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Adidas Adizero Boston 12 Review

A snappy and lightweight daily trainer perfect for workouts and long runs that can also relax
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Adidas Adizero Boston 12 Review (The Adidas Boston 12 is our Top Pick for Workouts)
The Adidas Boston 12 is our Top Pick for Workouts
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   Adidas
By Nathaniel Bailey ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 17, 2024
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 19
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Responsiveness - 25% 8.0
  • Stability - 20% 6.0
  • Upper Comfort - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 6.1

Our Verdict

The Adidas Boston 12 is a well-cushioned, performance daily trainer that loves to pick up the pace. Combining Lightstrike Pro and Lightstrike 2.0 layers in the midsole, the Boston rides smoothly with good propulsion and a penchant for speed. The Energyrods 2.0 provide the stiffness and snap that we love in workouts but still allow for more comfortable daily miles than other plated trainers we have tried. That versatility makes it a Top Pick; if you want a spirited daily trainer that can handle workouts, easy days, and race days, you should try the Boston 12.
REASONS TO BUY
Snappy toe-off
Smooth cushioning
Breathable upper
REASONS TO AVOID
A bit fast for recovery runs
Can be difficult to lace well

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Bottom Line An extremely versatile daily trainerA daily trainer that can handle most runs, the Novablast 4 is fun and extremely comfortableA daily trainer that blends comfort and versatility at a reasonable priceComfortable and plush cushioning meets adequate responsiveness for a shoe we love for easy runsFun and plush cushioning for all-day comfort if you're okay carrying some extra weight
Rating Categories Adidas Adizero Bost... Asics Novablast 4 Puma Velocity Nitro 3 On Cloudsurfer 7 Saucony Triumph 21
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.3
8.0
8.5
9.0
Responsiveness (25%)
8.0
7.5
7.0
6.5
6.0
Stability (20%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
Upper Comfort (15%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.5
7.0
Weight (15%)
6.1
6.4
5.8
7.3
5.5
Specs Adidas Adizero Bost... Asics Novablast 4 Puma Velocity Nitro 3 On Cloudsurfer 7 Saucony Triumph 21
Weight (per shoe, size 10.5) 9.95 oz 9.76 oz 10.07 oz 9.15 oz 10.37 oz
Style Daily Daily/cushioning Daily Cushioning Cushioning
Sizes Available 4 - 15 US 6 - 15 US 7 - 14 US 7 - 14 US 7 - 15 US
Measured Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 7 mm 10 mm 15 mm 11 mm
Measured Heel Stack Height 35 mm 43 mm 39 mm 40 mm 38 mm
Measured Forefoot Stack Height 29 mm 36 mm 29 mm 25 mm 27 mm
Claimed Heel-to-Toe Drop 7 mm 8 mm 8 mm 10 mm 10 mm
Claimed Heel Stack Height 38.0 mm 41.5 mm Not stated Not stated 37.0 mm
Claimed Forefoot Stack Height 31.0 mm 33.5 mm Not stated Not stated 27.0 mm
Measured Outsole Length 12.3 in 12.6 in 12.3 in 12.1 in 12.3 in
Measured Outsole Width 4.8 in 4.8 in 4.4 in 4.5 in 4.7 in
Upper Engineered mesh Engineered woven/knit Engineered knit Engineered knit Engineered knit
Midsole Lightstrike 2.0/Lightstrike Pro FF Blast + Eco Profoam Helion PWRRUN+
Outsole Continental Rubber AHAR Lo PumaGrip Rubber/Exposed foam Rubber
Measured Outsole Hardness Heel: 62
Arch: 30
Forefoot: 62
64 Heel: 55
Arch: 55
Forefoot: 55
Heel: 68
Forefoot: 68
Rest of shoe: 33
75
Heel Tab Type Flap Finger loop None None Finger loop
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide
Heel Compression Stiffness 50.5 lbs 44 lbs 41 lbs 42 lbs 41 lbs
Toe Compression Stiffness 56 lbs 44 lbs 48 lbs 43 lbs 49 lbs
Toe Box Volume 8.1 in cu 7.6 in cu 8.4 in cu 10.2 in cu 9.7 in cu
Rocker Angle 18.5 degrees 22.5 degrees 18.0 degrees 17.5 degrees 19.0 degrees

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Boston 12 is a very versatile shoe. It's most enjoyable at faster paces, but it can relax enough for an easy run. It's very similar to the Deviate Nitro 2 and the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, but we prefer its balance of pace and comfort.

