adidas’s marketing pitch: Lightweight shoes for a race-day feel in training.
Upper: Lightweight mono mesh, synthetic suede, inner sleeve.
Midsole: Lightstrike Pro foam, EVA foam, Nylon Energyrod tubes. 8 mm heel-to-toe offset.
Outsole: Continental-branded rubber.
Weight: 286 gms/ 10.1 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8.5/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E (wide).
Even though the adizero Boston 10 is nothing like the Boston 9 or any version that predates it, retaining the name makes sense.
The running shoe business is rapidly evolving. Cushioned racing shoes are De Rigueur, and austere racing flats have been sidelined. Purists still crave low-profile pacers (we do), but let’s face it – the market for such products continues to grow smaller.
If given a choice, what would most runners buy? A firm racing flat, or a speed running shoe that offers a greater level of ride comfort? We all know the answer, and adidas knows it too – after all, commercially successful products pay its bills.
To keep abreast with the changing times, the adizero Boston 10 has been completely transformed.
The midsole dispenses with the Boost core and adopts the new ‘Lightstrike Pro’ that also features on the adios Pro 2 and adios 6. The Continental rubber outsole takes on a new shape for better traction, and there are tube-shaped ‘Energyrods’ inside the midsole.
And yet, there’s familiar sensory thread connecting the old and new Boston.
Even with a substantial foam stack that translates into a higher level of ride comfort, it feels anything but slow. Unlike PEBA-based shoes like the Nike Vaporfly and Saucony Endorphin Pro, the Lightstrike Pro foam isn’t very soft – even in a high-volume configuration that the $220 adios Pro 2 uses.
On the Boston 10, the midsole is comprised of a firmer EVA foam foundation and the relatively softer LS Pro above it. Add to that the stiff Energyrods tubes and hard-wearing Continental rubber slabs, and we get a cushioned yet efficient ride character.
And isn’t that the basic premise of the adizero Boston? A speed shoe that’s also comfortable enough for a marathon? The shoe is called Boston for a reason, since it’s named after the prestigious event.
The term ‘ride comfort’ is an ever-evolving concept, so the Boston 10 is merely playing catch-up.
Sure, it may not be the same Boston we knew, but the V10 is a fitting adaptation for the new – and cushioned – reality of the running shoe industry. It fulfils the same product need as before, while managing to differentiate itself from the PEBA-powered pack.
The transformative update includes recognizable facets of the Boston concept. The new upper, while completely redesigned, is a throwback to the classic racing flat silhouette. The narrow-fitting upper uses retro techniques like synthetic suede panels over a breezy mesh shell.
It’s worth bearing in mind that while the new Boston is infused with higher levels of cushioning comfort, it’s still a purpose-built speed trainer. It’s just not as versatile, like say, the Brooks Hyperion Tempo. We’ll devote some screen space on this topic in our ride section.
And what if this new Boston 10 isn’t to your liking, and you fundamentally disagree with our assessment?
After all, the Boston 10 is no longer a low-profile pacer. It’s not quicker or lighter than the V9, just more comfortable. If anything, it’s a much heavier and bulkier shoe than the V9. The drastic changes won’t sit well with everyone.
There’s a simple solution – buy the new adios 6 instead. Like the new Boston, it gets a cushioning boost that makes it feel like the Boston 9. In simple terms, the adios 6 feels like the older Boston. It even has a Torsion shank and is priced the same as the V9.
As a side note, the adizero Boston’s $140 MSRP makes it excellent value for the price – just like the Saucony Endorphin Speed V2.
THE ADIDAS BOSTON 10 vs. BOSTON 9
From a design and material perspective, there’s a wide evolutionary chasm between the V9 and V10. Fittingly, that leads to a markedly changed ride and fit experience.
A summary of the comprehensive redesign would be:
Like the Boston 9, the Boston 10 is an excellent speed trainer, except that longer distances runs are far easier to accomplish due to the deeper cushioning. Now, the finer details.
The cushioning spread is better on the new shoe than the previous version.
The V9’s cushioning was skewed towards the rear because of how the Boost foam was distributed. The V10’s clever stacking of foam creates a smoother ride without losing sight of the speed character. The traction from the new ribbed Continental rubber outsole is superior to the Boston 9’s bite.
The V10’s upper is relatively spacious than the Boston 9 due to the broader toe-box profile.
The higher level of upper comfort is perfectly aligned with the recently acquired increase in ride comfort. Adidas also offers a ‘wide’ sizing this year, an option that was previously unavailable.
