When you’re looking for a great running shoe, you don’t need to look any farther than Altra. Altra’s running shoes are among the best in the industry because of their proven quality and affordable price.
When you buy from Altra, you don’t need to worry about getting a lemon. You still need to think about what kind of shoe you are buying, though. Not all Altra shoes will be right for your daily run.
In this article, we’ll walk you through a several of the best Altra running shoes so that you can find one that is the right fit and the right style.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Best Overall Altra Road Shoe
1. Altra Escalante 1.5
The Altra Escalante 1.5 are one of Altra’s most popular shoes. They are lightweight with a responsive bounce from Altra’s EGO foam. They lack some support found in other Altra’s, but work great for neutral runners who don’t need help with overpronation.
The Altra EGO midsole is a unique foam compound that provides soft cushioning with bouncy energy return. EGO foam lets you keep a quick cadence while providing enough cushioning to protect your feet. Unlike other running shoes, the midsole has a low stack height which gives the Escalante a stylish, low profile.
The midsole also has enough cushioning if you are new to barefoot-style running. Ideal running form in Altra’s should be short, quick strides landing on the ball or toes of your feet. If you are new to this style of running, there is enough cushioning that will protect your legs if you inadvertently heel strike.
The knit upper in the Escalante has some stretch that’s not found in other Altra’s. This adds some additional softness and an already plush upper. It’s also sleek enough to be worn at the gym or casually. But works equally well as a running shoe.
Overall, the Escalante 1.5 is friendly for novice as well as experienced runners. With its forgiving cushioning, it’s also a good running shoe if you are changing your form or occasionally heel strike.
- Great for runners new to Altra
- Good cushioning and energy return
- Lacks a lot of support
- Not great for trails or off-road
Most Popular Altra Road Shoe
2. Altra Torin 3.5 Knit and Mesh
The Altra Torin 3.5 is Altra’s best-selling running thanks to their wide toe box and cushioned midsole. The shoes offer decent support. The light and sleek design make for great long distance shoe.
The nicely cushioned midsole is kept honest with flex grooves and foot pods built into the shoe. These allow plenty of flex to keep the Torin’s from feeling too stiff. The foot pods direct the force from the road to parts of your foot (ball and toes) that can best carry that stress.
The biggest change to the Altra Torin is the upper options. You can still get the traditional mesh, which is super breathable and nicely the cradles the foot. Or you can opt for the Knit upper. This is a bit more stylish with a thinner tongue. But doesn’t breath as well as the mesh and costs $10.
- Vegan-friendly design
- Comes in both knit and mesh options
- Lightweight construction
- Thick midsole
- Some feel the toe box is too wide
The Original Altra Road Shoe
3. Altra Instinct 4.5
The Altra Instinct 4.5 is the latest entry in Altra’s original neutral running shoe. The Instinct 4.5 is similar to the Torin, but has slightly less cushioning. It has the Altra Footshape toe box, which lets your toes splay out naturally. And Altra’s zero drop design.
The Instinct 4.5 has a grooved midsole to help your foot to flex during landing and toe-off. It also reduces stiffness throughout the midsole
The Instinct 4.5 has moderate cushioning which provides some responsiveness in the shoe. There is still enough foam to protect your feet – but not so much that you don’t have a nice feel for the road. Marathon runners might find the Instinct 4.5 not sturdy enough, but most runners will be pleased with the shoe’s mix of comfort and performance features.
- Effective for most types of running
- Cushioned with zippy responsiveness
- May lack enough cushioning for long runs
Lightest Cushioned Altra Road Shoe
4. Altra Duo
The Altra Duo is a high-cushioning running shoe with a feather-light design. The upper is breathable and keeps the shoe dry – making it ideal for triathletes.
The Duo is a great racing shoe for runners who want cushioning and a lightweight shoe. The support offered by this shoe is minimal, but the cushioning can make up for it if you want to use it for sprints or races.
Like Altra’s other running shoes, the Duo has a wide toe box and zero drop design. Some runners found it too stiff, but it’s still a nice lightweight Altra.
- Comfortable yet fast
- Great for road races
- Some runners found it too stiff
- Cushioned but not as soft as the Torin or Escalante
Best Altra for Cushioning and Support
5. Altra Paradigm 4.0
The Paradigm 4.0 has been fully redesigned from the ground up. While it still remains Altra’s most cushioned running shoe, the new Paradigm features EGO foam throughout the midsole for softer cushioning. It also sports a guide rail for added stability.
The biggest change to the Paradigm is EGO foam layered throughout the midsole. While it creates a high stack height, it also makes for a plush and cushioned shoe. You also get some nice energy return while you run.
If you find your feet consistently pronate, this shoe can help. While the shoe isn’t particularly lightweight or fast, it has guide rails to help correct your feet as you pronate inwards while you run. Stabli pods built into the sole also act like a tripod to provide the correct landing zone when you run.
The knit upper provides a sleek look. And Altra has gone for a more subdued color scheme with this version.
The Paradigm is a nice option for runners who want a soft and cushioned ride. It also works well for runners with bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other foot problems. The wide toe box and soft midsole can help alleviate pain in those areas of the foot.
