Trail shoe review: Adidas Terrex Agravic

Aggravated Assault

First up: what the hell is the use of a pretty darn good trail shoe if it’s hard to come by, try and buy? Worse still, if you don’t even know that it’s in the market? When it comes to the Adidas Terrex Agravic I didn’t, until I walked into Run Stop Shop in Melbourne. And my eyes lit up.

Men Shoes adidas Terrex Agravic Shoes - Green DuFLB91 501_3_LRG

Spoiler alert: it’s a top end performer. But who knew? So when I tell you it’s a contender, you’d better be quick in your purchase because they are as rare as a heartfelt apology to an illegal Mexican immigrant by Donald Trump.

It’s a common thing in the Australian market amongst bigger sneaker brands – the Nikes, New Balances and Adidas of the world – where their stock-in-trade units (footy boots, road runners, fashion) hoover up all the local marketing team’s attention. The poor cousin trail models are begrudgingly taken on locally at brand-HQ insistence only to gather dust in a disinterested sales rep’s car boot. If only they knew that trail running is one tenant of what researchers are now calling a ‘megatrend’ movement away from traditional team sports and towards individual, nature-based outdoor pursuits. Hello, trail running. Hello sales opportunity going wanting.

Anyway, away from the failings of big brands to recognise an emerging market (and do something about it), to the shoe, the sexy if hard to find beast it is. [Yes, I know you can order it online, but who’d do that without trying one on, no matter what a reviewer says! Ed.]


I went in with a notion that Adidas not being a mountain sports pedigree brand would fail dismally at off road. But then, overseas they play in the space much more and they do a handy football boot to boot.

With that in mind, let’s start with the obvious on these suckers: the grippy sole. Lugs protrude handsomely, 6.5mm to be exact, and have been smartly designed.

There are enough of them to dig deep into all forms of terrain, but spread enough across the sole to drop mud clumps quickly. The forward lugs are tapered providing excellent up front toe-in and transition to acceleration. Further back they work hard for better control including laterally, when on the brakes and when bombing downhill. Interestingly, the compound is as sticky as any other on market and was created in collaboration with Continental, the technology mimicked and adapted from that brand’s mountain biking tyres, including the shape of the lug. What works for one dirt warrior…

Moving through the sole, Adidas heralds its ‘Boost’ technology which most pundits agree delivers on its claim for better ‘energy control’, meaning you get a measured return of spring, enough to give increments of energy return but not enough to destabilize your foot on landing nor impinge on ground feel. This balance of bound and sensitivity on the foot strike is what for me makes the shoe a sure-footed choice.

In a way it is very much in line with the Salomon Sense Ultra – nimble, racy, with trail feedback providing confidence and grip nailing your cornering and downhill bombing. Where the Adidas excels further here is in giving a smoother ride than its competitor, assumedly courtesy of the Boost and some added EVA in the rear carriage.

Even so, it remains little stiffer through the sole than other more conservative trail runners, making them disciplined enough to take mountainside where a little ‘platform performance’ can help, but not so harsh as to give bruised feet over longer distances.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 17.12.49

Beneath your feet, after all, is a 24.5mm heel/18mm forefoot rigging. This delivers a mid-range 6.5mm drop, perfect for those leaning toward better technical running form, but enough up back if you still get the lean-backs on tiring.

Inside the foot fits snug, without being restrictive and the overall comfort factor is high out of the box. This is one of those shoes that feels like it instantly connects with your foot becoming an extension of rather than an addendum to your appendage. Of course, the snugger a shoe, the more chance there is your particular foot won’t agree with the shape, but I believe for most average Aussie slabs, (not too fat up front), the shoe will fit.

The ride is as mentioned fairly supreme, its only weak spot is super hard and flat surfaces that drag on – here the shoe can feel a little ‘slappy’, the overall undercarriage preferring more technical or soft ground underneath.Mt Buller

Lacing is solid in design. Despite looking a little weird, it seems to pull in where needed and give some where required. No issues there.

The rock plate in the forefoot is slim and flexible, but combined with the substantial outsole offers bomb proof protection from the hardest hits on the sharpest rocks, while still maintaining relatively good trail feel and torsional flexibility. If anything it can become to firm on the forefoot when running flats.

The Agravic is a seriously strong performer on most styles of Aussie trails. It’s just aggravating that the try and supply equation is somewhat restricted – but check Run Stop Shop in South Melbourne (or online) as a first port of call.

