Adidas has been making shoes for a long time — the company was founded in 1949 — so they know a thing or two about footwear design. Take that kind of knowledge and experience, combine it with one of the best climbing rubbers on the market — Five Ten’s Stealth Rubber — and you have the makings of a first-rate approach shoe. Enter the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Solo, a bit of a mouthful, but a fantastic shoe indeed.
The Solo is one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on. The tongue looks rather thin and flimsy, but you can crank down the laces all you want and no painful pressure is transmitted to your foot. A large rubber cap wraps over the toes, great for shoving into cracks, and doubling as extra protection when you’re on the trail. Heel retention is spot on: first day out I took these for an hour-and-a-half approach no rubbing to even speak of. Pretty amazing for a brand-new shoe.
Climbing performance is what you would expect of a shoe with Stealth Rubber on the sole: amazing. The sole is very, very sticky. The large, flat ‘climbing zone’ under the toes sticks exceptionally well to rocks of all kinds, and makes the Solo one of my favourite shoes to climb easy slab in. The rest of the sole is also made of Stealth Rubber but the tread is optimized for drier climates: the lugs are a shallow and closely-spaced design. I tried these on a couple muddy trails and recommend that you don’t: either wear mud-friendly shoes or just go with flip-flops, they’re much more breathable.
Speaking of which, breathability is excellent. I used these on a few approaches in the desert heat and not once did I notice my feet sweating excessively. It’s a shoe so don’t expect sweat to somehow disappear, but the upper is very breathable and heat escapes readily.
Size-wise, they’re right on. I’m generally a 9.5 US, and the 9.5 fits perfectly. Kudos to Adidas.
There’s only one downside I can think of, and it’s going to sound ludicrous: the sole sometimes feels too sticky, especially when you just want to shift your foot slightly. In these situations, I’ve found that I have to consciously think about lifting my foot as the sole doesn’t want to budge. Crazy, I know, but it happens to me often enough that I thought I should mention it (or maybe I should just learn better footwork.)
That same stickiness also translates well into other sports — this is a fantastic shoe for mountain biking on flat pedals, and I’ve used these for downhill and dirt jumping. Biking is an abusive sport to shoes, and the Solo have been holding up very well.
The Terrex Solo is great value, and at just $120 it’s along the lower-end of approach shoe costs. The Stealth Rubber sole is sticky, and durable, but it is oriented towards dry climates as the lugs are quite shallow. It’s the only approach shoe in the Adidas Outdoor line-up, but why have more when you can do it right once?
Pros: sticky sole, great fit, comfort
Cons: can be too sticky?
Overall: If you’re headed to the desert for some shoulder-season climbing, these won’t disappoint.
Adidas Outdoor provided The Alpine Start with a product sample but this in no way influences our opinion.