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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Adidas Terrex Fast X GTX Shoes > Test Report by Rick Dreher
adidas Terrex Fast X GTX
I enjoy going high and light and frequently take shorter "fast- packing" trips. My longest trips are a week or so. I've lightened my pack load because I enjoy hiking more when toting less, I can go farther and over tougher terrain, and I have cranky ankles. I use trekking poles and generally hike solo or tandem. I've backpacked all over the U.S. West and now primarily hike California's Sierra Nevada. My favorite trips are alpine and include off-trail travel and sleeping in high places. When winter arrives, I head back for snowshoe outings in the white stuff.
Product Info & Specs
As noted above, lacing is single-pull with locking toggles. The laces themselves are very thin and do not stretch. For the most part, the laces pass through plastic sleeves anchored with webbing and hopefully, don't create pressure points across the foot. The lace locks seem to resist slippage and there's even an elastic keeper "lace bungee" for the pull tabs.
Insoles are removable, not glued into place. They're labeled "Ortholite" and are said to wick moisture and be treated against odor. The forefoot has an extra foam layer.
Overall construction appears neat and clean. Stitching and glue joints are neat, clean and gapless. There's no rough stitching, although the lining does have a couple exposed seams.
No user guidance was supplied with the shoes, either printed on the box or on the feature hangtags. The adidas Website has Terrex GTX page listing features and average weight, but no further user guidance. They're shoes, not complicated gear, so I don't feel particularly ill-informed.
Fitting the Shoes
Before I bother trying trail shoes in the store I give them a workover--bending and flexing them to figure out whether they'll survive the trail and protect my feet and ankles. These Terrex GTX, while lightweight are really stout. I can barely twist them and the soles resist bending as well. First test is passed easily.
The Terrex GTX are closer to light boots than lightweight trail "sneakers," even if they're not much more than sneaker weight. They pass all my picky initial tests with ease: they fit, they're stout yet light and they're stabilized. I'm keen to find out how they do on the trail, avec backpack.
Field Locations and Conditions
Since the initial report I've worn the Terrex GTX around town (for break-in), on day hikes and on backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada. I focus here on the last.
I've backpacked 14 days total, on trails and cross-country routes alike, in California's Desolation and Emigrant wildernesses. First trip was in late-spring "shoulder season" conditions and the others in the heart of summer. Trails ranged the gamut from level forest duff to granite slab, rocky rubble, stream courses, sand, dust and marsh. Cross-country included a good deal of Class 2 and 3 scrambling requiring hand-holds. The first trip included off-trail wandering across spring snowfields while later trips had me slogging through dry stream beds with scattered pools. Hiking temperatures encountered have ranged from around freezing to the 80s F (0-30 C) and weather run the gamut from strong wind with horizontal rain to clear and calm. Elevations ranges from a low of around 7,000 feet up to 9,600 (2,100 - 2,900 m). I don't have reliable mileage data for these trips but do track hours and eleveation gain/loss. I will estimage I've backpacked roughly a hundred miles/160 km in these adidas.
When I applied for this test I speculated about what range of conditions I might meet and wondered whether our very dry winter and hot spring might limit my exposure to snow, standing water and mud. As it turned out, no worries! Get in the mountains early enough and there's always a remnant of spring to plow through. Since that first trip though, the snow vanished and dry became the prevailing theme.
Related Gear: My maximum pack weight was 40+ pounds (19 kg) at the start of the seven-day trip. My more typical pack was in the low-30s (15 kg). I find it helpful to keep track of total weight in determining how much any pair of shoes can handle (one reason I don't backpack in road-running shoes). I used trekking poles for all backpacking and likewise, always wore the same pair of midweight wool socks, with no liner socks. Heavyweight socks are a little snug and the shoes can slip with thin socks.
Fit: My initial good fit in the Terrex GTX has remained throughout the field test, with a couple of niggles. The further into the trail day the more I noticed the arch supports. I have low arches (not flat but not very "arch-y," either) and the Terrex arches and insoles are pretty pronounced. It affected both feet on my second trip and while there was no blistering, they hurt quite a bit by the time I reached the car. That last day was also the longest--seven hours, 1,450 feet gain and 2,500 feet loss (450/760 m) with a large cross-country portion. Luckily, my most recent seven-day trip didn't repeat the problem, so perhaps my feet have adjusted or the shoes have in some way broken in. I'm keeping the athletic tape handy for the rest of the test.
Lacing: I find the lace pressure across the tops of my feet can be uneven and sometimes uncomfortable, but if I'm careful to tighten them from the toe end and work upward before locking the toggles the tension even and the unwanted pressure goes away. The lace locks seem to hold over the day, perhaps with an adjustment at lunch. The laces are long enough to open the tops wide, making it easy to pull on the shoes. But when tightened, they're so long the pull tab extends all the way to the toe. I shove them under the front-most lace to limit how much they flop while I'm walking. Over time the toggles have become tougher to unlock. Suspecting debris inside, I blasted them out with a garden hose and they became much easier to use.
