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Best Altra Running Shoes in 2022

 

When looking for a great running shoe, you don’t need to look any farther than Altra. Their running shoes combine the benefits of barefoot running with the cushioning of a traditional running shoe.

How do they do it? Altras feature a wide toe box to allow your feet and toes to splay naturally as if you weren’t wearing any shoes. And your heel sit at the same height as your toes – called a zero drop – to encourage a forefoot foot strike. But the cushioning protects your feet from pavement and other hard surfaces just like standard running shoes.

But not all Altra shoes will be suitable for your daily run. Even though they all feature a wide toe box and zero drop, Altra makes shoes for specific types of runs and runners.

In this article, we’ll walk through several of the best Altra running shoes so you can find one that is the right fit and the right style. We chose the Torin 5 as our top pick for its versatility, comfort, lightweight, and shock-absorbing cushion.

But there are many more, all of which offer something different. Find your Altra on this list!

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Torin 5

 

  • Vegan-friendly design
  • Super cushioned and soft
  • Lightweight construction
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Paradigm 6

 

  • Guide rail dynamic support system
  • Lots of cushioning
  • EGO foam
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Lone Peak 6

 

  • Quick drying mesh
  • Nice cushioning
  • Gaiter linking details
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. Altra Torin 5

The Altra Torin 5 is a versatile neutral shoe that offers everything the average runner needs to stay comfortable and perform well.

What We Like

No matter what kind of runner you are, the Torin 5 is a shoe that suits many. It’s also designed to be versatile enough for multiple types of runs—long, short, fast, and slow.

EgoMax foam in the midsole is designed with Altra’s classic balanced cushioning. There’s 28mm of foam underfoot, which is more than enough to absorb shock and protect your feet from jarring while still allowing you the natural “barefoot” gait of a zero-drop platform.

The cushioning itself is an amazing combination of soft and responsive. Whatever your feet need at the time can be found in the midsole of the Torin 5. Surprisingly, the shoe is also very lightweight, considering the pleasant amount of cushion.

This version’s revamped upper is soft and breathable but has a more dialed-in fit, partly thanks to the new lacing system. There’s also a solid heel counter for added security and stability.

Like all Altras, it features their Footshape toe box, allowing your foot to rest naturally in the shoe and offering space for your toes to splay when needed.

Altra’s unique underfoot rubber tread matches the toe box’s shape, which is split by multiple flex grooves that allow the rubber to follow the pattern of the foot bones. This helps to encourage the natural movement of your foot.

Why We Like It

The Altra Torin 5 is an exceptionally versatile shoe. Whether you want to take a leisurely run or practice your speedwork, it can handle the challenge and protect your feet at the same time.

What to Consider

The tongue of the Torin 5 is very thin. Typically, this molds to the top of your foot and helps to provide a secure fit, but it doesn’t provide much protection against lace bite. It can also rub against the ankle.

What’s New

The previous version of this shoe was the 4.5. The 5 has had a significant update, starting with the upper.

It has a more plush, padded heel collar than the 4.5, and the upper is now made of comfortable anti-debris knit mesh in new and exciting colorways. The lacing system has also been updated to lock the foot in more securely.

Unlike the Quantic foam in the 4.5, the 5 now has a full EgoMax midsole.

PROS:

  • Versatile shoe for easy runs, speed work, fast miles, and long runs
  • Comfortable, secure fit right out of the box
  • The lightweight, highly cushioned shoe that lets you easily pick up the pace
  • EGO MAX midsole foam offers a great balance between softness and responsiveness

CONS:

  • The thin tongue could be a chafing hazard
 

Most Cushioned

2. Altra Paradigm 6

If you’re looking for extra cushioning underfoot, the Paradigm 6 is the Altra for you. Comfortable yet still high-performance, it’s a stability shoe that neutral runners can also wear.

What We Like

The Paradigm is one of Altra’s most cushioned shoes. It may technically be a stability shoe, but the stability features are subtle enough that it won’t feel intrusive on a neutral foot.

