When Adidas revealed it was shelving its Barricade shoe for the foreseeable future, a couple of thoughts came to mind. First, we’d see some form of the venerable shoe again. It has a loyal following and retirements in sports are a fickle thing. Second, whatever the company rolls out next better impress because, although a completely different model, comparisons will be inevitable. When the new SoleCourt Boost hit the market earlier this year expectations were high. And to its credit, it makes a statement all its own.
Like recent Barricades, the SoleCourt has Boost cushioning throughout the midsole. And like those recent Barricades, it was highly effective. In terms of shock absorption and bounce back, there aren’t many shoes that are better equipped. There’s also foam molded padding in the ankle collar and heel region to increase the cushioning. The one part of the shoe where it seemed a little sparse was under the forefoot. That could be to get the foot closer to the court for more feel and responsiveness, but there was a noticeable difference between the amount of midfoot and heel protection versus the front of the foot. Short of that, comfort was still a key asset.
One of the purported differences between the Barricade and SoleCourt Boost is the greater emphasis on lateral stability. The Barricade was designed in an era when net play and forward movement were more prevalent; the SoleCourt Boost is engineered with the current state of baseline fisticuffs its primary concern. The new TPU Chassis emphasizes elevated support in side-to-side court coverage. The arch is also relatively high, something to consider for those with flatter feet.
The outsole has a conspicuous extension (dubbed Torsion Bar) on the lateral side to help with changes of direction. It’s unusual looking—an outrigger is the best description I’ve found—and at first glance I thought a probable side-effect would be moderate to severe clumsiness. But that was far from the case. I felt stable and confident moving into and out of sharp cuts, with that extra piece seemingly helping the cause.
The preference for new offerings is to keep the weight low. My 11.5 SoleCourt Boost weighed in at 16.2 ounces, which is meatier than most. However, the heft of the shoe added to the solid, dependable feel without appearing sluggish. It’s certainly not in the speed category, but the high degree of stability led to a sense of assuredness on the court that translated into efficient movement. I doubt players who prefer the security of shoes with more substance will find the weight to be a problem.
The upper has an almost two-piece design. There’s a stretchy housing over the forefoot—you can slide a figure between it and the bottom layer of the upper—that has abrasion-resistant RPU dots for enhanced durability. The flexibility—more so than a typical Barricade—and spacious forefoot made for plenty of room for my toes to spread on contact. The fit, along with the quality cushioning, only increased the comfort. I do generally prefer a narrower cut, but didn’t incur significant foot slide or toe-jamming as long as I hiked up on the laces. On the downside, there’s not a great deal of obvious ventilation in the upper; I didn’t get to try the shoe in steamy conditions, but I do wonder whether it would heat up in those environments.
One matter of definite concern for me was heel slippage. No matter how tightly I tied the shoes, I did notice occasional wiggle in the back of my foot on aggressive movements. Since I already wear a thick sock, going two-ply was not an option. I did read a review of the shoe that recommended using a runner’s knot for such an issue, and it did help. However, the tactic also caused more pressure under my right ankle. Ultimately, I sided with the heightened security over the slight discomfort.
The Adiwear outsole has a modified herringbone design with traction that works on any surface. (There is a clay-court option as well). It doesn’t come with a warranty, a bit surprising at this price point, but proved durable nonetheless. The model I used was the Parley edition which uses yarn from recycled plastic ocean waste intercepted from beaches and coastal communities. It doesn’t affect performance, but does benefit the environment.
Going into this playtest I was guilty of making the easy comparison to the Barricade, but the SoleCourt Boost is starting a legacy all its own. Like its predecessor, it’s a serious piece of equipment. However, the new design ups the out-of-the-box comfort and lateral support, while still satisfying high-performance needs. Personally, I would prefer a narrower cut in the forefoot, but players with wider feet will appreciate the roominess. If you’re in the market for a premium shoe with plenty of stability, durability and cushioning, the SoleCourt Boost could be just what you’re looking for.