Live Science Verdict
The Adidas Ultraboost Light is a better running shoe than the Ultraboost 22, but there are more impressive cushioned running shoes available from other brands.
Lighter than other Ultraboost shoes
Durable, good-looking design
Outsole grips well
Forefoot lacks cushioning
Not well-suited for faster runs
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The Adidas Ultraboost Light is a step in the right direction for the Ultraboost line, reducing the weight considerably compared with the Adidas Ultraboost 22, which makes it a more enjoyable running shoe for any type of run.
It’s a well-cushioned, neutral shoe that is great to use for easy runs, but there are more enjoyable shoes available for that purpose, and despite its name the Ultraboost Light is still a bit heavy and cumbersome when using it for faster training runs.
Weight: 11oz/314g (US 9.5)
Heel stack height: 30mm
Forefoot stack height: 20mm
Like every shoe in the Ultraboost line, the Ultraboost Light benefits from being more stylish than the average running shoe, and its durable midsole and outsole mean that you can wear it casually as well without any fear that it will wear out quickly.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, stylish shoe that you can use for both running and general use, the Adidas Ultraboost Light fits the bill, and made it into our guide to the best running shoes for supination. However, based on performance there are better running shoes available, and crucially they are available for a lot less, since the Ultraboost Light is expensive for a cushioned training shoe.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: How we tested
We’ve run over 50km in the Adidas Ultraboost Light, doing a variety of different runs in the shoe from short, easy efforts around to longer progression runs finishing at around marathon race pace. Most runs have been on the road in both wet and dry conditions, with one run on light trails to see how well the shoe gripped. We’ve also tested several past generations of the Ultraboost, from the original shoe through to the Ultraboost 22.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Build and cushioning
While it has remained a popular shoe with runners, the standard Ultraboost has become heavy in recent years, with the Ultraboost 22 tipping the scales at 12.6oz/357g in a UK men’s 9, considerably heavier than most cushioned road running shoes.
The main change made to the Ultraboost Light addresses this by introducing a new midsole foam, called Light BOOST, which is 30% lighter than the Boost foam used in the Ultraboost 22. This change brings the weight of our UK men’s 9 shoe down to 11oz/314g, which is very similar to the weight of other cushioned shoes like the Nike Invincible 3 and Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 in the same size.
While the foam is new, the shape of the midsole is similar to the Ultraboost 22, with a bulging heel design and sidewalls of foam at the back that your foot sits within, like a bucket seat, to create more stability.
Underneath the midsole is Adidas’s Liner Energy Push system, which is a plastic shank that helps to speed your transition onto your toes during runs, especially when trying to up the pace for interval sessions or tempo runs.
Like the Ultraboost 22, the women’s version of the shoe has been specifically-designed for the female foot, rather than just being a smaller version of the men’s shoe. This means a narrower fit around the heel and a shorter in-step, with the aim of reducing the risk of rubbing and blisters. If you're new to running and concerned about learning how to run properly, we've put together a guide to help you figure out the basics (and avoid the evil that is blistered feet).
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Design and upper
While the midsole has been changed, the upper on the Ultraboost Light has many similarities to the Ultraboost 22, with the plastic midfoot cage and plastic heel clip being signature aspects of the Ultraboost line in general.
The plastic heel clip runs around the back of the shoe to add more stability, while the midfoot cage holds the foot in place securely, adding necessary structure to the sock-like, knitted upper. The yarn used in the PRIMEKNIT+ upper is made from 50% Parley recycled Ocean Plastic and 50% recycled polyester.
While the upper is breathable and holds the foot in place reliably even when running at faster paces, we found it was a little too snug at times. In particular when running downhills our toes were hitting the front of the shoe, and going half a size up on our normal running shoe size might have created a more comfortable fit. Those with wider feet will probably find the toe box tight in their usual size. You can find out more about correct running foot placement with our guide.
The Ultraboost Light launched in a predominantly white color, with red and black accents, but the range has quickly expanded and there are now 10 colors available plus two special editions that are part of the Adidas by Stella McCartney range.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Outsole
The Adidas Ultraboost Light has a Continental rubber outsole, which grips exceptionally well on the road in all conditions, and has also provided reliable traction on park trails as well.
There is full rubber coverage at the forefoot of the shoe, plus rubber on the sides of the midfoot and heel, so all the key impact areas are covered. Like past Ultraboost shoes and other Adidas shoes we’ve tested that use Continental rubber, the Ultraboost Light will last a long time, with no signs of wear and tear from our usage so far.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Performance
The Ultraboost Light has a firm ride out of the box, and while it does break in a little after a couple of runs, it’s still not as soft and plush as many other cushioned shoes, like the Nike Invincible 3 or Asics Gel-Nimbus 25.
While it’s best for easy runs, the Ultraboost Light is a fairly versatile shoe that you can use for a variety of training, including tempo efforts. The 10mm drop and Linear Energy Push system help to snap you forward onto your toes when running at faster paces, but the bulky design of the shoe means it doesn’t work well for flat-out speed sessions or racing.
The way the shoe snaps you forward onto your toes can also create some discomfort under the forefoot on longer runs. Increasing the stack height of the shoe and adding more foam under the forefoot would create a more comfortable ride.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Verdict
The Adidas Ultraboost Light is the best version of the Ultraboost for runners in several years, and if you love the design it could be worth investing in as a good easy running shoe that you can wear when not running as well.
However, looking purely at performance, there are other running shoes that impress us more, offering more exciting or comfortable rides, as well as more versatility in the types of runs they are suited for.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: User reviews
The Ultraboost Light has an average rating of 4.7/5 on the Adidas website, with users complimenting its good looks and versatility as a shoe you can wear for running and casual use. Several reviews noted the tight fit around the toe box and many runners were pleased that the shoe is lighter than the Ultraboost 22.
Adidas Ultraboost Light: Alternatives
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 is another cushioned neutral shoe that has a more comfortable, bouncier ride than the Adidas Ultraboost Light, while the latest version of the On Cloudsurfer is also a great-looking shoe that has a cushier, smoother ride than the Adidas. Those who crave a really soft feeling underfoot will enjoy the Nike Invincible 3 more, though the Nike is less stable than the Ultraboost Light.
Nick Harris-Fry is a health and fitness journalist who has been writing for Future brands such as Coach and Live Science since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him the chance to indulge his other passion—testing new gear, including a wide range of the best running shoes.