It features a thick chunk of EgoMax foam in the midsole, which is plush and luxurious but still delivers bounce and responsiveness. This makes it ideal for all types of runs.

As with all Altras, the cushioning is balanced; in other words, zero drop. This provides a natural feeling even though your feet are so well-cushioned underneath.

Adding to the cushion is the plush upper, with a padded heel collar and a thick, cushy tongue. Your entire foot will be well-padded in this shoe.

The fit is uniquely Altra as well, with a wide and comfortable toe box but a snug midfoot and heel. Part of what provides a good fit is InnovArch support, which wraps up and around the arch, providing support and keeping your foot in the right position.

Guide rails—sidewalls of foam on both the medial and lateral sides of the shoe—keep the foot from moving laterally, an excellent feature for both overpronators and neutral runners. This is paired with a wide platform for natural stability.

Innerflex grooves in the unique outsole keep your foot flexible, despite the inherent stability. This helps speed up the heel-to-toe transition, so you can easily do tempo runs or even speedwork in these shoes.

Why We Like It

The Paradigm 6 has enough cushion to protect your feet and keep them comfortable without sacrificing responsiveness. You can run comfortably and at a great pace in these shoes while staying super comfortable.

What to Consider

The Paradigm 6 is lighter than its predecessor, but it’s still a fairly heavy shoe, at around 11 ounces for an average-sized men’s.

What’s New

The EgoMax midsole of the Paradigm 6 is softer and more luxurious than the previous model’s Ego foam. It also has redesigned InnovArch technology and a shaved-down upper that comes in new colorways.

PROS:

  • The thick EgoMax midsole delivers plush underfoot cushioning while being bouncy and responsive
  • Innerflex grooves increase the flexibility of the shoe and improve transitions
  • A wide platform and integrated dynamic guide rails increase stability and prevent excess pronation
  • A great option for long runs, recovery runs, and everything in between

CONS:

  • These shoes are a little on the heavy side, thanks to all the cushion
 

Best Trail Shoe

3. Altra Lone Peak 6

Love trail running more than road running? The Altra Lone Peak 6 is the shoe you need in your collection.

What We Like

The Lone Peak uses Altra’s most voluminous last in its design, which offers the most room in the toe box while keeping a snug but comfortable fit throughout the rest of the shoe.

The Ego foam midsole gives you 25 mm of foam underneath your feet, which is sufficient to cushion you against hazards and hard ground but still offers some ground feel.

To help you stay steady on your feet across various terrain, the MaxTrac outsole features severe arrow-shaped TrailClaw lugs running along the metatarsals, perfect for digging your feet in when you need extra grip.

The upper has been updated since the last version. It’s quick-drying, breathable, and more secure, thanks to a new lacing design. A gusseted tongue also helps with the lockdown and stops debris from landing in the shoe.

Regarding breathability, the shoe also features drainage holes in the durable toe bumper in case you run through a puddle.

Despite the locked-in feeling, the shoe retains its classic Footshape toe box for forefoot space and stability.

Why We Like It

The Lone Peak 6 has all you might need to hit a PR on the trials. Style, comfort, performance… It’s all you need, and it looks good too.

What to Consider

Serious trail runners will be disappointed there’s no attachment loop for gaiters, although thankfully, the tongue helps to keep debris out. However, if you’re used to running with gaiters, there’s nowhere to latch onto these shoes.

What’s New

There are mainly aesthetic changes to the Altra 6, starting with removing overlays and revamping the lacing system for a better fit. It’s slightly lighter than before, and there are updated drainage ports.

PROS:

  • A breathable mesh upper and redesigned lacing system offers a more secure fit
  • The gusseted tongue does a notable job of keeping debris out of the shoe
  • Midsole cushioning provides a great balance of underfoot protection and some ground feel
  • The sticky outsole provides excellent traction, so you can run confidently over uneven and slippery terrain

CONS:

  • There’s no attachment loop for gaiters
 

Most Supportive Road

4. Altra Provision 6

Need a support shoe that keeps your feet stable but still stays comfortable? The Altra Provision is the best choice.

