The Adidas Ultraboost is one of those iconic sneaker silhouettes that seem to fit in anywhere. Hitting the gym? Jogging through town? Running errands? Catching a dinner date? No matter the activity, these comfy kicks are more than ready to give your step those much-appreciated notes of style and performance.
While there’s plenty to love about the Ultraboost family, the silhouette does have some flaws, namely in the price and weight department. At 11.7 ounces, the Ultraboost 22 (the latest iteration in the stable) is one of the heavier running shoes out there, and if you like to log extended miles on your daily runs, that cloudlike feel underfoot can quickly turn into a clunky, brick-like vibe as you tax yourself with each pickup. Plus, the aesthetic is so versatile and stylish that the last thing you want to do to the near-$200 Ultraboosts is wear them out by working out.
Thankfully, there are plenty of fitness-ready shoes out there that can give you a similar underfoot feeling without the added weight or cost. Before we outline these well-rounded Ultraboost alternatives, however, let’s dive a little deeper into what makes the Ultraboost lineup so damn good.
BEST OVERALL ADIDAS ULTRABOOST ALTERNATIVEHoka Bondi 8 Read More
BEST UPGRADE ADIDAS ULTRABOOST ALTERNATIVENike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2 Read More
BEST BUDGET ADIDAS ULTRABOOST ALTERNATIVESaucony Freedom 5 Read More
BEST ADIDAS ULTRABOOST ALTERNATIVE FOR DAILY TRAININGNew Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 Read More
BEST ADIDAS ULTRABOOST ALTERNATIVE FOR RECOVERY DAYSBrooks Glycerin 20 Read More
What Makes the Adidas Ultraboost So Popular?
Outside of the iconic three stripes across the midfoot, the Adidas Ultraboost owes a lot of its fandom to its innovative BOOST foam midsole. First introduced in 2013, the Adidas BOOST foam marked a groundbreaking shift in how running shoe midsoles were made, foregoing the industry-standard EVA foam instead for expanded thermoplastic polyurethane, or eTPU. These thousands of expanded particles work in sync with one another, allowing BOOST foam to deliver on comfort and responsiveness while retaining its shape mile after mile.
It didn’t take long for the innovative technology to make its mark on the fitness realm. In 2014, Dennis Kimetto broke the then-world marathon record at the Berlin Marathon, crossing the finish line at 2:02:57 in a pair of Adidas Adizero Adios Boosts. While the performance definitely speaks for itself, BOOST foam has also made its way into style and streetwear, serving as a great bridge between fitness and fashion, most notably in the Ultraboost silhouette.
How We Tested
To find out which sneakers were the closest in both fit and feel compared to the Ultraboosts, we took to the streets and tracks for a number of weeks, often switching between shoes at the halfway point of our training for a near side-by-side comparison. Naturally, we took notes on the cushioning within each midsole, as well as the shoe’s responsiveness at quicker paces. Additionally, we took these kicks on a few longer treks to see how well the plush ride was maintained once our mileage stretched into double digits. Lastly, it’s hard to compare a shoe to the Ultraboosts if they don’t carry that stylish look, so we wore these picks as part of our daily ensemble to see how well they bridged that gap between performance wear and daily wear.
Hoka Bondi 8
This workhorse of a cushioned running shoe just got some major upgrades this summer, most notably in the redesigned heel geometry and reworked foam. Each step is bouncy and well-cushioned yet still retains some firmness for seamless toe-offs and transitions.
Despite the plush underfoot ride, the Bondi 8 is still nearly one ounce lighter than the Ultraboost 22s thanks to zonal rubber placement across the outsole. We appreciated this trimmed construction and didn’t find the traction to be lacking. Plus, the Bondi 8 features a breathable vegan upper that looks sharp across the eight available colorways. Unfortunately, though, eight profiles cannot compare to the over 30 hues available in the Ultraboost 22.
- Weight: 10.8 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2
Coming in at two ounces lighter than the Ultraboosts and featuring a similar heel-to-toe drop, this is one of the closest comparables to the Adidas silhouette. We definitely noticed the lighter build of the ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2s as we paced across our normal routes as if we were walking on clouds. The midsole places each landing on a soothing bed of comfortable foam, but the ZoomX construction is still ready to deliver that jolt when you decide to up the tempo.
The ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2s also earn the moniker of a quality Ultraboost alternative thanks to the aesthetically-pleasing Flyknit upper that goes well with a variety of outfits. While the material can begin to cause some sweat during longer jaunts, this is still a damn fine sneaker for both training days and daily wear.
- Weight: 9.7 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9mm
Saucony Freedom 5
The Freedom 5 might not look like a formidable comparison to the Ultraboost 22s, but believe us, the fit and feel of the PWRRUN PB midsole was the closest match to the TPU-based BOOST. Cushioned yet bouncy strides were easily accomplished, and at just 8.4 ounces, we never felt strained during pickups — even during a particularly long 12-miler.
These Saucony runners also boast a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, which means you don’t have as much under-heel cushioning and thus, will feel each step during your run. While we didn’t mind this sensation, it could be uncomfortable for some, especially if you’re used to more plush, cushioned running shoes. Also, the Freedom 5 is snugger than other sneakers, particularly in the midfoot. If you have wider feet or don’t desire a tight fit, these might not be the best fit for you.
- Weight: 8.4 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12
If you want that cushioned, responsive step in every run, every day, look no further than the Fresh Foam X 1080 v12s from New Balance. We really admired the Fresh Foam midsole for its comfortable feel and respectable stack height, but despite the coziness, you’re still able to get a feel for the road thanks to natural flex zones built into this silhouette. This allowed us to step confidently and securely through our pacing, no matter the terrain.
We also enjoyed the fit and feel of the stretchy Hypoknit upper, but we don’t think this would’ve occurred had we not paid attention to the sizing. One of the main issues with the 1080 v12s is that this iteration of the popular daily trainer runs larger than its predecessors. New Balances recommends you size down for proper fit; we recommend about a half size.
- Weight: 10.9 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
Brooks Glycerin 20
Some days just call for some active recovery, whether that be a slow jaunt around the block or a light walk around town. Rather than dirty up your stylish Ultraboosts, slip into the Gylcerin 20s and get a similar, performance-ready feel underfoot. We experienced easy pickups and transitions when logging miles with these impressive running shoes, which can be attested to the DNA Loft v3 midsole that’s nitrogen-infused for fine-tuned softness without sacrificing weight.
The engineered air mesh upper was also a perk, cloaking our toes with just the right amount of support, stretch and breathability. Despite this coziness, though, we couldn’t find that locked-in feel at times, which we attribute to the lacing structure. Still, when your schedule calls for a recovery run, these can be a great fill-in for those three-striped silhouettes.
- Weight: 10.1 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
Hoka Speedgoat 5
Okay, we’d be a little concerned if you took your Ultraboosts trail running — that’s one environment we haven’t found success with them. Yet, you can still take those notes of comfort and responsiveness into the outdoors, thanks to our favorite trail runner, the Speedgoat 5. Boasting a Vibram Megagrip outsole for improved traction through the muck and rocks, these Hoka staples also feature a lighter midsole that delivers plush cushioning without sacrificing the ground connection you need when trail running.
We also like how the Hoka Speedgoat 5s are ready to go right out of the box, so there’s no break-in required. While the vibrant jacquard mesh uppers and lug-laden outsole might not be everyone’s particular style, if you want a lightweight kick that brings coziness to the backcountry, it’s time you lace these trail-running GOATs up.
- Weight: 10.3 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm