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Adidas Terrex Agravic Flow Running Shoes Review

Described as being 'for casual runs and long sections on pavement or trails', the Agravic Flow is a lightweight shoe that seeks to straddle the line between urban and off-road running. If you like things soft and minimal then you may get on well with this shoe, but don't expect either the depth of cushioning you'd tend to find on a road running shoe or the all-terrain grip and support of a full-blown trail shoe.

They are comfy but fairly insubstantial  © Pegs Bailey
They are comfy but fairly insubstantial
© Pegs Bailey

As a big-footed and fairly heavy runner I prefer both more support and more cushioning, and for me the Agravic Flow defintiely suits its 'casual' billing. For short runs in the park or around town, these shoes are fine; but they wouldn't be my choice for anything more off-road than a gravel track. I'm sure some people prefer their footwear soft and minimalist, though, so while I'm not a convert the Agravic Flow may find fans elsewhere. It's worth noting that a heavier duty version, the Agravic XT, is also available: I've not tried those, but suspect I'd personally prefer them.

Fit

The Agravic Flow is available for both men and women, in a wide range of sizes for both.

There are three names used in the Terrex trail running series:

  • "Speed" are narrow fitting performance and race-oriented shoes.
  • "Agravic" are standard width and include every day trail shoes such as the Flow.
  • "TWO" are a wider fit, designed to provide comfort over long distance.

They're ideal for this sort of off-road running, but less so on rough, steep or slippy hill terrain  © Dan Bailey
They're ideal for this sort of off-road running, but less so on rough, steep or slippy hill terrain
© Dan Bailey

Though officially a medium width in Adidas fitting, I find this quite a roomy shoe, with plenty of space at the front for my broad-toed foot (a rarity, as most footwear is too narrow for me). As such, it'd be good for a long run where you might get a bit of foot spread. There's a lot of volume too, and while a smaller size than my usual 12 would doubtless have been too short for me, I've had to use a thicker insole than the thin, floppy one provided, in order to soak up some excess depth. Because the lacing doesn't extend quite as far forward as some shoes, you've less scope for fine tuning the fit at the front.

Uppers

For £129.95 the Agravic Flow is also available with a Gore-Tex lining. Personally I find waterproof-lined shoes an anathema (they're hot and sweaty, and trap the water when they flood), but general opinion is divided on this and I'm sure some users will appreciate the option of a waterproof version. In the unlined model I've been using the mesh uppers are highly breathable, as is the mesh tongue, so they're really well suited to warmer weather. I've yet to suffer sweaty feet in these shoes; however they do get smelly.

If you run on tarmac as often as trails, and don't like tons of support or cushioning, then they may suit you  © Pegs Bailey
If you run on tarmac as often as trails, and don't like tons of support or cushioning, then they may suit you
© Pegs Bailey

The sock-like fit across the top of the foot is soft and comfy. It's almost like wearing a pair of slippers. Being so soft and unstructured, the uppers offer little support, and very little padding. The heel, for instance, doesn't have a stiff cup, and with quite a broad fit and minimal cushioning I don't find it holds my foot in place very successfully. On ascents I get a lot of heel lift, even with the laces as tight as possible, and when traversing a slope my foot tends to slip inside the shoe. There's not much protection for the foot either, so they're not ideal on rough rocky ground. However on gentle terrain with minimal inclines I find them very comfortable.

Soft, breathable mesh uppers and a shallow-studded sole   © Dan Bailey
Soft, breathable mesh uppers and a shallow-studded sole
© Dan Bailey

Sole

The Continental rubber outsole has a pattern of shallow studs. There's not much bite to this tread, which is clearly aimed at harder-packed trails and a mix of park and more urban environments rather than full-on fells. That said, the outsole offers surprisingly decent grip on wet grass - I've tackled steep grassy descents in the rain without mishap. They're OK on gravel, tarmac and dry rock too, but a bit slidey on greasy rock. However the lugs really aren't deep enough to bite into sloppy ground, and there's no heel breast for added downhill braking. I've found these shoes slippy in mud, even on the flat. I suspect the soft rubber will wear quickly too.

Good for hard-packed tracks and trails  © Pegs Bailey
Good for hard-packed tracks and trails
© Pegs Bailey

Befitting its crossover role, shock absorption in the midsole feels middle-of-the-road. There's more cushioning underfoot than you'll get with a full-on hill running shoe, but less than you'd expect in a shoe designed exclusively for tarmac. In fact the Agravic Flow is less cushioned than many trail shoes. Among the running shoes I've currently got on the go, the Boreal Saurus and La Sportiva Ultra Raptor are both better suited to off-road terrain than the Agravic Flow, yet on a hard surface I find each also feels more cushioned and shock-absorbing than the Adidas. Both these models are at the hefty and supportive end of the trail shoe spectrum, while the Agravic Flow is comparatively minimalist.

I'm not sure what 'boost cushioning' is, but if it's supposed to 'return energy with every stride', as described, then I can't say I've noticed. And I could do with all the energy I can get!

Decent grip on rock, grass and wet paving  © Dan Bailey
Decent grip on rock, grass and wet paving
© Dan Bailey

It'll come as no surprise that there's little support underfoot. These soft soles are very bendy at the toe, and have a lot less lateral stiffness than beefy shoes like the Saurus or Ultra Raptor, too. Hold the shoe in your hand and you can easily bend it in half toe-to-heel, or twist it lengthways. That's not the sign of a sole I'd want to take far off-path, though I'm sure there are some runners that like a bendy shoe.

Summary

If you like soft minimalist shoes then the Agravic Flow might be up your street. They're certainly light, at only 796g for my pair of size 12s. For easy runs on pavements, tarmac, forest tracks and parkland paths I've found them fine, if nothing to write home about. But if things get more demanding then their limitations fast become obvious. By trying to blur the line between urban and trail I think they fail to excel in either. Fundamentally I'd prefer more cushioning for hard-packed surfaces, a better grip on muddy ground, and more support in the rough than they can provide - and there are other shoes that tick all these boxes. The Agravic XT might have been better for me. I do like the look though, and they have become my everyday non-running footwear - which, I suspect, is what most of us use trainers for most of the time anyway.

Adidas say:

Find your flow in these trail shoes. Built for a smooth roll-off on any surface, they offer versatility for running on or off road. A responsive Boost midsole delivers endless energy while the smooth, flexible feel adapts to uneven terrain. The engineered mesh upper maximises breathability to keep feet comfortable, and a water-shedding band around the base helps seal out mud and moisture.

These trail running shoes offer versatility and comfort for casual runs and long sections on pavement or forest trails. They have a breathable mesh upper that fits like a sock and provides flexibility and support. Boost cushioning returns energy with every stride and adapts to uneven terrain.

  • Weight: 796g / pair size 12 (our weight)
  • Sizes: 6-13.5 (men) 3.5-10.5 (women)
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole for extraordinary traction in wet and dry conditions
  • Mesh upper with abrasion resistant weldings
  • Breathable engineered mesh
  • Snug sock-like construction
  • Responsive Boost midsole
  • Regular fit

For more info see adidas.co.uk



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21 Jan

I have had two pairs and both split on the front uppers within a month, so if you have anything other than a narrow foot I wouldn't bother

That's odd Robert, I've got a wide foot and I find them pretty spacious. No splitting issues on mine yet. Have you raised this with Adidas, or the shop you bought them at?

22 Jan

No but I do run off my toes quite a bit and after three months I just think they will say "so what"


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