What We Like

This shoe is made for overpronators, but the support features are subtle and not intrusive at all. It’s also surprisingly light for a support shoe.

A Guide Rail System provides the support in this shoe. It’s a non-intrusive system that kicks in when it’s needed but remains in the background when you don’t.

The fit has been updated as well. As you lace the shoe tighter, you get more medial arch support. This shoe offers a great lockdown, thanks to this feature.

In the midsole, Ego foam is designed in Altra’s balanced cushioning system. It’s a little more on the firm side but has a bit of bounce to it for a responsive run.

Your foot is held in place perfectly by the padding around the heel. It has an elf ear collar to relieve pressure while still keeping you locked in so your feet can take advantage of the foam.

Another place this shoe shines is the outsole. Altra’s Natural Ride System maps out the bones and tendons in the foot, placing their rubber strategically based on this so that your foot can move naturally.

The rubber also provides an amazing grip, so you can take this shoe almost anywhere and stay safe on your feet. The thick layer of rubber should get plenty of use on the road before it starts to wear down.

Why We Like It

This is a stability shoe, but it’s light and comfortable enough for almost anyone to wear. Even neutral-footed runners can wear them comfortably.

What to Consider

The Provision 6 features Altra’s extra wide toe box, which may feel too big and a bit sloppy for some runners. Even if you do need space in the toe box, the extra wide one may seem too big compared to Altra’s regular wide toe box.

What’s New

The midsole and upper have been revamped on the Provision 6. It also weighs about an ounce less than the previous version.

The midsole foam is more bouncy than the 5. There’s also a more accommodating fit that can get a really great lockdown on the foot.

More breathability in the upper and extra rubber on the outsole are also new.

PROS:

  • Lightweight shoe for those day-to-day miles, speedwork, and recovery runs
  • The guide rail system is connected to the laces, which provides adjustable support
  • The midsole foam is slightly firmer but is lighter and provides springy propulsiveness
  • Extra padding around the heel and elf ear enhances comfort and offer a comfortably locked-in feel

CONS:

  • The extra wide toe box may feel sloppy for some
 

Best Energy Return

5. Altra Escalante 3

If you’re looking for a shoe that has a nice spring to it for picking up the pace, the Escalante 3 could be what you need.

What We Like

This shoe uses Ego foam to provide a bouncy yet still soft and comfortable ride. It offers a good ground feel but still has enough foam to protect your feet and give you some good energy return on every step.

There’s 24mm in the women’s shoe and 26mm in the men’s shoe. It’s the perfect balance between being lightweight and springy. That makes it versatile enough for long runs, speedwork, and all-day wear.

Aside from the comfortable yet springy ride, the shoe’s sock-like upper is what makes it great. It molds to your foot and keeps you cool thanks to its breathability, and the classic Altra toe box is here too.

The outsole is also thickly layered with rubber, which increases the shoe’s shock absorption. It also makes it extremely durable, so you’ll get hundreds of miles out of these shoes before needing to replace them.

Why We Like It

This shoe is versatile enough for all types of runs, thanks to its combination of softness and impressive energy return.

What to Consider

While some changes have been made between versions, somehow, this shoe is heavier than its previous version. This might not be a deal-breaker for most people, but it may be an annoyance if you ran in the previous one and enjoyed its lightness.

What’s New

This new version has a more dialed-in upper, an extra eyelet that allows you to make use of different lacing techniques, a more padded tongue, and a bit more weight. The shoe is also a bit stiffer than the previous version.