Despite the dependable lacing system the tongues work open, increasing how much debris collects inside the shoes.
Protection: My second key text questions (after fit) was how the Terrex GTX would protect both my feet and me (from slip-sliding away). Here, they earn unreserved praise.
Traction: Beginning with the soles, the smallish lugs grip well on packed snow, right up to a fairly steep angle when they lose traction in a predictable, not abrupt manner. Using trekking poles I am able to climb and descend reasonably steep springtime snowfields with relative ease. It would take either deep-lugged full boots or traction devices to improve mobility I get from the Terrex.
Even better is the traction on granite slab, which is exceptional, dry and wet. Comparing these with my hiking partners' footwear, I am able to safely climb and descend steeper angles than they, and not because I have better technique. These shoes stick, which is a testament to the adidas-Continental partnership. Equally good, my toes don't jam on steep slab descents, so no black and purple toenails (…for the most part. After the seven-day trip, both middle toenails are discolored but neither hurts nor is threatening to fall off).
WPB: The Gore-Tex waterproof-breathable lining has done its job. In snow, mud, marsh and standing water my feet have stayed dry, except when moisture came in over the top. The downside is my feet are noticeably hotter in warm, sunny conditions than they'd be in open-weave shoes. This is the crux of the decision whether to wear waterproof shoes--my own body heat and sweat can overcome the Terrex GTX's ability to dissipate them.
Once they're wet from wading through deep water, the shoes don't dry out on the trail but will dry overnight (removing the insoles and opening them wide). I have no idea whether they can do so on multiday trips in relentlessly sloppy, rainy conditions, but in the dry Sierra they do.
Debris: Fine dust doesn't seem to work its way through the uppers but comes right in the tops, especially given the tongues' tendency to work themselves open. Long days hiking dust-choked packer trails drove me to using debris gaiters, which proved effective in limiting how much trail grit worked inside the shoes. The cut-away heels offer a place for the gaiter lace to travel under the instep, but the lacing forces the lace hook to be off-center. Not a big issue but not ideal.
The anti-microbial treatment seems to be doing its job, because the shoes don't (yet) reek.
Wear and Tear
I'm pleased how well the Terrex are holding up, especially because I've completely ruined trail sneakers after less use than these have had. The fabric shows wear in a few places, notably above the armored lace anchors, but the extensive armoring and soles are in good shape. All laminations and glued layers are holding tight, with no signs of separation-particularly the critical toe caps. The lining and insoles look fine, too. As best as I can tell, the Terrex GTX are standing up to the punishment meted so far.
So far the Terrex GTX are serving my hiking and backpacking needs. They handle a huge range of conditions well, I have yet to receive a single blister, and they're holding up to my use and abuse of them. While I was concerned my feet might overheat in them, that hasn't been a big issue on the go and on the plus side, they don't wet though.
* Good fit and have held their shape.
* Soles give excellent, dependable traction across a range of surfaces and slopes.
* Gore-Tex liners are waterproof and reasonably breathable.
* One-pull lacing holds during the day.
* Excellent durability.
Could use improvement:
* Tongues don't stay tucked in, funneling debris inside.
* Lace toggles become difficult to release.
* Laces too long.
* Once wet, don't dry on the go.
Since the field report I've worn the Terrex GTX primarily around town and in the regional rural lowlands. No backpacking trips, unfortunately. The main terrain challenges have been steep, rocky, weed-choked river banks and soggy soccer fields (from a viewer's perspective, not as a player!) Everything has been at sea level and temperatures have ranged from 50 to 100 degrees F (10-38 C).
The Gore-Tex liners definitely help in soggy grass, as my feet always stayed dry. In the weeds and dirt, a lot of debris came into the shoe tops, in part because they're low and in part because of the tongues, which continue to work open while I'm walking. Other than that the Terrex soldier on as shoes that fit well and give good grip.
With assistance from Gore (liners) and the Continental (soles) folks, adidas have an excellent backpacking shoe in the Terrex GTX. They did virtually everything I needed for an entire backpacking season, and a bit more nearer to home. My biggest issue-tongues that let in debris-can be resolved with gaiters, so not a fatal flaw.
I'm very satisfied with the Terrex and look forward to more hikes in them. So impressed with their design and construction, I've bought myself another pair, some Terrex Mids.
My sincere thanks to adidas and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the Terrex GTX trail shoes!
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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Adidas Terrex Fast X GTX Shoes > Test Report by Rick Dreher