For a long time, I was happy to wear tradional hiking boots when photographing athletes in the outdoors, arguing that they were stable, dependable and provided me with the necessary ankle support I needed in the mountains (though despite some models having waterproof / breathable liners, they weren't always guaranteed to keep my feet dry, simply because there's a big hole in the top where my foot goes in).

A lot of my work recently has been photographing runners in a mountain environment. Obviously, runners don't wear boots and, over time, I've gradually seen the benefits of wearing lighter footwear to help me move faster in the mountains. Moving faster means there's more opportunities for shots, more shots means there's more choice and more choice helps me to keep an art director or a photo editor happy.

When I decided to switch from boots to trainers for photographing mountain sports (generally choosing trainers now unless it involves winter snow, ice or glacial travel) there wasn't much choice in my local outdoor shops. They had a good stock of old-school approach shoes but they were usually heavy, waterproof and looked like they'd take a while to dry. Dedicated running shops meanwhile had a great choice of lightweight footwear but mostly with a minimal amount of the tread required to keep you upright on rock, grass, mud and snow.

What I was looking for was something light and grippy and predominantly mesh so even if they did get wet (and they would) they would dry quickly. So I was fortunate when Adidas ran a digital marketing campaign for the Adidas Terrex Boost trainer, footwear they advertised as being built for mountain running.

I bought my first pair of Adidas Terrex Boost trainers online from Rat Race Adventure Sports (a company who has an excellent returns policy - they even provided a re-usable bag to put the shoes in, if required). They appeared to fit well so I tried them out, first on the trails in my local Pentland Hills and then on a big day out in the Cairngorms mountains. They performed excellently, even more so when I took them on the steep grass, rock and heather you find off-trail in Glen Coe and Ardgour. They were so impressive I quickly bought a second pair from Rat Race for when the first pair inevitably wears out (which I don't expect any time soon but manufacturers do commonly discontinue niche models).

What I like about Adidas Terrex Boost for mountain running

  • Mesh - Breathable, dries quickly (though it can mean I get cold feet if I'm standing around too long)
  • Comfort - Adidas advertise the Terrex Boost as having a 'sock-like feel'. They're very comfortable.
  • Grip - Continental tyre rubber is used for the soles. It provides an absolutely awesome grip on trails, rock and even steep wet grass. I've found it doesn't like wet moss but not many treads do. I've found the grip it gives to be a huge improvement over Vibram.
  • Heels - I'm very hard on the outer heel of my shoes (under-pronate) and soft heels are commonly the first thing I manage to collapse and render a shoe useless. The heels on the Boost are really solid.

What I would change

Only the lace tightening system. Whilst initially hesistant on the practicality of the lace garage (which is at the toe of the shoe compared to Salomon's tongue pocket) I've found them very reliable and I've never had a lace come loose. What does frustrate me though is how difficult sometimes it is to undo the lace tensioner after a day on the hills. On two occasions I've given up and forced the shoe off. (Update - I've found it helps if you pull the tensioner all the way to your ankle first, really tightening the shoe around your foot before you try to release it).

Alternatives