PROS:

  • A versatile shoe that’s equally comfortable for all-day wear, speedwork, and marathons
  • Breathable, sock-like upper molds to the shape of your foot and feel great on your feet
  • Midsole cushioning provides a smooth, swift ride with an energetic rebound
  • A durable outsole can withstand hundreds of miles before showing signs of wear

CONS:

  • Heavier than the previous version of the shoe
 

Best Traction and Grip

6. Altra Mont Blanc

If you’re going to be navigating tricky terrain in your Altras, you want the Mont Blanc on your feet. It’s the shoe that will keep you steady on all ground!

What We Like

The Mont Blanc is a rugged-looking shoe, and it’s built for harsh terrain. Underfoot, you’ll find a Vibram MegaGrip LiteBase outsole with sticky rubber designed in 3.5mm lugs strategically placed across the foot.

Concentrated on the forefoot, this offers you an exceptional grip for pushing off from uneven, gritty, or muddy ground. The shoe keeps the weight down by thoughtfully dispersing the remaining lugs across the sole, so there’s no wasted space or weight.

In the midsole, 30 to 32mm of EgoMax foam offers excellent shock absorption for the trails. As well as plush comfort, the shoe offers a bit of responsiveness that makes navigating rocks much more comfortable.

With a split mesh upper, a high level of breathability, and quick-drying properties, the shoe should feel comfortable around the forefoot and midfoot. Altra’s usual toe box allows your toes plenty of space to splay naturally.

One of the things that gets a big thumbs-up is that this shoe has Velcro gaiter attachment points.

Lastly, the Mont Blanc is surprisingly lightweight, considering the thick midsole and rubber layer underneath; it won’t weigh you down on the trails.

Why We Like It

This shoe’s super grippy outsole should keep you secure and moving easily on all types of surfaces. Ideal for rough ground!

What to Consider

The upper, especially in the heel, doesn’t lock down on the foot very well. This could partly be due to the rounded laces, which offer a less secure lockdown than flat laces that you could switch out quite easily.

There’s a chance that this shoe won’t lock down tightly on your foot, which leaves you open to twisting an ankle on rough ground.

PROS:

  • Mesh upper is incredibly well-ventilated and dries quickly
  • Vibram MegaGrip LiteBase outsole design with 3.5mm lugs delivers impeccable grip and traction
  • Surprisingly lightweight considering the thick 32mm stack of foam which is both plush and responsive
  • Velcro gaiter attachment points

CONS:

  • The shoe doesn’t lock down well on the heel
 

Most Cushioned Trail Shoe

7. Altra Timp 4

Not every runner wants a great ground feel on the trail. If you’d like a more cushioned trail running shoe, the Timp 4 is your top choice.

What We Like

The Timp 4 features 30 mm of EgoMax foam in the midsole, which gives it a soft and plush feeling. Altra’s EgoMax shoe is the least responsive, but there’s still a hint of bounce when you need to pick up the pace.

The full stack of foam is also exceptionally protective of the foot over rough terrain and sharp rocks. It also lasts a long time without flattening thanks to its stack height.

As for the upper, it’s somewhat plusher than the Mont Blanc, especially in the heel. It’s minimalist but structured enough to help you get a good lockdown on the foot without causing hot spots or numb, tingling feet.

The MaxTrac outsole with a redesigned lug configuration provides you with both security on multiple kinds of surfaces and a more powerful push-off.

With shallower lugs and sticky rubber, you can take these shoes on the road for short distances as well as on the trails.

Some other excellent trail-specific features include drainage holes and gaiter attachment points.

Why We Like It

This comfortable, lightweight trail running shoe offers more cushion than some of Altra’s other trail offerings. It’s also extremely versatile.

What to Consider

The Timp 4 is not as effective as other Altra trail shoes on technical trails. Both the stability and the outsole are great for milder trails but may not stand up to the rigors of extremely technical trails.

What’s New

In this new version of the Timp, the midsole has a softer but lively feel, the heel collar has been modified to fit better, and the lugs have been moved to increase traction.