Considering that both are priced just $20 apart, the Boston 10 is a much better value than the 9 due to the numerous performance and technology improvements. For the older Boston fit and feel, we recommend the adios 6.
THE RIDE EXPERIENCE
Over the last couple of years, the standard formula for designing a cushioned racer has been inserting a plate into a midsole with healthy amounts of foam.
There are many variations, of course. Some plated runners are soft and snappy, while others are not.
The adizero Boston 10 carves out its niche within the crowd of plated racers. It’s nowhere as bouncy as racers with PEBA foam midsole, nor is it very firm.
This is also a shoe where none of the components particularly stand out.
For example, running in the Saucony Endorphin Speed or Nike VaporFly brings to the foreground the snappy nature of the internal plate, as well as the abundant responsiveness of the PEBA foam. Conversely, a racer like the Hoka Carbon X or Asics Metaracer exhibits firmness or softness as their first impressions.
The absence of a distinct first impression on the Boston 10 feels a bit underwhelming at first. But then, it all begins to make sense. Being quick yet comfortable is the Boston’s performance imperative, and the different parts work together to achieve that stated objective.
And what may those parts be?
The Boston 10 uses a new midsole foam called the Lightstrike Pro. We don’t know of its exact composition, but our best guess is that it’s a TPU or TPE-based material.
For comparison’s sake, it feels like a firmer and resilient version of the New Balance Fuelcell foam used on the RC Elite and Rebel V2. Also, Lightstrike Pro is softer than Skechers Hyperburst and Brooks DNA Flash, yet firmer than the Nike ZoomX foam and Saucony Pwrrun PB.
The second material used on the Boston is the Lightstrike EVA, and it feels exactly like compression-molded EVA foam. None of the two materials are particularly bouncy, and together, they produce a soft yet muted cushioning sensation.
The Boston’s midsole doesn’t use an even stacking of these foam. Under the thicker heel, the firmer Lightstrike EVA forms most of the stack. Under the forefoot, it’s the other way around.
While there’s a sense of cushioning depth under the midsole, none of it is the mushy kind. The Boston doesn’t have a lot of step-in softness either. The lasting is textile, whereas the thin and removable insole is made of EVA foam.
There’s also a stiff plate between the lasting and insole. We actually missed this (Sloppy work, we know) during our initial review, and only came to know of it when one of our readers mentioned it on our Facebook page.
We’ve seen a similar design used by Nike several years ago, when many of their neutral trainers had a stiff cardboard-like component to make the heel more supportive.
We assume that the hard plate over the Boston’s midsole serves the same purpose. After all, the heel is nearly 40 mm thick so it helps to have a stabilizing component.
A tear-down of the Boston will follow soon so that we can see what’s really inside.
Under the forefoot, it’s mostly the Lightstrike Pro foam. And inside the midsole are the ‘Energyrods’ – five articulated tubes that we assume to be made of Nylon.
Unlike a plate, these tubes do not translate into a springy rearfoot. They are akin to a Torsion shank, except that they’re located in the upper midsole to connect the forefoot and the heel for better transition efficiency.
The Energyrods blend inconspicuously into the foam stack, and it’s hard to tell them apart from the rest of the components.
If there’s a common behavioural trait shared by a traditional plate and Energyrods, that would be the inflexible forefoot. Though the forefoot has plenty of Lightstrike Pro-endowed cushioning, the tubes provide sufficient stiffness for efficient push-offs.
Most of the rearfoot has the firmer Lightstrike EVA with solid sidewalls. This design contributes to the stability as well as the quality of transitions. Even though the midsole lacks a wide base, the EVA stack is inherently supportive.
The firm base also prevents the foot from sinking inside the foam core, regardless of whether it’s a forefoot or rearfoot strike. All the while, the Energyrods make the loading process linear by acting as a midsole ‘spine’ of sorts.
We’d like to assure you that the 8 mm heel-to-toe offset doesn’t get in the way of foot-strike versatility.
The edge has a distinct bevel, and the midsole doesn’t hang behind the heel. Thus, the midsole doesn’t ‘catch’ the foot during the landings at all.
Most of the outsole contact area has Continental rubber lugs shaped in a completely new geometry. Rather than large rectangular slabs, the Boston 10’s outsole relies on four separate pieces with a ribbed contact area.
These ridges are intersected by solid rails to improve their lifespan. The Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed have their version of these ‘durability’ rails.
With these changes, the traction quality sees a significant improvement. Be it dry or damp pavements, the Continental rubber outsole’s grip inspires confidence.
Despite the much higher stack and 10-ounce weight, the Boston 10’s performance as a speed shoe is good, if not great.
