Color: Collegiate Navy/Black-Silver
Intended use: Recovery runs, long distance. Use on all surfaces except trail.
Surfaces tested on: Road, 21° C/70° F
Upper: Stretchable mesh, synthetic overlays.
Midsole: Expanded TPU Infinergy foam made by BASF (Boost), EVA midfoot bridge and rim.
Outsole: Carbon rubber.
Weight: 285 gms/10.05 Oz for a half pair of US10.5/UK 10/EUR 44.5
Widths available: One standard width only.
adidas is gradually moving a lot of its legacy models on to the Boost gravy train, and this year the Response Cushion hops aboard too. Okay, it isn’t called the Response Cushion anymore, but it is unofficially the Response Cushion 23, a Boost infused follow-up to last year’s Formotion and adiprene equipped version. With that, the shoe has been fundamentally transformed – both in the way how it looks and feels, and also in good and not-so-ideal ways.
Before we dive deep into the changes and what we think of them, it’s important to lay down a couple of things you should know about the Response Boost upfront. One, the shoe comes across as extremely well cushioned, even more so than the $30 more expensive Glide Boost. Two, the shoe fit runs half a size smaller than other adidas models, and one full size up if you’re coming from a Brooks, Nike or Saucony. Now with that context set, let’s proceed into the review break-outs, including reasons for the above mentioned (two) factors to come into existence.
In our Supernova Glide Boost review, we commented that it was important for adidas to maintain a segmentation strategy. Because as more of their shoes start featuring the responsive Boost foam, it becomes increasingly harder to make sure that all those models are differentiated well enough. From the initial couple of models, the Boost line-up has expanded quickly to a wide assortment of price-points. With price tiering coming into the picture, adidas needs to maintain a healthy separation in features across the value ladder. A separation which the average runner or consumer can understand; things like why a particular shoe costs $30 less or more than the other.
Response Boost being the cheapest of the lot at $100, should ideally be less cushioned than the Supernova Glide Boost, but it isn’t. We tested the Response Boost against the Energy Boost, Glide Boost and Sonic Boost, and as far as cushioning feel was concerned, the Response Boost topped the Glide and Sonic. To trump over the Sonic was expected, but more than the Glide? adidas has tried to differentiate the Response from its $30 more expensive brother by glueing a cheap looking upper atop the Boost midsole, but what looks inexpensive does not necessarily translate into a cheap fit. After all, in running shoes, beauty is only mesh deep.
Did we say cheap? Yes, materials used on the Response upper look like an unceremonious graft from a $30 shoe, evidently paying the price for the Boost premium. The synthetic leather used looks cut price and screen printing of the ‘Response Boost’ text in the heel and ’tech fit’ on the toe box looks tackily executed. The latter print isn’t even aligned across the left and right shoes, its position shifting slightly (see image above). If you were expecting the upper to top Response Cushion 22 standards, you will be disappointed. There aren’t any TPU welds over the heel anymore; all you get there are two ends of synthetic leather joining together in a seamed line. The lateral midfoot of Response Boost gets welded three stripes, but the cosmetic result ends up looking like embossing, which incidentally happens to be the case for inner midfoot.
The forefoot bases its design and fit on the $160 Energy Boost 2 Techfit, using similar stretch mesh and printed overlays. The fabric is very close in fit and feel to the one used on the Energy Boost, and for all we know, it could be identical. The key difference is in the way how the lines are printed on the forefoot. Lines painted on the mesh are shinier and thicker (compared to matte and thin finish of EB 2), which places it few rungs lower in the aesthetic scheme of things.
The cosmetic lacunae have no bearing on the upper fit, because the latter is influenced purely by kind of last used, upper pattern engineering and midsole dimensions. While sharing the Energy Boost’s forefoot design, the fit differs in couple of ways. Firstly, forefoot fit on the sides is a little more relaxed than EB, inspite of the similar mesh used. That is because the Response Boost uses synthetic leather mid-foot panels instead of the hard plastic cage seen on the EB. The pointy ended plastic cage on the Energy Boost angled sharply down on the forefoot, causing that area to feel very snug. The Response Boost’s softer panels have more leeway in movement, easing off on the pressure.
