Adidas has come on strong in the world of hiking footwear, and for 2018 released the latest rendition of its Terrex Swift series. The R2 GTX is a low-cut hiking shoe that comes in at just 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair. After taking it out backpacking in Utah’s Canyon Country, we were impressed with the protection and toughness of the R2, although it does have a slightly stiffer feel than we’re used to. Below we break down the Terrex Swift R2’s comfort, weight, traction, protection, stability, waterproofing, fit and sizing, and more. To see how it stacks up against the competition, see our article on the best lightweight hiking shoes.
We’ll start by noting that the Terrex Swift R2 feels a bit stiff out of the box and generally stays that way. The design is fairly rigid overall, including a burly sole and tough ripstop mesh upper. This isn’t a huge knock on comfort—the shoe fits snugly around the foot, performed well without a break-in period, and didn’t loosen up or create hot spots. We think the R2 wears like a hiking boot but with a lower ankle and lighter weight. If you’re looking for a flexible, trail runner-like experience where you can really feel the ground beneath you, this is not the hiker for you. But if you want a protective and tough shoe at a low weight, the Terrex Swift is exactly that.
At 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair, the Terrex Swift R2 is on the lightweight end of the hiking shoe spectrum, especially for the level of protection you get. For comparison, the popular Salomon X Ultra 3 weighs slightly more at 1 pound 10.8 ounces, while The North Face’s Ultra Hedgehog Fastpack GTX (1 pound 14 ounces) and Ultra 110 GTX (1 pound 15 ounces) both come in significantly heavier. You can go lighter with a shoe like Merrell’s new MQM Flex at 1 pound 7.7 ounces, but we were not impressed with the traction or durability of that shoe, and the sole on the Adidas most certainly will last longer. Pound for pound, the Terrex Swift R2 packs a lot of punch.
Traction on the Terrex Swift is excellent. Unlike other modern hiking shoes we’ve tested of late (the aforementioned the Merrell MQM comes to mind), the lugs here are deep and tough. Adidas again partnered with tire maker Continental for the rubber, and the tread pattern does look surprisingly similar to that of a car tire. It’s hard to tell how much of that is style over substance, but the R2 GTX is grippy on rock, the lugs are deep and well-spaced (this helps prevent mud from caking), and the rubber is noticeably hard, which should help with longevity. After a backpacking trip in Utah’s Canyonlands, we did notice some slight wear on a few lugs near the toe, meaning the shoes aren’t indestructible and eventually will wear down. But we put them to the test in terms of scrambling on rock with a loaded pack and they performed admirably.
In addition to the low weight, perhaps the single biggest upside of the Terrex Swift R2 is protection. Underfoot, these shoes feel much more like a hiking boot than their design would suggest. Compared to the reasonably burly Salomon X Ultra 3, the Adidas provided even more separation from the trail. We hiked over all kinds of rock in Utah’s Canyon Country but felt none of the sharp corners that you often get with other lightweight shoes. If you like feeling the trail beneath you, we recommend you look elsewhere. The R2 is burly and tough underfoot but certainly not one of the more sensitive shoes we’ve worn.
The protection continues around the toe and sides of the foot. Again, this type of design is rare for a lightweight hiking shoe. The Terrex Swift R2 has almost an approach shoe-like rubber toe with a molded TPU toe cap. In addition, the areas along the balls of the feet protrude with even more rubber, creating zones of extra protection on the inside and outside of the foot. Throw in more hard rubber around the heel above the midsole, and you have one heckuva tough shoe given its weight. It’s worth noting that all of this toughness likely contributes to the overall stiffness of the shoe described above. Protection is great, but it often comes at the sacrifice of flexibility.
The Terrex Swift R2 is a low-cut shoe but is pretty darn impressive in terms of stability. First, the rigid design and stiff structure helps keep your foot and ankle in place. Second, the lacing system wasn’t our favorite of its type (more on that below), but it does a nice job in terms of keeping things tight around the foot. When fully laced up, we backpacked in the Swift R2 with an overnight pack and had only a couple of minor ankle turns despite some challenging terrain. Those who want more a step up in support should consider a lightweight boot like the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid, which goes up higher over the ankle, but weighs an extra 7 ounces and costs $30 more. Compared to the low-top hiking shoe competition, the R2 is among the most stable models we’ve worn.
