If you’re a runner looking for a casual or modern-looking gym shoe that you can use for occasional runs, the Ultraboost Light is a good option. It’s also a very durable trainer and it has excellent build quality.
If you want a super soft, flexible ride, the Ultraboost Light is not for you. It’s also not a very versatile shoe so it can’t be used for a variety of runs.
If you’re familiar with the Ultraboost series, you’ll know that the template is the same from iteration to iteration: a knitted bootie upper, a heavy Boost midsole, combined with a thick Continental rubber outsole.
This year’s Ultraboost Light also follows this same template so not much has changed in this regard however the big difference this year is that the Boost midsole has been modified. Boost Light now makes up the midsole.
I’ve bought most of the Ultraboost versions and I’ve ended up using them for casual wear rather than running because they’ve felt heavy, sluggish and warm. I’ve found Ultraboosts to be very well-cushioned but firmer than other max-cushioned trainers. When it comes to max-cushioned trainers, for me, the softer, the better.
The Ultraboost is still seen by many runners as a casual, lifestyle sneaker and not a serious running shoe. This is mainly due to its heavy weight and its relaxed upper fit. It remains as one of the most popular casual shoes worldwide because of its high level of comfort and its modern design.
The naming of the Ultraboost series has been confusing and inconsistent. For the first 4 years, it was the Ultraboost 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then it changed to the Ultraboost 19, 20, 21 and 22. This year, it’s not the Ultraboost 23, it’s the Ultraboost Light.
It now weighs 10.3 oz (292 g) for the men’s standard size, which is 1.5 oz (43 g) lighter than the Ultraboost 22. It still has a 10 mm drop and costs $190 which is one of the most expensive max-cushioned trainers on the market.
The first time I saw the Ultraboost Light, I wasn’t excited at all. It looked really similar to the last 2 versions, however when I found out that it had a brand new midsole foam, I got a lot more interested.
Boost has not aged well. When it first came out, it was exciting and innovative. Now, it feels badly outdated so it was in dire need of modernisation.
My first run was an easy 9 km run. The first thing I noticed was how much firmer the ride was compared to the Ultraboost 22. It didn’t feel like a max-cushioned shoe anymore. The shoe felt more balanced and not as bottom-heavy as previous Utraboosts due to the lighter midsole.
I also noticed that the upper was more comfortable. The heel lockdown felt improved and the fit felt less relaxed than last year’s version.
Overall, it felt very much like an Utlraboost with the ride being more similar to the Ultraboost 21 than the softer Ultraboost 22.
The thick Primeknit+ material of the Ultraboost Light feels similar to last year’s version with a relaxed fit that focuses more on comfort than performance. There are still no double first row eyelets so you can’t do a runner’s knot- this is a feature that all performance trainers should have.
The plastic external heel clip of the Ultraboost Light extends forward into the midfoot of the shoe. This creates additional stability in the rear of the shoe- we saw the same design with the heel clip of the Nike Invincible Run 3. The big difference is that the heel clip of the Ultraboost Light doesn’t cut into the midsole foam so it isn’t as intrusive and you don’t feel it on the sides of your foot.
The biggest update to the upper is in the inside of the heel counter. The foam pods inside the heel are plumper and they do a better job at locking your heel down so overall foot lockdown feels more secure however you don’t get the same high level of heel lockdown that you’d get from a runner’s knot.
The Ultraboost Light fits true to size although if you prefer a snug fit, you can go down a half size because the Primeknit is stretchy so it will conform to your feet. It has a narrow fit so I don’t recommend it for wide feet. Breathability is not very good because the knitted upper is thick so it’s a shoe that’s more suited to cool climates.
Back in 2018, Adidas launched a racer called the Adizero Sub 2, a shoe which was designed to help their athletes run a marathon in under 2 hours; this never materialised. The Sub 2 used a new, super lightweight midsole foam called Boost Light.
Boost Light had a firm ride but it was insanely light. The Sub 2 weighed a miniscule 5.6 oz (159 g) for a men’s size 9. It’s by far the lightest running shoe I’ve used but it had a ride which was more suited to short distances if you were not an elite runner.