- Guide rail dynamic support system to correct overpronation
- Lots of cushioning
- Energy return from the EGO foam
- Heavier shoe
- May be too much cushioning and support for some runners
Best Altra Trail Running Shoe
6. Altra Lone Peak 4
The Lone Peak 4 updates Altra’s most popular trail running shoe with some great new updates. Gaitor-trap, secure fit, and great traction remain – but a more durable upper, improved rock plate, and new lug pattern for even better grip has been added.
The biggest update to the Lone Peaks are the new and improved upper. While older versions were known for blowouts on the sides, the new version is beefed up to prevent blowouts, while remaining breathable to keep your feet cool. The shoes are fast-drying thanks to better drainage holes. So the occasional stream crossings won’t weigh the shoe down.
The midsole features a new rock plate designed in a more “foot-like” pattern. This means you get all the protection you need from rocks and roots but plenty of flex in the right spots for a natural running feel.
The outersole has a new lug pattern – called the Trail Claw by Altra. This aggressive lug design gives you maximum traction when you toe-off, really letting the shoes dig into the dirt.
Like past Lone Peaks, the shoe still has a gaitor-trap to securely attach a gaitor. And the midsole cushion provides nice protection without weighing the shoe down.
- Gaiter linking details for attaching a gaitor
- Quick drying mesh
- Encourages natural gait
- Nice cushioning
- New, improved rock plate
- Heavier design
- Too clunk for some trail runners
Most Cushioned Altra Trail Shoe
7. Altra Timp Trail
The Timp Trail are named after Mount Timpanogos in Utah. These running shoes fill a gap in the Altra’s trail lineup for runners who want a max cushioned trail shoe without a lot of bulk and weight.
Like Altra’s other trail running shoes, they have a good tread for traction on a variety of terrain. They don’t have a rock plate built into the sole, but that’s offset with a lot of cushion, which provides plenty of protection on the trail.
The upper is soft and breathable and sports a nice design that looks good on and off the trail. It also has one of the widest toe boxes of any Altra shoe.
The Timp offers unbalanced lacing. The unbalanced lacing should fit the anatomical contour of your foot better than lacing straight down the middle of the shoe. This makes your foot swell less during aggressive runs, so you will be more comfortable.
- Reflective stripes for running at night
- Nice design
- Ample tread and traction
- Well cushioned with good support
- Can be too bulky for some runners
- No rock plate
Best Altra for Crossfit
8. Altra HIIT XT
The Altra HIIT XT is the shoe for cross-training. The HIIT XT has a sticky and wide sole with additional side treads for superior agility.
If you plan to be doing a workout routine that involves a lot of leg acceleration and rapid deceleration — like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — this might be the perfect shoe.
To aid in its agility and cross-training appeal, the shoe has a removable sole system. When removed, the sole becomes 8mm thinner, which places your feet closer to the ground.
The zero drop design also makes them great for weight training and lifting.
These shoes are not for running races or road running because of their weight and agility-oriented treading. They are better for gym work and short sprints.
- Side treading for extra stability
- Removable sole for added agility
- Reinforced sides to protect against torsion
- Not suitable for many non-agile purposes
- Doesn’t provide ankle stabilization
Most Minimal Altra Road Shoe
9. Altra Vanish-R
The Altra Vanish-R is a super lightweight shoe for runners who want fast, speedy shoe. These are great for road races — or speed workouts — thanks to its minimal design. This is as close as Altra gets to a true racing flat.
The Vanish-R has a very low stack height, which places your foot in close proximity to the ground. You’ll be able to leverage the maximum amount of power from each stride as a result and get a super-fast turnover.
The Vanish-R requires good running form to remain comfortable and efficient. If you’re still working on your form, these aren’t as forgiving as other Altra’s if you unintentionally heel strike.
- Optimized for speed
- Very lightweight
- Minimal cushioning
- Can encourage bad posture
Best Altra Spike for Wide Feet
10. Altra Golden Spike
The Altra Golden Spike is a unisex cross-country running spike, ideal for high school and college athletes. The minimal shoe have an aggressive tread on the bottom and 5 holes for spikes.
The spikes help you to get more traction, making sharp turns a breeze and powering you on the uphills.
The Golden Spike has a zero-drop support with a 15mm stack height, which leaves your feet close to the ground and ready to project most of their power. This means that your feet won’t get as tired as they would otherwise.
The best part of the Golden Spike is its wide toe box. Most cross-country spikes are narrow, especially at the front of the shoe. If you have a wider foot, the Golden Spike is your best option for a comfortable XC spike.
- Spikes for added traction and speed on grass and dirt
- Wide toe box, especially for a XC spike
- Pricey for a spike
- Unisex sizing may not fit some women well
That wraps up our roundup of the best Altra running shoes on the market. When making your selection of running shoe, remember to take your foot type and intended application into account.
If you’re getting started with running, you may want to check out the Escalante or Torin. Runners with foot issues will like the Paradigm 4.0. And trail runners will appreciate the options with the Lone Peak 4 and Timp Trail.