Shoe Review: Adidas Boston 12
What comes to mind when a runner hears “Boston”? The Boston Marathon, of course. Adidas has sponsored the most iconic road race in the world for the past 34 years, so it just makes sense to name one of their models after it. Debuting in 1982, it was originally marketed as a comfortable and affordable road running shoe. In 2010, Adidas added the Boston to their Adizero collection, a group of shoes designed to be as lightweight and fast as possible. Fast forward to 2021, the Boston was redesigned again with innovative technologies and an increased stack height, changing the overall fit and feel of the shoe. But we’re not here to give you a history lesson on the trials and tribulations of the Adidas Boston franchise. We’re here to tell you what our reviewers thought of the latest addition of this iconic shoe.
The Adidas Boston 12 is sleeker, lighter and more streamlined than the previous two versions we’ve tested. Designers did away with the unnecessary (and heavy!) accents on the upper and updated the midsole with more flexible materials than before. Although these updates may sound like just minor tweaks, they improve the overall experience in a major way. Here’s everything you need to know about the Adidas Boston 12.
Adidas Boston 12
|Weight||8 oz (W), 9.5 oz (M)|
|Heel-to-toe drop||7 mm|
|Stack height (heel/forefoot)||38 mm/31 mm|
|Comparable to...||Brooks Hyperion Max, HOKA Carbon X 3|
Lightstrike foam strikes a balance between firm and springy
The Adidas Boston 12 is built with a dual-layer midsole comprised of Adidas’ proprietary Lightstrike Pro midsole foam, their lightest and most responsive foam used in their road racing super shoe, and Lightstrike 2.0, a softer version of the Lightstrike foam used in previous models.
The combination is a springy albeit firm ride that reviewers notice comes to life as you pick up the pace.
“The mixture of Lightstrike Pro and Lightstrike 2.0 cushioning, which felt a bit firm and hard when I stepped into the shoes, sprang to life during my walk and completely changed my attitude,” Mandy says. “I’ve now done numerous runs in these shoes—fartleks, intervals, easy short runs and a 10-miler— and each time I continue to fall in love with the cushioning underfoot. It strikes the perfect balance between soft and bouncy.”
While the Boston 12 isn’t as responsive as its racing counterpart, the Adios Pro 3, it features the same configuration of Energyrods in the midsole to propel you forward. The fiberglass-infused Energyrods help the midsole foam compress during landings and rebound during toe-offs, creating a springy and energetic ride. While these rods were separated in the Boston 10 and 11, they’re created as a single structure in the latest version of the Boston, helping them work in unison. It’s also worth mentioning that, while the Energyrods in the Boston 12 are infused with fiberglass, the rods in the Adios Pro 3 are made with carbon.
“I wouldn't describe the Energyrods as providing the full-on "bounce" that some carbon-plated racing shoes give, but I did feel like the shoes helped me keep my momentum,” Alex says.
Like most Adidas running shoes, the Boston 12 features a Continental rubber outsole. If this rubber is good enough for car and truck tires, you know it’ll hold up well on your run.
“One thing I want to call out is how this shoe performed in the rain,” says Caroline. “Unfortunately, because I procrastinated my run, I found myself testing these shoes during one of our daily afternoon storms here in South Florida. But the grippy Continental rubber outsole gave me the confidence to tackle the slick roads with ease.”
Engineered mesh upper shines in the Boston 12
Reviewers breathed a sigh of relief when realizing that the upper in the Adidas Boston 12 got a whole lot more breathable. Gone are the suede-like accents around the toe box that added unnecessary weight, and the engineered mesh upper feels lighter and more breathable than versions past.
“I like that the upper is super breathable and minimal, including the tongue,” Kate says. “The material is lightweight but rigid enough to hold my foot into place. I also like the bubble of padding around the heel collar, which adds support without an excess amount of material.”
Reviewers also noticed how well the upper held up to wet conditions.