PROS:

  • Versatile trail shoe that’s great for picking up the pace on easy and long runs
  • Mesh upper dries quickly and doesn’t store moisture after running through a creek or puddle
  • Featuring a ton of durable midsole foam that’s lively and feels more protective over rugged terrain
  • Thinly padded heel and tongue provide a secure midfoot feel without creating hotspots or cutting off circulation

CONS:

  • Not as effective on highly technical trails
 

Best for Cross Training

8. Altra Solstice XT 2

Running isn’t all Altras are good for. If you want to keep on-brand and cross-train in your Altras, the Solstice XT 2 is the ideal choice.

What We Like

The Solstice XT 2 is versatile when it comes to cross-training. Whether you want to do HIIT workouts, CrossFit, weightlifting, or some other form of exercise indoors, this shoe can handle it.

It’s also suitable for occasional short runs, although the outsole is not built for the outdoors and may wear away faster.

A tough cage around the midfoot locks your foot down effectively. It also provides excellent grip if you’re doing rope climbing!

There’s not a whole lot of cushioning in this shoe. Its zero-drop platform provides an excellent foundation for heavy lifting, although the heavier you go, the more strain there is on the foam and the quicker it will wear out.

A wide toe box means there’ll be no painful toe-bumping during lifting or quick footwork changes. Your foot will have more than enough space within the shoe while being locked down safely from the exterior.

As well as the grippy midfoot cage/overlay, there’s a full-coverage layer of rubber underneath the shoe for reliable grip on any ground. The outsole also features flex grooves for natural flexibility.

Why We Like It

The close-to-ground feel, exceptional lockdown, and stability of these shoes make them ideal for multiple forms of cross-training.

What to Consider

The Solstice XT 2 is not designed for outdoor use. It’s a shoe for indoor cross-training, although it can handle short runs. If you take it outdoors often, the outsole may wear out much faster as it’s not designed for high wear.

What’s New

The XT 2 is close to 2 ounces heavier than the previous version. The caged upper has been firmed up slightly to provide more support.

PROS:

  • A reinforced cage on the upper provides a secure lockdown and stability during lateral moves
  • InnerFlex midsole technology lets you move quickly and perform dynamic exercises with ease
  • Minimalist cushioning allows for ground feedback so you can maximize power during pushing movements
  • A great all-rounder shoe that can handle weightlifting, HIIT/Crossfit workouts, and low-mileage runs

CONS:

  • Not great for outdoor use as it lacs durability
 

Most Responsive

9. Altra Rivera 2

Looking for a responsive shoe? The Rivera 2 is a good choice that’s sleek and speedy for picking up the pace.

What We Like

The Rivera 2 is lightweight and faster than it looks. AltraEgo foam has a rubbery springiness, allowing you to bounce forward with a spring in your step when you want to increase your pace.

This is definitely a training shoe and not a recovery shoe. With 26mm of zero-drop foam underfoot and a segmented outsole, it’s a moderately-cushioned shoe that allows for flexibility.

A pliable and comfortable engineered mesh upper holds well to the foot. It works with the sturdy heel counter to lock your foot down and keep you streamlined.

Why We Like It

If speed is your thing, the Rivera 2 will be your new best friend. The shoe shines when you pick up the pace, and it has all the sought-after Altra qualities.

What to Consider

The fit is a little slimmer on this shoe than most other Altras. It may be narrower than you expect if you’ve run in Altras before and might not be comfortable for some.

What’s New

The only major update to this shoe is the upper. It now has a slimmer fit and is a bit softer than the previous version. The heel lock is better, and there are reflective elements on the toe box.

PROS:

  • Upper has a sleek, low-profile design with a spacious toe box but a snug fit around your midfoot and heel
  • Midsole cushioning really shines when you pick up the pace as it becomes lively and provides energy return
  • The segmented outsole moves with your foot without being sloppy
  • A reflective element on the heel helps increase visibility in low-light conditions

CONS:

  • Unusually slim fit
 

Best Casual for Men

10. Altra CAYD

This shoe is a casual-style sneaker that can easily be worn in almost any situation. It’s not really meant for running, so this is your go-to Altra for any other type of wear.