Secondly, the tip of Response Boost upper is extremely snug, causing the need for half-upsizing. A couple of things are at play here, neither of them desirable in a running shoe. One unique design trait of both the Energy Boost and Response Boost is that the removable footbed sits much higher in the forefoot compared to most running shoes. See the picture above, where we’ve highlighted the footbed silhouette stretched against the mesh. In most shoes, the footbed sits flush with the midsole edge and not above it. And that includes other Adidas shoes like the Supernova Glide Boost and the Sonic Boost.
For reasons only known to someone in adidas’ design department, the Energy and Response Boost depart from this norm. This higher than usual placement of the sockliner eats into precious forefoot space, making the fit very shallow, and hence snug. Not only that, forefoot base of the insole is wider than the midsole base it’s placed on – this oddity applies to both the EB-2 and RB.
But the Response Boost has a toe bumper which has a much lower profile than the standard. In fact, it is so slim in the front that it forces the lip of the outsole to curve inwards (we illustrate that in the accompanying image). That is a big deal, we don’t remember wearing a shoe (except the EB) which does that. Typically, the lip of rubber outsole stays parallel to front of your toes, and never curves inside. None of the other Boost shoes do that, so it looks like the Response Boost upper toe box was designed while playing a game of Candy Crush, and not under the usual attentive detail Germans are known for. The price of this oversight is having to go half size up even over existing adidas sizing. If you choose to wear regular adidas sizing in the Response Boost, you’ll have to live with the sight and sensation of your big toe poking awkwardly through the mesh.
This also makes wearing the Response Boost Techfit barefoot a non-possibility. If you do that, you’ll feel the toe box catch on your feet – the area where the Techfit printing goes over your big toe. There’s an internal stiffener there, and it digs into your toe. Some poor engineering right there.
Midfoot is snug but a few things could be better. The lacing features two lesser eyelet rows than the Sonic Boost, one less than the Glide Boost and on par with the Energy Boost. Less rows of eyelets means greater localized top down pressure on the tongue, so you need to work out the right amount of lacing tightness before your runs. Too tight, and there’s this feeling of dull pain over the instep. The tongue is stitch padded in the manner of Glide Boost, but like the Supernova, it lacks plushness. It isn’t gusseted, and doesn’t have a lace loop in the center, which used to be on the Response Cushion 22 – and integrated with reflectivity. So it was mildly surprising to see the Response Boost only experience little tongue slide. Much of that can be attributed to a shorter tongue than usual, which does make it slide resistant. The closed mesh and overlays makes the Response a warm shoe to run in.
A visual shortcoming of the four row lacing (discounting the fringe eyelet) is that the midfoot panels do not sit flush over the tongue. They tend to poke out between the lacing, much like the recently reviewed Nike Zoom Fly. This does not affect the shoe’s functionality, but loses a brownie point when it comes to the overall look.
Collar is soft and comfortable, using the same mesh seen on the Response Cushion 22 and Glide Boost. Much foam padding resides inside the collared walls, and the Achilles tab is soft too. This is one area of the shoe upper which has no faults to pick.
If the upper was found wanting in a few areas, the cushioned ride of Response Boost more than makes up for it. The midsole is a combination of regular EVA, which forms a rim around the top and also separates the forefoot and heel Boost foam by way of a midfoot bridge. Volume by volume, the Boost is used liberally, contributing to around 50% of the midsole material. And it is extremely well cushioned, yet responsive. At the start, we said that it rides softer than the Glide Boost, and that it is true. The Glide Boost has a thicker Boost layer than Response, but the cheaper shoe comes out on top due to two reasons. We’ll also talk about a possible third reason, but is purely speculative.
