Shoe ReviewsTrail

Altra Outroad Review: One Hybrid to Rule Them All?

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.8 oz. (277 g.) for a US M9 / 8.4 oz. (238 g.) for a US W8
  • Altra’s Ego midsole is no joke on road or trail
  • The design team has, once again, earned a raise
  • Do we have another all-star hybrid on our hands?
  • Available now for $140

TAYLOR: The life of a reviewer can be hard sometimes. I get it, your corneas met your brain before you finished reading that, but hear me out. About three times a year, we get slapped with more gear than we can wear and told to pick it apart and find what’s good and unique about several similar pieces of clothing and shoes. It might sound like a dream, and usually, it is, but I place a lot of importance on giving you, as readers, the best information I can.

One of the hardest parts of reviewing is deciding how to pack for a trip. I have to carefully weigh out which shoe or shoes I’ll bring. If I’m heading to the motherland (Minnesota), I need a pair of road shoes and at least a couple trail shoes, which starts a slippery slope. Once I decide on one pair, I might think about a second pair for longer gravel runs. Eventually, my bag is full of shoes, and my wife is annoyed as we can only fit one shirt and one change of underwear per person in the remaining space.

Thankfully, many companies are finally embracing the potential of hybrid running shoes — shoes that feel like road options yet can perform admirably on trails. We’ve already reviewed options like the Inov8 Parkclaw G280, Brooks Divide 2, Salomon Sense Ride… the list goes on and on. There are even more shoes that are marketed for the trail but wouldn’t have a problem with a majority of road miles, like the Nike Pegasus Trail 4, Hoka Tecton X, and Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro.

But apparently, there’s room for one more. Altra has decided to throw its hat in the ring with the Outroad, a brand-new model that’s designed to do it all. You can start at your doorstep and head straight for the hills. If we can trust Altra, everything in between should be a breeze.

The overall approach to the Outroad is to take the Altra Rivera 2 and bolster it a bit to handle more adventurous terrain. Of course, that means added durability measures, overlays, and a little more weight.

Let’s see if the Outroad can outrun the competition.

SAM: The first running shoe I truly loved was the Altra Lone Peak 4. I bought it at REI right before a trip to Italy with my wife. It was about ten minutes before closing, and I randomly plucked it off the wall to try on. They didn’t even have my size, but the US M9.5 — half a size down from my typical US M10 — fit perfectly, if a little short. It was the shoe I had when I started to get serious about running, and I probably put 400 miles on that first pair. The Lone Peak 4 was one shoe that could service my road and trail needs. I went through three pairs, logging over 500 mostly road miles on the second pair, straining my IT band from “dead shoe overuse” towards the end.

By the third pair, I realized that using an undersized trail shoe with a relatively low stack for all my miles was just a step below insane. I finally tried a US M10 Lone Peak, but it was way too roomy for me, so I branched out to other models and lowered my mileage across each one. The Torin 5 served me well on roads, and– when my Achilles tendons pulled guitar-string tight– I finally tried out other makes with higher heel-to-toe drops .

That said, I’ve never forgotten that Indy-picking-up-the-Grail feeling I got when pulling that first Lone Peak off the wall. I wanted a shoe that could do everything and felt amazing too, and I thought I found it. The Lone Peak may not have been quite that shoe (even though it’s still an excellent trail option), but now Altra has a new model, the Outroad. It’s billed as a Holy Grail of shoes for all uses (at least, that’s how I read it). Did Altra find its destiny here, or is this a face-meltingly poor choice?

MELISSA: The universe has finally granted my wish for a hybrid road-to-trail shoe (well, one that works). Thank you, universe, and thank you, Altra. I’ve mentioned how rare it is for a long run or race to be 100% trail. Most trail races include small road sections connecting one trail stretch to the next. I also start and end many of my long runs on the road to add mileage and avoid having to drive somewhere. Unfortunately, this all equates to miles of clippity-clopping lugs on pavement for the sake of traction on dirt.

Like Sam, I’m also a long-time wearer and fan of the Altra Lone Peak. Not intending to one-up you, Sam, but I’ve had some Lone Peaks that lasted me over 700 miles. I share this to point out how insanely durable and well-made these shoes are.