What We Like

The sleek leather uppers of these shoes make them look good and give you more durability. They’re water-resistant and hardy, so you can take these shoes anywhere, and they should last very well.

With a moderate 22mm stack height of BLOOM foam, these shoes obviously aren’t designed for running. But that’s more than enough to keep your feet comfortable and absorb shock as you go through your daily activities.

Altra’s spacious Footshape toe box also means you can stay comfy all day, whether you’re standing or walking.

Why We Like It

The shoe is stylish, highly durable, and comfortable enough for wearing all day. It also looks good enough to be versatile for many different situations.

What to Consider

The heel isn’t as well locked down as most Altras. Although it matters less if you aren’t running in the shoe, a sloppy fit can annoy some. You may need to wear thicker socks if you happen to have a narrow heel.

PROS:

  • Smart casual shoe that’s comfortable for everyday wear, work, or running errands
  • BLOOM foam insole keeps you comfortable throughout the day
  • Premium leather uppers are water-resistant and look stylish
  • Although casual, it retains Altra’s Footshape toe box for comfort

CONS:

  • The heel is quite loose and can lead to heel slip even when walking
 

Buyer’s Guide – Altra Running Shoes

Altra’s Unique Design Features:

Zero Drop/ Flat Shoe

Altra’s shoes have a zero drop—also known as balanced cushioning—which is unusual. This allows your forefoot and heel to be at the same distance off the ground, which is a more natural stance and can help prevent injuries in some people.

Footshape Toe Box

The uniquely-shaped toe box is a classic Altra feature. Their Footshape forefoot allows your toes to splay naturally and gives them enough space to move without rubbing, as well as room for the big toe to help you push off more powerfully.

Fit4Her Technology

Fit4Her technology is implemented into some of Altra’s shoes. It’s designed around a female foot, featuring a narrower heel, a narrower midfoot, a longer arch with a higher instep, and metatarsal spacing specific to a woman’s bone structure.

Other Features to Look For

Cushioning

Altras feature different levels of cushioning. Some are plush and soft. Others provide responsive energy return. Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference and what you are looking for.

Support

Altra doesn’t make traditional stability shoes with a medial post in the midsole. But they do offer models that have more or less support.

If your running form has you landing on your fore- or midfoot, you probably don’t need to worry about support too much. This style means your foot won’t roll inwards excessively on its own.

But if you do feel it’s important to have a bit more support, then look for models like the Provision or Paradigm which have added stability to the shoes.

FAQs

Why Was Altra Created?

Altra running shoes were designed to expand on the barefoot running movement. The designers loved the idea of minimalist running but also understood the importance of cushioning and support for injury prevention.

They created Altra shoes to mimic the barefoot style as closely as possible while still protecting and cushioning your feet.

Are Altra Running Shoes Worth It?

Altra running shoes are worth it if you want the specific features that they offer. They’re definitely worth buying if you need a spacious forefoot, a zero-drop platform, and lower-level cushioning.

If you heel strike and you’re comfortable with that, then there’s no need to change your shoes to Altras. Similarly, if you’re comfortable with a higher heel-to-toe drop and don’t need or want a zero-drop shoe, then Altras may not be the best choice for you.

Do Altra Running Shoes Have Arch Support?

Like all running shoes, Altra shoes offer varying levels of arch support throughout their shoe models.

Some of their shoes are designed for lower arches, while others are better for high arches. They also have stability shoes that cater to overpronators.

Are Altra Trail Shoes Good for Hiking?

Altra shoes are great for hiking if you want a close-to-ground feel that still protects your legs and feet. They’re also excellent for hikers who need more space on the forefoot.

If you meet thru-hikers, like hikers attempting the Appalachian trail, you’ll find many wearing Altras. The wide toe box are great for sore feet that are swollen from so much hiking.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

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