Last year, we tested out the Adidas Terrex Skychaser GTX. This top-of-the-line running shoe won our unabashed approval for excellent grip, great use of Boost cushioning and second to none Goretex waterproofing. This year, Adidas sent us a review copy of their Terrex Agravic GTX trail runners. While still very high-end, they fall in place just underneath the Skychaser, modeled more as a training and long term use platform rather than a laser-focused race day shoe.
After about 70 miles of trail running, here’s how the Agravic GTX compares to the Skychaser GTX:
Bigger and less frequent tread knobs help give the Skychaser better trail feel than the Agravic GTX.
- Grip: The Agravic features a significant increase in the number of lugs that make contact with the ground compared the the Skychaser. Each Agravic lug is also noticably more shallow than what the Skychaser was equipped with. The sole is still made of Continental rubber, which delivers excellent grip on it’s own, but the extra spread of rubber contact on the ground by way of more lugs easily earns the Agravics the title of best gripping shoe we have ever tested. A side and top view show the cushioning, drop and toebox width on the Agravic.
- Cushioning: While the Skychaser used Adidas’ fantastic Boost cushioning in a way very similiar to the Agravic, the extra lugs and increase contact with the ground made the Agravics feel like they were taking better advantage of the cushioning. Run these two side-by-side and it’s clear the Agravic is a platform designed more for endurance and distance and less exclusively on speed. A view of the Agravic’s superb Continental grip. More lugs and ground contact, however, mean less trail feel.
- Trail Feel: A byproduct of the Agravic’s additional usage of cushioning is very large drop in trail feel and response. The Skychaser has so much trail feel and response, a runner could about sense the change in the color of the dirt. Comparatively speaking, the Agravics really lack in this department. This type of wet, muddy and even snowy environment is where the Agravic GTX does it’s best work. The waterproofing works perfect in these situations.
- Waterproofing: Both shoes tie for their use of Goretex. It’s brilliantly used and does exactly what’s promised in both applications. The Skychaser does get higher waterproofing marks for their extra inclusion of a rubberized area that helps seals the top of the tongue to the leg to keep out splashed water or rain. But for the typical trail runner, the Agravic is going to out perform any reasonable waterproofing expectations. The Agravic’s super clever tongue design that stays put no matter what. Notice the long dropped side piece that helps anchor the rest of the tongue in place.
- Brilliant Design Features: Here’s what I love most about the Agravic. Certain details on the shoe have obviously had loads of thought put into the design. The tongue, for example, is cut and attached to the upper in a way that prevents it from sliding down the to the side of your foot during usage. This is something that has annoyed me with almost every running shoe I have ever run in, and the Agravic is the first shoe to eliminate that slide completely. It’s a clever, well executed design that’s apparent in many other places.
Adidas has created two very different shoes with the Terrex Skychaser GTX and the Terrex Agravic GTX. The Terrex Skychaser is meant for the top echelon of athletes and is a triumph of engineering. It’s a fast, no frills, race day shoe that sacrifices a number of amenities for lots and lots of speed.
The Agravic on the other hand is more restrained, but in ways that work to the benefit of those looking for something more comfortable and oriented towards distances. It’s not nearly as fast of a shoe, but it’s not supposed to be. In my opinion, it has the best grip of any trail running shoe I have ever tested paired with very balanced cushioning, and that, for most, is more important than unrestrained speed qualities.
I have a closet with a full collection of trail runners that rivals most shoe-crazy fashionistas. Of all the choices I have to train for and run in the three major trail races I have planned this summer, my clear and completely unarguable choice is the Agravic GTX.
After Adidas’ sent the Skychasers for review last year, it was hard to imagine the company could produce something that’s not only better, but significantly higher performing in multiple areas. But they did. And I love it. In a sentence, the Adidas Terrex Agravic GTX are unquestionably the best trail running shoes on the market right now.