There is nothing like the Olympics to focus attention on running and track and field. Running is Adidas's biggest sports category and many athletes in Athens are using its ClimaCool kit. Designed to reduce the debilitating effects of heat, ClimaCool technology was pioneered with the ClimaCool running shoe. Ventilation may be vital if you are competing on a scorching track but do ClimaCools make a good, all year shoe for running at home? Gizmogirl put a pair to the test.
The problem with any shoe is the amount of heat that it traps. A trainer designed with the ventilation of a sandal should be the perfect solution, especially if your feet are prone to over heating. Adidas's trainers are designed to manage moisture and give 360-degree ventilation to the foot. Using three dimensional fabric technology, the trainer absorbs and transfers moisture away from the skin in a process known as wicking: a similar process keeps babies' skin dry in disposable nappies. The trainers have a loose, open mesh upper with plastic vents to the front and sides. Plastic supports on the arch are clearly designed to filter air through the shoe. Adidas goes one further with vents under the foot through the midsole and under the toes. Once you remove the shoe's liner, your feet have a clear view of the road beneath. Hold a pair up to the daylight, and you can see right through them.
All these vents mean cool air rushes through the shoe. So does water. Stepping in a shallow puddle is enough to dampen your feet as the water comes directly through the vents on the sole of the shoe. ClimaCools are suitable only for running in dry climates, which limits them at best to a few weeks of British summers. Assuming your feet stay dry, the coolness of the trainer becomes very evident as soon as you start running. In fact, on some runs in the evening our feet became almost cold which was very refreshing. The ventilated, cooling effect only works once you are running. Wearing the trainers indoors, you lose the ventilation and our feet quickly warmed up from an ambient 22 degrees C to 35 degrees C - warm but not too sweaty.
As well as running shoes, Adidas makes ClimaCools for golf, tennis, basketball, hiking and football. Judging by our test, tennis sounds like the best option.
Technologies developed for Olympic athletes do not always transfer well for general use: Cathy Freeman's Nike Swift Suit springs to mind. At least she won. The latest technology does not always mean first place. Competing in Athens in Adidas's very latest Formotion suit with Lycra bands, Maurice Green failed to stop Justin Gaitlin beating him to gold in the 100m. By comparison, ClimaCool is a big step forward in trainer technology. As long as you can guarantee not to step into the wet, the cooling effect makes these a comfortable summer trainer to compete in.