Best Altra Running Shoes
Criteria Used for Evaluation
While some people think to figure out how much cushioning you need when you run sounds like an easy decision, most of those people assume more cushioning is the better option. However, that solution isn’t always right for all runners, because for some runners, less is more when it comes to cushioning.
In truth, cushioning is like any running shoe feature, and can vary greatly. The cushioning you need when you run will depend on how you run and what you need to get out of your shoes. Typically, there are five cushioning options offered with these shoes, and we’ll cover each level in more detail below.
Level Five Cushioning
This is the maximum amount of cushioning you can get in an Altra running shoe, and these types of shoes are also made with the best technology. Shoes with a lot of cushioning are best for runners that run long distances and need a lot of protection when they run. These types of shoes are made for marathons and longer runs and are great for runners who track many miles each day. They also work well for larger runners and runners recovering from injuries that benefit from extra shock absorption and protection.
Level Four Cushioning
These shoes offer a lot of high-level cushioning performance and also perform well for long-distance runners that hit the trails or roads daily. They also tend to be very versatile and can handle a lot of different types of terrain well.
Level Three Cushioning
This cushioning provides a balance between cushion and flexibility while still keeping the shoe lightweight. Most of these shoes are meant for fast-paced daily running. This level of cushioning also feels more natural to most runners and is great for runners that prefer to go faster on the trails.
Level Two Cushioning
Shoes made with level two cushioning are made to be very light and flexible, providing a little bit of cushioning and a minimalistic feel. These shoes can help you feel the road better and also help to strengthen your feet and form as you run.
Level One Cushioning
This cushioning offers only a thin layer of cushion and comes with the lightest, most flexible style of shoe. With this cushioning level, you can feel the trails and strengthen your feet while you are running, training, or walking. They offer a barefoot type feel each time you hit the trails.
Depending on what you need to get out of your new pair of Altra shoes, you’ll need to decide what type of cushioning will work best for you. If you are new to running or have injuries and need extra support, you’ll want level five or level four cushioning to help absorb shock.
Level three cushioning is great for runners who want a combination of cushioning while still being able to feel the trails. However, if you prefer a more overall natural feel, then you’ll better enjoy level two or level one cushioning in your shoes.
Altra’s running shoes are designed in a unique way to keep your foot and toe area in its natural state as you run, which helps to boost comfort and also reduces pain and injury as you run. All Altra running shoes can help decrease pronation, forefoot pain, runners’ knee, shin splints, and IT band pain.
Altra’s shoes help prevent discomfort because they are made to fit your foot correctly, and the shoes focus on creating a natural fit and feel that is not only comfortable, but performance-enhancing since your feet won’t experience any restrictions in movement.
Plus, Altra running shoes are also designed with a foot-shaped toe box that’s meant to fit your feet well, keeping the toes spread out in a natural state so they don’t feel cramped in your shoe. This style of the design means you’ll get more stability out of the shoe, keep your natural stride, and experience a better run with far less pain or chance of injury.
Many factors affect how long your running shoes will last, and a lot depends on the type of shoe you buy, your running style, and how well to take care of the shoes. If you can comprehend your running style, you’ll be able to determine better how long your shoes are likely to last.
If you tend to land hard on the pavement or the trails as you run, you are more likely to wear your shoes out faster. Also, if your landing is concentrated in a certain area, you’ll be more likely to wear out a certain area of your shoes faster. If your running form is already great, then you’ll avoid scraping your shoe as you land. That will help prevent wear and tear on the rubber and foam.
However, if you do scrape when you land, you’re more likely to damage and wear the material out faster. Most shoes wear out faster in the foam cushioning area, and not really in the harder rubber outsole area. The foam in the shoes will eventually become compressed, and you’ll notice a difference in the level of cushioning you experience as you run.
While less cushioning is not an overall problem, what does hurt the way you run is the way is cushioning breaks down in an uneven way, which can affect the way your feet feel as you run, and how well the shoes absorb shock and vibrations. Also, the foam tends to wear out under the balls of your feet first, which can cause your feet to tilt towards the inside of the shoes, making the shoes fit incorrectly and causing injury.
However, if you’ve bought a durable shoe, you can probably extend the life of it even after the cushioning wears out by using a foam rubber insole to replace the cushioning in the shoe. Thin shoes also tend to last a while in comparison to thicker shoes, which might sound a bit odd since most people assume thicker shoes tend to last longer. Most of this has to do with the midsole area’s thickness declining with the increased use of the shoe, and thicker shoes wear out midsoles faster than thinner shoes.
The hard rubber outsole area of the shoe typically doesn’t wear down as quickly as the foam. Some shoes do use soft outsoles that do wear out quickly, but this isn’t typically the case. You need to be aware of the type of outsole you’re getting, and if you want a more durable one, try to go with hard rubber outsoles versus soft outsoles.
