adidas adizero Feather III Men's Shoe Review
- Improved fit
- Impressive durability
- Tongue is too thin
The Feather shoe line from adidas continues to improve with the introduction of the adizero Feather III, which may be the best Feather yet. The Feather III addresses some of the biggest criticisms of the Feather II. First, the upper of the Feather III is a bit stiffer and wraps over the foot. This provides a more glove-like fit and better support and stability for aggressive movements. Second, the outsole held up really well throughout the playtest, surprising us with its durability. The improved fit and durability combine with the light, fast feel to create one of the best speed-oriented shoes on the market. While the design of the tongue caused some problems for our playtesters, the Feather III quickly earned their praise. Players looking for a lightweight, low-profile performance shoe need to give this one a try!
Comfort - Score: 3.7
We found the Feather III to be comfortable and ready to go from the moment we took it out of the box. Chris felt the the slightly narrower fit worked better for him than the fit of past versions, although he did have an issue with the design of the tongue piece. He explained, "I liked the fit and feel of these shoes. They were a better fit for me compared to the previous version, which was a tad too wide for me. While this version felt like a solid medium width, it was narrower than its predecessor. The shoe held my foot better and made it a more comfortable ride thanks to there being less sliding around inside the shoe. As before, I liked the level of cushioning. I felt low enough to the ground to move confidently, yet there was ample cushioning to protect my feet from the hard courts. The uppers also felt comfortable, and I could play in them without having to worry about breaking them in. I liked the way the uppers flexed and moved with my feet. One downside I had was the ultra thin tongue. It did little to protect my feet from the lace system. If I tried to tie my laces tightly there was uncomfortable pressure from the laces and eyelets. I never had any poking or pinching from any other part of the shoe, but the thin tongue was a definite comfort issue. My other downside was some arch pain, but I'll get to that later."
Like Chris, Andy didn't like the design of the tongue, but he felt the shoe was very comfortable. He offered, "This shoe is comfortable because of the fit and feel, not from any plush cushioning. It's low-profile in design, so you're not going to get the pillowy soft cushioning that's in some heavier shoes. What you are going to get is a natural, comfortable fit that conforms to your foot nicely and makes you feel like you don't have a whole lot of shoe on your foot. My one issue is with the really thin tongue, which got bunched up at times inside the shoe during play."
Like getting into a fine sports car, Mark felt fast and race-ready once he got himself laced into the sleek Feather III. He said, "Once I was inside the shoe the comfort level was more than sufficient. The new Feather III is a shoe that formed to my feet snugly. As always, I was a little concerned about a seam or an overlap of material inside the shoe that would pinch an area of my foot, but I did not have that issue with this shoe. The only drawback was the tongue of the Feather III, which required me to physically stretch it across the top of my foot evenly."
Austin appreciated the lightweight design of the shoe. He said, "The Feather III did not require a break-in period, and it felt the same from the moment I first tried it on to the end of 20 hours of play. It's a lightweight shoe with minimal material in the uppers, and it didn't have very much cushioning, but this did not give me any trouble. I found myself wearing it both on and off the court because the shoe formed to my foot so well."
Ventilation - Score: 4.5
Exceptional breathability has become a staple of the Feather shoe line, and the Feather III has continued that tradition. Austin gave the shoe top marks for ventilation, saying, "The shoe breathes extremely well, and I can really feel the air through the shoe just walking around. I never felt like my feet were too hot, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone who want a lot of ventilation."
"The Feather III has top level ventilation," Mark reiterated. "There is always a slight compromise between a well-ventilated shoe and a very stable one, but adidas blended these two important qualities beautifully."
Chris agreed that the Feather III is one of the better ventilated shoes on the market. He said, "While perhaps not quite as breathable as the CC Feather II, this shoe offers ample ventilation. My feet never got hot in them. There seemed to be ample airflow while I was running around, as well as vents to let the heat out. Those looking for cooler feet will find these shoes hard to beat."
