Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley Walking Boots Review
The new TERREX Free Hiker Parley from adidas Terrex certainly stands out from the rest of the hiking boot crowd. Its striking trainer-styled looks and attention-grabbing Boost midsole will most likely draw comments from your hiking buddies, hopefully the more positive kind.
At its heart is a lightweight but sturdy construction. Its state-of-the-art Primeknit uppers made using recycled Parley Ocean Plastic™, a high-performance recycled polyester yarn created from intercepted marine plastic waste.
Nick, our digital marketing manager, took the adidas TERREX Free Hiker Parley out into the hills of Snowdonia for a weekend of camping and hiking, to put it through its paces and to see how it compared to a more traditional hiking boot.
First impressions as I opened the box, I knew that the adidas TERREX Free Hiker Parley wasn’t going to be your average walking boot. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t look like a walking boot, it looks like a trainer, but this was one of the very reasons I was so keen to try it out.
As I took the boots out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the weight or lack thereof. The second had to be the attention-grabbing Boost sole, which with a bit of prodding you could easily see why this impact-absorbing material is so popular in the running market. The third had to be the quality of the construction and the materials, resulting in a premium finish. I was looking forward to my long-awaited weekend in Snowdonia and a chance to see whether the boots could really compare with a more traditional lightweight walking boot.
The sock-fit style is the first thing you’ll notice as you slip these on for the first time. They go on easy with the heel tab and hug your foot from the get-go with a very low profile feel.
I have fairly skinny ankles and often I struggle to find a shoe or boot that can accommodate both that and my wide mid and forefoot. There was plenty of room in the toe box, whilst the Primeknit upper combined with the TPU heel clip delivered an impressive snug and secure fit around my entire foot. The ankle cuff gave that bit more confidence than when wearing a walking shoe.
I tested the TERREX Free Hiker Parleys on varied terrain in Snowdonia, forest tracks, loose gravel paths, rockier paths and even on the most hazardous of terrain, the Land Rover checker plate covered in morning dew.
I’ve got to hand it to the low, unobtrusive profile of the Continental outsole. It really held its own on all of these, and I think this might partially be down to that Boost midsole, which allows the boot to flex around the terrain and maximise the grip. Which leads us neatly on to stability.
In my experience, the combination of a flexible wide outsole and a mesh or knitted upper often results in increased instability in a shoe/boot, particularly when tackling uneven terrain. My ankles have a tendency to roll easily so I usually avoid this type of footwear, but I can honestly say the TERREX Free Hiker Parley felt supportive and my foot was locked in at all times.
I think this could be down to the fact that the Primeknit upper is more tightly woven and thicker than most other mesh upper shoes/boots I’ve tried and that the lower sides of the upper are built up, as well as the EVA frame that features in the midsole, which all helps towards reducing the lateral movement of the foot. Although the knit ankle cuff doesn’t offer the same ankle protection as a full walking boot, it does instil confidence, almost as if you’re wearing a lightweight ankle support brace.
The Boost midsole combined with the Continental rubber sole gives impressive balanced trail feedback, not so much that you can feel every tiny stone, but just enough to really feel connected. The energy return of the Boost is also impressive, it really puts a spring in your step and more than once I had the urge to set off into a run, clearly its running pedigree showing through.
As soon as I first put the TERREX Free Hiker Parley on it felt like I was standing on a cloud and I wanted to jump up and down. It delivers a very comfortable trainer-like fit with loads of cushioning and the sock-fit and lightweight materials just compound that comfort.
Given the level of stability, these boots are impressively lightweight. At no point during the entire weekend of wearing them did I feel fatigued wearing them, even after a 15 mile plus hike. Their low weight combined with the springy Boost midsole often gave me the urge to break into a run out on the trails.
You can’t talk about the materials and construction of the TERREX Free Hiker Parley without mentioning the ongoing partnership between adidas and eco-innovator Parley. In an aim to create a plastic-free ocean, Parley Ocean Plastic™ upcycles intercepted plastic waste from the beaches and coastal communities to create performance materials. This high performance recycled polyester yarn features in all upper components of the TERREX Free Hiker Parley, including the boot’s Primeknit upper.
The TERREX Free Hiker is not marketed as waterproof, but the upper features a water repellent treatment, which I was genuinely impressed by. Anyone who’s ever spent time camping in the UK knows that you need a waterproof shoe or boot to avoid getting wet feet in the mornings/evenings from the dew sodden grass. I’ve never experienced footwear without a membrane and that has a mesh upper that hasn’t gotten wet through in these situations, the Free Hiker Parley was the first. The downside to this, is that the boot can get quite warm on the trails, but then so will most traditional walking boots.
For me, this is one of the key areas where the TERREX Free Hiker Parley shines, but understandably this trainer style and design isn’t for everyone and definitely not for fans of traditional hiking footwear.
Personally, I’ve been waiting a while to see a crossover boot of this nature and I feel the TERREX Free Hiker Parley demonstrates that you can design something that would fit in just as well on the streets or in the pub, as out on the trails whilst still remaining functional. Whilst the boot fits effortlessly into streetwear style, out on the trails it is bound to catch the attention of other hikers, which is not necessarily a negative.
After a weekend of use, the TERREX Free Hiker Parley sustained very little in the way of damage, even when used on more rockier terrain. Like with many mesh constructions, there is always a concern for durability, but I feel that the reinforcements around the lower part of the upper, the toe cap and the heel should help to add longevity to the boot especially when compared to a full mesh upper.
I would say the TERREX Free Hiker Parley is perfect for someone looking to hike fast & light, but wanting a little more protection and stability than most trail running shoes would be able to offer. It is definitely a good alternative for those of us who are perhaps a little more fashion conscious or wanting something that wouldn’t look out of place on the streets or in the local pub. I’m keen to continue to test these in some more serious terrain and out on some longer hikes to see how far I can really push them.
Pros Super comfortable out of the box. Lightweight Boost sole delivers exceptional energy return. Traction on uneven ground and a stylish design.
Cons A little warmer than I would have expected given the mesh construction.