ADRIENNE: It feels like we say it about a lot of brands, but Altra’s been on a roll of late. Between launching the Vanish Carbon and Calum Neff, Alexi Pappas, and company tearing across the desert to win the Speed Project, this (usually) niche brand is making some bold steps toward the mainstream. Steps in its own quirky way, obviously. Enter an update to one of Altra’s bread-and-butter staples, the Altra Escalante 3.
I received a very colorful version, dubbed the Altra Escalante 3 SE, and my print-happy friends and family members were all over the wild cheetah and daisy combination. I’m more of a solid color kinda girl, but the review goes on. Besides, it’s nice to venture outside of your comfort zone here and there.
The last Altra I reviewed was the Rivera 2, which I enjoyed a good deal with its simple yet versatile ride. Naturally, I was curious to see how the Escalante would compare with its slimmer-fitting sibling. Honestly, these two trainers may look similar, but they feel quite different. Under the engineered knit hood is 8 oz. (US W8) of Ego cushioning layered in a zero-drop 24mm stack (26mm for the fellas). Like the younger Rivera, the Escalante 3 has balanced cushioning to mitigate the “holy shit, this feels weird” sensation when you first step into a zero-drop shoe. Like previous versions, Altra’s FootPod outsole allows for natural movement underneath the Standard last.
Basically, the Altra Escalante 3 is just what Altra fans are looking for. Let’s get to the specifics.
ADRIENNE: Natural stability is here in spades. The Escalante 3 has a decisive, no-bullshit ride with some decent snap. The construction and quality of the shoe are solid, and I expect it to last every bit of 300 miles with decent rubber coverage. It’s an excellent example of Altra staying true to its identity, and the grip felt great on crushed gravel and damp roads.
As for styling, the Escalante looks a little more built-up than the previous 2 and 2.5 iterations. Man, Altra loves its half versions. It also adds about a fifth of an oz and trims the stack by about 4mm, according to Running Warehouse. I’m assuming the upper is responsible for the extra weight, as the sidewalls are reinforced with thicker material.
The ride, as you can probably guess, is a natural one. On brand with other models, the toe splay is some of the widest in the business, and the ride is somewhat firm. I did notice after a few runs, however, that the flexibility increased, and the shoe became more enjoyable with a ride more worthy of the floral and feral printed upper.
Higher cadence runners and those with experience in the zero-drop game will appreciate this update. While the cushioning is rather firm and the ground feel is high, the combo helps provide good feedback on form and cadence. I’m a believer that we still need to run in all kinds of shoes — from natural to super — to really dial in our run experience and strengthen the feet and ankles. This is a good way to fill that natural niche.Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Men Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Women
ADRIENNE: This is likely an Adrienne-related issue, but my feet aren’t really Altra-shaped. That’s not to say that my feet don’t look like feet, they just taper at the front. Unfortunately, I can confidently say that the shoe felt sloppy at faster speeds — kinda the opposite of confident, really. Strides weren’t my favorite in the shoe, either. Not to sound like a shattered, busted, dilapidated record here, but why heavier? Why?Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Men Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Women
ADRIENNE: If you like the Escalante line, you’ll like the Escalante 3. If you like wild prints, you’ll like the SE version I received. Again, Altra is a brand that knows who it is, and the Denver-based company has created another trainer that’ll satisfy the needs of natural runners everywhere.
The Altra Escalante 3 is a decent daily option for medium to short runs for zero-drop newcomers. Efficient and experienced natural runners might enjoy it for longer runs and even a half marathon race or two. Those with a wider forefoot will have their needs met, while those on the narrower side will find more comfort in the Rivera. Speedsters will obviously want the Vanish Carbon for its natural feeling and super shoe tooling.
You can pick up the Altra Escalante 3 for $139 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Men Shop Altra Escalante 3 – Women
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