As a fashion editor who’s covered fitness and activewear for over 12 years, I still remember when brands simply shrunk running shoes for females. As the fitness industry and demand for women’s running shoes grew, however, brands started to create styles that specifically cater to the shape and support needs of female feet (which are not only smaller, but often narrower than their male counterparts). Fast forward to 2021 and adidas — one of the top athletic brands in the market — is continuing the trend with its first-ever women’s-specific running shoe: the adidas Ultraboost 22.
Why I Tested the adidas Ultraboost 22 shoes
I’ll start by saying that my knowledge of this market is quite high for someone who doesn’t have any marathon medals hanging from my wall (I blame a fat ankle). I run regularly for cardio, outside in New York City or the suburbs of New Jersey, and frequent boutiques with treadmill workouts. adidas is a brand I trust for running sneakers, not only because their styles look good, but are also crafted to endure miles and miles of wear and tear. Another fan of Ultraboost models, Andy Waterman, editor of Meter magazine and a 2:42 marathoner, loves them for their midsole. “The Ultraboost was one of the first advanced foams I got to run in, and it still feels great underfoot today — connected but cushioned, efficient but comfortable.” Likewise, I always responded well to Ultraboost technology and wanted to see how adidas updated this series for female fans.
The first thing I noticed when I received my pair of Ultraboost 22s was its wider front toe box. I also love the cool black/black/purple colorway I chose, as well as the the reflective highlights that will make my lowlight runs a bit safer and laces that are the perfect length. (This is a feature I always take note of, and I could tell right away these laces would remain tied through my workout). From the inside, my feet instantly welcomed the feel of a thick foam sole that’s wider than versions found in past models.
I wore the Ultraboost 22s to my Barry’s class, a high-intensity interval workout that combines running and weights. Unlike other running shoes I’ve been sporting recently, the wide toe box on this pair allowed my toes to amply move and spread as soon as I slipped my feet in. Furthering the sensation is the flexible yet comfortably snug upper, which is made of Primeknit+ yarn featuring at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic — reimagined plastic waste intercepted on remote islands, beaches, coastal communities and shorelines— and 50% recycled polyester.
A result of over 1.2 million foot scans also contributed to the reimagining of the back of the shoe. Now tailored to a female foot shape, the Ultraboost 22 has a lower, snug instep and a slimmer fit to keep heels locked in and prevent blisters from forming. I never once felt rubbing or friction, which is rare when I try any new shoe.
As for the shoe’s outsole, it has the same Linear Energy Push (LEP) torsion system as the Ultraboost 21. The LEP is a plastic insert adidas uses to provide runners with 15% more torsional rigidity so they can increase speed quickly when needed. However, the Ultraboost 22 for women has an extra plastic support in the arch of the outsole designed for softer landings and to control pronation (some experts say women are more likely to overpronate; as such, the Ultraboost 22 does come in a men’s version, too, but without this addition).
And like its predecessor, the Ultraboost 22 is also “a treat to run in, especially in the depths of winter when grip is at a premium,” Waterman says. “The compound eats up wet pavement and keeps coming back for more, outlasting even the most committed marathon build.”
According to the brand, thanks to the LEP system, Boost midsole, wider toe box and outsole update, the Ultraboost 22 for women produces 4% more energy return. In fact, I felt a bouncer response immediately. My stride was even, smooth and had the ideal amount of cushion due to the extra lugs on the outsole for a more centralized transition.
One note: If your feet require additional arch support, you might want to consider adding an insole. I could feel my feet getting slightly fatigued on a longer run, although this didn’t happen on my 30-minute treadmill workout.
I will definitely be lacing these up regularly and would recommend these to any female runners looking for a new shoe. It has me thinking of who I can gift these to for the holidays, as they’re not only great for fitness buffs looking to jumpstart a new running routine but any woman who craves comfort everyday in a good walking shoe. The sustainable aspect of these sneakers also make me happy, as I plan to make more conscious decisions about what clothing and accessories I add to my closet.
The adidas UltraBoost 22 is available now in six colorways at adidas.com and at adidas retailers for $190.