adidas Ultraboost Light Road-Running Shoe Review

REI senior sales manager Alan Ortega reviews the shoe on our YouTube channel, Run With REI Co-op.

REI Staff|Published March 28, 2023

4 reviews with an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars
Feet of runners in shoes striding on pavement

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Below is a transcript of Alan's video review, edited and formatted for clarity. Watch more of Alan's reviews and adventures on the Run with REI Co-op YouTube channel.


The adidas Ultraboost Light Road-Running Shoe Is Cool

The Ultraboost line has always been about style, but can the Ultraboost Light be more about running?

Disclaimer: I am an REI employee, and these shoes were provided for review, but the opinions I'm expressing are all mine based on my experience in the shoes.

First Impressions

Weight: 10.3 oz. per shoe (men's), 8.8 oz. (women's)

Drop: 10 mm

Stack height: 29 mm in the heel and 19 mm in the forefoot

Design

Upper: If we look at the shoe from top to bottom, the first thing you'll notice is the upper. It's got that classic adidas Ultraboost look, similar to that knit look in the Ultraboost 22, which is the Ultraboost Light's direct predecessor. It's got that prime knit technology from adidas. And it's also got FORGE 2.0 technology, which should make the knit a little bit tighter and a little less easy to stretch out over time.

Talking about keeping the fit a little bit more secure in the upper, it's a challenge when you have kind of a knit upper like this. They've added an extra eyelet here to the plastic cages on both sides, giving you a little bit more of a locked-in feel there.

Moving towards the back of the shoe, you'll notice again that just classic design touch that adidas has—a low cut, but then comes up a little bit higher in the heel.

Midsole: The other thing that's easy to notice about the shoe is the midsole. I mean, there's a lot of midsole, especially in the heel. This is the Ultraboost Light technology, about 30% lighter than the Ultraboost midsole technology that they had been using prior. It's also supposed to give you about 4% more energy return. So, still kind of walking that line, but doing it in a positive way—obviously lighter being the focus there.

Outsole: On the back of the heel, you have the more rubberized portion, but it's not too thick. Towards the midsole, you get a little bit thicker and stiffer. Then towards the forefoot of the shoe, you start to see the continental rubber on there. Also, towards the forefoot, if you look at the midsole in between the Ultraboost Light technology and the continental rubber, you have this plastic plate that gives you a little bit more of that energy return. To me, it feels a little bit more like it dampens that squish that could exist from some of the Ultraboost Light just kind of sinking in there.

Thoughts about gait cycle: If you're someone that hasn't thought about gait cycle or what your foot strike looks like, this shoe is really interesting because it gives you lots of visual cues for that. It helps you understand your run or guide your run a little bit more. Again, the outsole is broken up into three different colors, or three different zones. And if you think about going through the full gait cycle, you get to the heel, you transition into the midfoot—which is a little bit different of a compound on the outsole—and then you get the firmest compound on the toe off so that you can kind of bounce right off, which is pretty cool. Even thinking about the ride of the midsole, again, you have probably the softest landing here, getting a little bit more firm and then the most energy response there in the midsole. There's not a lot of running outsoles that show you what transitions look like and, honestly, not a lot of outsoles that have dedicated transition differences on their outsoles. So, it's a pretty cool piece of technology.

Updates from Ultraboost 22: So there's really three key updates from the Ultraboost 22 to the Ultraboost Light, and the first one is its namesake. So you have Ultraboost Light compound in the midsole, which is 30% lighter than the previous version midsole. You have the FORGE 2.0 technology in the knit upper making it a less stretchy knit upper, and then you have the extra eyelet here in the cage giving you a more secure fit.

One of the things that really sold me on the Ultraboost Light compared to the Ultraboost 22 is the more secure fit in the upper. I came to the shoe thinking that I had some hesitations around it. I thought it was just a stylish shoe that some people like to wear to run. Now the shoe feels like a running shoe that is stylish, and it really comes down to the security of the fit. When I put my foot in there, it feels comfortable and that's pretty nice.

Dial-in fit: But the extra eyelet really helps me dial in a fit. And it's kind of strange because you think this has still got to be the running shoe with the least amount of eyelets. I mean, they're like, "What about four?" Four is still pretty low. There is no heel lock tie, and you can get creative, but there's not a lot of adjustments that you could make on this shoe. But I do feel like that extra eyelet really helps me dial in the fit, and especially because the shoe doesn't feel as stretchy as its previous versions. Then it feels like I can get more security out of it, and now this plastic cage actually feels like it's doing something to hug me there. Before, it just felt like why is there heavy plastic in the middle of the shoe? And now it feels like this cage is actually, again, a little bit more utilitarian and it dials in the fit more for the upper, keeping me comfortable while I'm moving perhaps in different ways.