This year’s Ultraboost has a new midsole foam called Light Boost which takes inspiration from Boost Light from the Sub 2. It’s much heavier than the 2018 version but it’s 30 percent lighter than the Boost foam that has been used in the Ultraboost for the past 8 years.
The Ultraboost Light rides significantly firmer than last year’s Ultraboost 22. Not only is its midsole denser but it also has a webbed strobel lasting underneath its insole which prevents your foot from sinking down into the midsole. The Ultraboost 22 had large cutouts in its strobel lasting in the heel and the forefoot which made it feel softer.
These updates make the Ultraboost Light feel more like a daily trainer than a max-cushioned one and it performs better when you are doing runs faster than easy or recovery pace. I find it to be lacking squish and plushness when doing very slow paces above 6 minutes per km (9:40 per mile).
Even though its weight is 1.5 ounces (43 grams) lighter than the Ultraboost 22, the Ultraboost Light is still a heavy trainer- too heavy to be a daily trainer. Its weight limits its versatility and it feels too clunky for uptempo runs.
As a foam, Light Boost doesn’t hold up to competitors’ foams. It doesn’t feel bouncy, engaging or fun so the ride of the Ultraboost Light feels very flat and boring. It feels like a midsole foam from 5 years ago. It does have very deep cushioning so you could do long distances in it but it’s not built to be a long-distance trainer.
Most of the Ultraboost Light’s cushioning is situated in the heel so it’s a shoe that’s more suited to heel strikers. It feels a lot softer and more cushioned when you land on the heel, then it rolls you smoothly onto the forefoot with its 10 mm drop.
There are new grooves carved into the sides of the midfoot and forefoot of the midsole. This design makes the ride softer because it allows the foam to compress more in those areas, however the Light Boost foam is so dense that you still don’t feel much compression.
Stability is an area where the Ultraboost Light excels in: it’s firmer and even more stable than the Ultraboost 22 because there’s less lean bias. The boost foam in the rearfoot cups your heel so it provides a high level of support and guidance as you heel strike.
On the outsole, there’s a new, wide, shallow groove that runs right down the middle of the rearfoot and midfoot. This cutout allows the shoe to shed some weight and it also makes transitions feel slightly more lively. When running, I can hear a hollow sound which comes from this wide channel in the outsole when I strike the ground.
There’s an LEP, plastic shank situated on the outsole of the Ultraboost Light which makes the forefoot stiffer. I don’t really see the point of the LEP because the Ultraboost is not designed for fast runs so a snappy forefoot doesn’t make sense. Even more weight could have been saved without the LEP.
On this year’s Ultraboost outsole, there is less crystal rubber than last year’s. The heel area has been changed from transparent crystal rubber to regular blown rubber. Durability is excellent due to how thick and hard the outsole rubber is. I also had no issues with grip in the Ultraboost Light.
I think Adidas has lost the plot with the Ultraboost. It’s supposed to be their softest, plushest training shoe but it doesn’t have the squish or sink-in experience that you’d expect. The Ultraboost Light is still the firmest of all the max-cushioned trainers.
I don’t think the Ultraboost Light is a good update and I prefer the Ultraboost 22 because it had a softer, plusher ride. The positive is that they have managed to reduce the weight but it came at the sacrifice of cushioning softness.
The Ultraboost Light still feels like a casual, lifestyle sneaker to me. It’s heavier than most max-cushioned trainers and it doesn’t have a plush, luxurious ride.
Nike manages to put their premium racing foam, ZoomX in their max-cushioned trainer so there’s no reason why Adidas can’t use Lightstrike Pro in theirs. The Nike Invincible Run 3 is even cheaper than the Ultraboost Light.
I wouldn’t recommend the Ultraboost Light as a performance trainer because there are so many other max-cushioned trainers like the Triumph 20, Glycerin 20, and New Balance Supercomp Trainer which are softer and provide more energy return. All of them are cheaper than the Ultraboost Light and are more fun to run in.
The Ultraboost Light outperforms the competition when it comes to stability and durability. It’s built like a tank and it feels like one.