Review: adidas Terrex winter 2018 rangeGear
ITEM: adidas Terrex winter ’18 trail running range
STYLE: Trail running shoes, shorts, jacket, tights
ACTIVITY: Trail running
WHAT THEY SAY: We’re the creator brand in the outdoors. We make rules. We innovate.
The trees blur by. In front of you, your brain is making millions of tiny calculations. A wet tree root, puddle, danger, branch, rock, balance, counterbalance. You are in a state of constant prediction and reaction. Your head thumps with heat and your heavy panting overwhelms other sounds. Up. Thighs. Down. Ankles. Trail running is all-consuming. There is little time for other thoughts and actions. That is what makes it so compelling. We’re not going to pretend to be whizzing through the woods on a speeder bike from Return of the Jedi, but even at my lowly pace, trail and mountain running is a fun, hard, and encompassing sport. That you can’t think of anything else makes it relaxing too. I’m as grumpy without my morning run as I am without my coffee.
The last thing you want to be thinking about is your gear. On longer trails, mountain marathons and ultra races, your brain needs reserves for strategy, examining food intake, hydration and the fact that your legs are in agony. Gear needs to be unintrusive, and when you don’t notice it, you know it’s working well.
MEN’S TERREX RANGE
On a very wet day in the Peak District, we tested out some of the new adidas Terrex winter 2018 range that is dedicated to trail and mountain running: the Agravic Shorts, Stockhorn Fleece and XT GTX shoes. We’ll be looking at the Terrex Climaheat Down Jacket in another article.
Trail running gear should work towards one concept: confidence. Confidence that you’ll be able to regulate your heat, confidence that time won’t be wasted on fiddling pockets, and most of all confidence that when your foot strikes wet ground it’s not going to slip.
I’ve tested dozens of trail shoes over the years, including a couple from the Terrex range, and the Terrex Agravix XT GTX unquestionably stack up among the best. And that’s because they have come a fair way in solving one of the main problems for Gore-Tex running shoes. Gore-Tex is a waterproof membrane that sits like a bootie in the shoes. It, of course, keeps the water out. The flaw is that there is a big hole in every shoe where you put your feet in. If the water enters around the foot, it stays in. Even on sunny mornings with a heavy dew, I’ve been able to pour out water from a Gore-Tex-lined shoe. I’d much rather have a non-waterproof shoe that squeezes water out and I get wet feet rather than my feet swimming in a pool of water.
To be honest, it was with some reluctance that I put on the Agravic XT GTX in the Peak District. My aim was to run through Cave Dale and up to Mam Tor for one of the finest views in Britain. There had been two days of torrential rain and winds of up to 70mph. As I set off through the wondrously narrow dale below the 11th-century Peveril Castle, I was running – effectively – up a stream. Water poured over my shoes, yet the unique design of the Agravic XT let no water in. They are a snug fit (be sure to try them first), but the key is an elasticated sleeve around the collar that acts like a sock. The tongue is completely integrated into this ‘sock’. It offers the best possible seal against water getting in. And so it was after two and a half hours of running through deep mud and stream-like paths that my feet were not wet at all. Impressive.
The rubber outsole by Continental performed impressively well on wet rock, and even on the glassy chalk around my home. I’d have liked deeper, more aggressive lugs for running on grass and mud, however.
The Boost midsole (the part that looks like polystyrene!) is a thermoplastic urethane, which is basically a soft, springy piece of plastic that is moulded into a midsole and offers amazing cushioning, which reduces the loss of energy on the foot strike. In theory, it saves energy, meaning you can run longer. Lab tests by adidas have shown a modest increase, and the reality is that you probably won’t notice a difference in your own energy. What you will notice is a fairly stiff and very positive midsole as you’re out running. It’s a delight to run on.
The short? Well, I’m almost as excited by them. It wasn’t until I was running through the wind and rain in the Peak District that I realised just how water and wind resistant these are. The tightly woven material also offers a hint of a comfortable four-way stretch. There are thoughtfully placed open mesh pockets on either side of the hip for snacks and gels, all very easy to access. A phone pocket can be zipped closed at the back and, best of all, it eliminates almost all of the dreaded pocket bounce. It would be tight if you’re carrying around a plus-sized iPhone – check it first. They are also quick drying. A good pair of shorts, I’m now convinced, is almost as important as the shoes. They just make the whole run more comfortable.
I wore the Stockhorn Fleece over a regular base layer. It’s a basic fleece, but one that fits well and was warming even when a bit wet. It has a full zip that helps regulate your body temperature and a small pocket on the sleeve.
Our female tester, in no less wet conditions, but a different part of the country, reviewed gear from the same Terrex range. On test were the Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield, Trail Running Tights and, for footwear, the multi-purpose Terrex Fast GTX Surround.
Sal was particularly enamoured with the running tights for winter runs. What makes these particularly attractive is the wind-resistant fabric. While they are as comfortable and stretchy as other running leggings, the wind-resistant overlay blocks on the front of the legs make a noticeable difference to the warmth – but not at the expense of breathability. Clever stuff.
The construction of the tights blends nylons with different amounts of elastane too, allowing more stretch in some places and more durability in others. The pre-shaped knees add to the comfort. Features include zips around the ankles that help with the fumbling around by the boot of a car when trying to change quickly, and two inner pockets: one on the zip pocket on the back and another drawcord on elastic waist. There are reflective strips for visibility too.
The Terrex Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield was also a highlight, quickly becoming a favourite running piece in her wardrobe. A decent part of this was because of its versatility – it can really be used for any winter activity. This piece blends Polartec Alpha insulation sealed with a wind-resistant shell, a great material that warms even when wet, at the front, with Pertex Quantum Air stretch material around the sides, heating the core while leaving the bits that need to breathe to do precisely that. The hood is really well designed and draws in to move with the head. The collar zips up nice and high too. ‘Super bright, super light, this is a great piece,’ Sal said.
The shoes tested were the Terrex Fast GTX Surround. Surround is a relatively recent technology from Gore-Tex that allows breathability from under the sole. The shoes, of course, have to be specially designed to allow the moisture out. They’re designed for quick bursts on the trails and hiking. Sal’s warning is that they do come out small, so try them on first, but for the right fit, these are a great pair of multipurpose trainers. The bungee-style lacing provides a snug fit around the whole foot. The uppers are durable too.
Sal’s experience of the new Terrex range corroborated mine. This is gear that works flawlessly, and that’s the type of gear you need. No fiddling, no hassle; it just allows you to concentrate on what you need to, the bits that make you faster, more efficient. And in my case, not falling flat on my face.