If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Footwear News may receive an affiliate commission.
An object in motion stays in motion. Or so claims Newton’s first law.
Unfortunately for runners, this isn’t actually the case. Every time your foot hits the ground, braking forces grip your sole and interrupt forward motion with a series of, often imperceptible, start-stop motions. As a result, our movements are inherently inefficient, and that’s a real… drag.
This is exactly the problem that adidas set out to solve in 2021 with the ground-breaking 3D printed midsole they developed for the first iteration of the 4DFWD.
3D printing is a term you seem to hear referenced everywhere these days. But for neophytes — like this writer — it refers to the construction of any 3D object from a digital model. The additive process deposits solidify and join layers of material on top of one another, and because a computer controls it, it can produce complex shapes that would otherwise be impossible to create by hand. In recent years the technology has advanced by leaps and bounds — moving from a costly niche production method to one increasingly adopted by major corporations looking to push the boundaries of design.
So it’s only natural that adidas — who have continually pushed shoe design forward since their founding in 1949 and especially since they began developing 4D cushioning tech with the 3D printing experts at Carbon in 2017 — jumped on the opportunity to further leverage 3D printing to keep us all moving forward with less drag with 2021’s 4DFWD.
To develop the original midsole, adidas partnered with the MIT Sports Lab, combed through 18 years of real-world data from athletes, and — thanks to the limitless range of design possibilities offered by 3D printing — tested over 5 million different lattice structures. In the end, they landed on a midsole design that compresses forward, reduces braking forces, and seamlessly transforms the forces of impact into forward motion.
For the 2022 model, adidas further honed the design of the midsole to provide 23% more cushioning and 15% fewer braking forces.
But does the latest model live up to the hype? We took the adidas 4DFWD 2 for a few morning runs to find out.
How We Tested the adidas 4DFWD 2 Running Shoe
- Product tested: adidas 4DFWD 2
- Size range: 6-16
- Colorways available: One (Carbon/Zero Metalic/White)
- Price: $200.00
- Testing period: Three days
- Testing method: Daily runs of distances varying from three to six miles
- Testing surfaces: Primarily pavement with small distances across dirt, gravel, and mud
- Pros: A fluid and extremely unique underfoot experience and show-stopping design
- Cons: The shoe lacks adaptations and considerations for those who suffer from many common foot maladies.
- Best for: Anyone with relatively neutral feet
- Verdict: The adidas 4DFWD 2 is an unnaturally good-looking shoe that offers an otherworldly, smooth ride thanks to the innovations to the midsole. However, while adequately supportive for most runners, for anyone with more advanced stability needs, it may come up a bit short.
Design That Stops the Show Right Out of the Box
As soon as you pull the adidas 4DFWD 2 out of the box, just looking at it, you know there is something special about it. The design of the midsole is eye-popping. Your brain immediately goes into overdrive, and you can’t help but marvel at the intricacies of the latticed design.
If the Shoe Fits… It’s Thanks to the Primeknit+ Upper
While the original model received some criticism for the fit of the upper, the adidas 4DFWD 2 banishes all those concerns with the all-new Primeknit+ upper. The shoe offers a snug, supportive, almost sock-like fit, with extra enhancements to the lacing system — including an extra eyelet that locks your foot down.
A Midsole That Rides Like a Rolls Royce
From your very first step, you immediately understand just how unique the cushioning provided by the 3D printed midsole is. Even when you walk, there is a pleasurable bounce that becomes even more enjoyable when you pick up the pace and increase the downward forces exerted on the foot. The adidas 4DFWD 2’s midsole offers suspension unlike any this writer has ever experienced before. Once you taste this kind of luxury… it will be hard to go back.
Performance Traction on Any Surface
With an outsole designed in partnership with legendary tire manufacturer Continental, it’s no wonder that the adidas 4DFWD 2 provides great traction on various surfaces. While this writer mostly sticks to pavement, he encountered some very slick spots on the pavement and the dirt. The Continental outsole performed on some fairly dicey surfaces every time.
Materials That Leave Your Conscious Feeling as Good as Your Feet
One of the key benefits of 3D printing is that — as an additive manufacturing process — it produces almost no waste. And thanks to adidas’ commitment to using 40% natural and renewable materials in the construction of the midsole and 50% recycled materials in the upper, you can rest easy knowing that the only footprints you’ll need to be worrying about are the ones you might leave on your mudroom floor when you get home.
The 4DFWD 2 is an excellent shoe. The design and innovations of the midsole alone should have nearly every runner dashing out the door to try a pair. While the shoe is very supportive, runners with abnormal arches, footfalls, or other common foot maladies, may want to seek a true stability shoe.
adidas 4DFWD 2 Running Shoes
Meet the Author
- Peter Tittiger is a freelance journalist and content consultant. He is also an avid runner and a slave to his feet. A firm believer in “No Days Off,” he regularly logs at least five runs a week and cross-trains in the pool or on a bike. He has trained for and run in nearly a hundred races, including the New York City Marathon, and near annual completion of the full, 5-borough, NYRR half-marathon circuit.