Performance Comparison


adidas adizero boston 12 - the adidas boston 12 is perfect for workouts and faster running
The Adidas Boston 12 is perfect for workouts and faster running
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


The layered versions of Lightstrike foams allow for a smooth transition from the rear of the foot towards the forefoot. The Boston doesn't feel particularly bouncy or airy as it lands, but it insulates your legs from the pavement and smoothly transitions through your stride. The Lightstrike Pro feels soft without feeling mushy, providing a pleasant motion through the forefoot.

Testing the stiffness of the heel foam of the Boston 12. While stiffer than average, this shoe is still comfortable for a variety of runs.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

This shoe errs on the performance side of daily training and feels firmer than some of its competitors. Our lab testing confirmed that the Boston 12 foam is among the firmest in our lineup. Don't take that to mean it isn't comfortably cushioned, though; there's still a lot of foam under your foot (35mm heel/29 mm forefoot), and we found it very comfortable over 90-120-minute runs on the road.

adidas adizero boston 12 - while the foam is a bit firmer than other shoes, it's extremely...
While the foam is a bit firmer than other shoes, it's extremely comfortable and transitions through the foot well.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

If you're used to older trainers with only EVA foam or shoes similar to the Brooks Adrenaline, this shoe will feel like you're running on clouds. It just isn't quite as well suited to slow recovery runs as some of our favorite easy-day shoes, which have a more plush or bouncy ride.


The Boston 12 would have scored higher in this category, but we experienced some discomfort on the lateral side of our midfoot on both feet during the first few miles in the shoe. After ~1hr in the shoes, they felt great, and we haven't felt it since. We did some research, and a few other runners who tend to land closer to the lateral side of their foot experienced the same thing. It's something to remember, but it isn't enough to deter us from recommending the shoes; after that first hour, these quickly became some of our favorites.

One big plus for the Boston 12 is how easily the EnergyRods disappear. Plated shoes can feel a bit harsh. We didn't notice anything except smooth and propulsive cushioning. Similarly, plated shoes can be uncomfortable to run in at leisurely paces. That's not an issue here, although they encourage you to pick up the pace.

Finally, we love the Continental rubber outsole's confidence, no matter the landing surface. And as gravel/dirt road aficionados, the lack of large crevasses for rocks to wedge themselves into is appreciated.

adidas adizero boston 12 - we love how smooth the cushioning feels on the boston 12
We love how smooth the cushioning feels on the Boston 12
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Responsiveness


Responsiveness is the highlight of the Boston 12. This shoe is comfortably cushioned and can cruise at a relaxed pace, but loves to let it rip in workouts. It also encourages you to turn your easy runs into a tempo run, which can be a drawback if, like us, you lack self-control.


The Boston 12 isn't quite as responsive as the super shoes in our test, but it can handle a broader range of runs while rarely feeling out of place. That's important. You can wear the Boston 12 for your warm-up run and your track session. You can wear the Boston 12 for your easy miles and your next race. All thanks to the great, but not over-the-top, responsiveness; that's awesome versatility.

A snappy toe-off makes the Boston 12 perfect for fast running
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

We've found shoes that can handle a broad range of runs often don't have the pop we want for a fast track session. Because the Boston 12 is a little firmer than many other similar performance-cushioned daily trainers, it can comfortably handle faster workouts on the track. It's not our first choice for true speed sessions, where we prefer something a little lower and slimmer, but it will easily cover most runners' needs.

