag is too steep for a shoe like this. I may grab a pair when they go on clearence for about half that.

    By the way, this shoe reminds me of a Nike shoe I wore back in the early 90’s with the strechy upper… Don’t remember the name of the shoe, but boy was it ugly (and comfortable!). Even though it looked like a pink/light blue slipper, it did have a few laces to help secure your foot.

  7. I find those Mizunos from previous post much, much uglier. Probably the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. This color compostion, awful!

  8. Brad Pearce says:


    I am intrigued that yet another shoe manufacturer apparently has not read up on barefoot running when designing “minimalist” shoes. You talk about the outsole on the Adidas as having the rubber in all the right places for a forefoot strike, but it looks like Adidas did not put the abrasion-resistant material on the lateral midfoot area. In your book, Tread Lightly, you discuss Lieberman’s finding that most “natural” barefoot runners land on the lateral midfoot area or the forefoot. The same error (or omission) is found in Saucony Kinvara 3s and New Balance MR 00s, among other shoes.

    Have you discussed this with any of the shoe companies you’ve worked with?


  9. Giancarlo says:

    Several of us had the opportunity to try the adiPure line.

    Ultimately, what we all (sort of) agreed upon is that if this line is going to make a splash, adidas would do well to throw some laces on the Adapt, and combine the Gazelle and Motion into one shoe. The Gazelle is smoother, but a bit more foam (like the Motion) underfoot would make the shoe more palatable to the masses.

    As they now stand, they are too niche. We love the Gazelle, and would run more in them if they were just a smidge more protective against the concrete and asphalt.


  10. Its a shame these shoes are so hideous. My wife works for Adidas and could get me a pair dirt cheap IF I wanted them.

  11. I’d be interested to know the differences between the Hagio and the Gazelle. Similar weight, similar heel drop. I’m guessing the Gazelle will be more flexible.

  12. USAFXfit says:

    I definitely am going to buy them! Color blue is terrible EU has the black ones that look way better. Overall the zemgear 360s have a way better look but the sole is not durable for alot of running. The adipure trainers have a great sole that looks verysimilair to the adapts. Stripes would look sweet but laces would be a no go for me i hate the VFF lace ones i like efficiency and speedy things so keeping laces out is def a plus

  13. fastrunner says:

    Maybe they’re not ugly enough,you know?If they were even more ugly they would be really special.If you wore them, that would mean you must be a hell of a runner.

  14. radthink says:

    I like Adidas attempt to make no lace running shoes.

  15. Virgo Fernando says:

    I had a neeka before, loved ’em very much… Adapt most likely proper replacement… suggestions? the $ seems not quite resonate well, (to my wallet) :D

  16. i work at adidas. no one has purchased this shoe on my shift. i run in the gazelles, and they are perfect for me. the stock for the gazelles and motions are pretty high. so it seems to me that the gazelles hit the spot for people who know what they’re looking for.

  17. ok so all u ppl are runners…what do you recommend for me to wear, i am a inexperienced runner, i work out, i just dont do any aerobic exercise, so i am going to take up running, im 6’2 and 245 im overweight, i initially liked this shoe from the looks, and review i read in mens health. Hey who the “f” looks at others shoes and passes judgement ? Ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

  18. I got the adapts online for $50 and in black instead of superhero blue. I have to say when I first put them on I thought I would hate them, the heel felt to big and stiff and the shoe felt too narrow, but then I have been doing a lot of running in them and they are fantastic. They even beat out my current fabs (Zem 360 and Terra, and Vivo Ultras) They remind me a lot of the 360, but with a smoother riding sole (less ground feel though). On their website they don’t have the all black model anymore but they have a black and yellow which also looks much better than the neon blue.

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