The Adidas Terrex CMTK is a budget-priced introduction to the company’s extensive off-road line. The CMTK designation refers to the the outsoles, which are designed after Continental Mountain King bike tires, and are the shoe’s strongest feature. They grip well, shed mud, and are extraordinarily durable. Overall, however, our wear-test team thought the Terrex CMTK suffers from stiff, inflexible uppers and a hard, clunky ride on the trail.
Adidas’ Terrex line of trail running shoes is extensive. It includes the basic all-around Terrex Agravic, lightweight Terrex Agravic Speed, Terrex BOA with innovative rachet lacing system, cushioned Terrex Trailmaker, waterproof Terrex Tracerocker GTX, and beefy Terrex Skychaser. Because Adidas doesn’t list all of the models on the same page (or even on the same website), it can be a mystery to understand how the line fits together. The Adidas Terrex CMTK is intended to be a entry-level, budget-conscious trail shoe for runners who want something durable from Adidas without reaching higher into the trail line. The Adidas Terrex CMTK (named after the Mountain King mountain bike tires from Continental) weighs 12 ounces for men’s size 9, and has a 28mm rear / 22mm forefoot stack height (6mm heel-to-toe drop). The midsole is basic EVA foam (no Boost TPU material in this shoe) with firm insert below the heel. The uppers are nearly-seamless reinforced mesh with heat-bonded overlays (no stitched-on pieces). Best of all the retail price is $100, which makes it the lowest-price shoe in this round of head-to-head testing, just below the Columbia-Montrail Caldorado III which retails for $120.
Overall, our wear-testers appreciated the namesake CMTK Continental outsole. The 3mm lugs bite well in soft ground and they’re spaced widely enough to shed mud. The full-coverage Continental rubber outsole wraps slightly up and around the edges of the midsole, which puts the lugs right to the edge of the shoe and really helps it dig in on challenging terrain. The rubber is also remarkably durable. After 30 cumulative miles on technical, rocky trails, one of our wear-test runners was shocked that he couldn’t find so much as a scratch. Our wear-testers also appreciated the nearly-seamless construction of the upper, which is comfortable and visually striking. Many budget trail shoes are constructed with bulky, heavy stitched-on overlays. They’re intended to provide support and structure, but they often just create hotspots and points of irritation. The only stitching on the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s uppers is around the lace holes and at a seam on the medial side of the front end.
Unlike some of the other models in this round of head-to-head testing, the Adidas Terrex CMTK doesn’t have any grooves or channels in its outsole to help with forefoot flex. Our wear-testers found the sole stiff and inflexible. Combined with a firm, heavy EVA foam midsole, the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s trail feel is clunky and harsh instead of smooth and easy. While our wear-testers appreciated the smoothness of the nearly-seamless uppers, they also reported that the stiff mesh didn’t breathe well in the heat or flex with their stride. Overall, the Adidas Terrex CMTK felt laborious to run in, not agile or responsive. Runners who like the fit and performance of Adidas’ Terrex trail line would be better served with the Terrex Agravic, Trailmaker, or BOA for a modest additional cost. A budget shoe is always going to make compromises on features and design, and overall, we thought the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s drawbacks outweighed its strong points.
Our wear-testers appreciated the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s nearly-seamless and reasonably roomy upper. The forefoot is wide enough to accommodate some natural toe splay, and the fit of the uppers is true-to-size and not constrictive. However, our runners had concerns about the lack of padding in the heel collar and tongue, as well as the stiff and inflexible mesh in the mid- and forefoot. As one of our wear-testers put it, “I couldn’t find a way to adjust them to conform to me. The stiff upper material didn’t allow the shoe to hug my foot.” Another observed that “the heel is lightly padded, but the top of the tongue is basically an unpadded rubber flap rubbing against the front of my ankle. I felt like I always needed to wear crew socks with these to protect my skin.”
The runners on our wear-test team pulled out words like “clunky” and “reluctant” to describe the Adidas Terrex CMTK. As one put it, “the Terrex CMTK seems more suited for casual jogging or hiking and is not particularly speedy or quick.” Another concluded, “any speed I got out of them was from my own effort – no assistance at all from the shoes.” The firm midsole combined with the inflexible outsole makes the Adidas Terrex CMTK feel like it’s slapping the ground with every stride instead of rolling smoothly from landing to toe off. Even in a budget trail shoe, runners should be able to count on an easy stride and not worry about their shoes working against them.
Security of Fit
In this round of head-to-head testing, the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s tightly-woven, reinforced mesh uppers are the exact opposite of the thin, stretchy knit uppers on the Columbia-Montrail Caldorado III. Here, our wear-testers appreciated the protection offered by the dense knit but thought they stood in the way of a secure fit. As one of the runners on our crew put it, “if your feet are shaped exactly like these shoes, congrats. But if your feet are slightly narrow or wide, be prepared to rattle around or get squeezed. These are the least accommodating uppers I’ve ever run in.” Another wear-tester reported that her narrow feet experienced lots of side-to-side motion on the trail, which deflated any confidence she had to run through technical sections. Our wear-testers also reported problems with their heel lifting out of the back, which is a common issue with shoes that have stiff soles and minimal heel collar padding.
The lug placement, shape and design is one of the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s strengths. The outsole is full-coverage Continental rubber designed after the pattern of their Mountain King mountain bike tires. The lugs are moved so far to the edge that some of them even wrap up and around the the sidewalls, which gives the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s outsole an aggressive grip on loose and off-camber terrain. The rubber is also high quality and remarkably durable. The 3mm lugs are widely-spaced with sharp (not rounded) edges, which makes it ideal for soft ground or wet conditions. One of our wear-test runners noted, “I really appreciated the sticky grip offered up by the Continental rubber outsole. Besides being clunky and bottom-heavy, I had no issues with the Terrex CMTK on technical terrain.”
The Adidas Terrex CMTK’s EVA foam midsole is firm, and a plastic heel insert ramps up the firmness in the rear-end landing zone even further. While some firm midsole materials can give an exceptionally responsive ride (Altra’s Ego foam, for instance, which they use on the Escalante road shoe and King MT 1.5 trail shoe), when firm midsoles are lower-quality they feel harsh and unforgiving. Unfortunately, the latter applies here. Our wear-testers described the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s ride as “stiff,” “not very springy,” and “so firm that I might as well have been running in a pair of wingtips.” Adidas’ own Boost midsole material is responsive and forgiving, and a Boost insert in the Adidas Terrex CMTK’s heel or forefoot would make a world of difference in this shoe’s trail feel.
Trail runners looking for a protective shoe in a budget package will find something to like here. The Adidas Terrex CMTK has a full-coverage outsole made with remarkably durable Continental rubber. Although there is no rockplate in the forefoot, our wear-testers felt like it wasn’t necessary, given the stiff midsole and armor-like outsole. As one of our wear-testers reported, “protection underfoot is very good, shielding from sharp rocks and roots, yet there’s still reasonable ground feel.” The uppers are protective as well. The dense reinforced mesh is abrasion-proof and resists tears, and it’s reinforced by heat-bonded overlays in key areas (the toe box, plus the lateral and medial midfoot).