Out and About in the adidas Ultraboost Light Road-Running Shoes

I just took the Ultraboost Light out for a half marathon. It was the first time that I actually put them on my feet. This is also my first organized half marathon. I'm coming to learn that I kind of love the half-marathon distance. I think about the Ultraboost shoe as a shoe that I can train in, as a shoe that I can take when I kind of want to maybe not be pushing pace a little bit more, when I want to be a little bit more mellow. There's a lot of cushion throughout the shoe, so I didn't know how I was going to perform. One of the things that I was excited about for this half marathon was that I was going to be running it with friends. So it was kind of cool to push pace in it a little bit more and then to also relax in it.

The shoes certainly had a certain amount of energy response that was different when I was trying to run a little bit faster than when I was trying to be a little bit more mellow. All in all, I think the shoe kept me comfortable. Right after I got through the finish line, the transition to walking in these shoes is super comfy. Sometimes in race shoes or faster shoes, you just feel like they're really stiff, so walking around in them feels kind of awkward when you're not moving in a really intentional way. And this felt just like, "Oh, OK, cool." If I'm running slow, it was cool. If I was running faster, it was cool. If I was walking, it was cool. My overall initial impression of the shoe is that they're a comfortable shoe that could stay comfortable, whatever pace you're pushing.

For runners looking to have fun and stay comfortable: After spending 13 miles in the shoe, I think that this is going to be an awesome shoe for folks who are looking to have fun on their runs and stay comfortable throughout, but are also looking for a little bit of cushion and energy return. And you might think, "Well, that's all running shoes." But this one does this in kind of a unique way, right? There's not a lot of complexity to the shoe, right? There's four eyelets, it's a sock knit upper. You get security and comfort dialed in to the upper part of the shoe, and then you get cushioning and just a little bit of energy return and cushion dampening technology in the forefoot of the shoe.

Also good for runners who go through the full gait cycle: I also think the shoe would be a great shoe for somebody who does really go through the full gait cycle. Again, one of the things that this shoe does well and does that other shoes don't do—like straight up don't do—is this transitional zone outsole. It can take you all the way from heel to toe off, and you can experience a different part of your running gait cycle throughout. That technology is going to be really prevalent there. If you're somebody likes to go through the full gait cycle, or if you're somebody who lands in a specific place that doesn't go through the full gait cycle but wants a really comfy shoe throughout a lot of your runs.

I think for a lot of folks, when you get to that point of discomfort, you're like, "OK, it's almost over." So this shoe is a great shoe for that because the shoe is not one of those things that's adding to the discomfort. The name of the shoe is comfort in my mind, and it's nice to see that the running-focused design updates are really going to just make the shoe shine a little bit more. I think you're going to see it a little bit more out in some races or even around your neighborhood as people take them out for daily runs.


What do you think?

So that's my experience in the Ultraboost Light. But I'd love to hear from you all. When you think about adidas running, is the Ultraboost one that comes to mind? What's been your experience in the Ultraboost line so far? Leave a comment on the YouTube Page, I'd love to read them.


A quick glance at these bulbous sneakers shows an abundant midsole, but we consider that a good thing for going the distance. For its new Light Boost midsole, adidas again achieved a noticeable rebound by using a foam of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) whose cells contain tiny air pockets. But this time the company used an even lighter FORM OF TPU to slash the entire shoe's weight by 30 percent.

Sure, the Ultraboost Light still weighs more than other shoes on this list. But the shoes have all the energy that made them a previous favorite—and now they're easier to lift.

Moreover, that foam is carefully placed for those of us slogging long and far. "I tend to heel strike when I get tired, but I can feel the extra cushioning helping me out," says one Washington-based runner who routinely logs 75-mile weeks. Tradeoff: No ground feel. With this much midsole, and also a 10-millimeter drop, you're not going to feel rocks and pebbles on the ground. Depending on your mission, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks to the brand's Parley Ocean Plastic program, the knit upper is made with recycled plastic and polyester. While many shoes proclaim a "sock-like fit," we're here to say that the Ultraboost does hug your feet like a favorite pair of low-volume stockings. Keep that in mind if you prefer a spacious vibe.


Bottom Line: The adidas Ultraboost Light has firm cushioning, a softer heel strike and a snug upper for long-distance runners who don’t mind a couple extra ounces.