adidas adizero XT5 Review – Trail running shoe

I tried on a pair of adidas XT4 trail shoes last year at my local running shop, but in my large size there was an uncomfortable fold that dug into the top of my foot so I decided not to purchase. However, many fellow runners with smaller feet raved about them for muddy trails and I was ever so slightly jealous. So when adidas were kind enough to send me a pair of the new XT5s, I was a little apprehensive, especially since they were expecting me to quickly wear them in and use them while running in their team at the 2014 TR24, the 24 hour Thunder Run race in Derby. On arrival, I opened the familiar black, white striped box and had my first view of them in the flesh. First things first. Coolest laces ever! Black, with bright green T shapes, they really brought a smile to my face and to my son’s who said they looked like crocodile scales!

adidas adizero xt5 trail shoes

Fit and weight

The size 12 is a good fit for me. For reference, I wear a 12 Energy Boost, 11.5 Adios Boost 1 and an 11 Virrata 1. It’s quite a narrow fit on the upper – I have narrow feet and did not have to pull the laces tight like most shoes.

adidas adizero xt5 weight

My size 12s weigh 321g which compares favourably to similar shoes like Salomon’s S-Lab XT 6 (even has a similar sounding name!)

It’s 5% lighter than the previous XT4 model.


The audience for the adidas XT5 is trail runners tackling more technical trails, and a 10mm drop. Being part of adidas’ adizero range, it’s for people focusing on weight rather than structural support or element protection, whilst still providing a decent amount of cushioning. However, I believe that anyone looking for a traditional trail shoe could use this on most trails.


The upper is made of micromesh which is breathable and lets water drain out if need be, whilst preventing dirt from getting in (see pic below where the sun is shining through easily). The tongue is also very thin mesh to reduce weight and increase breatheability. This is all probably just as well because during the Summer months, I’ve found it to be quite a warm shoe, comfortable up to 10 miles. However, I expect it to travel longer in the Winter months. What you gain though is protection around the toe area, so no worries about getting scraped on the sides of rocks, or at the front of the toes when ascending.

adidas adizero xt5 mesh2

adidas adizero xt5 mesh

The heel counter is quite structured and and firm.

adidas adizero xt5 heel

The grip

The previous XT4 model had quite long widely spaced lugs, but for the XT5, the grip profile has changed to a much more all-rounder approach. There are a similar number of lugs around the edge, but they are shorter. The centre areas on the heel and forefoot have smaller, closer-packed lugs with stepped holes in between. This makes it easy to run comfortably on paved surfaces and has superb levels of grip on stoney, gravel or hard-packed paths. Unfortunately for this review, Summer has been good to us this year, so I have not been able to test it in proper mud yet – my guess (from looking at the profile) is that it will have less grip in mud than the XT4, but will still be competent. I will edit this review once winter and rain arrives. Edit: see below for additional mud information.

adidas adizero xt5 grip forefoot

adidas adizero xt5 grip side

On the trail

First impression when heading off to the nature reserve for the first time was of a very stiff sole. I normally like something flexible and with trail-feel so if this is you too, then you’ll be pleased to hear that by the end of a couple of runs, it had thankfully softened up a lot, so that the forefoot could flex easily. The midfoot and backward is prevented from flexing much by adidas’ Torsion System. For comparison, it’s a firmer setup than the adios boost torsion setting and also works as a protection for the arch, so if you land on a protrusion like a rock or root, the shoe shrugs it off. It slides along wet roots easily if you catch them in the midfoot though, so beware.

adidas adizero xt5 outside

I used them during the adidas Thunder Run, which is a relay of 10km loops incorporating a wide variety of terrains, surfaces and inclines. It was certainly easy to run fast around grassy corners and to change direction quickly in the crazy-technical rooty switch-backs of the wooded section. Cambers were tackled with confidence and downhills were just as easy as uphills. After some daytime laps in the blazing heat, I switched to a more minimal shoe for comparison during the night. Coming back to the XT5s a bit later in the race with legs starting to get tired, my body appreciated the cushioning and comfort, and proved that the grip in the dry is top notch.