The Terrex Swift R2 comes with a Gore-Tex liner, making it fully waterproof (the shoe is made in a non-GTX version for $20 less). We did the majority of our testing in Utah and did not give the waterproofing an extended test, but Gore-Tex is known for quality and almost always has delivered for us in the past. Compared to cheaper types of waterproofing, Gore-Tex creates enough airflow that your feet can breathe (when paired with a lightweight upper material), which can make a big difference when covering ground in warm climates. It’s worth noting that the Swift R2 GTX does have a low-cut design, meaning that water will be able to enter the shoe when your foot is submerged around ankle level. Waterproof footwear don’t let water in but also don’t let it out, so this should be a consideration when choosing between models. If you’re hiking in hot, dry places and can easily let your shoes dry if wet, the non-GTX model makes a lot of sense.
Similar to Salomon, Adidas employs a quick lacing system on its Swift lineup called Lace Bungee. We like the concept, which allows you to lace up and tighten the shoe in one quick motion. But compared to Salomon, Lace Bungee does the job but still falls short in use. We found the lacing action to be a bit clunky and not as smooth, and even the laces themselves feel a little too rigid. However, the lacing system did not come undone or loosen in any way during our hiking, which is the most important thing. But Salomon wins out in overall lacing design, and its Quicklace is tough to beat.
We ordered our usual men’s size 12, and the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 fit true to size. The shoe is slightly wider than comparable Salomon shoes we’ve tested, and if anything, the R2 runs a tad big. If you’re right on the fence between sizes, we recommend going down a half size. But most people with normal to wide feet should be happy with their standard size.
Women’s Version and Mid
We tested the men’s low-top version of the Terrex Swift R2, which also comes in a women’s-specific model for the same price. It’s worth noting that Adidas has yet not released a non-GTX R2 for women, although they do offer the higher-cut Mid GTX for $170. The design and feature set of both shoes are virtually identical to the men’s versions, with the women’s shoe weighing slightly less at 1 pound 5.8 ounces for the pair.
What We Like
- Impressive protection from the trail. The Terrex Swift R2 feels like a hiking boot underfoot but in a more streamlined design.
- Lightweight at just 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair.
- Good stability for a low-cut design.
What We Don’t
- A stiffer and more rigid feel than other lightweight hikers we’ve tested.
- Adidas’s Lace Bungee works but is less smooth than Salomon’s Quicklace design.
|Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX||$135||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX||$150||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 10.8 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|The North Face Ultra 110 GTX||$120||Hiking/trail-running||1 lb. 15 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / mesh|
|La Sportiva TX3||$135||Approach shoe||1 lb. 9 oz.||No||Mesh|
|Merrell MQM Flex||$110||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 7.7 oz.||No||Mesh|
With its Terrex Swift R2 series, Adidas is taking aim at the fast-and-light crowd who want more protection than a trail runner. The elephant in the room is the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX, which has been one of our favorite lightweight hiking shoe lines for years. The Adidas comes in a couple ounces lighter, costs $15 less, and offers similar levels of stability and protection (perhaps even a little more of the latter). However, we like the feel and comfort of the Salomon more: it hits that just-right balance of toughness and flexibility, and the lacing system is superior. Unless you favor underfoot protection over everything else, the X Ultra 3 GTX is our favorite hiking shoe on the market.
Another big-time alternative to the Swift is The North Face’s Ultra 110. This shoe is listed as a trail runner, but we consider it one of the tougher and more stable light hikers available. Compared with the Swift, the Ultra 110 has similarly good traction and support, but the Ultra is a little more flexible and has a wider base (for more information, see our in-depth Ultra 110 review). The Adidas has the clear advantage in weight, however, at 1 pound 8.6 ounces vs. 1 pound 15 ounces for The North Face shoe. In the end, we found the Ultra 110 to be a little better all-around—again, the R2’s stiffness can be a bit polarizing—but both are near the top of our hiking shoe list for 2018.
On our Utah backpacking trip, we also were testing Merrell’s all-new MQM Flex. Stacked up to the Swift, the MQM weighs approximately the same (our men’s 9 is less than an ounce lighter at 1 pound 7.7 ounces), but the two shoes have completely different personalities. The Swift R2 is stiffer, more stable, and offers better traction, while the MQM is much more flexible and feels a lot like a trail-running shoe. Based on the trip through Canyon Country and subsequent use in the Pacific Northwest this spring, the Swift has been the clear-cut favorite. Its superior durability and support make it a solid choice for carrying a full load and traveling fast over rough terrain.
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