In fact, that will probably be the main theme of this review.
This shoe is rated (by Altra) as Moderate cushioning. But I believe that, although similar, cushioning and comfort aren't exactly the same sensation in this shoe.
I'm wearing this shoe right now. I'm sitting here typing, I get up now and then to pee or hassle my cats or something. But I'm wearing this shoe around, in the house. Instead of being barefoot on our nice carpet, I'm wearing this shoe. It's comfortable!
I'm pretty damn sure though that Altra didn't design this shoe for domestic Adonises to sit around in. They designed it for trail running.
And out on the trail...it's comfortable.
Descending a little hill at The Hulk.
Krusty the Klown feet.
I don't have big fat feet. I've never noticed my toes getting squished in my traditional shaped shoes. However, I do feel the difference. And I get it. I get what Altra is doing here.
It's not only comfortable but biomechanically more in stride with what your foot would do if running barefoot.
This is a Zero Drop shoe. That means from heel to forefoot, there is the same amount of material between your foot and the ground. Traditional shoes have varying amounts of "Drop" where the heel is higher than the forefoot. The Zero Drop concept is also biomechanically more in stride with barefoot running.
Do you see what Altra is going for here?
The concept is to protect your feet with a shoe, yet still run the way evolution developed us to run.
There's even a foot shaped pattern on the sole. Neat.
If you look at that picture above, you can see the tread pattern. It's not super aggressive is it? But not every shoe has to be built like a crampon. Although I didn't ever slip out, I didn't feel as secure in these as I would have liked. And that may have been due to them having such a unique feel and fit. Again though, I never slipped out, climbing or descending.
I didn't take them mudding. Or into any puddles. This shoe is definitely not meant for that kind of ordeal. This shoe is meant for standard trail running. We don't have any rock gardens on our trail. Which is a drag as I think this shoe would stick pretty well.
Speaking of rocks. I did kick one out on my run the other day. And after getting up I looked at my shoe, ya know, to make sure there was no damage. And there's a this neat little rubber piece right at the top of the shoe that helps protect against just this thing.
Follow the stick.
With a 25mm stack height, these puppies make you an inch taller. But with that 25mm is more protection if you do happen to step on anything kind of sharp. Which of course I did. Some random rock or root, and although conscious that I had stepped on it, it didn't hurt or even change my stride.
Notice the 25mm in this shot?
Because of the unique shape of this shoe, I had to use a modified lacing system. (You can scroll up to the picture of Krusty the Klown feet to see.) With the normal lacing pattern I had a hard time keeping the shoe tight enough across my foot, this pattern allows me to lock the laces down pretty tight. Now my foot doesn't shift inside the shoe at all.
On a funny side note, the lacing holes don't really have grommets, they're painted on.
Gator Trap. Not like an alligator, but the gators people wear over there shoes. It's essentially a Velcro tab on the back of the shoe to lock your gator into place. Am I spelling gator correctly?
Pardon the lint stuck in the Velcro.
I don't own any gators. However, Heather has used her gators and Altras on a few occasion and says this is a great feature.
Altra is pretty huge on the Ultra and trail running scene right now, and I understand why. This is pretty cool shoe. They retail for about 120 bucks, about the norm for any quality running shoe.
Please note that although there is cushion in here, it is still a Zero Drop shoe. This kind of shoe takes a bit of getting used to. Your stride will probably change and your calves are probably going to hurt a bit. If you decide to go Zero Drop, do some shorter runs to get used the changes. And it's never a bad idea to talk with your local running store about running in this kind of shoe.
Right now, I'm pretty happy with these. I'm going to beat the hell out of them a bit more and try to post an update in a few months.