The thicker chunk of Lightstrike Pro in the forefoot provides significant energy return that the glass-infused Energyrods direct forward. The shoe doesn't feel as “fun” or “bouncy” as some of its competitors, although we do love the rewarding feeling of pushing through the forefoot in this shoe. Adidas' no-nonsense approach to this shoe makes it subtle and comfortable, and it just plain works when you want to put some power through the shoe.

adidas adizero boston 12 - the lightstrike 2.0 foam in the forefoot, paired with the...
The Lightstrike 2.0 foam in the forefoot, paired with the EnergyRods, makes for a very responsive ride.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Upper Comfort


Adidas opted for a racer-style upper. It works. It's comfortable. It's breathable. It's also chilly on wet, sub-30-degree runs. That's probably a non-issue for many runners, but our frozen toes demanded we mention it.


We didn't experience any hotspots after the first few minutes of running in the shoe, but we had difficulty getting the lacing right. We found it very easy to overtighten the midfoot section of the shoe. Eventually, we figured it out. We attribute our struggle to Adidas' different lacing structure along that section of the foot (large, soft loops) rather than perforations in the outsole as in the rest of the shoe. We also suspect this may be part of the discomfort we initially felt on the lateral part of our midfoot that quickly disappeared.

adidas adizero boston 12 - the minor initial discomfort we felt was likely a result of uneven...
The minor initial discomfort we felt was likely a result of uneven lacing. The pink material in this photo has three lace loops, and it's easy to pull that area a little too tight.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

The upper worked well throughout our testing. The Boston 12 managed to keep our feet very comfortable during our long runs, which is impressive for such a pared-down upper. The tongue is padded just enough to prevent pressure points on the top of the foot, and foam tabs on the sides of the heel aid the heel cup in providing excellent heel retention. We're also fans of the folding heel pull tab that doubles as extra protection against Achilles rub.

Overall, we think this upper is very comfortable once dialed in, if a little performance-biased. We do think it's worth noting that the Boston 12 recorded one of the lowest toe-box volumes in our standardized lab testing, so it likely isn't the best choice for runners with high-volume feet.

adidas adizero boston 12 - the boston has a lightweight, pared-back upper that is functional...
The Boston has a lightweight, pared-back upper that is functional and breathable.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Lateral Stability and Support


This is not a great choice if you're after a shoe with lots of support or stability, which tends to be the case when talking about performance-oriented daily trainers.


The higher stack and relatively soft foam in the forefoot don't lend much lateral stability. The Energyrods help offset the softness of the foam, but it isn't enough to call this a stable, neutral shoe. It's pretty middle of the road.

adidas adizero boston 12 - the energyrods in the midsole (the black material in the white foam)...
The EnergyRods in the midsole (the black material in the white foam) help provide some stability and direction.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Weight


The Boston 12 weighs in at 9.95 oz. for a US M 10.5. That's pretty average, but the cushioning and responsiveness compensate for a slightly heavier weight.


As with most shoes with good grip, the Boston 12 makes a weight sacrifice for a confidence-inspiring outsole. We agree that the performance on wet or slick roads is worth the weight penalty.

adidas adizero boston 12 - the continental rubber may add weight, but we love the traction it...
The Continental rubber may add weight, but we love the traction it provides.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Should You Buy the Adidas Boston 12?


Comfortable enough for easy days yet snappy enough for speed workouts is an extremely hard balance. Running shoes exist on a spectrum of comfort and speed; very few can successfully do both. We think the Boston 12 is the best take on a shoe that can truly do it all. It's biased towards speed, but as long as you have a little self-control, it's comfortable on easy runs. If you need one shoe to do everything and like to go fast, the Boston 12 is for you. If you are looking for a shoe for workouts, try this one. If you want a fast shoe for racing but don't want to spend super-shoe money, try this one. As long as you're not only running in wet, freezing temperatures, you'll probably love this shoe.

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Boston 12 is very similar to the Puma Deviate Nitro 2. In fact, they recorded the same total score in our testing. The Puma is a great combination of comfort and speed but errs more on the comfort side of the spectrum. If you want a shoe that can do everything but is a bit more plush, the Hoka Mach 5 is a good choice.

Nathaniel Bailey