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.
Either that, or we’re compiling this guide at the wrong time – when adidas is amid a product churn. Let’s see. For now, the Terrex Agravic TR is the only sub-$100 trail running pick. The entry-level Response Trail V1 isn’t on this guide, but the V2 has just hit the market. So it will likely feature on the next edition of this list.
Though the adidas Supernova is not here due to its $100 retail, it’s worth a try.
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.
3) adidas Fluidflow
The Fluidflow packs a lot for $80. Things like a full-length ‘Bounce’ midsole made of EVA foam for a smooth and comfortable ride. Or the completely covered rubber outsole for grip and durability. And to top it all, a knit and snug-fitting upper with a seamless interior and padded collar.
The upper also gets a proper lacing set-up with multiple rows for a better lockdown. In short, this sub-$100 running shoe is a decent buy as a comfortable daily trainer.
4) adidas Edge Gameday
Okay, here’s another adidas running shoe with an EVA ‘Bounce’ midsole. What’s the difference between this and say, the Fluidflow?
The $65-80 Edge Gameday is more structured – if that makes sense. For example, the all-rubber outsole has a plastic ‘Torsion’ shank for increased rigidity. The midsole has raised sidewalls for a higher level of support.
That doesn’t take away any of the comfort; the full-length foam midsole feels cushioned and smooth for low-intensity runs.
The upper, while simple, fits well and comfortably so. Everything is basic but works. The tongue and heel lining is soft to the touch. While the last is snug-fitting, the one-piece mesh upper makes the insides smooth. However, we wish there existed the last row of eyelet for heel-lock lacing.
5) adidas Response Super
adidas does something different with the $90 Response Super. Instead of going full-length Boost or single-density EVA, this shoe has both in moderation. The heel has a softer Boost plug whereas the midfoot and forefoot are made of a firmer EVA foam.
This peculiar design loads most of the cushioning softness in the rear. As is evident, the Response Super isn’t one with the smoothest ride. The difference between the Boost core and EVA midsole is noticeable under the foot, so this is a shoe best reserved for runs and workouts of a mild nature.
The heel crash pad also has a deep groove, and that only makes the softer heel more prominent.
The upper is rather unusual but it makes sense when one considers the midsole design. Most of the upper is very simple; an engineered mesh shell is combined with no-sew overlays for a smooth fit.
The heel, however, has a rigid clip that adds some stability over the soft Boost-infused heel. And it does work, so the clip is not a mere decoration.
The long tongue with its flat racer-style flap feels out of place on a shoe of this class. Adidas should have left it simple and padded, just like the cheaper Response SR. And while they’re at it, an additional last-row eyelet would have been nice.
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 Response SR
The Response SR is a lower-priced variant of the Response Super, but without a Boost-equipped midsole. Though the upper is fairly basic in its design and fit, it works as long as the runs aren’t strenuous.
This is a shoe that retails at $75, so the cost-related adjustments are apparent. The heel has a separate crash pad made of ‘Response’ foam – a material that we believe to be an EVA foam blend. The forefoot midsole is standard EVA.
But here’s the thing. The lack of a softer Boost core (like the Response Super) makes the Response SR’s ride more consistent in its softness. It’s also more stable, given that the upper comes with a rigid heel clip.
To sum up, the Response SR is a decent everyday trainer if you’re ok with a somewhat firm ride.
Category 2: Trail-running shoes
1) 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.