In the heel, the Glide Boost had a harder layer of EVA midsole foam separating the foot and Boost foam. The Response Boost doesn’t care about such subtleties, and straightaway cuts a window under the heel and forefoot insole, much like the Energy Boost. This brings the cushioning level closer to the foot, an element missing in the Glide. The outsole material also adds to the increased cushioning feel, as the rubber is incredibly soft. It is not blown rubber, but non-Adiwear rubber which is a new level of soft. Needless to say, the softness just compliments the compressive, yet responsive behavior of the Boost foam. Thirdly, we detected a change in the Boost foam’s structure compared to the type seen in Energy and Glide Boost. The Response Boost foam’s cluster appeared to be made of smaller globules, with a possible change in density. Could be a figment of our imagination, but after some crude testing using the index and thumb fingers, the Response Boost felt softer when pressed.
Transition is good, because most of the midsole is Boost foam. Heel landings come padded yet stable, and the forefoot behaves similarly – making the shoe suitable for both heel and forefoot strikers. The soft rubber has exceptional grip, and that also comes with an unwanted trade-off. The rubber durability is alarmingly poor, with primary contact areas witnessing a high level of wear early on. The soft rubber is no Adiprene, so the Response Boost is not the shoe for piling on mega-miles.
With a plethora of Boost flaunting models finding its way on to the shelves, virtual and otherwise, there is bound to be some confusion. We’ll round up the popular Boost models we’ve reviewed so far here, and compare the Response Boost with a short summary. We’ll thrown in the Adistar Boost and Supernova Sequence Boost in this later after we’ve finished reviewing them:
Response Boost vs. Energy Boost 2 techfit: Energy Boost has more cushioning and a tighter forefoot side fit. However, the tip of toe box is regular, which means you don’t need to go half-up from your existing adidas size. Outsole lasts longer. $60 more expensive.
Response Boost vs. Supernova Glide Boost: $20 extra is what you pay for the Glide 6. You get a more relaxed upper fit, better lacing pressure, ventilation and increased outsole durability.
Response Boost vs. Sonic Boost: Much firmer ride on the Sonic, with increased outsole durability and better upper fit. Similar price (not available in the US). Its 2014 replacement seems to be the Revenergy Boost, also an international, non-US model.
Response Boost vs. Adios 2 Boost: Upper fit is much snugger, shoe is lighter and highly breathable, and ride is minimal, optimized for faster runs. $40 more expensive than RB.
One area where the Response Boost pips all Boost variants mentioned here is forefoot flexibility. The soft rubber and mostly Boost midsole makes the Response forefoot easier to bend than the rest.
Someone posted a comment asking how the Pegasus 31 fared against the Response, so here are our thoughts. The Pegasus feels softer than adidas but not as responsive; we rate the Response cushioning feel as higher. But Pegasus decimates the Response on quality of upper materials and fit, and also on outsole durability.
Looking at the bigger picture, it is a paradox that the Response Boost feels more cushioned than the Supernova Glide Boost. It should be the other way around, and this behavior is symptomatic of the segmentation challenge we talked about. We also think a lot of recent adidas models are paying a high price in other areas once Boost comes in.
Let’s take the Response Boost, for example. The midsole is Boost infused, feels amazingly cushioned and all that, but look at the flip side of the situation. The upper is eroded of its earlier premium feel, the formation crash pad also disappears, a feature only restricted to only the $170 Adistar within the Boost offering. The fit has some sorting out to do too.
The Response Boost gives us the impression that adidas is treating the Boost platform as a meal-replacement equivalent. If that is indeed their thinking, then it sets course for a potentially dangerous precedent. The Boost is a powerful supplement at best, and not a substitute for three meals a day.
(Disclaimer: Solereview paid full US retail price for the shoe reviewed)Note on ratings: Our numeric scoring of 8.3/10 is based on a total of weighted averages. The attributes namely transition, stability and fit contribute to 69% of total scoring weight, which we see as more important than material (7%), cushioning (7%), traction (12%) and weight (5%). Hence the scores will not add up when simple average calculation is used.