Given my great experiences with Lone Peak and Superior over the years and one not-so-great experience with an Altra road shoe, I was unsure what to expect. However, I was looking forward to trying the Outroad and hoping to find the perfect road and trail shoe that I’ve waited over a decade for.

altra outroad - laces

The Good

TAYLOR: Many people still don’t realize that Altra has been crafting shoes on three different molds for a while now. All are zero drop and foot-shaped, so you’re guaranteed a wider, rounder toe box. From there, you have the Original (wide like the Lone Peak), the Standard (found on the Timp and Superior), and the Slim (as seen on the Mont Blanc and Rivera). The Outroad falls into the slim category, and I think it’s a smart move.

An internal bungee system acts as a gusset for the tongue and provides good security through the midfoot and heel. The slightly wider toe box gives some (but not much) extra room to wiggle your dawgs, too. It’s shaped to offer benefits for both uptempo road paces and slower technical trail adventures. I’ve been a fan of the Rivera and Mont Blanc, so it’s no surprise that the Slim style works for me.

The upper is a ripstop mesh that balances structure, comfort, and durability, but it’s the underfoot experience that sells the Outroad. Altra has been locked in on the midsole this year, and the Outroad’s Ego foam is tried and true. It’s an EVA-based foam with just enough cushion, flex, and density without losing all of its bounce. Ego foam is the perfect partner for the Outroad, as both try to do a little bit of everything. Honestly, it’s well-rounded, and there’s even a measure of ground feel — something I haven’t said in a while.

Some Altra shoes seem to be adopting tapered (almost rocker-esque) toes, and the Outroad is maybe the most prominent example. It helps to smooth the transition since the foam isn’t overly bouncy and is especially good on roads and gentle trails.

I can’t let the segment go without a quick kudos to the design team. The bold, unique colorways and edgy midsole designs combine perfectly for another Altra stunner.

SAM: While the Outroad is slightly plainer than some of the recent Altra releases (I’m lookin’ at you with heart eyes, Mont Blanc BOA), its styling is clean and fun. The geometric midsole detail is an especially nice touch. It pairs well with the bright pop of color on each of the four launch colorways, creating a shoe that wants to be noticed but won’t scream at you to get the job done.

The ripstop upper is durable and comfortable, and it secures the midfoot well through trails that edge on technical. It’s not always easy to balance the need for trail lockdown with the desire for a light, nimble road shoe, but the Outroad nails it. There’s enough to hold you in place, but it doesn’t feel overbuilt on the road. Best of all, the top seam on the tongue is finally fixed. The Torin and Timp had tongues that would cut you like razorblades for the first few runs, but no longer. The bottom tongue fabric reaches higher, creating a soft flap of protection.

The Ego midsole is plush and reminds me of the ride in the Torin 5, though there’s slightly less stack in the Outroad. However, as Taylor said, a slight taper towards the toe rolls you through your stride in a way that the Torin didn’t. This gives the Outroad a smooth, clean ride with some forward propulsion that feels less like running in a zero-drop shoe than previous Altras I’ve worn.

I think this shoe feels slightly more at home on trails than on roads. It’s perfectly fine on roads, and the taper helps road miles go down easy, but even with the Slim footshape, it feels a little clunky because of the width of the sole. On trails, it’s stable and secure, and the softer Ego foam allows for some nice trail feel that’s rare in a world of high-stack and plated shoes.

MELISSA: I love the simplicity of this design and the new sleek shape of the Altra Outroad. On my first run, I noticed how snug and secure it felt. Thank goodness for the snug fit, too, as I had no foot issues despite the sizing issue and Slim shape.

Once on the trail, the multidirectional lugs and MaxTrac outsole ensured a steady grip on most surfaces with only slight slippage on some wet rock. It felt significantly less clunky and awkward on the road than most trail shoes.

Overall, this is an enjoyable shoe that makes a great daily trainer. Its two-for-one offering is very attractive for someone who travels often. I’d pack this shoe in a heartbeat and enjoy the extra space in my suitcase for other essentials or more running stuff.