“As I mentioned before, my first run in the Boston 12 was during a nasty thunderstorm,” Caroline says. “Water just seemed to roll off the thin, engineered mesh upper. Some shoes seem to soak in all the water until you feel like you’re sloshing around with every heavy step—-not so with the Boston 12. These will definitely be a no brainer for lots of wet summer runs in my future.”
While some reviewers found their perfect fit in the Boston 12, some thought the shoe runs big. If you’re typically in between sizes, we recommend going a half size down in this shoe if you like a snug fit. If you’re not sure about the size and shape of your feet, be sure to head into your local Fleet Feet for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.
Adidas Boston 12 vs Boston 11
Adidas Boston 12
Adidas Boston 11
8 oz (W), 9.5 oz (M)
8.8 oz (W), 9.6 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot)
38 mm/31 mm
39.5 mm/31 mm
The Adidas Boston has been through some major changes over the course of it’s 41-year lifespan, perhaps the most major being the Boston 10 released in 2021. This shoe offered an increased stack height, Lightstrike Pro foam instead of Boost foam, and the addition of Energyrods. We can assume that these changes were a result of increased consumer demand for super-cushioned, super-propulsive running shoes, but some Boston-loyalists weren’t happy with the updates to a previously minimalist-feeling shoe.
Two years later and it seems like the Boston 12 has found its sweet spot. While it’s no longer a minimal, stripped-down trainer and racer, it offers plenty of underfoot cushioning mixed with responsive elements for a springy ride. It’s shaved off weight from the previous version by using a lightweight, engineered mesh upper and Lightstrike 2.0 foam. And it’s got a lower heel-to-toe drop, which reviewers found offered a smoother ride.
“When I first pulled these shoes out of the box, I could tell the Boston 12 was going to be way better than the previous two versions I’ve tried,” Caroline says. “Gone are the bulky suede details and the upper feels much thinner and sleeker than ever before. The midsole feels much softer too, although I still wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as soft.”
How does the Adidas Boston 12 compare?
We took a look at some comparable shoes and how they stack up against the Boston 12. Here’s what we found:
Adidas Boston 12
Brooks Hyperion Max
HOKA Carbon X 3
8 oz (W), 9.5 oz (M)
6.7 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)
6.6 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)
38 mm/31 mm
26 mm/18 mm
32 mm/27 mm
The Adidas Boston 12, Brooks Hyperion Max and HOKA Carbon X 3 all offer the same thing—a springy, propulsive ride on a firm bed of cushioning. Each brand does this in a different way. Adidas, as we mentioned, uses their Lightstrike Pro foam mixed with fiberglass-infused Energyrods. The HOKA Carbon X 3 uses HOKA’s lightweight Profly X foam and, you guessed it, a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole. The Brooks Hyperion Max relies on Brooks' energetic DNA flash midsole combined with a rocker shape, sans any special plates or rods.
Reviewers noticed similarities between all three shoes, mainly because of the decidedly firm yet energetic sensation. All three shoes are fairly lightweight, with the Boston 12 being the heaviest among the three. But the Boston 12 also offers the most cushion (38 millimeter heel height versus 26 and 32), which explains the slightly heavier weight.
Who is the Adidas Boston 12 best for?
The Adidas Boston 12 is a no-brainer for runners seeking a firm yet flexible ride that can keep up with any pace.
“I would recommend this shoe to just about any runner or walker,” Mandy says. “I think both beginner and experienced runners with a neutral gait that like a bit of bounce and spring will love this shoe, especially if they like a lighter weight shoe.”
While it’s not the best choice for those who like marshmallow-y soft cushioning that your feet can sink into, it provides a firmer lever for your feet to push off during take-offs, making it a great choice for up-tempo days and workouts. And thanks to a breathable upper that feels almost water-repellant, it’s a nice choice for rainy runs when you can’t help but splash through a few puddles.