Sneakers aren’t just rubber and fabric anymore, and a new type of swoosh or logo can only take you so far. These days, shoes lace themselves at the press of a button, and some are even crafted out of liquid. Now, Adidas is joining the high-tech fray with footwear that’s literally chiseled by light and oxygen, dubbed the Futurecraft 4D.
Futurecraft 4D is the first piece of footwear made with an innovative manufacturing technique called Digital Light Synthesis (DLS). Adidas partnered with 3D printing upstart Carbon who pioneered the new method. DLS allowed Adidas to manipulate a host of small details, which let the legendary footwear company craft a running shoe wholly different than anything it’s ever manufactured. With the help of 17 years of running data and roughly 50 different prototypes, Adidas is ready to show the world what it’s cooked up.
After Adidas officially unveiled the Futurecraft 4D, Digital Trends got its hands on one of the 300 pairs the company doled out ahead of its upcoming fall release. To give them a true run for their money, we decided to lace them up and run through the streets of New York City to see how far into the future these kicks go.
What are those shoes?
The Futurecraft 4D owes a lot of its look to its technological predecessor, last year’s Futurecraft 3D. Both shoes sport a slick mesh upper made with Adidas’ Primeknit technology, which gives it that handwoven aesthetic and feel. The black and green colorway is accentuated by the reflective shine of its 3D-printed midsole.
The midsole is where both shoes derive their respective monikers. The Futurecraft 4D’s intricate midsole gives the shoe an abstract aesthetic people couldn’t help but ask about while we wore them around the city. Onlookers easily spotted the midsole springing into action with every step — essentially, it looks like a shoe with a cool, elastic hydraulic system.
Taking a ‘4D’ run
It’s no secret Adidas crafted these shoes for running. Slipping them on your feet makes this immediately clear. You instantly feel a noticeable bounce upon running thanks to its intricate, elastomeric midsole crafted with DLS. Even on a light jog, it’s easy to feel the heel spring up and physically push you forward. When testing out the shoes, we were often amazed at how much faster they made us feel.
It’s no secret Adidas crafted these shoes for running. Slipping them on your feet makes this immediately clear.
The sole may be the star of the Futurecraft 4D, but the perforated upper end left the biggest impression on us. The holes are wide enough to allow for a pleasantly cool breeze to circulate through the shoe, cooling down your feet. In other words, you won’t stop running because of foot discomfort or overheating. Adidas tabbed tire manufacturer Continental to make the durable outer sole, which let us run on rocky terrain without trouble. Though we didn’t scale any mountains, it seemed apparent the Futurecraft 4D would handle running on rugged dirt roads with ease.
Running aside, anyone looking to wear these as their everyday shoes should take pause. The extra bounce it offers for running tended to get annoying after prolonged walking and even started to hurt our calves a bit. A softer inner sole might rectify this issue but could take away from running performance — at the end of the day, Adidas did craft these for running, so this solution seems unlikely.
Are they worth the price?
As of right now, Adidas has yet to announce an official price for its Futurecraft 4D, though considering the Futurecraft 3D ran for $333, we assume this model’s price won’t be terribly far off. Gerd Manz, Adidas’ vice president of technology innovation, told Digital Trends the Futurecraft 4D plans to boast a price categorized as a “premium level offer.”
Aesthetically unique, the Futurecraft 4D’s midsole gave us a delightful bounce for running. However, many running shoes on the market come standard with a similar running performance for roughly $150 – $200. If the Futurecraft does indeed cost an extra $100 — all for a little extra pep in your step and an innovative design — it will be tough to justify purchasing a pair. This pair of shoes seems destined only for those into novelty and hardcore running.
Should you run to the future with Adidas?
For those who already use running shoes for specific conditions and surfaces, the Futurecraft 4D seems like a great addition to their closet. Where it lacks in versatility, it more than makes up for with its durable outsole capable of expanding the type of surfaces wearers feel comfortable running on. If you’ve got the dough, we recommend picking up (and reserving) a pair if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the 10,000 pairs Adidas plans to release this upcoming fall and winter.