Shop Altra Outroad – Men Shop Altra Outroad – Women
altra outroad - outsole
photo of outsole on the altra outroad

The Bad

TAYLOR: I have a hunch we’re all going to agree on this. The sizing is simply off on the Outroad. My normal US M10.5 (even in other Altras) felt way small. At a minimum, order up a half size. If you’re in between sizes, you might want to go up a full size to avoid the toe crunch.

The outsole could use some tuning too. This MaxTrac formula needs to ride off into the sunset because it puts a pretty big damper on a few of Altra’s models. The Timp 4 is a good example, and now the Outroad. The lug pattern worked well for gravel grinding and roads but wasn’t very proficient on trails. There wasn’t any dig. No purchase. Nada. And the rubber itself had very little tack.

SAM: The Altra Outroad runs at least half a size too small. My toes are as close or closer to the end of the toebox in my US M10 than they were in my US M9.5 Lone Peak. Make sure you order up a half size from what you usually wear, and I’d suggest trying your pair on first to dial in the fit. Since it comes in Altra’s Slim footshape, people with wider feet will feel some pressure or rubbing on the outside of their feet.

I had some grip issues with the MaxTrac outsole when toeing off wet rocks, but otherwise, I enjoyed the grip on all surfaces. However, I’m not sold on how durable this particular formulation of MaxTrac is for road miles. After 30ish miles on mixed terrain, I have serious wear on the lugs around the strike points outside my feet. I’m missing more than half the height I started with on some lugs. I’d be concerned that many more road miles would damage trail grip.

MELISSA: While I can appreciate the hybrid features and cushioned feel, the Outroad weighs more than I’d like if I were racing. This is a heavy shoe compared to the Superior, Lone Peak, and competitor trail shoes. Although Altra offers a sleeker toe box for the Outroad, the extra weight is likely a result of a higher stack. That stack does provide a nice cushioned feel, making this a great long run shoe or daily trainer.

Extra weight aside, I did find it tough to pick up the pace, which was slightly disappointing but understandable. You can’t expect the best from both worlds in a hybrid model. Maybe one day.

Finally, these run a small, about half a size. However, if you already wear Altra trail shoes, order the same size you’d typically wear for the Lone Peak.

Shop Altra Outroad – Men Shop Altra Outroad – Women

altra outroad - lateral

Altra Outroad Conclusion

TAYLOR: The best application for the Altra Outroad is exactly as marketed. It’s not really a do-it-all shoe, but it can do a whole lot really well. It’s a solid choice for the one-and-done runner looking for the magic shoe they can take anywhere.

Roads, light trails, and everything in between felt like home for the Outroad. Its simple design, rockered forefoot, and slimmer profile allowed for a seamless transition between terrain. Overall, the Outroad gets the nod for being a comfortable and versatile shoe — as long as you get the right size.

SAM: As long as you get the Altra Outroad in the correct size, it deserves its place in the pantheon of hybrid shoes. It’s comfortable for all distances of road miles and even better for trail miles. The slight taper built into the midsole makes the shoe more accessible for runners not used to a zero-drop platform. Casual runners who want one shoe that can do it all won’t be disappointed.

For those who already have a quiver of shoes, the Outroad shines brightest where other hybrid models do: as a go-to shoe for travel. With only one pair of shoes, you can tackle almost any run wherever you’re headed, and the Outroad won’t look too shabby on your feet during a night out. It fulfills the expectations I had for my first couple of pairs of Lone Peaks. To pick them is to choose… wisely.

MELISSA: If you’re looking for a versatile hybrid daily trainer, look no further. You get to enjoy a lot of positive aspects of both road and trail shoes in the Outroad: grip, comfort, and stability. This is a great shoe for traveling if you’re looking to pack one pair of shoes for road running, trail running, and hiking. I’d also like to mention that if this is your first zero-drop shoe, transition slowly. Your calves and Achilles will thank you later.

You can pick up the Altra Outroad for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Altra Outroad – Men Shop Altra Outroad – Women

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for calling out the sizing issue… and that definitely confirms for me that the slim last is just currently a 1/2 size small across the board. When I was trying on the Rivera I had the same issue – 10D in almost every shoe from every brand including other Altras, but definitely needed the 10.5 for that one, and I was wondering if the Outroad would be the same. Great review!

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