Andy compared it to a previous version, saying, "The Feather III sits between the previous CC Feather II and the Feather II when it comes to breathability. It doesn't have the spectacular ventilation that the CC version had, but it has more than the full synthetic upper version. I never felt like the shoe ran hot, but it did retain a bit of moisture, especially on hotter days."
Arch Support - Score: 3.4
Our playtesters had few issues with the arch support in the Feather III. Even Mark, who has had fit issues with some adidas shoes in the past, found these to work fine. He said, "I have a middle of the road foot type in terms of width and arch height. From my first hitting session with the Feather IIIs I could tell that the arch support worked well for me. I have had some trouble in the past with the location of the arch support in some adidas tennis shoes, but not with this one."
Austin had no issues either. He offered, "The shoes felt great right out of the box, and my arches felt very supported. I have no complaints at all in terms of arch support."
Andy only felt a bit of arch pain if he wore the shoe all day. He explained, "I felt the shoe had a low-to-medium height arch that for the most part worked well for me. There were a couple of instances when I would've liked a little more support through the arch, especially when I spent some long hours on court in this shoe. However, it never struck me as uncomfortable or unsupportive."
Chris had to switch to an after-market insole after feeling some discomfort in his high-arched feet. He explained, "The arch support never felt as solid in this update as it did in the previous two versions. The chassis seemed to be more flexible and allowed too much twisting under my arches. When I was transitioning from an aggressive lateral plant to a forward sprint I was feeling too much strain in my arches. I replaced the stock insoles with a Superfeet insole that features a stiff midfoot shank, and it immediately remedied the problem. With just that little bit of extra support I was good to go and had no further arch issues. However, I didn't have to take such steps with previous versions of the shoe, and I was disappointed with the stock arch support offered here."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.2
A couple of our testers felt that they would benefit from a little more support, but for the most part the Feather III had exceptional stability that allowed our team to move fast with confidence. Mark liked how this shoe stacks up, even against shoes that are built to be heavier and more stable. He said, "adidas did a fantastic job keeping this shoe's upper very firm while still letting it move and breathe easily. The heel cup definitely has something to do with how confident I was on quick stops and directional changes."
Once again, Austin had no issues and gave the shoe very high marks for stability. He explained, "The Feather III was excellent for both foot support and stability. The uppers seem to wrap around the front of your foot in a glove-like fashion so that it feels very locked in. It is a lightweight shoe, but the upper materials and the heel cup work together to keep your foot locked into place. I felt extremely stable and confident while playing in them."
Chris liked how the upper of the shoe and the heel cup locked in his foot, but he wished for a little more rigidity at times. He said, "The uppers of this version held my feet much better. The fit felt closer to medium, and that meant I was sliding around less inside the shoes on quick lateral stops. My heels felt locked in, and I liked the way the shoes narrowed at the heel. The Sprintweb material provided a perfect blend of comfort and support. When I was changing directions I could feel the material give a little before offering the support I needed to control my movement. Again, the chassis of the Feather III was more flexible in this version. While it made them feel very fast, I would have like some additional stability from the guts of the shoe."
Andy felt completely confident moving around at top speed, but after a while on the court the lack of support made his feet ache a bit. He offered, "I wish I could separate these into two different categories. The low-to-the-ground feel, along with the supportive cage that wraps the forefoot, helped lock in my foot and provided more than enough stability. I could move at top speed without ever feeling like the shoe was going to give out on me. On the other hand, due to its lightweight design the support wasn't as good as the stability. It doesn't feel like there's a whole lot of shoe there when I'm wearing it, which for the most part is a good thing, but at times it left me wanting a little more support."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.2
Durability was one of the nice surprises of the Feather III, and there was very little outsole wear showing at the end of the playtest. Andy put these shoes to the test, and they passed with flying colors. He said, "I've logged some good hours in these shoes (probably close to 40 hours of play), and they are holding up great! There's actually very little wear on the outsole, and I think there's plenty of life left. The durability is improved over previous versions, and it was very impressive considering how lightweight the shoe is."
