Trail Runner’s Review: adidas TERREX Soulstride Flow

Trail runner Sarah Barber reviews the adidas TERREX Soulstride Flow. Product was provided at no cost for the test and review.

Quick: what’s the first brand that comes to mind when someone says, “trail shoes?” No one said “adidas,” did they? Despite being one of the more dominant forces in the shoe business since its 1949 inception, adidas hasn’t focused much on making kicks built for rocks and dirt. However, their TERREX line of all-weather outdoor gear boasts hiking boots and trail shoes, including the new Soulstride Flow.

Cushion and Transition

With so many ground-breaking (literally) running shoes available, gaining traction (metaphorically) in the off-road market gets more difficult with each passing mile. Rather than go all-in on mud and turf, the adidas TERREX Soulstride Flow is noncommittal claiming to be “designed to provide cushioning for long distances and a smooth transition from road to trail.” It’s an honest self-assessment of a sneaker with rough-curious tendencies, but still living like a pavement lover when compared to its rugged peers in the off-road world.

Can you relate? If so, the Soulstride Flow might be your new soulmate. Don’t want to drive to a trailhead? Perfect—pound the pavement for a mile or two, stir up the dust for the middle ten, and then sidewalk shuffle your way back home. Something like this is well within the wheelhouse of the Soulstride Flow, as its sturdy bulk is impervious to long distances and surprisingly lightweight, thanks to the Repetitor EVA foam midsole. Need an eco-conscious running partner? Again, the Soulstride Flow gets a swipe to the right, as 50% of its construction involves recycled materials. On a tight budget? The $130 MSRP will keep your retirement plans on track right along with your running gait.

Attractive and Friendly

All that being said, I wouldn’t bet my savings on its technical prowess.
The Golden Retriever of trail shoes, the Soulstride Flow is attractive and friendly, but nowhere near aggressive enough to tangle with a Rottweiler—or the serrated peaks above the tree line. The unimpressive lugs seem almost cute especially when compared to the relative mass of the rest of the sole. They’ll hook up nicely on dry, smooth trails, which is true to the “Flow” in the name. Just as a “flow trail” for mountain biking emphasizes speed and rhythm, featuring berms and rollers in a way that minimizes braking, the Soulstride Flow favors a steady pace on buttery terrain. As far as trail shoes go, these domesticated beauties look nothing like their feral counterparts which have Gortex uppers, 6 mm lugs, and optional screw-in studs. But those one-trick ponies wouldn’t be comfortable on the bike path; the Soulstride Flow finds its strength in its versatility.

Barber takes the shoes for a test run.

The Test

The first time I ran in the Soulstride Flow and found them a bit clunky, I wondered if it was maybe just my tired legs. I generally prefer a heel-toe-drop somewhere between 0 and 6 mm, so the 8-ish mm drop is palpably more than my norm. The cushy heel felt thick, but the precipice from the padded midfoot dropped off quickly, making me feel like there was nothing underneath my toes. Still, a heel-striker on a long haul who is seeking comfort over speed might appreciate the steeper stack height (35.5 mm) and the high-volume footbed. Side note: on the topic of high-volume, my size 10 flippers were almost swimming in the generously portioned Soulstride Flow. Prospective owners should strongly consider trying a half-size smaller than their usual.

When I’m feeling fresh and fierce, I wouldn’t don these shoes for any race shorter than a 50K, and a non-technical 50K at that. They simply don’t deliver a sensation of speed. But not every day is a speedy day and not every run is a race. For the big mileage days, particularly if hiking is interspersed with running, the Soulstride Flow might evoke that zen-like flow state all of us runners crave.

Gateway Option

Meanwhile, I’m so intrigued by the entire adidas TERREX line that I’m hoping the Speed Ultra finds its way into my closet and then onto my feet. As a brand, adidas planted its stake in the ground decades ago and has intelligently created running shoes that allow the athlete to evolve from generic beginner to specific expert. Let the Soulstride Flow be the gateway option to consider—perhaps the first step towards many, many more steps, most of which will be on trails.

Note: Sarah Barber recently reviewed the GiBoard, and several other products.