Great for: technical trails, grip, racing, all round fun
Not-so-great for: if you want to try and buy them – they are hard to find once stock is out!
Test Conditions: singletrack, lots of technical, soft ground, rocky, approx. 125km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running
RRP: $200



Shoe Review – The North Face Ultra Trail II

Ultra refined: a review of The North Face Ultra Trail II. For this review and more shoes gets, see the latest edition of Trail Run Mag, downloadable for FREE here

Another second-iteration shoe in this edition’s shoe slots, and yet another study in the art of refinement, although in this case The North Face has upped the incremental improvement ante over it’s Nike compadre.


The Ultra Trail II takes the original and award-winning Ultras and specifically tackles it main weaknesses – durability. Try to see past that bright glowing fluoro orange exterior (they do come in black for the less ostentatious), and you’ll see and feel that the upper is an all new material. The North Face has replaced what was a soft and easily degraded material with a much tougher ripstop fabric that almost feels plasticy.

Screenshot 2015-03-27 21.14.53On foot, that stiffer feel is not noticeable the comfort factor for which I rate these shoes highly remains. The side-benefit of this more durable material – which has been likened to a cross-county spike shoe upper – is a natural improvement in its ability to shed water, meaning you have to get a whole next level dunking for the shoe to saturate in a light shower. Every second your foot is dry and more comfortable is a bonus second in my book when running.

It’s also a super lightweight material, helping it save overall grams on its predecessor to weigh in at 230g/shoe for a US9. It’s one of those shoes you hardly notice you are wearing, such is its lack of beef. That is, until you look down and the glare blinds you. Buy the black pair unless you’re looking to emulate a Dermott Brereton or Warwick Capper (if you know who I am talking about and why them, you are showing your age. Lairy Aussie Rules footballers for those of you aged younger than 35).

Looking to the 2015-released models, The North Face offers three trail running models in the Ultra range – The Ultra II, the new Cardiac (yet to be tested, but it’s coming) and the not-available-in-Australia-but-should-be Ultra MT (it has bigger, beefier grip for knarlier conditions, reminiscent of Salomon’s Speedcross 3).

All three models run a mid-range 8mm heel-toe drop, which is a great sweet spot for most. Those transitioning to mid/forefoot will find it a not-too-aggressive platform, while those more minimalists running 4-6mm will actually find these remain unobtrusive, comfortable and perfect for the longer run where form may drop off, giving leeway for the fatigued landing.

On trail, I found the Ultra Trail IIs gave excellent trail feedback, allowing for a touchy-feely experience making them ideal for fast and technical trails where responsiveness is key.

One key beef I had with the first iteration, and indeed most of the trail models I’ve reviewed from The North Face, was grip. While the Vibram compound is, of course, first rate and gives great stick for the most part, it remains a slip fest in mud and snow. But you’d expect that with anything other than a true lug-endowed shoe, which is perhaps where the aforementioned Ultra MTs come into play. In general, on dry to moist trails tending smooth to rocky and rooty, these were absolutely serviceable and indeed on flat but slippier surfaces, the high ratio of coverage offered by the tread patterns increased grip as compared to most. Therefore, in actual fact, the overall grip rating across varied surfaces is quite high and good for those who don’t like riding rugged on ‘spikey’ lugs, which really are only suitable for super soft and slushy ground.

Adding to the ride comfort is The North Face’s Cradle heel, which has been a winner across most of its trail models for a while now and remains a huge positive, especially for those seeking a neutral run and good cupping of the heel. The Cradle integrates forward with a cushy midsole, providing smooth ride (16mm to 8mm stack) and slight rebound for the mid footer. Yet this shoe could be used by any form of striker, realistically.

Once again, The North Face has produced a refined, sturdy and performance-orientated trail shoe that will sit proudly in anyone’s collection and be used more than most. This is the shoe (and indeed a brand) that should get more attention than perhaps it does in the trail marketplace, given its consistent high quality offerings. Maybe that’s why the orange? It’s trying to catch our attention. But for my money, it needn’t shout like that, for this shoe speaks enough volume when it’s on my feet, on trail. The message is clear: it’s a comfortable, confident runner. And so I go faster and harder. If Warwick Capper was a trail runner, I reckon he’d say it’d help get higher, too.

TNF Ultra2-2411TAKEOUTS: The North Face Ultra Trail 2

Great for: most mid range trails – including door to trail runs, lairy runners.

Not-so-great for: mud, shy people (if you buy the orange).

Test Conditions: Technical and non technical single track with a smattering of fire road, 95km

Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor

Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running routes, mostly 15-30km range outings.

RRP: AUD $190.00 / NZD $230.00



Trail Run Mag 16

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Mt Buller

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