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Hands-on Gear Review
Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX Review
Cons: Average comfort, lacks support for medium loads over long distance
Bottom line: This athletic hiker was built for speed and play on trails.
The Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX is an athletic hiking shoe that exceeded our expectations. It's the most lightweight shoe of the pack and brings an athletic feel to hiking. Its breathability was impressive as we tore down trails. We enjoyed taking this shoe on trails and for rounds of disc golf, or even heading to the gym. It's not the most comfortable, though, and we preferred other shoes when heading out on extended backpacking trips. If you want the lightest shoe for fast hiking, though, this is an excellent choice.
This shoe fell short of our winners' circle, as the competition was stiff this year. The heavier Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX was our favorite for aggressive hiking, which is also nimble and speedy but gains better traction in varied terrain and has a higher flood height. If you want the best of athleticism and backpacking capability, The North Face Ultra 109 GTX is for you.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX is a lightweight and fast hiking shoe that enjoys jogging trails as much as walking them with a $135 price tag. The upper is an abrasion-resistant synthetic and mesh combination lined with a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort waterproof membrane. The sole consists of an EVA and Adiprene midsole, a TPU midfoot shank, and a Traxion rubber outsole.
Not surprisingly, the fit and feel of the Terrex Swift R are athletic. Straight out of the box, these shoes are ready to go and absorb shock well, like tennis shoes. They are also some of the most breathable shoes reviewed, with a noticeable breeze coming through the mesh upper in our treadmill test. On the downside, the forefoot is more pointed than most and narrow, but in the back, our heel slipped around on uneven ground in the wide heel cup. The soft rubber of the outsole allowed for more sensitivity underfoot. This helped with traction but also lead to sore feet on long, bumpy hikes. The thin rubber rand around the toes increases the shoe's durability but does little when banged against rocks and roots.
This shoe, like the Salomon and La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX models, features a speed lacing system. We didn't experience any problems with the laces loosening from the locking mechanism and enjoyed the convenience inherent in this type of system. The five sets of eyelets (one leather, three webbing, and one metal ring) allowed us to snug the uppers against our feet.
Keep the laces clean. With dirt on the laces, they were much more difficult to pull through the eyelets and plastic locking mechanism of the lacing system.
The Terrex Swift R GTX holds the title of lightest hiking shoe in our review, weighing 1 lb. 13.6 oz. The Columbia Redmond Waterproof is half an ounce heavier, but its performance is not on par with the Adidas model. Light is right in footwear, and these shoes are an excellent choice for pounding out miles on flat and smooth terrain when carrying little weight on your back. When the terrain gets rougher, though, go for the heavier, but still fast, North Face Ultra 109 GTX or Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX.
We like the foot support provided by this Adidas shoe. Among the contenders, it is one of the stiffest in the midfoot, yet flexes in the forefoot. The Keen Targhee II and HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit WP had more torsional rigidity.
On a few occasions, the stability of the heel fell into question. Our lead tester found his foot sliding when the heel stepped on the edge of a rock or other obstacle. This is likely because there isn't a lot of surface area contact on the perimeter of the heel due to the tread design. Check out the Vasque Juxt or The North Face Ultra 109 GTX for a better sole design in the heel.
The Terrex Swift R GTX features a proprietary Traxion rubber outsole which consists of a more pliable rubber for its quadrilateral lugs. We were stoked on its performance when scampering across rock surfaces. It was our favorite grip master on wet rock, outshining the competition when crossing slick creek rocks.
When it came to scree, mud, and snow, the Terrex offered average purchase. Its saving grace in this terrain is its heel brake, which resisted our feet from sliding out going downhill. If you like the lightweight nature of the Terrex Swift, but want more traction on varied surfaces, check out The North Face Ultra 109 GTX, which also weighs under two pounds.
The lightweight Terrex Swift is geared toward moving fast. It is comfortable on flat and rough trails, too. We even wore this pair a few times to the gym, where it performed well as a substitute tennis shoe. Intermediate to well-seasoned hikers with strong feet will find some backpacking utility in these shoes, but beginner hikers will benefit from more foot support and protection. Our favorite combination of speed and rough terrain handling is found in the X Ultra 2 GTX.
These shoes feature an athletic look common in shoes from this manufacturer. It's too sporty to be subtle, but most testers like its aesthetics.
The Terrex Swift scored toward the top of the competition in water resistance. Its 4.5-inch flood level couples with the impenetrable Gore-Tex Extended Comfort (the same liner found in the Asolo Agent GV). It passed our five-minute stream wading test with ease after two months of hiking and trail running, and even kept our lead tester's foot dry when accidentally sinking into a mud hole during testing (see photo). We appreciated that the upper was resistant to absorbing water. These shoes never felt waterlogged, and what was soaked into the upper evaporated as fast as any other model.
We were initially skeptical, but the durability of the Terrex Swift R GTX won us over. The large rand of rubber around the toe box is great protection in this area of high wear, and the critical seams in the flexing forefoot are double-stitched. Being light and fun to run in, we blazed through all kinds of terrain in this shoe, yet the synthetic upper remained unscathed after three months. The plastic cover on the heel prevents the back of the shoe from caving in, too.
The rubber isn't the densest of this review's soles, so we don't expect it to last as long as some, like the stiff-rubbered Salomon's. Also, the webbing of the lace eyelets are prone to shedding strings. On the topic of the laces, we see the potential of the plastic locking mechanism of the laces breaking if crushed, although the chances are small.
The Terrex Swift R GTX is great for anyone who enjoys combining hiking and running. Being the most athletic shoe of the bunch, it's also a great pair for tossing a frisbee in the park or even an occasional gym shoe substitute.
The list price of this Adidas model is $135. We like this shoe, but it is more expensive than five other models reviewed.
The Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX is an impressive shoe that blurs the line between hiker and trail runner. It's also athletic enough for pickup games of ultimate frisbee in the park or even a trip to the gym. It's not suited for most backpacking trips, but it sure is fun to scream down trails in these puppies.
— Ross Robinson
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