This isn’t the first time we have seen a 3D printed midsole out of Adidas, but with the new 4DFWD they are promising quite a few updates and a lot of potential performance improvements. There is no question that the styling of the shoe is solid-looking and the lattice design is definitely eye-catching, but the real question is does this make it for a solid running experience? Also, are they really taking advantage of why someone would consider a 3D printed midsole, or is this just more of what we have seen before?
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Really solid-looking style shoe, but still not a great runner despite the updates.
- Weighs in at 11.7oz or 332g for a US Men’s 9.
- Features 32.5mm of cushion and has an 11.3mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $200.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
The 3D Question
To answer the burning question as to whether Adidas has achieved something different with the 4DFWD, it’s probably worth diving into why one would want 3D printed midsoles in the first place. First off, 3D printing midsoles is not something new for a lot of shoe brands. They have been using it behind the scenes, with athletes, to prototype on new midsole designs that would then get transitioned into the final product which we then find in the market. So it was meant for rapid iteration, testing, customization, and even personalization for an athlete. It was never activated for the general consumer and that’s why even with the first edition of the 4D from Adidas it seemed like an interesting proposition.
The problem is, the way Adidas is implementing 3D is truly not any better for runners individually because the 4DFWD is still a mass-market shoe. Sure, the midsole material is different and it was “printed” differently, but it doesn’t fulfill the promise of what something 3D printed potentially can do. For example, one might prefer a version of this shoe with a higher stack height in both the forefoot and the heel as well as a lower drop. However, their neighbor might enjoy something with a lower stack height and no drop and wants even more ground feel. Those are interesting places for 3D to potentially play and that doesn’t even get into actual foot shape, stride tendencies, cadence, landing, and yes, even challenging shaped feet. 3D should mean a more custom experience for runners and that is not what we are finding here.
Now How Do They Feel and Run
The 4DFWD feel weird at first, it’s as simple as that. The lattice structures are just very different underfoot from how you have experience running shoes prior. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s bad thing because they are very comfortable to step into and to walk in, that lattice provides an ample amount of cushion (in the heel) and quite a bit of softness as those structures compress. You can even visually see it with every step as that midsole system accordions up and down.
Starting on the upper, it feels a lot like other Adidas shoes, but there’s a little too much material here and not enough structure to it. Even with a standard width foot, you are going to end up with quite a bit of gather in the front half of the shoe when you really lace it down. AND you have to lace it down because without a very snug fit your foot will move around quite a bit as the heel counter is very insecure. Casually worn, they are breathable and move well, but for performance, it’s just a little too sloppy up top.
The midsole becomes problematic for us during the performance. The heavy ramp and slide design that they have built into the shoe in order to increase forward motion actually work against it. You definitely slide forward as the shoe is designed but this causes you to end up on top of the very lightly cushioned forefoot and even slam up against the front of the toe box if you go too hard. The net result for us is unless you are running really slow and very short distances, then you should most definitely use this as something more walking or style-centric. That upper is just a bit too loose and unstructured and the midsole, while interesting, isn’t helping a lot on their performance side. We would love to have had more forefoot cushion and a less aggressive drop. Also, it would be interesting to see them move away from the lattice design and come up with more compelling structures using 3D… a plate would have mitigated some of the aggressive compression as well.
The upper on here will feel very reminiscent to anyone who is run in and uncaged Ultraboost recently. It primarily makes use of their PRIMEKNIT+, which features 50% recycled fibers and no virgin polyester, and has a nice openness and breathability to it. It does have a sock style fit, so if you have a narrower foot you can expect some gather in the front portion all the way down through the toe box. There are some additional material stability elements added at mid-foot to help with side to side, but it is going to feel a little loose. Additionally, the heel cup doesn’t truly lock you in, so you really have to lace things down tight to get a solid hold. They have also added that extended pull on the heel to simplify on and off.
If it wasn’t clear yet, the midsole on the 4DFWD is a 3D printed lattice design. Supposedly, they used 17 years of data and numerous lattice variations to land on this midsole and what they have created is a design that is supposed to transition you forward off the toe faster. From the side profile you will note that the higher stack and elongated heel and how that ramps quickly towards a much more minimally cushioned forefoot. That almost 12mm drop helps to encourage that forward slide as well. The lattice under foot feel is different from what you might have felt prior given all those little structures, not in a bad way, just different.
The outsole uses a fairly sizable amount of rubber which definitely provides increase durability and is obviously there to protect the printed midsole. The large amount of rubber does increase the weight pretty dramatically though and make it feel a bit bottom-heavy, but it obviously increases durability and grip and control is decent.
Style & Aesthetics
The Adidas 4DFWD is a nice-looking shoe stylistically and it will sell out predominantly to be worn by non-runners. The lattice design is super interesting from a visual perspective, gets a lot of comments, and we will expect to see additional uppers in new colors come out over time.
We had really high hopes for where Adidas might take their 3D printed design over time and the premise of the 4DFWD is interesting. However, not sure it really delivers. In our view, the reason the running industry would want to move towards a 3D printed midsole is predominantly for the personalization of the product. Here it is being used to try something new and to create an interesting visual aesthetic, but it doesn’t really change the experience on a person by person basis. As it relates to the actual changes they made and the creation of this forward ramp design to accelerate the toe off, it’s interesting, but we would have loved more forefoot cushion and less drop, its too slide-y and honestly, just doesn’t feel great in a run. Bottom line, the 4DFWD is a great-looking shoe and we are getting closer to something amazing, but would love to see 3D being used to produce more personalized experiences that target runners’ varying feet and run styles.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.