However, if you do wear out the outsoles on your shoes faster than the insoles, you’re using the poor running form, and you’ll want to revise your style of running to help prevent not only shoe wear and tear but also injury. Shoes made with soft outsoles tend to wear out more easily and suffer more wear and tear from abrasions and contact on the trail with other obstacles and debris. Scraping can also take a toll on these types of shoes, and while, shoes with soft outsoles are typically more flexible, they aren’t as durable as other types of shoes.
Also, the temperature of the environment you are running in can affect how long your shoes will last. If the temperature is warmer, then shoes can soften up more efficiently and also wear out faster. So, if you’re living in an area that also has a hotter climate, you’ll probably want to opt for shoes with hard rubber outsoles to increase the lifespan of your shoe.
The running surfaces you typically hit can have an impact on the shoe, as certain types of terrain will cause more impacts and abrasions. If you tend to run on hard concrete or asphalt, your shoes are more likely to wear out more quickly than if you run on trails alone. It’s important to note that much about shoe wear and tear depends on a runner’s running style.
Some runners can handle more wear and tear on their shoes than others before they decide to purchase new shoes. Some runners feel just fine in shoes that are very worn out, while other runners decide to change their shoes with just a little wear and tear. So, much of this also depends on personal preference.
Even though all of these shoes come from the same brand, the prices range from about $60 upwards to $120. Each shoe has its own special set of features and advantages, therefore the value of each one is different. For this reason, when we determined the value of each shoe, we looked at more than just the price tag. Features such as specialty foam inserts or a Vibram sole tend to cost more, and with good reason.
Everyone looks for different features in these types of shoes and having all of the right cushioning and energy return where you need it is what makes these shoes special. Each running shoe from Altra comes with a “300-500 mile warranty on any manufacturing defects.” This warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, misuse, or general negligence. Considering that the lifespan of shoes used for running is about 400-miles, this warranty is quite impressive.
Top 10 Picks
1. One 2.5
The Altra One 2.5's are great road running shoes and are built for speed. These will be comfortable on your feet from start to finish with a noticeable cushion that creates a powerful toe-off with good spring. The sole has omnidirectional movement and great flexibility which contours to your foot's natural shape and movement.Read more
The One 2.5's are some comfortable running shoes. They provide stability and good consistency on long runs to hold off any foot pain or fatigue. The One 2.5's offer an excellent amount of cushioning but are lightweight at only 6.8 ounces, which will make a difference if you're looking for speed.
The toe box of this shoe is shaped similarly to a foot, leaving plenty of room for splaying. As for the overall fit of the shoe, many reviewers claim that these run true to size, with a handful who recommend sizing up.
The One 2.5's have impressive quality and durability to them. They will hold up on long runs and leave you pain-free. They offer a lot of spring and bounce but are stable and consistent for long runs. It has also been mentioned that the heel of the shoe is slightly narrow.
At a higher price, these shoes might not be for everyone, but they are some of the best quality Altra has out there which is why we've ranked it number 1.
2. Torin 3.0
The updated Torin 3.0 has done a great job of creating a cushioning system that seems to be very popular with many avid runners. Aside from great cushioning, which will keep your feet fully comfortable, these shoes are also known for the firm grip that is offered both inside and outside of the shoes.Read more
The Altra Torin 3.0 has been created to offer a runner the ultimate cushioning system for maximum comfort while hitting the hard pavement of the roads. Not to mention, the cushioning provides a runner with faster recovery time. Overall, the Torin 3.0 keep the fantastic lightweight feel of the 2.5, but the updated cushioning system adds more support.
These shoes offer neutral arch support, which should work for most runners out there. And according to reviews, the Torin 3.0 has hit the mark in terms of stability. Feet remain firmly in place in the shoes without slippage or wobbling. The only downfall to these shoes was that the toe can be a bit narrow for some. However, trying them on in the store should help you suss out whether they are, indeed, going to work for your feet type.
The rubber outsole of this shoe is quite thick, making it both durable and comfortable. The mesh upper provides great breathability but you must be careful if you are trail-running because the mesh is not abrasion-resistant.
Depending on the color and size that you choose, the price varies. Overall, these sneakers are priced averagely and impress us with their features. The comfort and stability that the Torin 3.0 offers make them well worth the investment.
3. Lone Peak 3.0
Altra’s Lone Peak 3.0 were the first trail shoe this company ever made, and its high-quality design has helped retain its popularity and made it highly sought-after. With Altra’s Lone Peak 3.0, you get a zero-drop platform and a foot-shaped toe box for extra responsiveness as you run on the trail.Read more
Altra’s Lone Peak 3.0 provide a lot of comforts and an average amount of cushioning while still staying lightweight and flexible as you run. Also, the shoe works well whether you are running for speed or hiking, so you can do many types of activities with this shoe.
