Altra is only 10 years old but has quickly become one of the more popular go-to brands for running shoes in the trail running space. The brand got their start when All-American Cross Country Runner Golden Harper of Utah began cutting up running shoes from various brands to create his own, piecing them together and creating new ones that fulfilled the design he was looking for. That’s where the name came from – altera, in Latin, means to “fix or mend.”
A few years later, and Altra shoes are found on trail runners, ultra-marathoners and endurance athletes alike – and they are the official footwear sponsor of popular races like the Western States Endurance Run and Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. They even released a smart shoe a few years back – the Torin IQ, which uses pressure sensors in the sole to measure each footstep and communicate the stats with your phone via Bluetooth.
Whatever kind of running you’re into, Altra has a pair of shoes that will work for you. Here are some of the best out there for 2019.
Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail RunnErs
The Lone Peak 4 is the latest take on Altra’s original trail running shoe: a low-cut, aggressive trail shoe with their signature ZeroDrop for low-impact landing on both mountain and flat terrain. If you have fla fleet, you’ll find this particularly attractive.
Trail runners love the superior grip and tight, comfortable fit, paired with all that balanced cushioning that makes them such a dream to run in. The MaxTrac rubber outsole – with aggressive, canted Trailclaw lugs – gets consistent high marks for its rock-solid stability and traction, too, with runners saying they feel confident and secure in every step. At 10 ounces a pair, they’re dang light and fast, too.
Superior 4 Men’s Running Shoe
The Superior 4 is the latest, lightest version of Altra’s superlight trail shoes, clocking in at only 7.9 ounces a pair. Add in the relatively low drop, and as some have pointed out, they start to tread very closely to minimalist trail shoes – but still pack in enough “balanced” cushioning to keep every foot happy. Wearers love the MaxTrac rubber and Trailclaw lugs, which ensure responsiveness and snappy footing.
The only things people don’t like? The ultra-long laces…and that the thin sole can be quite when uncomfortable going fast on rocky terrain. If you’re looking for ultralight running shoes but don’t want to sacrifice padding and structure, runners consider these a top choice.
Altra Men’s TIMP 15
The Timp was introduced to fill a middle ground – between the Lone Peak’s lesser cushioning and the Olympus’ fully-featured padding. An all-around trail shoe good for hiking and running alike, each pair weighs 11.1 ounces, keeping things super light. Altra used a new mesh platform the Timp 1.5, which is designed to move “directionally” and “float over rocks and roots” – so you can move with flexibility and without restriction.
Fans of the Lone Peak generally love the extra padding that the Timp 1.5 offers, finding it provides a more comfortable landing on rough terrain and a good overall balance – especially for larger folks. And many find the the extra-wide footbox is more than welcome. The 4-point GaiterTrap uses hook-and-loop tabs to let you attach your gaiters without the need for straps – keeping debris out and comfort in.
Just keep an eye out for quality control issues; many users have reported broken tabs and laces within just a few uses.
The Escalante is a lightweight racing shoe, designed for sleek speed. It boasts a “sock-like fit” that’s supposed to feel almost like there’s nothing on your feet, with the same Zero Drop platform that Altra is so popular for on their other shoes. Additionally, it has Altra Ego, their “dual-nature” midsole foam that provides plenty of cushioning without dampening the spring in your step.
General consensus among runners is that this 8-ounce pair of running shoes packs all the comfort and padding you could need in an all-around pair of road shoes, but still has enough bounce to keep from slowing you down. And again, the extra-large footbox gets high marks. According to some, however, you should keep in mind that these shoes are meant for neutral pronators and forefoot strikers, but not for everyone.