How Adidas Terrex Has Forged Its Own Path by Connecting Athletic Culture With Nature

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The story of Adidas Terrex — and of the brand’s overall presence in the outdoors — is one of evolution.

The German athletic giant’s history in the outdoor market dates back to 1934, when founder Adolf Dassler created his first light hiking boot for his wife, Kathe Dassler. More than 40 years later, Adidas launched a light hiker in 1978 for Italian climber Reinhold Messner for his ascent of Mount Everest.

Adidas has also acquired some of the most popular brands in outdoor footwear in the years since, snapping up Salomon in 1997 and Arc’teryx in 2001 (which were both sold to Amer Sports in 2005). It also bought 5.10 in 2011, which it still owns. And in 2008, it formally created the Adidas Outdoor business unit, which oversees the Adidas Terrex and 5.10 brands.

Carla Murphy, senior vice president and global general manager of Adidas Outdoor, told FN that the team’s focus has always been on connecting athletic culture with nature, offering a point of differentiation from others in the outdoor space. Adidas’ mindset is centered around the idea of outdoors for all, pairing performance with style — and ultimately, the feeling of connecting rather than conquering.

Adidas Outdoor Free Hiker GTX, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018
The Adidas Outdoor Free Hiker GTX, shown at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018.

This premise was brought to life in 2018 with its Free Hiker, a franchise Murphy called a breakthrough moment for Adidas Terrex and one that revolutionized modern hiking. “We put Boost midsoles into [boots that were] notoriously heavier, leather. It was lightweight, there was color and functionality,” Murphy said. “And we saw its adoption being diverted to everyday [wear] because of lifestyle blurring. People were no longer just going out for adventures. They were wearing adventurous gear all day long.”

More recently, Murphy said Adidas scored a big win in trail run with the Agravic Speed Ultra that debuted in April. Terrex used Adidas’ top-tier running tech to create a shoe ideal for running fast on the descents and that offered shock absorption for knees. The franchise will expand over the next three years with updates, including Gore-Tex gaiters.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra
Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra.

“One thing we’re seeing in this space is the blurring of lines between trail running and fast hiking,” Murphy said. “We’re moving into this new consolidation where trail running footwear is being opted for in hiking pursuits because it’s light, fast, technical.”

Looking ahead, Adidas Terrex is banking on its upcoming Skychaser franchise, debuting in spring 2025. Murphy described the Skychaser as an affordable, mid-tier technical hiker that is a “everything you need, nothing that you don’t.”

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at

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