Altra Escalante Performance Review
Austin: Chanting Bloody Mary in front of a mirror, swallowing gum and waiting seven years to digest, and avoiding cars that drive without their headlights as part of a gang initiation. All urban legends… or are they?
There have also been tales of runners who loved the original Altra Escalante so much, they’ve put in over 1,000 miles in the shoe. That’s further than alligators travel in the NYC sewer system.
I myself wrung out every last mile I could from that midsole before it bottomed it. While I didn’t put in a G-stack of miles on the original, I did pull a Proclaimers and take them well over 500.
Sadly, I won’t be doing the same for the Escalante 2.
Jarrett: When I received the Altra Escalante 2, I was immediately told how much people loved the previous version. Great, now I had expectations.
While keeping the same EGO midsole from the original, Altra reinforced the knit upper and also decoupled the midsole and outsole to increase flexibility. Altra also included a new PU insole to provide more cushion underfoot.
The stack height is 24 mm, my size 10.5 weighs 9.6 oz, and it has a 300 mm drop. JUST KIDDING. It’s zero drop! Duhhhhhhh.
The Tobias Funke colorway of the Escalante 2 is probably the most blü shoe I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Like a blood-engorged mosquito being tractor-beamed into one of those zap lights, I just couldn’t look away.
Austin: As the intro suggests, the Escalante 2 will not be a go-to shoe for me (more on that below). I vividly remember that the midsole and outsole in the Escalante 1.5 were identical to the original; the only change was the knit upper and a few tweaks in the heel cup for more security. Frankly, I wouldn’t change anything about the original, but running shoes are constantly retooled, to both our delight and disdain.
The step-in comfort in the Escalante 2 is nice, and the foot-shaped toe box, a hallmark of every Altra model, felt accommodating. Like Jarrett said- that blue color pops! The design is simple but striking. My feet felt secure in the Escalante 2 every run, and I credit this to the highly snug upper. Runs were good, but the shoes didn’t wow like the original.
Jarrett: The unattached tongue is made of a very thin material and isn’t really padded. After my runs, it seemed like the tongue wanted to slide around, but there were multiple loops that the laces went through and held it in place.
The outsole provided excellent grip. With the shoe fitting so snug, I was able to round corners on varied surfaces at a high speed with no slipping.
Ok, I created a brand-new column because I’m so torn with this shoe. I now introduce for the first (and probably last) time, the “Maybe”.
A complaint people had with the Escalante 1.5 was that the upper was too stretchy and allowed the foot to slide around. The new reinforcement knit upper has much more structure to it. In fact, for being knit, it really doesn’t stretch at all.
I think it would fit well for standard width feet, but for someone with a wide foot, the upper is a bit constricting and really hasn’t loosened up much. Kind of like when your aunt gets super excited to see you and gives you a tight hug for way too long. Just let go of me already, I’m a grown-ass adult!
The PU insole is deceiving. Upon step-in, I was like “Damn, this feels soft and nice! I think I just blue myself!”
Narrator: It wasn’t. And he didn’t.
The EGO midsole has a firm feel and my knees took the brunt of the shock while running downhill. However, my speed definitely had some nice pickup. Again, I’m mixed. Like a Mr. Softee cone. Mmmm… ice cream.
Austin: I’m disappointed that the weight jumped so much (8.4 to 9.2 ounces in a men’s nine). The Escalante 2 is still lighter than many of its competitors for sure, but I can feel the added weight.
Unsurprisingly, the Altra engineers changed the heel cup again. It’s higher and thinner in fabric than its predecessor, and the result for me was minor blisters. Blisters suck, and they clearly suggest that a shoe is highly unlikely to work out for you, especially if they keep recurring. Which these did. Yes, you can tinker with laces and socks and Body Glide, but when those fail to deliver a better outcome, exasperation usually takes over.
This is also a minor gripe, but I don’t like the new laces. Laces seem like the smallest thing to be hung up over, but it felt more like a chore than a joy to tighten the Escalante 2 and head out at sunrise. The shoes didn’t disappear on my feet as I hoped they would.
Jarrett: Why is this shoe so dang hard to get on?! I’m breaking a sweat fighting to hold on to the tongue and heel. There’s a weird little loop to hold on to on the tongue, but the heel is one pesky son of a gun. 2019 is officially the year of the pull tab so I’m going to start getting grumpy when there isn’t one. Gimme my pull tab on the heel!
Although the toe box width is fine, I’m not big on the height. It seems very low for my foot and at times I’m noticing my toes hitting the top. It’s reminiscent of having the bottom bed of our bunk bed when I was younger. Sometimes it was super cool and I slipped in and out. Other times, I’d smack the shit out of my head and it sucked.Shop Altra Escalante 2
Austin: In summary, the Escalante 2 felt stiffer. A stiffer knit upper. A stiffer heel collar. A stiffer ride. The Ego midsole felt firmer than what I remember of its two successors (I’d be curious to know the durometer number). One of the gripes about the Escalante and the 1.5 was the stretchy upper that caused the feet to slide, but I may be one of the few—with narrow feet no less—who liked this characteristic. Strange but true.
Frankly, I’m disappointed that the Escalante 2 will not be in my regular rotation. I’ve also been putting in some miles in the Torin Plush, but that one isn’t wowing me either (sigh). The Timp 1.5, a trail shoe, is another story. That one is a keeper.
Jarrett: I truly don’t know how I feel about the Altra Escalante 2. On one hand, it’s super form-fitting, holds my foot in place well, and had me going faster than expected. On the other hand, it’s a little suffocating, has too firm of a ride, and I’m exhausted after putting them on.
I’d struggle to do long distances in the Escalante 2. It seems like a decent choice for shorter distances if you like zero-drop, but for long distances, I’m probably going to choose the Torin 4. Sorry Escalante fans. Please don’t flame me!
You can pick up the Altra Escalante 2 for $129.95 at Running Warehouse by using the shop link below.Shop Altra Escalante 2
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It’s really disappointing to see the weight gain on this shoe. At a time all the big brands are putting out 7.x ounce trainer/racer hybrids, this one is going in the opposite direction. Still, for me, the class of the Escalante bunch has always been the Racer. Have you blokes tried those on for comparison?
Have not tried the Escalante Racer, but it looks cool as hell. Definitely didn’t like them taking the weight up in this one.