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In the sneaker world, vintage seldom is out of style.
Some retro silhouettes stand the test of time and continue steadily to generate quite a lot of income for most brands. Occasionally, the core business of a brand like Vans or Converse is determined by classics.
For companies like adidas and Nike, it creates better sense to infuse vintage styles with newness in order that they stay relevant.
Footwear technology has progressed by leaps and bounds during the last decade; shoes no more have to count on stiff cupsoles or blocky EVA foam midsoles. Nor do uppers need to be cut, stitched, and assembled.
In the end, everything boils right down to comfort. What’s better on your toes – a clunky and heavy sneaker with a sole manufactured from hard rubber, or a 9-ounce sneaker which runs on the soft mesh upper and an uber-cushy ride underneath?
So when you bring old-school aesthetics and new shoe tech together, you might have your cake and eat it too.
The adidas NMD R1 is a wonderful exemplory case of that concept used. Many adidas shoes in the ‘80s used color-blocked midsole plugs for support. Back your day, EVA midsoles tended to compact and lose their cushioning within a couple of hundred miles. The foam plugs slowed up the procedure while adding a color pop to the otherwise bland midsole(s).
There have been several vintage adidas shoes which featured midsole blocks. The most used of them all may be the 1984 Micropacer, a running footwear with an electronic pedometer concealed within its tongue. Models just like the adidas Fire, Richfield, the Boston Super, and the Rising star also had color-blocking foam plugs of different foam densities.
The midsole of the adidas NMD R1 is a homage to these design. The upper also offers a few vintage elements. The plastic wrap over the heel features the Trefoil logo along with ‘the brand with three stripes’ wording printed on the heel pull tab.
You almost certainly know this already, but ‘NMD’ in the shoe’s name is a shortened version of Nomad, a term used to spell it out consumer groups who are prefer to travel and explore, or at least desire to do so.
The ‘urban explorer’ is a travel-inspired design mood-board often found in the footwear industry. As the adidas NMD R1 draws some inspiration using its stabilizing foam plugs and the protective outsole, a clearer example will be the modern UltraBoost ATR. Other examples will be the variants of the Nike React Element or its acg line.
The shoe in this review isn’t the ‘OG’ NMD however the updated version. While both are incredibly similar, the first edition had a knitted collar band. There happens to be a Primeknit version on sale aswell, one which is nearer to the original NMD in cost and upper design.
THE RIDE EXPERIENCE
We’re not likely to rate the NMD_R1 predicated on performance running parameters. Adidas is honest using its product positioning – that is a lifestyle sneaker, nothing more.
And so far as lifestyle sneakers go, the NMD_R1 can be an extremely comfortable yet supportive kind. The NMD OG arrived practically a year following the UltraBoost, so consumers familiar with the Boost cushioning knew what these were in for.
That implied, the NMD_R1 includes a different ride quality compared to the UltraBoost. It is somewhat firmer and more supportive in the heel. Here’s why:
The EVA foam plugs on either side of the heel aren’t mere color-blocking decorations. They are bridged together beneath the rearfoot upper within an U-shape so they’re more functional than you anticipate them to be.
This creates a stabilizing cup beneath the foot and makes the ride supportive. That is unlike the UltraBoost where in fact the soft Boost midsole is attached right to the upper.
There’s no removable insole on the NMD R1; the lasting doubles as the insole. The windows cut involved with it make it pliable and invite the foot to see the Boost foam underneath. That is a design formula employed by adidas for a long time – we first saw this on the 2014 PureBoost.
A no insole shoe is always firmer when compared to a shoe with it. The next layer of foam right under the foot makes an enormous difference in step-in comfort, and that’s among the primary explanations why the UltraBoost feels softer – or plusher – compared to the NMD. Perhaps, ‘plush’ may be the right word here, rather than ‘soft.’
Of course, nobody’s stopping you from adding an insole of your choosing, but just understand that it’s likely to make the fit shallower and narrower. The thickness of the aftermarket footbed will eat in to the available space.
The outsole is one factor as well. According to the variant, the NMD_R1 either runs on the gum or carbon rubber outsole. The geometry doesn’t have the ‘Stretchweb’ layout seen on performance products, but one which balances outsole overall flexibility with hard-wearing zones. The NMD’s outsole is wider through the midfoot and increases rigidity.
The traction is ok over most surfaces. You won’t get the traction of Continental rubber, but there’s nothing to complain about either.
A Continental outsole is always an excellent feature, so we’re uncertain of the reason why for its omission. As the cheaper Alphabounce Beyond includes a Continental outsole, and some. Besides, a Continental branding sits well with the complete ‘Nomad’ marketing fluff.
When seen as a sneaker for daily use, there’s hardly any to nitpick about. The full-length Boost midsole has a lot of responsive cushioning for all-day comfort, and features just like the color-blocking foam plugs and wide outsole add stability to the soft midsole.
In addition, it helps that the upper isn’t very narrow.
MAY BE THE ADIDAS NMD R1 DURABLE?
You can be confident that there is nothing even going to eventually NMD’s Boost cushioning. We’ve been reviewing shoes with Boost midsoles for over five years now, and we haven’t run into a good single instance of the midsole failing.
There’s no Continental rubber here and that means you won’t get the above-average outsole lifespan. Concurrently, the NMD_R1’s rubber is durable enough to provide you with around 350 – 400 miles of useful life.
The upper is all mesh, but there were no issues reported on the NMD_R1.
THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT
Unlike some adidas shoes with their tendon-crushing uppers, the NMD_R1’s upper includes a snug but an easy-going fit.
The mesh is soft with a smooth interior, and that pertains to the midfoot too – there are no stiff overlays. A subtle three-stripes branding is applied via thin, fused layering. So if you’re cautious with the UltraBoost OG’s plastic cage, the NMD proves to be an improved choice.
As stated earlier, the collar doesn’t have the knit band of the NMD OG. In its place certainly are a foam-quilted heel lining and a piped collar with interlocking.
It’s easy to enter and from the sock-like upper; the long pull tab helps too. A rigid heel clip with the classic adidas Trefoil logo acts as a heel counter.
The laces aren’t very functional. It just is practical to leave them tied and utilize the NMD_R1 as a slip-on shoe. There are just three lacing rows and cinching them tight is only going to cause creases on the tongue.
But, the NMD is a everyday sneaker so there’s no lack of function here – the bootie upper feels safe enough during walking or standing.
Despite the fact that the NMD_R1’s upper is more spacious than many adidas models, you’re better off going true-to-size here. If you conclude with extra room, it’ll can be found in useful after an extended day after your feet swells in proportions.
PROS AND CONS
The lacing is probably not very effective and the outsole isn’t manufactured from grippy Continental rubber. But besides that, the NMD_R1 is a comfortable lifestyle sneaker for daily wear.
The full-length Boost midsole offers a large amount of underfoot cushioning comfort. The upper interior is soft, accommodating while being secure and breathable.
The firm EVA plugs add retro style and stability to the plush ride.
SHOES LIKE THE ADIDAS NMD R1
There’s an extended category of NMD’s designed to use the same midsole but with different upholstery.
The NMD R1 Primeknit, as its name suggests, includes a stretchy knit upper. Also, if you need the ribbed collar of the initial NMD Boost, you’ll think it is on the Primeknit version.