By Chris Edwards
Earlier this year at Indian Wells, we got our first glimpse of the latest update to the Feather line, the adizero Feather II. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was rocking the yet to be released shoes out on the practice courts of the BNP Paribas Open. According to the adidas representatives we spoke to, Tsonga was in love with the adizero Feather IIs and they couldn't get him out of them.
Having seen the adizero Feather II on court and having already gotten a taste for the hype surrounding this latest adidas shoe, we couldn't wait to test a pair for ourselves. I was the lucky guy to receive one of the few early production pairs, and in the video posted above, I wrap up several months of testing them.
I was a big fan of the original adizero Feather. However, that shoe had some quirks, quirks that adidas set out to address with the adizero Feather II. With the second version, adidas has redesigned the shoe so that it keeps the light and fast feel of the original while improving fit and comfort.
From the first try-on it was obvious adidas did some serious redesigning of the Feather. The adizero Feather II offers a wider fit. Whereas the original one fit narrow, this version is a comfortable medium width. There's plenty of room for my skinny feet, but the shoes also feel roomy enough to accommodate those who need a slightly wider than medium width.
Another big comfort improvement comes in the materials used in the upper construction. The original adizero Feather had a neoprene tongue. While I liked that concept, in reality it made the shoe hard to get on as it was too grippy against my socks. The thin neoprene tongue also didn't offer the best protection from the lace system. The adizero Feather II has a more traditional tongue with adequate padding and enough mesh to improve breathability.
The rest of the upper flexes much, much better than the original. From the first wear I was finding vastly improved comfort out on the court. These shoes required zero break-in for me. I put them on and went out and played a couple of sets in perfect comfort.
The improved flex in the uppers also goes a long way in making this a faster feeling shoe. I love how fast and responsive this shoe feels at toe-off. The adiPRENE+ cushioning system screams speed every time I load it up with my weight and push off for my next step. The upper flexes so well I hardly notice it's there, that is until I need to come to a stop or make a lateral cut. Then the Sprintweb that wraps around the forefoot of the shoe provides the perfect level of support, and is complemented by the Sprintframe in the heel for a locked in level of stability on tough landings.
The act of changing directions also gets some help from the modified outsole. The combination of both an open and a tight tread pattern allows the shoe to give when coming to an aggressive lateral stop. That give prevents the shoe from getting hung up on the court surface. You don't want too much traction on a lateral stop as it can encourage the shoe to roll. Once I come to a stop the open tread pattern on the lateral edge of the shoe can flex and grab the court, allowing me to push off with confidence.
How fast can I move in this shoe? Well, that's a question I can answer because the adizero Feather II is micoach compatible. I placed the micoach Speedcell in my left shoe during several training sessions, as well as during the video shoot. Once I leave the court I can sync up to my laptop or iPhone and check performance variables such as my maximum speed, distance traveled and number and duration of rallies.
Now, the shoes can tell me how hard I've been working during my training sessions, but are they tough enough to hang in there for the ride? I've hit in these shoes a lot, and I'm happy to report they've held up very well. Considering this is a speed shoe, I'm happy with the outsole durability. While it doesn't come close to the extremely durable Barricade series, I have found them to be more durable than competing speed-oriented shoes.