While many hikes stick to obvious groomed trails, there are some treks that dive into more adventurous territory, including light scrambles over rocky terrain. This is exactly the sweet spot for the adidas Terrex Solo shoe, just one offering in the athletic company’s rapidly growing Outdoor line.
Back in 2011, adidas acquired footwear company Five Ten, widely regarded the vanguard of climbing “approach shoes” – hybrid kicks whose über-sticky Stealth rubber allows for better grip when traveling over rocks, boulders, and slabs. The company’s Outdoor division now boasts world-class climbers and alpinists like Sasha DiGiulian, Kevin Jorgeson, Kai Lightner, and Libby Sauter on their roster of athlete ambassadors, and they’ve stitched their iconic stripe logo across all manner of technical gear.
Fresh off of an impressive tour of adidas Outdoor’s current Spring/Summer and upcoming Fall/Winter lines, I tested a pair of the Terrex Solo in a range of conditions – from the local crags at Stoney Point, to the boulder-filled wonderland of Joshua Tree National Park, to an assortment of hikes on the iconic Pacific Crest Trail. Here’s my take on this rock-meets-trail hybrid.
The bulk of the upper is a fairly breathable woven material, reinforced around the heel with a rubberized overlay. The forefoot and burly toe rand are cloaked in Five Ten’s famously grippy Stealth rubber, a nod to the technical side of the shoe, and the remainder of the outsole is comprised of adidas’ TRAXION technology, which offers a somewhat grippy lug base. This is where you see the hybrid nature of the Solo come to light – the forefoot has the stickiness to grip when scrambling over rock, where the outsole is slightly lugged to provide some traction on mixed terrain. Note I said some – the latter is the shoe’s only downfall, since the low profile lugs offer only moderate grip when on more slippery surfaces like gravel or mud.
I made the mistake of going a half-size up, which is what I do with all of my trail runners and boots to allow for swelling and to prevent toe jamming on downhills. However, you lose the technical shine of this shoe when it gets too roomy in the toe box. For that reason, I considered sending them back and sizing down, but after slipping my feet inside (especially easy given the handy loop), I realized that the shoe cupped my heel perfectly, and that the bungee cord lacing system allowed for a more customized fit. While I wouldn’t attempt dancing up an intricate granite slab in these, I have been able to move from the trail to more technical third class scrambles with ease. Still, I recommend you definitely order in your true size to get the best fit.
I also appreciated the roomy toe box, a nod towards this being more of a hybrid hiker rather than a strictly technical shoe. A final tick in the plus column is that these are incredibly lightweight, and after all-day trips, the laces never loosened, my toes never pinched, and my feet were as comfortable as the moment I slipped them on.
I’ve never received as many compliments on footwear as I have when I’ve worn the Solos – not just on the trail or at the crag, but also out around town. These are styled like street shoes, which makes sense considering adidas’ legacy in that area, and the dusty rose coloring of this particular pair is much more subtle in person than it is online – moreso when you add miles and miles of dirt to the equation!
If you’re looking for a rugged hiker or a full-on backpacking boot, you’ll want to explore other options in adidas’ Terrex line. However, the Terrex Solo is the perfect blend of lightweight, intelligently engineered form and function for people who love the trail as much as they love the vertical.