However, they lack some excitement due to changes in the design. The heel drop has increased; the XT5 has a 10mm drop , but the XT4 had a flatter 6mm drop which really made it stand out from the mainstream crowd and going back up to 10mm is an odd choice. They are part of the awesome adizero range and whilst they are definitely light for a trail shoe with this level of grip and cushion, I believe adidas could take it a step further, either by modifying the shoe or releasing a companion shoe with a flat profile, less cushion and keep the grip. I’d buy it in a flash. The XT4 was going in a good direction and the XT5 feels like playing it safe. Most trail runners looking for a 10mm drop cushioned shoe will be happy with the XT5, but the adidas Kanadia has 11mm drop and is only 30g heavier, whilst being substantially cheaper.

If you have the cash, then it’s a competent shoe – an incremental upgrade worth grabbing over the Kanadia, and the new grip profile is excellent as an all-terrain shoe. I’ll add mud capabilities over the coming months.

Edit: Now that the dry season is ending, I’ve had the chance to try these in the mud. They were great on thicker firm mud and wet grass, but had no grip on slippery mud, filling up and refusing to shed, picking up stones too. Even after 500m of tarmac, the heels still had not shed. So to summarise, not so good for muddy trails, but good for drier or rocky trails.

adidas adizero xt5 mud

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6 thoughts on “adidas adizero XT5 Review – Trail running shoe”

  1. Hey, thanks for great review. I noticed that Adidas had brought out the XT5 and was really worried they would not match the excellent properties of the XT4. I have 3 pairs of XT4s, one which I use on hard dry trails and forest tracks (done nearly 500miles so well worn soles now), one pair which i use to orienteer or for mountain marathons, they are great in all terrains. I have a 3rd pair which are a replacement for the 1st worn pair for trail races.
    I love the low profile of the XT4, and the 6mm drop has allowed me to creep towards a minimalist style of running shoe (I’ve now bought Adizero Tempo 5 and Boston 3 for road running).

    Would you recommend I stick to buying the XT4 whilst I still can get them, or is it worth a gamble once the price comes down on the XT5? The XT4 is the best shoe I’ve ever had, and if they did a road soled version I’d wear it too…

    1. Hi Ali. As mentioned in the review, the XT5 has gone back up to a 10mm drop which is quite a lot higher than the 6mm drop you said you liked in the XT4. However, both the Tempo 5 and Boston 3 have 10.5mm drop so if you are happy with the drop on those, you will be happy with the XT5 too (in terms of drop). I’m still hoping adidas will release some zero drop for road and trail, but not holding my breath :) The XT5 is quite different from the XT4, so if you love that for the type of running you do, I suggest you buy a few more pairs while you can. The XT5 has slightly less grip making it suitable to different conditions to the XT4.

  2. Interesting review. I have always been a UK 12.5 in Adidas in recent years including all Boston models (1-4 plus the latest “5” Boost version), XT4 and Adios (well apart from the latest Boost 2 version). However these XT5 in a 12.5 are just too small for me – which largely echoes your findings. The Adios Boost 2 in a 12.5 also seems too small. I checked all the insoles and are identical length but think the XT5 comes up short because of the re-enforced toe box.

    1. Great Tim! Can you comment on the differences between XT4 and XT5? (Big lugs vs shallower lugs / 6mm drop vs 10mm drop / build etc) – Did I guess correctly on target usage / surfaces? Also, since you have run in the XT4 and have similarly large feet, maybe you didn’t encounter the strange fold that dug into the top of my feet on the XT4 I tried in the shops – maybe I just tried a duff pair? My friends that love the XT4 all have much smaller feet.

  3. I’ve never been an Adidas fan before, but after doing some demo runs in the Energy Boost (1 & 2) and other boost-based shoes, I’d LOVE to see the Adizero XT come out with a wider toe box and 6mm drop or lower. Not sure if I’d like to see the outsole of the XT 4 or the 5, but either would suffice on the dry, rocky trails I run here in CO. Thanks for the review. I can’t find these on Adidas’s website. :-(

    1. Yeah, with you on the wider toebox and drop. The XT range never seems to appear on the adidas site in the UK either. Whereabouts in CO are you? I have a facebook friend that runs at Pikes Peak. It looks amazing.

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