Review Run: Adidas Kanadia 4 Trail Shoes

February 23rd, 2012

Last Saturday, I thought about jogging, looked out of the window, and saw it was raining. Then I went out anyway, because it was a good chance to test out my new Adidas trail shoes.

New Adidas shoes? Didn’t you just buy a pair of Mizunos, Matt? Yup. But Sports Direct’s media agency (hi, Lucie!) had seen that I was looking for new shoes, and offered to send me a free pair, in exchange for a (free-from-editorial-influence, honest) review.

Heading to Sports Direct’s running shoes section, my first reaction was choice paralysis. Four hundred plus pairs of men’s running shoes. And, sadly, no indication of which ones might suit people with flat, wide feet and a tendency to over-pronate.

So, there’s my first observation — don’t buy shoes from the web unless you’ve already been to a good running shoe shop in person and found out what you actually need. And bought at least your first pair of shoes from them; fair’s fair. Take it from someone who’s suffered from plantar fasciitis, you want to make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.

I decided on trail shoes because they’d just get occasional use, and I’ve heard there’s less need for motion control when you run on uneven ground. Plus it gave me the chance to try something quite different from my normal shoes.

Overcoming my paralysis, I opted for the Adidas Kanadia 4. Aggressively styled in red, black and orange, the bobbles of their “TRAXION” soles make it very apparent that the Kanadias are designed a muddy hill rather than a smooth pavement. Definitely more showy than I’d normally go for, but quite fun to look at, I thought, as I took them out of the box.

Trying them on, I was disconcerted by how small the Kanadias felt on my feet. My everyday shoes are an 8, so I’d have thought a 9 would’ve been big enough, length-wise, at least. These felt borderline, especially on the right foot.

Looking around the web, I see warnings from a shoe shop, and several of the reviews on the Adidas site and on wiggle.co.uk that these shoes seem undersized. Adidas, that’s really not very clever, especially when so many people are shopping on the web.

Still, I couldn’t tell for sure if they were actually too small, or just feeling a bit constrictive compared to my Mizunos, so I figured I’d take them out for a test run. I had nothing to lose, after all.

The Kanadias were interesting during my urban warm-up (the grass and mud only starts about a half-mile from my house on my normal routes.) They were skittish on my stone front steps, but calmed down out on pavement and tarmac. You could definitely tell those bobbles were there on the soles. It was reminiscent of being on mountain bike tyres on a normal road. Comfortable and safe, and fine to run in, but obviously not moving on the surface they were designed for.

They cheered up once I hit the south side of the Avon and got off the tarmac. I took a few shortcuts across wet, muddy grass to try them out, and felt very sure-footed. The Kanadias held my feet well, with very little movement around the ankle.

Then onto the next test — the towpath puddles. After a decent amount of rain, the towpath ends up with plenty of pretty much unavoidable puddles, standing water from side to side across the path, several strides long.

There are a couple of approaches to designing running shoes for water incursion. One approach is to try to waterproof the shoes, and maybe add some stylish running gaiters. I’ve heard that it’s hard to make this approach effective and non-overheating, no matter how “breathable” your waterproof membrane.

The other approach is, literally, to suck it up. Accept that fact that you’re going to get water in your shoes, and deal with it, by using materials that wick it away as best they can, and don’t start rubbing badly when they get wet. This is the approach the Kanadias take, and it seems to work pretty well, as I found out after about the fifth large towpath puddle.

Yes, my feet got cold and wet when I splashed through a puddle, but they warmed up pretty quickly again afterwards (helped by my X-Socks, too, I’m sure.) After their soaking, the shoes still felt pretty comfortable, and there wasn’t a big increase in weight.

Out of the gravelly towpath and into the mud of Leigh Woods, and the Kanadias really came into their own. Up steep hills, through slippery grass, plodding through mud and on gravel paths, I stayed secure. On my last Leigh Woods run, I’d noted my Mizunos sliding around at the boggy start of one of the paths; in the same spot the Kanadias gripped well and I felt much more stable. The shoes also kept their bounce, despite being pretty soggy, and there was no sensation of any rubbing that might have led to a blister.

Finally I broke out of the woods and back onto tarmac for the cool-down jog to Clifton Village, back to the slightly “mountain bike tyre” feeling, but perfectly reasonable to run in. The only place I had problems again was on the wet paving stones of the hill back down to Hotwells. There the Kanadias felt slippy and slidey again; not deadly, but enough to make me want to take extra care.

On the downhill stretch, I also felt my toes pushing up against the front of the shoe, reminding me that the Adidas sizing was a bit screwy. Presumably I’d be better off in a size 10. But that would be the first size 10 shoe I’d ever owned, so I’d conclude that Adidas definitely have got their size wrong on the Kanadias.

Which is a shame. Because — even though the “mud-release surface” of the “TRAXION” soles really did work, leaving the underneath of the Kanadias surprisingly clean by the time I got home — you really can’t return a pair of trail shoes after you’ve given them a proper test. Because they look like this.

