TRACTION – Sorry, but there will be a TON of comparisons to the regular UltraBoost, reviewed here, because most of the shoe is the same. However, traction/outsole is changed up, and if you missed the UB but got the UltraBoost ST (reviewed here), the traction is the same — webbed rubber Continental outsole stretched over the Boost midsole. It isn’t thick or hard and the circular nubs wear off fairly quickly, but not as quick as the peaks of the original. Luckily, the rubber hasn’t worn down into the Boost material in the previous pairs reviewed, so the overall durability is good, even if the pattern wears quick. The rubber is not great in wet conditions, slipping and sliding in just a little bit of moisture, but on dry roads it holds perfectly.
CUSHIONING – Really? Do we need to do this? Okay, here goes: Boost. Is. The. Best. Cushioning. On. The. Market. Responsive, soft but solid, durable, smooth — Boost is everything. The foot sinks into the midsole about halfway and then the pebbles decide enough is enough and respond, pushing back. Some may prefer Zoom, Bounce, Charged, or Gel, but for our money nothing beats Boost. Rumors of Boost losing response or flattening in time, or even starting off hard under foot, have been heard, but on this end nothing like that has occurred.
MATERIALS – It gets no better. Maybe as good, but for today’s sneakerhead, no better. Primeknit all over and the knit is super-soft and flexible. The UltraBoost Uncaged stretches with the foot when needed but has tighter woven areas in high-stress areas like the lateral sides of the forefoot and midfoot. The ankle collar is the biggest change, with an elastic entry that stretches for all shapes (also knitted). Oh, yeah, and the cage is missing. For those of you who experienced a stabbing or rubbing sensation from the forward stripe in the UltraBoost, that is now gone, replaced by reinforced, glue overlays around the laceholes to keep the fabric from ripping on stressful movements. Remember, this is the PERFORMANCE REVIEW.
FIT – Had a little problem, initially. If you watched the unboxing you know there was a problem with the shoe being SUPER-SNUG. There was a reason — and some of you guessed correctly — it was a women’s pair. The problem was corrected the next week and fit is exactly like the original Ultra and the ST. Don’t expect a structured, supportive fit — it’s not for that. Do expect a sock-like structure that feels great in the hot summer. The ankle collar has a slight padded area around the top stopping heel slip and the removal of the cage allows the ‘Knit in the midfoot to wrap like a glove.
SUPPORT – Nope. Nada. Zero. There is a Torsion system in the midfoot to help guide the stride, and the split heel counter does a great job of holding the heel in, but there is no midfoot support on the upper and the forefoot is left to fend for itself. If you are a neutral efficient striding runner, or only see the road a few miles a week, this is perfect for foot freedom and all of that. If you need ANY amount of pronation support or have any injuries or deficiencies in your gait, beware of the UltraBoost Uncaged (or look at the ST).
OVERALL – One of the easiest shoes ever reviewed. One, because it is almost exactly the same, performance-wise, as the UltraBoost. The other: it’s a really freaking fun shoe to wear and I never wanted to take it off. If you have the ability and funds to grab a pair, I highly suggest it. If you don’t want to spend $180 on a “fashion runner,” then don’t, but don’t let the UltraBoost Uncaged fool you — it performs as well or better than ANY other shoe out there, provided you acknowledge the support factor.
Who knows what adidas will do next — that Midas touch is solid right now — but if it performs like the UltraBoost line, the game could be over. Keep stepping up Three Stripes; we are enjoying the hits.