adidas sells a high number of sub-$100 running shoes. The brand doesn’t allocate significant marketing spend on this segment, so these shoes have lower visibility as compared to higher-priced products lines.
While most of these shoes are available on their website, lower-priced footwear also find their way into family footwear stores and online footwear merchants like Zappos, DSW, and Famous Footwear.
This guide is grouped into two categories – road and outdoor. Naturally, road-running shoes can also be used on the treadmill. But there’s a separate solereview guide for that.
The shoes are sorted in the order of ascending retail price. Mind you, these are full retail prices. If you visit the adidas website, chances are that you’ll find a good deal on many of these models – at least in select colors if not all of them.
Until last year, adidas used to sell many outdoor and trail running shoes under $100. That doesn’t seem the case for 2020, so perhaps adidas has decided to pull out low-priced trail footwear. Or we’re compiling this guide at the wrong time – when adidas is the midst of a product churn. Let’s see. For now, the Response Trail and Terrex Agravic TR lead the sub-$100 trail running pack.
Category 1: Road-running shoes
1) adidas Galaxy 5
At an MSRP of $50, the Galaxy 5 is the price of entry into the adidas brand, and a pretty decent one at that. A large piece of EVA foam serves as the cushioned midsole over a rubber outsole that covers most of the underside. It even has an Ortholite insole.
As expected of a shoe at this price, the true-to-size upper has a pretty basic construction. That said, it’s pretty functional, and may we add, better than the outgoing Galaxy 4.
The V4 had a plastic cage but that’s no longer the case. The redesigned model has a softer midfoot area that delivers a supportive fit without creating unwanted pressure. The toe-box is no longer stitched on, so the front feels smoother as well as better-looking.
It’s a nice daily beater – if you know we mean. The EVA midsole is cushioned enough, the outsole adds durability, and the upper has a trouble-free fit. For a $50 price-tag, the Duramo SL packs excellent value.
2) adidas Duramo SL
For now, it appears that the popular Duramo 9 is on its way out and presumably be replaced by a Duramo 10. Till the time that happens, we’ve kept the Duramo 9 out of this guide and recommend the Duramo SL instead.
But that’s not the only reason why you should get the SL version. For just $5 over the standard Duramo, the SL variant is a superior shoe in more ways than one.
The SL’s midfoot gets the number of lacing rows right for a better lock-down. This area is one of Duramo 9’s shortcomings; with a mere four rows, securing the midfoot is a lot of work. The SL rectifies that by adding dual rows of lacing along with the last eyelet for a runner’s loop.
The tongue and collar have an old-school design that is both comfortable and secure-fitting. The SL’s engineered mesh breathes well; more so than the regular Duramo. adidas claims that the upper uses recycled materials derived from Ocean waste – that’s a good selling point, though not performance-related.
There’s plenty of outsole underneath the foot. The material is adidas’s tried-and-tested adiwear rubber that grips well and lasts long.
To sum up, the Duramo SL is a comfortable daily trainer that doesn’t break the bank. The single-density Cloudfoam EVA midsole and Ortholite insole team up to deliver enough cushioning for everyday use.
We also see the Nova Flow as an alternative to the Duramo 9. Same price, and similar use-case. More on that shoe later in this guide.
3) adidas RunFalcon
The RunFalcon is one of the two shoes (the other being EnergyFalcon) within the Falcon series; it also happens to be the less expensive model.
A $60 MSRP brings together a basic mesh upper which fits without hot spots, and a ride quality that produces a basic level of cushioning through its EVA midsole.
4) adidas Questar Climacool
This is the running shoe for summers, which means now. Not only does the spacer mesh make the upper easy to breathe, but the midsole also has ‘windows’ for under-the-foot ventilation. The foam Ortholite insole is perforated to make air circulation easier.
There’s ample ride comfort in the Cloudfoam EVA midsole. This shoe also uses a pair of supportive TPU posts on both sides for added stability.
5) adidas SenseBounce+ street
Adidas has a proven cushioning platform in the ‘Bounce’ midsole; it has been successfully used in popular models such as the Alphabounce. It may not have the springy responsiveness or the softness of the Boost, but it is comfortable nonetheless. This is what’s used on the adidas SenseBounce+ street – the less expensive version of the $100 SenseBounce.
The single-piece upper fits smooth and secure on the inside. The soft heel collar has the now-familiar outwards curve to prevent chafing the Achilles.
At over 12-ounces, this is a relatively heavy shoe. There’s a good reason for it – the SenseBoost street uses a grippy TPU outsole that increases traction and overall lifespan. The outsole design looks very New Balance-y.
6) adidas Nova Run
The Nova Run has an MRSP of $90, but it looks like a more expensive product. The engineered mesh upper with its thin, fused overlays creates a smooth and supportive fit along with adequate ventilation. The reflective trims also make the Nova Run suitable for low-light conditions.
A two-part midsole adds visual depth to the shoe while adding functional comfort. One part of the Cloudfoam EVA midsole is mesh-wrapped while the rearfoot has a plain foam wedge.
7) adidas Nova Flow
The Nova Flow may be a $60 running shoe, yet it’s functional as it gets. A mesh upper is mated with no-sew overlays to create a smooth interior with a supportive and protective exterior.
There’s no funny business with the midfoot, lacing, or the heel design either. There’s no uncomfortable plastic cage here. adidas adopts a traditional upper template to produce a well-behaved upper fit.
Though the forefoot is slightly snug, the length is true to size and the ventilation feels adequate for summer runs.
adidas keeps the weight low by using a full-length EVA midsole that is comfortable enough for daily runs – be it on the roads or the treadmill. adidas’s trusty ol’ adiwear rubber is used in the front and rear, so there’s enough grip and lifespan-prolonging reinforcement.
For a long time, the Duramo used to be the price of entry into the adidas brand. That’s no longer the case; add Nova Flow to that list too.
Category 2: Trail-running shoes
1) adidas Response Trail
The Response Trail is a Cloudfoam midsole-powered trail running shoe with a conventional upper design. The outsole has the Traxion rubber – a compound that grips well while protecting the foot from the uneven terrain.
We use the term ‘conventional’ to describe the upper because the aesthetics has a hiking-boot theme. As in a suede forefoot and toe-bumper protection along with mounted lacing eyelets and a neoprene-kind of mesh in the rear.
The Response Trail also sells in a wide fit.
2) adidas Terrex Agravic TR UB
The Terrex Agravic TR is a new trail shoe that is excellent value for its $90 price and very functional.
There’s nothing fancy about the upper or midsole; the Agravic TR relies on the age-old combination of thick, stitched-overlays over a mesh base with a gusseted tongue. This makes the upper protective as well as resistant to dust and trail debris.
The lacing works like a charm. Thin laces find their way through speed-loops without much struggle, so the cinching process is quick and effective. A heel loop makes putting on the shoe easy.
There’s not a lot of free space inside the upper; the thick stitched layering on the upper sees to that. Buy a half-size larger for some wriggle room. Else the fit is very secure – be it the forefoot, midfoot, or the heel. The exteriors aren’t waterproof, but there’s a Gore-Tex version at hand for a slight premium.
The cushioning comfort is provided by the insole and the EVA midsole, and that’s enough for most trail runs of a non-technical kind. Though there’s no plate inside the forefoot, the firm midsole and the full-coverage outsole does a fair job of protection.
The outsole has a cleverly-designed layout. The lugs are spaced wide to reduce clogging while allowing for optimal grip.
If you require water-proofing, the Terrex Agravic TR also sells in a GTX (Gore-Tex) version. But that’ll be $20 extra, please.