adidas Adistar Raven 3 Review – Trail Shoe

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The adidas Adistar Raven 3 is a trail running shoe that focuses on quick shedding grip combined with comfort and stability. It features adidas’ “adaptive traxion” which allows the grip levels to adjust according to the surface. adidas sent me a pair to trash in my local nature reserve and report back to you.

The Look

If you like bright colours, this is a winner. Firey orange on a bright green background, with flashes of white and black make it stand out from the croud. Big edge blocks suggest claw-like levels grip. Laces have been replaced with a drawstring, tucked away under a velcro tab. Techfit upper and the boost style heel counter give it a futuristic slant.

Weight and size

I was sent size 11.5UK which fit me – for reference, I take a size 11.5 Adios Boost and a 12 Energy Boost. My size 11.5UK Ravens came in at 378g on my scales. This surprised me because it looks like a similarly huge shoe to my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra (normal not GTX) and those are 461g for my size (also 11.5UK), so the Ravens come in a whole lot lighter which is great.

Adjustment and fit

Initially I found the drawstring quite fiddly to use. Salomon’s drawstring design uses five restraining loops on one side and four on the other which allows you to easily pull the top of the drawstring and have everything tighten up to a fairly good tightness, with no further effort. However, the adidas design uses six restraining loops on both sides, so I found that only the first 3 or so sections would tighten just be pulling at the top. Therefore I have to spend a few moments going up the “ladder” and pulling on the “rungs” to tighten them properly. However, although I love the convenience of the superfast loading Salomons, I have had two pairs that fail where the drawstring restraints come under too much tension and tear. The adidas design looks like it will have more longevity with less tension on each individual restraint, which is rather important in a shoe in this top end price bracket.

The spare drawstring, pull and clasp all tuck away neatly underneath a velcro flap. Whilst not as tidy as the Salomon solution (an elasticated web), it works just as well.

When unfastening the drawstring, the catch on the clasp needs to be pulled quite firmly after which movement is easy. This translates to a design that does not slip and loosen while out on a run.

adidas adistar raven 3 velcro
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When the interior length is perfect, the Ravens come out a little wider in the front half than many of adidas’ other shoes – I have quite narrow feet and so had to do up the Ravens tightly enough at the front that the material started to bunch slightly, otherwise my forefoot had too much movement. The good news is that the the Techfit upper just allowed this to happen without any bother to my feet.

The Techfit upper provides a decent seamless containment for the toebox and is thicker than it looks, providing decent warmth and a little splash protection.

Comfort

Even though the Ravens were far lighter than expected, when I tried them on, it was a whole new world of comfort and plushness. A relatively thick in-sole, a padded tongue and thickly padded ankle sections make for almost slipper like levels of foot cossetting – my feet felt snug and warm.

adidas adistar raven 3 footwell
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Features

The star of the show on these Raven 3s are the Adaptive Traxion lugs on the sole. These actually sink into the sole of the shoe on firmer surfaces making it feel like a normal road trainer which is quite a feat for something with this level of off-road grip. Also, they shouldn’t wear down too quickly and on wet rock, they feel confidence inspiring. A layer of Adiprene+ in between the lugs and your feet provides a firm push off, similar in feel to the Adios 2, and prevents protruding stones from doing much damage. This is a feature of the Ravens that I prefer to the Salomons which I have enjoyed for years, but always wished for a little bit more firmness under the ball of the foot – the Salomons are very low profile, but when the going gets jagged, they are a bit tiring, espcially on the section of shingle beach on one of my runs. So these Ravens aren’t minimal but are ideal for comfy trail mileage without fuss.

adidas adistar raven 3 sole
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Look at the pics below – in the first photo you can see a firm bit of trail with only a small layer of mud. The central white lugs have retreated leaving only small impressions in the mud. In the second photo, you can see deeper mud where they have remained fully proud of the sole. You can also see the deep impressions the outer edge lugs made in both pictures.

Deep wet mud grip
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Continental Rubber provides improved wet grip over the normal adidas rubber.

There is also a rubber toe grip and large scuff guard.

Stability and the trail

Although you ride quite high in the Ravens, they felt very stable at all times. I tore the tendon off the side of my ankle many years ago and if the ground is uneven, I soon know about it if a shoe rolls too easily. The heel counter keeps you in check and the wide lugs on the base of the sole provide a wide platform that keeps the shoe flat against the surface. On one of my runs in the Ravens the sea had risen far more than I’d even seen before, obliterating my normal trails, coming up to my knees at some points. Even though I could not see what was underneath the water, they were composed and planted, allowing me to push off with confidence.

The Ravens deal well with shallow mud (far better than the Salomons – I tried a run with a Raven on one foot and an XA Pro 3D Ultra on the other to be sure), with all the lugs finding firmer ground underneath. As I expected they are not so good in deep mud, but that’s not what they are aimed at – for that you’d need something like the Kanadia XC TR fell shoes (read my review of these!). However, they never clogged up in the slightest, always ready to grip again as soon as the deep mud was passed. On dry or wet firm trails they stormed along with ease, always having grip when needed, including rapid changes of direction. Deliberate attempts to make them slide on wet grass were foiled unless I really pushed the boundaries of sanity.

When soaking wet, they dried out to a comfortable level quite quickly which was a bonus.

The heelstrike is well cushioned and moves comfortably across transition to the front in my tests. Most of my running is done on the forefoot, where they provided a firm, grippy ride without the trail detail of a more low profile minimal shoe, but with protection against jagged tiring terrain. The only heel drop data I could find said 11m.

