Growing up, I was a soccer fanatic. I played for eight years, from the age of 5 to 13. Obsessed with the game, I played year-round, outdoors on the field and indoors on the hard court. I was particularly fond of the latter, as I loved playing the ball off the wall, and I swooned over the sound of my Adidas Sambas sneakers squeaking against the floor. Naturally, I became so enamored with the look, feel, and sound of the shoes that they became my go-to every day sneakers. After all, unlike traditional soccer cleats, my Sambas worked especially well for walking (and running) through the linoleum halls of my elementary and middle schools.
While it’s been 18 years since I set foot into a pair of Sambas, now that the style is back and more popular than ever—search interest for women’s versions has grown by over 5,000 percent recently, according to Google Trends—I figured it was only fitting to revisit the nostalgic silhouette—and this time, talk to a podiatrist about whether the popular shoes are truly good for your feet.
What I think about the Adidas Sambas now
The Adidas Samba OG Shoes are a cult-classic, low-profile sneaker designed with a soft leather upper and grippy, gum-rubber soles, and everyone from Kendall Jenner to Bella Hadid seems to be wearing them around town these days. Back when they were my go-to shoe, Samba sneakers were pretty much only sold in black and white, nowadays, though, they’re available in various neutral iterations, as well as colorful stripe and base options. While I tried the endlessly popular Cloud White sneakers with Core Black stripes, I’m particularly fond of the Cloud green stripe variation as well.
Colors aside, the Adidas Samba OG Shoes are just as I remember them: slim, comfortable, and squeak-prone on hard floors (not from walking but when rebounding, like basketball shoes). The comfort element is key, as I’m at the point in life where I won’t wear shoes unless they’re cozy. It’s also surprising. While I never paid much mind to the overall flatness of the shoes when I was younger, now that I’m highly aware of arch support, I’m a bit stunned to see just how comfortable I find these shoes, since the interior is rather basic. Nevertheless, I’d happily step out in these sneakers on a regular basis.
I’m also a smidge shocked by how stable the shoes feel in all kinds of weather. Thanks to the gum sole, they’re secure in dry and wet conditions, so I never felt like I was going to slip (something I admittedly irrationally worry about).
Overall, I find the Adidas Samba OG Shoes to be basic, but stellar, in that they’re endlessly comfortable, iconically stylish, and surprisingly stable. The only thing you’ll want to keep in mind when buying a pair is that the sizing is skewed. Where men’s and women’s shoe sizing is typically offset two sizes, in that a men’s 8 is a women’s 10, at Adidas, it’s only one size, so a men’s 8 is a women’s 9. And since the brand says its shoes are unisex, this can lead to ample confusion, especially if you’re in between sizes. I suggest trying Adidas Samba shoes on in-store, memorizing your size, and ordering future pairs online from there.
A podiatrist’s thoughts on the Adidas Samba OG Shoe
While I’ve walked enough miles in my Sambas to feel confident in my personal assessment of the sneakers, I wanted a professional opinion. Central Park SOLE board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Brad Schaeffer, who is a Dr. Scholl’s ambassador and the star of TLC’s My Feet Are Killing Me, also sings high praise for them. “The shoe features a non-marking gum rubber outsole for excellent grip on all indoor surfaces, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor activities,” he says, noting that he, too, wore the classic black and white ones growing up.
While Dr. Schaeffer is a fan of the stability of the sole, he does point out that the narrow silhouette can be limiting for some. “These shoes tend to run relatively narrow, which can lead to blisters if the shoe rubs against the foot, which can be painful,” he says. With this in mind, he says that if you have wide feet, Dr. Scholl’s Blister Cushions ($8) can be a game-changer.
He also says that swapping the insole for one with better arch support can pay off long-term. “I can say without reservation that I would wear these all day but with Dr. Scholl’s Prevent Pain Insoles,” he shares. “This will give you a trendy shoe to wear all day without sacrificing comfort and support.”
Are they worth the hype?
Turns out all the buzz about the Adidas Samba OG Shoes is justified in this instance; they aren’t just fashionable, but functional. Personally, I find them comfortable as is, without insoles. However, if you have particularly high arches or plan to wear them all day, every day, added support may be worth considering.