The Adidas Terrex Two Boa is a trail running shoe built for long days on the trail. It features a Boa lacing system that utilizes a dial mechanism in place of traditional laces. It also features a Continental rubber outsole. This is the same brand rubber found in premium Continental car tires.
The first thing I noticed about this shoe is its overall design. The upper is smooth all around and is loaded with TPU overlays. The upper looks like it’s made from one piece of mesh and they’ve done a good job incorporating the boa system into the design. Up close you can see that the upper and really the entire shoe were built for utility. There are no soft or plush materials to be found. The mesh has a plastic like feel to it. I can tell right away that this won’t be one of those uppers that provides a soft sock-like fit.
My presumptions are confirmed the first time I put them on and tighten them down with the Boa lacing system. They feel rigid and slightly uncomfortable. The tongue of the shoe is very thick. It feels hard and presses up against the front of my ankle causing some discomfort. The fit is on the loose side and there’s a wide toe box. I had trouble gauging the tightness at first when using the boa system. The shoe has a unique fit that requires some experimenting to get it feeling right. This left me slightly nervous about the miles I would be running in them for the review.
The Terrex Two boa features a thick layer of lightweight Eva cushioning. The outsole sports 4mm lugs made of continental rubber. The outsole also is said to have taken design cues from MTB tires. The continental rubber is advertised as providing extraordinary grip.
Starting with the midsole Eva cushioning, I found it to have a very good balance between cushioned and responsive. There is enough cushioning to provide comfort all day on the trail and enough bounce to make you feel efficient while running. Similar to many other trail shoes the ride feels slightly firm when on a hard paved surface. On a softer singletrack trail surface it is just about perfect. It feels softer than the cushioning of the salomon sense max pro and just about on par with but slightly firmer than the Hoka One One speedgoat 2.
A major advertising and hopeful selling point of the shoe is the continental rubber used in the outsole. With 4mm lugs and a durable, heavily tested rubber material I was hopeful that it would impress. The outsole has lugs evenly spaced around the perimeter and through the rest of the underfoot. I found that the outsole provided great traction. I was able to test the shoe on the appalachian trail after 3 days of heavy rain. I ran on slippery trails through mud that was ankle deep in some spots. The trails were so wet that I had to turn around early because they were flooded. The shoe gripped exceptionally well in these conditions. Overall The Terrex Two boa has a high performing midsole/outsole combination that provides a responsive, cushioned and grippy ride.
The upper of the Terrex Two boa is all business. It is clear that attention was paid to durability and protection over luxury and comfort. Even the lacing system consisting of a single dial gives this shoe an all business feel. The upper is covered with TPU overlays that provide adequate protection for your foot. The mesh feel more like soft plastic than fabric and allows the shoe to breath well and drain well when wet. The tongue is made from a thick layer of EVA providing some protection for the top of your foot from the laces. The entire upper feels like it was built for protection and durability. That makes this an upper that is good for some things and bad for others, meaning it’s not going to work for everyone.
Even If you are not familiar with the boa lacing system it is simple to use. There is a single dial on the outside of the upper. Attached to that dial are the thin and durable laces that are woven over the top of the shoe. You turn the dial to tighten the shoes, and you pull the dial straight up to loosen the laces. One of the biggest advantages to the boa system is it gives you the ability to adjust on the fly. This is a pretty useful feature to have during a long trail race. It make shoe adjustments incredibly simple and easy. As much as untying and retying doesn’t seem like a big deal, it gets old over the course of an entire day. Having the boa system makes this a much easier process.
I can also see some disadvantages to this type of system. The boa is positioned on the upper in a place you are unlikely to make contact with a root, rock or tree but it’s certainly still possible. It didn’t happen while testing the shoe but I did find myself wondering what would happen if it did. If this single point mechanism were to break or lose functionality I think there would be major problems. It would be hard to find a way to secure the shoe to your foot if this mechanism broke. When you imagine this happening miles away from an aid station you start to wonder if it would be worth putting your trust into.
After 50+ miles in the shoe and testing on a variety of terrain including rocky, technical trails and complete washouts the shoe has held up well. There are no abnormal signs of wear & tear.
Responsiveness & Speed
The shoe strikes a nice balance between cushioning and responsiveness. It is responsive enough to make you feel like you are running efficiently, and cushioned enough to maintain all day comfort.
Comfort and Fit
I will say flat out that this upper was mildly uncomfortable to start. The thick tongue felt like it was digging into the front of my ankle on the first few runs. It has slits cut into it that allow it to lower into place when you tighten the laces and at first the positioning was causing some irritation. With time the material softened and the issue resolved completely. There is no softness whatsoever to this upper. If that is the sort of thing you require you will have to look elsewhere. That being said, once I broke in the upper, I actually enjoyed running in the shoe. I found that the most comfortable way for me to wear this shoe was actually to tighten them a little less than I usually would. If I dialed down the boa system too tight, it felt restrictive in the sense that there was too much pressure on the top and sides of my foot. When I left them feeling slightly loose I found the sweet spot. This took some trial and error and a few mid run adjustments.
The upper provided great protection and despite the use of durable materials it did not cause any irritation or rubbing. It has a slightly wide fit and a wide toe box. The midfoot fit is on the loose side or at least leaving them that way is what worked best for me. Not loose as in falling off, but loose to where I’m questioning if they’re tight enough. From my initial impressions I thought that there would be no way I’d consider wearing something like this all day, but the more I ran in it the more I liked it. I found the protective characteristics of the materials, breathability and ability to drain to be very beneficial. This shoe has an upper that couldn’t be described as comfortable but also couldn’t be described as uncomfortable. It is comfortable enough.
The Terrex Two boa started as a dud for me. After a break in period I grew fond of the fit and feel. There is an absolute trade off between protection/utility and luxury. The upper gets the job done but was mildly uncomfortable at first. I found the boa system to be very useful and that I liked having the ability to adjust my shoe on the fly with very little effort. I have no reason to believe it would malfunction but it would probably take a lot for me personally to put my trust in the dial on race day. The outsole and midsole combination works very well giving you ample grip, rebound and cushioning.
In comparing the Terrex Two to one of my go-to trail running shoes the Hoka One One speedgoat 2, I would put the ride quality right on par. The Terrex has slightly less cushioning and also a slightly more responsive ride than the Speedgoat. The comfort of the uppers are about the same once the Terrex is broken in. The Terrex has the edge on protection and an overall wider fit, especially in the toe box. In terms of grip and traction they are very close with the Terrex having a slight edge.
We purchased a pair of Adidas Terrex Two Boa from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.