I initally thought the adidas Adistar Ravens were going to be a great shoe for heavy runners needing a lot of cushioning. Having run in for a couple of weeks on all sorts of terrain and conditions, I can say that they are equally great for lighter, smoother runners that want grip, stability, protection and comfort. You can buy them direct from adidas

EDIT: I also discovered that they work pretty well as a flat-pedal MTB shoe! I went for a really tricky muddy ride on singletrack with totally the wrong tyre choice, so the back end was sliding all over the place, but my feet stayed planted throughout the ride. A bit soft for longer rides, but good for a couple of hours.

Thanks to adidas for providing the shoes. If you like their range you can follow them on Twitter.

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Charles Rodmell

Charles Rodmell has been running and cycling since the 70's, mainly because no one told him to stop. He runs on and off road and occasionally barefoot. He rides mountain bikes as often as possible and sometimes a trials bike. If there's snow, you can find him on a snowboard.

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By | 2017-02-02T21:27:52+00:00 December 5th, 2013|Running|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Jurgen April 4, 2014 at 09:43 - Reply

    Are they also good for flat feet or is the supernova riot 5 better?

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    • Charles R April 4, 2014 at 10:09 - Reply

      Hi Jurgen. The Riot may be a more suitable choice for you at the moment. The Raven is quite neutral and has very little arch support, whereas the Riot has specific stability control features. Additionally, if you have a weak arch, you may also benefit from spending some time walking / running barefoot to strengthen and raise the arch. Then you’d be able to use either shoe! Please do some research before attempting this.

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  2. Andreas June 24, 2014 at 16:04 - Reply

    Hi Charles,

    Thanks for the comprehensive review!
    I wonder if you have any advice for the sizing? I wear a UK8.5 with Adidas on all shoes so far, but have occasionally read that it’s better to shift up a size on running shoes with Adidas, in my case this means a UK9, as particularly the running shoes from Adidas such as Kanadia TR’s and the like seem actually to be a tight fit. Did you have the same problem with this model (Raven 3)? —or did you wear the same size as usual, therefore they are true to the brand’s size chart?
    Any advice, especially since the neon green material seems stretchy and we both seem to favor CompresSport socks, is appreciated;
    —it makes buying them online easier, since they are not that easily available in shops anymore.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Cheers!

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    • Charles R June 24, 2014 at 18:32 - Reply

      Hi Andreas, when you say “I wear a UK8.5 with Adidas on all shoes so far” it sounds like you mean adidas casual shoes? If so, I haven’t tried them – I have only used adidas running shoes. Compared to most other adidas running shoes it was good for size, but if that doesn’t help you due to lack of running shoe context, maybe you could go and try an “adios boost” in a shop? Find the right size of that and then get the same size. If there’s any doubt, my advice would be to try a half size larger because you will easily notice if there is too much room, but with a smaller shoe if it’s too snug, you may persuade yourself into thinking it’s ok and suffer later. You should definitely check to see if you can do them up tightly enough too if you have narrow feet – the fit is medium. Also, when it arrives, if you have any other running shoes, try an old one on one foot and one of the Ravens on the other and then check the toe gap – a good comparison to see if they will be comfy long term. Hope that helps. Fire away with any more questions if you need to. 🙂

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      • Andreas June 24, 2014 at 20:51 - Reply

        Thanks a lot Charles, much appreciated!
        The tip with the “adios boost” model is a good one … I think I can find one easily in a shop.

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        • Charles R June 24, 2014 at 20:58 - Reply

          Original “Adios Boost” if possible (not “Adios Boost 2.0”)

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          • Andreas June 25, 2014 at 15:33

            Hi,
            Today I tried the orange/black “original” Adios Boost, and what I read is confirmed, although I am a UK8.5 on most shoes, half a number up is just the right size, therefore a 43 1/3 in the Adidas size chart. Thanks for all the help ; )
            p.s. I found the various reviews recommending half a size up on Wiggle (Adistar Raven 3/olive green version).

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  3. Charles R June 25, 2014 at 15:40 - Reply

    Awesome. Hope you like them. Either way, add your own review if you want, after you’ve tried them for a bit. (Press the “Have you selected this gear” button.)

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  4. Henrik September 9, 2014 at 21:37 - Reply

    Hi! Great review!

    How are these for water resitance? Are they similar to nikes Shield type shoes?

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    • Charles R September 9, 2014 at 22:20 - Reply

      Hi Henrik, I’m not aware of any particular water-resistant tech on the Ravens. They will get wet when splashed through the upper, but I’ve done plenty of runs where I’ve run with the shoes literally underwater at the start (local trail floods with the tide in sections) and they have dried quickly with only a very short “slosh” period. Hope that helps!

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      • Henrik September 10, 2014 at 12:59 - Reply

        Thanks for the feedback, have found these at a great price, and considering them vs the new Nike Terra Kiger 2.0 (The ravens will be half price of the Kiger). Besides water-resistance which i would like, but not a must (what you describe would be good enough) how are these on harder surfaces, like asphalt and gravel roads? You give them good marks for cushioning so thinking they would be okay for shorter parts of a course on hard surfaces?

        Any guess on how these would be on snow?

        Great reviews in general here by he way, will keep my eyes on this site in the future! 🙂

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        • Charles R September 10, 2014 at 13:18 - Reply

          Thanks for the kind words!
          I haven’t tried them on snow – I don’t rate their chances though – need deeper lugs for snow. Inov8 or something would be better for snow. They are fine on harder surfaces – the way the lugs disappear inside makes them ideal for courses that include long paved sections in between the trail sections.
          I used them for one of the legs of the South Downs Way Relay which is hardpack chalk and the only thing I would say is that the substantial cushion raises the temptation to thump down on to the ground on steep descents, so I had to concentrate on being smooth on the downhills – not really a negative but something to consider and I’m moving towards more minimal shoes which probably explains my feelings there.

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