Here, it pays to be mindful of the compromise between ride comfort and efficient ground feel.
The Boston 10 trades its formerly low-profile persona for a cushioned distance pacer, so it’s unfair to expect the Boston 10 to feel as fast and spartan as the Boston 9. It is virtually impossible to get the quick touch-and-go transition character from the new breed of cushioned speedsters.
On the other hand, there’s now sufficient cushioning available to make marathon-level distances comfortable – a trait that didn’t necessarily apply to the past iterations.
Considering the performance boundaries imposed by the cushioned Lightstrike Pro, the Boston 10 does quite well. It shines in the vicinity of 4:30 min/km or 7 min/mile pace.
However, if your idea of fun is a 20 minute 5K, then a stripped-down racing flat is always a better footwear choice. We occasionally pull our New Balance Hanzo SV2 out of cold storage when these new-generation speed shoes don’t feel quick enough.
Finally, a word on versatility. It’s easy to assume that the high levels of cushioning makes the Boston 10 versatile enough to be used across all pace ranges.
Well, not quite. The Boston 10 shows its best ride manners when it’s going fast. At easy paces ( 6 min/km or 10 min/mile), the stiff forefoot and snug upper turn into less desirable aspects.
A more versatile speed trainer would be the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V2 – it’s easily one of the best running shoes of 2021.
So if not the Boston, which other adidas shoe works better as a daily trainer?
We recommend the adidas SolarGlide 4. The 11.2-ounce weight feels clunky by modern standards, but the SG4 is a solidly built neutral running shoe with plenty of ride comfort. The Brooks Ghost 14 or the Asics Nimbus Lite 2 also fill the role of a comfortable daily trainer.
The midsole is Boost foam-based, meaning that there’s durable cushioning for the miles. The upper is soft and plush on the inside. For faster miles and races, the adidas adizero RC3 is an excellent pick. It’s a bonafide racing flat at an affordable price.
If not the RC3, then the Saucony Type A9 is an equally affordable alternative.
For more ride comfort, the adios 6 works just as well. Its lower-profile midsole is similar to the older Boston models, and upgrades like the ribbed Continental rubber outsole and Lightstrike Pro make its $120 price a steal.
IS THE ADIDAS BOSTON 10 DURABLE?
Based on a wear-testing mileage of over 50 miles, the durability indicators have been positive – so far.
We expected a higher degree of wear due to the thinly-ribbed outsole strips, but we were pleasantly surprised.
The ribbed lugs are reinforced with a solid twin rail of Continental rubber, a design that vaguely resembles the Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro’s outsole. Hence, the wear and tear occur in a controlled manner.
If the estimated mileage of 400 miles seems low despite the seemingly durable outsole and Lightstrike Pro midsole, that’s because nearly half of the midsole is based on EVA foam.
Like most EVA foams, the midsole will crease as well as gradually lose its cushioning. The insole is also EVA foam-based. However, its thinness means that its flattening will be no great loss.
As for the Lightstrike Pro foam, it appears very durable and does not crease. Also, the sleeved and layered upper isn’t going to fall apart anytime soon.
THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT
The stitched synthetic suede panels may seem like an exercise in nostalgia, but looks can be deceiving.
The Boston’s upper has a racer-like exterior, but it differs vastly from the utilitarian feel of the adizero Boston from just a few years ago. It sticks to the speed shoe brief while being comfort-oriented.
Hiding under the conventional-looking exterior is a comfortable and secure fit with premium trims and clever design touches.
Covering the toe-box and part of the lacing panel is a soft synthetic bumper that requires zero break in period.
Also included is a semi-elastic sleeve that creates a smooth midfoot wrap. An interesting aspect of the said sleeve is that its lateral and outer sides follow an asymmetrical design.
The outer side has a window, whereas the inner sleeve completely covers the arch for added support. There’s even a fused layer of reinforcement.
Since the sleeve has in-built stretch, it keeps the flat tongue flush over the foot without any gaps. As expected, no tongue movement or slide happens during runs.
The tongue is mostly flat and unpadded except for a portion of high-density foam fill over the flap. The flap is raw-edged, but soft.
Like all past adizero products, the Boston fits snug and is slightly short. Going half a size up (buy 11 instead of 10.5) will create enough space to accommodate the increase in the foot volume during a long run. The thin mesh has excellent ventilation, so the narrow fit does not feel stuffy at all.
The availability of an optional width in the Boston 10 is a pleasant surprise. This wasn’t a choice till recently, so runners with broad feet may want to consider the 2E (wide) version.