Overall, I like the Kanadias. They look good, they’re very grippy on the trail, they cope well with being waterlogged, and the mud-release soles do just what they say. I’ll definitely be trying them out some more, especially when I’m heading fairly directly for mud, grass and gravel.

But if you want to give them a try, I’d recommend starting in a pair one size bigger than you’d expect.

Thanks, Sports Direct, for giving me a chance to try them out!


Full disclosure: I reviewed the Kanadia 4’s after being given a choice of any sub-£50 running shoe from Sports Direct, for free. No conditions were attached apart from a link to their running shoes section appearing in my review, which seemed fair enough.

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  1. February 25th, 2012 at 22:10 | #1

    Really good shoe review.
    I don’t run but I generally wear cross-trainers for walking in most terrain (and mids for serious mud). I’m interested to see that Merrells aren’t the only shoes that struggle to grip on wet stone.

  2. March 3rd, 2012 at 18:58 | #2

    Got a pair of these for my weekend activity running up and down touchlines taking photographs of the [rather dismal] progress of my local team – Farnborough RFC.

    With slightly dodgy knees I need to be careful of mis footing and twisting the joint, and sometimes use trainers, sometimes boots if it’s muddy.

    Got a pair of these and although the ground was soft (not muddy), which would have been slightly like treacle underfoot in my normal trainers, these were extremely stable – and the occasional 50 metre sprints I sometimes undertake were extremely surefooted. Compared to my normal trainers, these were like chalk and cheese, it’s nice to have confidence in your footing, especially when you are concentrating on pictures / the game / not getting collided with!

    If they make any improvement to my photography, I doubt, but my physical well-being? Probably a little.

    Very pleased with the purchase. I got a size 8 by the way, normally a size 7. Sports Direct in Farnborough had the colour and size I wanted in stock at £42.99.

  3. James Ralph
    October 27th, 2012 at 19:34 | #3

    These are a great running shoe, especially if you are running across fields/tracks etc When on tarmac you feel like a proper 4×4 tyre they make a noise as they grip but dont give you confidence to do too much twisting and turning. How ever get on to the dirt/grass/mud its very different, they grip and perform excellent in muddy conditions. I run through wet grass/streams and muudy tracks and they just do as you would expect…grip…they wont keep your feet dry but then again dont hold onto the water! The sole is reaaly good at clearing its self of mud. For price they are fantastic value…if you want more then spend more and go for Inovate trail/fell shoes, but for every day running in grim conditions x-crountry then by these!

  4. December 3rd, 2012 at 17:29 | #4

    Agree I too was disappointed by the Kanadia size. I got Asics Virage and they are a perfect fit.
    Thinking maybe Adidas are working on the theory of stretch to fit for wraparound comfort.
    Great review!

  5. Mel
    January 22nd, 2013 at 16:03 | #5

    I got a pair of these in a size 6 for XC running (i’m normally a 5, but as with road shoes opted for the ‘extra toe room’).

    First run I did in these (6km XC), I had a purple toenail from the pressure in the shoe. Second run I’ve done in them (only 5km but in the snow) and my toenail is now falling off and my toe isn’t pretty. I clearly needed a 7 or bigger, which is annoying as obviously now they aren’t returnable. I now have a pair of shoes worn a handful of times that are redundant, pretty annoyed!

  6. Sarah D
    February 22nd, 2013 at 16:35 | #6

    I have just bought the Kanadia 4 women’s for a 10k obstacle race I am doing in 4 weeks time. These seemed really comfortable in the shop – Sports Direct – and with the additional 10% off they came in at £34 – fantastic! However, I currently wear Addidas Supernova in a 7.5 and I have purchased these in a 7 – felt fine in the shop. I am now a little worried that they will not be right when I go out – looks like I might have to wear them all night in the house first!

  7. February 23rd, 2013 at 13:03 | #7

    @Sarah D
    I think you’re likely to be okay if you’re comparing with another Adidas shoe. The general consensus seems to be that they’re only stupidly-much smaller when compared with other brands. And to me, the Kanadias felt small as soon as I put them on, so if they felt okay to you in the shop I reckon you’ll be fine.

  8. Rob
    March 29th, 2013 at 15:22 | #8

    I got a pair of these last October but it was at least a month beofre they got thir first use as I was still making use of my Salamon trail runners. I started to use them lightly to get my feet used to them but by new year they were my first choice shoe (though the Salamons didn’t exit service till mid-Feb).
    Anyway, I always found it difficult to get the laces tight enough which can lead to my feet moving in the shoe and so to blisters.
    Blisters annoy me and now after just a few hundren km there is a large hole in the fabric upper, they smell and I am left underwhelmed by my experience. I’ll be looking for another pair of Salamons I’d say and maybe keep these as spares.

  9. Ben
    April 23rd, 2013 at 14:29 | #9

    had the TR3’s for an age and loved them aside the slightly large backside they had pleased to see they have reduced that backside a little for the TR4 and TR5, about to grab a set of the TR5’s in a lovely blue/pink combo what is it about running shoes the guadier the better 🙂 second best running shoes I’ve ever owned always loved my Reebok fury’s but at £130 a shot for the 30km I cover a week not a chance.

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