Are these upcycled shoes the future of trail-running gear?

(Image credit: Adidas)

Made in consultation with elite athletes on the Adidas Terrex team (opens in new tab), elements of the new Protohype range of trail-running shoes and technical clothing from the German sportswear giant employ upcycled plastic waste, retrieved from the ocean.

The Protohype series – launched in Europe and the United States last month – is split across three main footwear ‘families’: the ‘Two’ for any-distance all-terrain running, the ‘Speed’ for racing on trails, and the ‘Agravic’, for extreme and technical terrain, including rocky and rugged mountain paths, where stability on steep climbs and descents is crucially important.     

Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the company’s collaboration with Parley for the Oceans (opens in new tab) – an organisation committed to reducing non-biodegradable waste in the world’s oceans – and Adidas celebrated by becoming a funding partner in the Parley Institute for Material Science to develop long-term alternatives to plastic.

According to the company, by the end of 2020 it will have made 30 millions pairs of shoes using ocean plastic waste as a result of the Parley partnership. Sadly, while much of the new adidas Terrex Protohype range doesn’t have the Parley name associated with it, at the senior end of the Two family are a couple of high-end trail shoes that do. 

Both the Two Parley (opens in new tab) (£130/€150/US$170) and the Two Ultra Parley (opens in new tab) (£160/€180/US$200) feature a breathable synthetic upper constructed from a knit made from upcycled plastic waste taken out of the ocean.  

The recycled shoes provide both protection and comfort

The recycled shoes provide both protection and comfort (Image credit: Adidas)

Aside from their sustainability factor, the shoes also feature a grippy Continental outer sole, which has a rocker profile (and a 6mm drop), and a lightweight Eva midsole. The Two Parley is aimed at mid- to long-distance runners, while the Two Ultra Parley is for those who want to go the extra distance on the trails, and boasts an extra degree of comfort and energy return thanks to a bouncy ‘Boost’ midsole.

“The Two Ultra are my go to shoe at the moment – they’re really robust and can handle pretty much anything I can throw at them, from trail to road to fell,” says Adidas Terrex trail runner, Holly Page (opens in new tab). “I know that by wearing them I am providing my feet with the protection and cushioning I need over any distance.”

Here at Advnture we will be trail testing some of these out ourselves, so check back in for our review.

Aside from the top-end Two shoes, two other items in the new adidas Terrex range have been produced as part of the Parley collection, and are made using upcycled plastic waste: the Terrex Agravic split shorts (opens in new tab) (£60) and tank top (opens in new tab) (£43).

Pat Kinsella

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).