In the rear, the seemingly normal heel conceals a clever trick.
When the soft collar is bent over the heel counter, you can see that the stiffener has a scooped profile. From a comfort viewpoint, there’s a lower risk of the rigid component biting the heel or irritating the base of the Achilles Tendon.
Considering the suite of thoughtful design touches, we’re disappointed at the omission of reflectivity. There’s not even a tiny shred of it.
PROS AND CONS
Barring its 10.1-ounce weight and the absence of reflectivity, the Boston 10’s purposeful design delivers what it promises – a speed-friendly ride with generous ride comfort.
While this shoe doesn’t possess the impressive springiness or cushioning softness of PEBA foam-based speed trainers, it’s stable, comfortable, and extremely well-fitting.
The various bits and pieces come together cohesively to produce a modern take on the adizero Boston experience. Given the high level of materials and trims, the $140 price is great value for money.
THE ADIDAS BOSTON 10 vs. ADIOS 6 vs. ADIOS PRO 2
The adizero adios 6 behaves similarly to the Boston 9, so it is a good alternative for runners who want the touch-and-go feel of the previous Boston. For the adios 6, the German brand follows a conservative design approach.
There’s a Lightstrike Pro wedge under the forefoot, but the rest of the midsole uses EVA foam for a firm and efficient ride. In return for the lower material spec, the adios is $20 less expensive than the Boston.
Instead of ‘Energyrods’, the adizero adios 6 spans the outsole with a stiff Torsion bridge. The aggressive ridges of the Continental rubber grip extremely well.
On the other side of the cushioning spectrum lies the adios Pro 2. The $220 shoe is packed to the gills with high-end tech, including a midsole that’s manufactured using 100% Lightstrike Pro foam.
Even the ‘Energyrods’ appear to be hewn out of a Carbon composite, as opposed to a pedestrian Nylon rendition. The Continental rubber outsole is unique in how it looks and behaves.
Instead of relying on lugs or strips, the rubber outsole is flat, brushed, and perforated – we don’t think we’ve come across this geometry before. The holes on the thin slab allow it to flex together with the Lightstrike Pro midsole, and the brushed surface grips well.
The lightweight polyester mesh upper wraps the foot in secure comfort and allows the air to circulate freely. Like the Boston, the Adios Pro’s upper uses partially recycled materials.
The heel and forefoot stack heights of 39.5 mm and 29.5 mm cram a lot of Lightstrike Pro into the shoe.
From a performance standpoint, the high-volume midsole makes long-distance runs easy on the feet. The Energyrods do not deliver the ‘snap’ of shoes like the Nike Vaporfly or Saucony Endorphin Pro, but the transitions come quickly and efficiently.
SHOES SIMILAR TO THE ADIDAS BOSTON 10
Yes, we know – this is an eclectic menu of running shoes that do not directly compare with the Boston. At least not from a midsole technology viewpoint, as none of the models share the Lightstrike Pro foam or the Energyrods.
However, that’s not what we’re aiming for. This list contains models that feel quick enough for tempo runs, yet comfortable enough for long-distance runs. Of all the shoes here, we view the Brooks Hyperion Tempo to be the closest match in ride character.
Just like the Boston, the cushioned midsole is quick, stable, and distance-friendly. It helps that it’s an ounce lighter too. The upper fit is more forgiving – and by that, we mean the interiors have a more relaxed feel.
Even though the Skechers GoRun Razor Excess is similar to the Hyperion, we prefer the Brooks shoe over Skechers. Both are based on a similar midsole material anyway.
For a softer yet fast ride that’s also more versatile, there’s no better shoe than the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V2. Its uber responsive and cushy ride is compliant enough for daily runs, but it feels equally at home during tempo runs.
This universal character is absent on the Boston, so it may be a good idea to get do-everything Rebel instead. Just like the Boston, the Rebel’s fit runs a half size smaller.
The Saucony Endorphin Speed V2 has that snappy PEBA and plate feel that most runners are now familiar with. The Speed V2’s levels of heel stability may not be perfect, but it compensates with the plush ride and the snap of the S-curved Nylon plate.
Nike sells the Zoom Fly 4 with a Carbon-plated midsole, which is a less expensive, yet more stable version of the Vaporfly Next%.
The Puma Liberate Nitro is an interesting shoe. It’s like a lighter, more responsive, and contemporary version of the previous Boston, and somewhat similar to the Reebok Run Fast 3 as well.
However, the Liberate Nitro is still a work in progress – its lack of torsional rigidity may be a deal-breaker for some. The midsole core is all foam with no stabilizing insert or footbridge.