Chris, who tends to be rough on his shoes, couldn't wear these down. He offered, "For such a light and fast shoe, the Feather III proved much more durable than expected. They lasted longer then the six-month guaranteed Nike Lunar Ballistec I just tested. While they are nothing like Barricade durable, they have lasted me longer than most speed shoes. The outsole is still in exceptional condition, which is surprising considering the amount of hours I have on them and how tough I tend to be on shoes."
Austin concurred, saying, "I was pleasantly surprised by the durability of the shoe. I thought that the lightweight construction would cause it to lack in outsole durability, but I didn't notice any wear in the tread after 20 hours of play. The upper materials are also very durable. I didn't notice any signs of wear due to the fact that most of it is rubber. I would rank the Feather III at the top of the durability list for lightweight speed shoes."
Mark found the Feather III to be much more durable than previous versions of the Feather. He said, "I have yet to wear down the sole after 15 hours of play. I was able to grind down the last two iterations of the Feather in far less time, so this shoe was a step in the right direction."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.0
Like the outsole, the toe area held up great throughout the playtest. Once again, Mark noted the improvement over previous versions. He said, "As I indicated in the overall durability comments, the last couple Feathers had a great 'lightweight shoe' storyline, but durability was a subplot at best. Not so with the latest version; the Feather III gets high marks for toe durability, especially for such a light shoe."
Austin doesn't drag his toes all that much, but he could appreciate the design of the shoe for those players who may require a bit more protection in that area. He offered, "I'm not much of a toe dragger and didn't notice any wear in the toe of the Feather III. There is a unique design in the toe that seems to keep it protected on top of the standard rubber. These designs work together to provide a very durable toe area that should hold up for those who tend to drag their toes while playing."
Chris really puts the toe durability of a shoe to the test, and these held up well for him. He did wear down one area of the upper, but not enough to affect the performance of the shoe. He explained, "Most of the toe is well protected on these shoes. The Sprintweb material is much thicker at the toe and joins with a beefy toe guard to offer ample protection. The only area where wear was an issue was on the lateral side of the forefoot of my left shoe. I have worn away quite a bit of the adiPRENE+ material there since there is nothing to protect it. However, this has not affected the performance of the shoe and the rest of the toe is in great shape."
Traction - Score: 4.4
Once again, the Feather III impressed our team with how well it gripped the hard courts. Chris was able to move with aplomb all over the court. He raved, "I really enjoyed the level of traction offered by this shoe. I felt confident sprinting around the court because I knew the shoe was going to give me enough grab to make an aggressive cut, yet not so much as to have me worrying about rolling an ankle. I found I could slide controllably out of a tough lateral cut, and it was easy to find the line between grip and give in this shoe. I only played on hard courts, but I found the level of traction to be top notch."
The traction worked great for Mark as well. He added, "The traction was top notch on the hard courts. I got just the right amount of slip without an unpredictable slide."
Austin was comfortable with the traction as well, and he always felt in control. He said, "I really liked the traction that the Feather III offered. I did not have any trouble with the shoe sliding out from under me while I was quickly switching directions, and there was a lot of support from the shoe when I was pushing off or recovering. The herringbone pattern allows the shoe to slide if needed, but it also grips the court well. I felt that the shoe was extremely reliable."
Echoing similar sentiments was Andy, although he had a couple instances of slippage. He explained, "For the most part I really liked the balance between give and grip that this outsole provided. I could slide aggressively on the hard courts, and I always knew I could grab the court at the last second to get back into the point. There were a couple instances when I started forward quickly for a drop shot and kind of 'spun my wheels,' but this didn't happen on a consistent basis; there were just a couple unexpected slips that prevent me from putting up a perfect score."