Altra’s Lone Peak 3.0 are made to fit securely so that the shoes always provide support and stability. Plus, these shoes come with a good cushioning system, great tractions so that you’ll be able to run through a variety of terrains, and a lot of durabilities so that they will last a long time. They also feature a Gaiter Trap so that it’s easy to attach a gaiter to these shoes, and also offer a precise upper that helps with stability and support. It is recommended that if you are in-between sizes to size up a ½ size.
Most reviewers have been pleased with the overall look and feel of the shoe. For many, it has proven to be durable. However, other reviewers who mainly use the shoes for hiking say that they are wearing out faster than expected.
With several color choices available as well, you’ll both look good and feel good in a pair of these shoes. They are averagely priced but their versatility makes them a great investment.
The Kayenta is a newer model from Altra that incorporates a Max LT midsole and FootPod technology in the outsole. This combination provides great comfort without compromising the weight of the shoe. While the durability of the outsole could use some improvement, we still think this is a great option. And of course, we are looking forward to seeing the second, third, fourth, and fifth generations of this shoe in the future.Read more
It is impressive how the Kayenta can be so lightweight and comfortably padded at the same time. Each shoe weighs about 4.9-ounces, depending on the size, of course. The Max LT midsole provides sufficient cushioning without being too soft and is responsive. On Altra’s cushioning scale, the Kayenta is a three. This pair is ideal for triathlons, speedrunning, and road running. However, we should warn you that these shoes are not weather-resistant. There are actually two small triangles on the sole of the shoe that will let in water if you step in a puddle.
The upper section of this shoe is made from two layers. It features a mesh lining with neoprene. These materials work together to hug your foot comfortably and be very flexible and durable. The toebox is constructed to fit the natural shape of your foot and won’t squeeze your toes together. As far as the sizing of the shoe, while it is intended to have a snug fit, many reviewers have found the shoe to be more comfortable when they order a half size up.
The outsole is made from rubber. Normally, we rave about this feature, but with this shoe, we have good and bad news. The outsole is designed with FootPod technology which moves naturally with your foot, bending with your joints and providing extra durability in high-abrasion areas. While this sounds ideal, many reviewers have found that the sole wears down much faster than expected. Some have put holes in the sole within months, while others only made it to 350 miles.
The Kayenta is on the higher end of the price range for Altra. The weight to cushioning ratio is quite impressive and well-constructed. We also love the color choices and the double-layer upper that is comfortable and breathable. However, we would expect a bit more durability from such an impressive shoe.
5. Paradigm 3.0
Altra’s Paradigm 3.0 are designed to fit runners well, and also provides a breathable mesh that helps ventilate your feet to keep them cool and dry as you run. These shoes offer a lot of comfort with maximum cushioning, great arch support, and still has good flexibility features.Read more
Paradigm 3.0 provide runners with a maximum amount of cushioning while still providing plenty of room in the front part of the shoe, which helps combine for an excellent level of comfort.
These shoes work great for runners that have injuries and need extra stability and support to help aid in recovery while they still hit the trails. The toe box on these shoes also has a lot of volume in the area, which provides even more comfort for runners needing some recovery time.
The Paradigm is made to be long-lasting and durable so that you’ll get many months of usage from them. They feature a rubber sole that has been upgraded since the last version and receives plenty of praise now.
Made as a versatile shoe that can handle a wide variety of running styles and terrains. They are averagely priced on the scale of Altra shoes. Plus, they also feature reflective details for extra safety as you run, and they come in several style and color options.
Altra’s Impulse offers runners an excellent combination of performance and stability that focus on both road running and trail running. Designed to be lightweight and responsive, these shoes also offer a lot of flexibility to help boost your performance as you run.Read more
Altra’s Impulse shoes are designed with built-in drainage holes, which helps these shoes shed water and also increases the breathability of the shoe so your feet stay dry and comfortable as you run. Altra’s Impulse shoes also offer a lot of stability and support to help your feet and legs feel great while you are running.
With these shoes, you’ll also enjoy a lot of movement benefits since these shoes are lightweight and flexible, and won’t restrict your range of motion while you are on-the-go. Designed with StabiliPod technology, these shoes also prevent foot pronation, which is an excellent running benefit. Plus, you get enough cushioning with these shoes to still feel comfortable while you are running.
Unfortunately, there have been concerns about the overall durability of the heel of this shoe. We suppose that this constitutes the lower price point. If you are looking for a pair of shoes to literally run into the ground, this would be a good option for you.
