I belong to the Sneaker generation. “Sneakers”, as my mom still says, are in my opinion not only for sport and have been for a long time. And when my colleague Jörn asked me if I would like to test the brand new adidas Terrex Free Hiker, I was naturally hooked.
But I was also skeptical: When I think of adidas, I think of stylish sneakers rather than solid hiking boots. Even if this cliché hasn’t been valid for a long time, because under the Terrex label adidas has been offering equipment for outdoor enthusiasts for years.
HANDS-ON: WHAT CAN THE TERREX FREE HIKER DO
Yes, tastes are different and of course you have to admit that the Free Hiker does not look like a hiking boot at first. Rather like a running or trail running shoe. However, I was immediately impressed by the look. I was and still am on the road with the black and white version, whereby I find the “colorful” version almost even more ingenious.
Adidas advertises that the shoe is particularly robust and highly water-repellent (even without a membrane, I’ll come back to that in a moment). The well-known Continental sole is supposed to ensure safe progress. The midsole with the Boost technology, which Adidas also uses in its running shoes. This is particularly flexible and is supposed to have a small “rebound” effect – in other words, it releases stored energy again.
When I first put it on, I found the high shaft especially surprising. Surprisingly good. The shoe fits snugly on the foot, but could be a bit tighter on the metatarsus for my taste. But the stability is still perfectly acceptable!
The upper material is called ‘Primeknit’ (currently very trendy) and looks as if it is knitted. This makes the shoe very flexible, comfortable and fits almost like a sock. My colleagues asked me directly if the shoe fits and takes off well but I never had a problem with it, maybe because I wear it a bit bigger than my normal street shoes.
The Free Hiker was first used in everyday life and in the office, perfect for breaking in – and yes, because the mountains are just a few kilometers away. To be honest, I didn’t think he could handle tricky mountain passages even at the beginning. But I was to be proven wrong…
HOW DOES THE FREE HIKER PERFORM WHEN HIKING?
A team trip to the Montafon was announced and the Free Hiker couldn’t be missing. But at the end of May there was still a lot of snow and I thought that this might be too much for my new companion.
Nevertheless, I went straight up the mountain with it – after all, it’s not a children’s birthday party here. On well developed hiking trails it is great in any case. The walking comfort is great, the Conti sole grips well.
Shortly before the summit I saw the first snowfields and I quickly realized that this would be the first endurance test. I prepared myself internally for wet, cold feet – without a membrane, water would have to penetrate at some point – and took the first step into the remnants of the long, snowy winter.
Splash – during the first steps I wait anxiously for the cool wet that should immediately wet my socks. But it came… Nothing. Well, maybe it will take a few more minutes… I couldn’t quite believe it.
But even after less than an hour with lots of snowfields, meltwater streams and puddles, my feet were comfortably warm and dry. So here adidas did not promise too much! Due to the high shaft, no water could penetrate from above, which turned out to be a problem for some of my followers. But that is not necessarily a unique selling point of the Free Hiker.
Also on our tour on the second day the upper material stayed tight, even though we didn’t come into contact with as much moisture. By the way, the Continental sole also convinced me. It is always praised by our trail runners here among the mountain enthusiasts for its reliable grip. I can only agree with that!
The midsole shines above all with its dynamic performance, good rolling characteristics and comfort. I can’t judge whether energy is really being returned, but it’s quite pleasant to walk on it.
MUCH LIGHT, LITTLE SHADE…
The disadvantage of the strong, water-repellent properties of the upper material in combination with the good closing, half-height shaft is that moisture naturally cannot escape so easily. So it gets relatively warm in the shoe. Therefore I would definitely recommend wearing a rather light trekking sock with it.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE TERREX FREE HIKER
But all in all I am really positively impressed! In my opinion, the shoe is capable of much more than you might think at first glance. One should definitely not be deceived by the looks. This here is a real hiking shoe!
Due to its construction, I see it primarily in light terrain and it should be interesting for speedhikers due to its sole structure. And, of course, for all those who value a cool look.
With a UVP of 199.95 it places itself currently rather at the upper end of the price scale.