Weight - Score: 4.8
The Feather III received extraordinarily high marks for weight, and it certainly lived up to its name. "Most definitely one of the strengths of this shoe!" Andy exclaimed. "It feels super lightweight and low to the ground, which allowed me to feel as fast as possible. I can't recall many other shoes that have me feeling this quick and agile. They aren't as light as the previous version (the Feather II), but the added weight provides a little more support and stability that made me feel even more confident when moving around in them."
The lightweight feel was a big factor in making this one of Austin's go-to shoes. He raved, "The Feather III felt very low to the ground and low profile in design. Any shoe that weighs less than 14 ounces is very light for me, and this shoe is definitely lighter than that. The light weight made the shoe feel extremely quick on the court, and I found myself tracking down balls that I don't normally get to. Weight was not an issue at all, and the balance of weight and durability helped this shoe become one of my favorites."
It was a perfect score for Mark, who said, "I had to give the Feather III a '5' for being a lightweight high performance tennis shoe with many other positive attributes."
Chris also really appreciated the lightweight feel, but he felt the shoe could've used a little more weight and support. He explained, "The shoes never felt heavy or cumbersome, and I felt like I moved very well in them. The light feel combined nicely with the traction and flex to make this a very fast shoe. However, I would have happily accepted a little more weight if it provided some added stiffness to the chassis."
Overall - Score: 4.3
Chris - "I liked the style, traction, cushioning and medium width fit. The outsoles also held up better than expected."
Mark - "The traction, aesthetics, weight, and stability were all better than good. I confess that the color scheme of these shoes sparked a few conversations on the street and lots of downward glances (and not because I am so scary-looking). This shoe looked great, and the overall comparison I developed was to a sports car, which are not always the easiest cars to get into, but once you're in, you are gold."
Andy - "Great lightweight fit and feel. Plenty of stability for the most aggressive movers and a surprising level of durability. Very nice shoe!"
Austin - "I loved how the Feather III fit my foot like a glove, which allowed me to be very quick on the court. It also offered great durability."
Chris - "There was too much flex through the arch area, and the tongue was way too thin."
Mark - "I felt that the tongue's construction made it a challenge to get it to sit flush against the top of my foot because it is pretty thin. I am a patient guy, but if I was back in my junior tennis days I can imagine myself getting a bit flustered trying to get the fit just right."
Andy - "A little more support from the midsole would've made long hours on court a little easier, and the thin tongue kept getting bunched up inside the shoe during play."
Austin - "I really do not have any complaints other than it was a little hard to get the shoe on my foot and there was a slight lack of cushioning."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Chris - "I found this update to fit closer to medium width in the forefoot. The previous version was too wide for me, but this one fit much better. The first Feather had a thin tongue design made of a neoprene-like material. For the Feather II, adidas switched to a thicker, padded tongue, which was a huge improvement. I was sad to see the switch back to a thinner tongue on this third version because it simply does not protect the foot from the lace system. This shoe is right in there on the speed front with the likes of the Nike Vapor 9 Tour, Asics Gel Solution Speed and Wilson Rush Pro."
Mark - "The Feather III is a vast improvement over the prior iterations. They were all comfortable and light, but anyone who depends on foot speed would burn through the earlier models. adidas took all this to heart and developed a superior shoe. The Asics Solution Speed and the Nike Vapor 9 Tour are other high quality mentionables that target players looking for the lighter/supportive shoe option."
Andy - "This has been my favorite Feather yet! I think adidas did a great job making a lightweight, speed-oriented offering that doesn't sacrifice stability and durability. It performs somewhere between the CC Feather II and the standard Feather II in terms of support, stability and breathability. It also feels very similar to the Nike Zoom Breathe 2K12, another shoe I really liked."
Austin - "This is probably the best lightweight shoe available for tennis at this point in time. It is extremely lightweight, yet it offers durability that is comparable to heavier shoes. It fits like a glove and offers enough support and stability to make you feel extremely comfortable on the court. I would put this shoe in its own category because I really cannot compare it to any other shoe that I have played in."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Mark - Medium width / Medium arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Austin - Medium width / Medium arch
Review date: January 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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