In comparison to other Altra designs on this list, the Impulse is one of the less expensive options. Designed with a great ventilation system, comfort, and stability, your feet will stay comfortable each time you hit the trails.
7. Olympus 2.5
Altra’s Olympus 2.5 have been designed with neutral arch support and to hit the trails. It's a great neutral runner that features a newly designed upper support system.Read more
Designed to be both long-lasting and comfortable, the Olympus 2.5 provides you with maximum cushioning to keep your feet feeling comfortable with better recovery time. Along with cushioning, you will get a runner that is supportive of your feet, so they can stay firmly in place. Overall, this runner is a highly viable option for the trails.
Designed to be more lightweight and stable, the Altra Olympus 2.5 is made with excellent traction and can grip on any terrain. However, they have been originally designed with trail running in mind. These shoes offer a lot of stability and support features that will keep your feet happy for many hours as you run.
The outsole of this shoe is made from one of our favorite and most durable materials, Vibram MegaGrip. It is known for being durable and long-lasting. One durability flaw that we have seen with this shoe is in the mesh upper. A few customers have complained about the “abrasion-resistant” mesh ripping.
The Olympus 2.5 is one of the higher-priced options on our list. However, considering the Vibram sole, great comfort, and unparalleled support, we think it’s still a great option.
8. Instinct 4.0
Altra’s Instinct 4.0 offer runners some of Altra’s best features packed into one shoe, including Zero-drop and FootShape technologies. The Instinct 4.0 is made to give runners a lot of protection for trail running or gym workouts and bring a lot of versatility to the plate.Read more
These shoes are also so comfortable and flexible, they can be worn on very long runs and keep your feet happy and strong throughout the duration of your adventure. However, these shoes are still designed to be light enough for faster speed runs, depending on how you want to use them. Also, there is good breathability built-into this shoe, offering plenty of ventilation to help keep your feet dry as you sweat and run.
Altra’s Instinct 4.0 offers runners a comfortable and flexible shoe with plenty of space to hold the foot in a natural fit. As far as the overall fit of these shoes, over half of the reviewers agree that they run small. It is best to order a half or full size down from your normal size.
Many reviewers have been pleased with the durability of these shoes. The rubber outsole and newly designed upper makes this the most durable Instinct yet.
Instinct 4.0 comes with plenty of cushioning and flexibility, making most runs very smooth considering the affordable price of these shoes. Plus, these shoes are available in a variety of style and color choices.
9. Provision 3.0
If you want some extra support and stability while you run, then Altra’s Provision 3.0 offers the advanced fit and average cushioning you’ll need on runs. These shoes are made to be both comfortable and breathable, and also are versatile enough for either trail or road running.Read more
Provision 3.0 are designed with excellent breathability, giving your feet plenty of ventilation to stay dry even as you run and perspire. The quick-drying mesh system in the upper also helps feet stay dry because the mesh is designed to dry quickly each time the shoes get wet.
Designed with a wide toe-box, you’ll get a natural fit with this shoe plus Guide Rail technology to reduce pronation as you run. Also, there is plenty of stability built into this shoe, which will help boost your running performance each time you set out on a new trail or road adventure.
Overall, the durability of the Provision is decent. The rubber outsole has received a few complaints, but it all depends on how hard you push the shoes. The upper of the shoe is a definite improvement from earlier models.
Provision 3.0 are made with a normal shoe style and come in many color options, offering you a fashion boost that will help you look great and feel great as you run. With the variety of benefits like ventilation and comfort, you’ll get a lot of use out of these durable shoes.
10. Lone Peak 3.5
Altra's Lone Peak 3.5 have been designed for daily use on the roads, and they offer neutral arch support to suit most runners out there. These shoes are an option that many road runners go-to for the comfort, durability, and overall flexibility that has been enhanced with the newest generation of the Lone Peak.Read more
The newly designed upper of the 3.5 is breathable and airy so that your feet stay sufficiently cool on pavement treks. The design of the shoe keeps your foot comfortably in a natural position and leaves enough room in the toe-box for toe splay.
Another fantastic feature for runners is that unlike some other Altra runners, the Lone Peak 3.5 has a decently wide foot box, ensuring that there is sufficient wiggle and foot expansion room. For the most part, these sneakers tend to run true to size.
The Lone Peak 3.5 has proven to be a reliable shoe to hit the roads with confidence. Some reasons that make these shoes a fantastic option for many is that they are durable and seem to last for a good amount of use while offering consistent comfort and support. Along with this, they tend to keep their appearance quite well without looking to dinged up.
The price of these sneakers is on-par with other similar styles. Overall, these shoes will bring you a great sense of comfort, flexibility, and durability to lock down some miles with.