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Road Running Shoes • May 23, 2024

Altra Experience Flow Review: Dropping Into Deja Vu

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What You Need To Know


8.4 oz. (238 g) for a US M9,

7.2 oz. (204 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 32 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)

Women: 30 mm in heel, 26 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)

Best For

A low-drop introduction for the Altra-curious

Key Features

Engineered mesh upper, Standard FootShape, CMEVA midsole

On The Run
More breathable upper Plenty of foot space for new Altra fans STILL no Ego Max?
Price / Availability

Available now for $140

Introduction to the Altra Experience Flow

RUBY: In 2023, Altra dropped a bombshell when it launched the Altra FWD Experience, its first non-zero-drop shoe, in an effort to appeal to more runners. With its 4mm heel-to-toe drop, the AltraFWD Experience is still a very low-drop shoe, and the Altra Experience Flow is its next, practically identical iteration.

As someone who runs in a wide variety of shoes, typically preferring those with 8 to 12 mm heel-toe drops, but who also got on particularly well with the Altra Torin 4.5 Plush, the Experience Flow seemed like the perfect “meet-in-the-middle” shoe. Unboxing the Altra Experience Flow, I was pleasantly surprised at its lightweight feel, given the midsole thickness. To the touch, the midsole foam seemed soft and springy, raising my expectations for this shoe.

Aesthetically, the Experience Flow is pleasing to the eye: its gray upper atop the pale green exposed midsole is enough color to be fun without being an eyesore.

AUSTIN: If the folks at Altra decided to replace the word experience with the word even, I’d have an inroad to discuss the best track from Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten. What’s more, since Altra has promoted zero-drop, balanced cushioned trainers since their debut, the word even further reinforces their philosophy. Even—from back to front.

Alas, I’m not writing about the Even Flow but the Experience Flow, the renamed Altra daily trainer (previously the AltraFWD Experience) with a drop. Let’s find out if Eddie Vedder might like this shoe.

What we like about the Altra Experience Flow

RUBY: Altra has certainly improved its aesthetics, and given the vast number of runners who “buy with their eyes,” this shoe should sell well. For those who prefer the in-store shopping experience, the fit of the Experience Flow will add to its allure.

Maintaining Altra’s Standard FootShape fit that fans have come to know and love, the new upper hugs the foot just right, creating a secure lockdown without feeling too tight. As a runner with relatively average-width feet, not particularly narrow or wide, I’ve often found my toes lost in other shoes boasting wider foot-shaped toe boxes, but not with this shoe. It’s ideal for logging summer miles, and the updated two-color engineered mesh upper is better ventilated and more breathable than the previous version.

Altra’s Experience Flow has plenty of cushioning around the collar and heel, including a flared heel counter similar to what’s becoming popular across the board, most notably with recent iterations of the Hoka Clifton. Add to that the extra eyelet for those of us who, like me, tie laces with the runner’s knot, and the Experience Flow securely locks your heel into the back of the shoe and, most importantly, protects from blisters and Achilles irritation.

AUSTIN: Honestly, you could skip this review altogether and reread the AltraFWD Experience review from last September. But this is Believe in the Run. You like that we incorporate Pearl Jam references in our reviews and aren’t afraid to speak our minds about the ins and outs of shoe specs.

Why the reference to the AltraFWD Experience review? Ninety percent of what you read there applies here. The Experience Flow retains its predecessor’s compression-molded EVA midsole and outsole. So, what’s new? The engineered mesh upper enhances breathability and introduces a second color.

As I noted in the AltraFWD Experience review, I like the Experience Flow’s weight and ride. Any daily trainer in the eight-ounce range is worth a look. A basic EVA midsole seems lame at first glance, but the rocker geometry provides a nice transition at various paces. There’s modest tongue padding, internal heel pillows, and a flared heel that aids the Achilles.

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What we don’t like about the Altra Experience Flow

RUBY: Historically, low and zero-drop shoes have been associated with minimalism, but Altras buck that trend. With a 32 mm / 28 mm and 30 mm / 26 mm stack height in the men’s and women’s shoes, respectively, the Experience Flow packs a surprising amount of EVA foam into its midsole, given its weight. With this much cushioning, I had anticipated a plush, soft ride but unfortunately found it lacking. This world of superfoams and responsive daily trainers may have biased my opinion, but underfoot the Experience Flow seemed unresponsive and — if I’m honest — a little dead. I didn’t feel the pop or bounce I’d gotten accustomed to and was left wondering whether the midsole was, in fact, hollow. I’m just joking there, but it reminded me that not all foams are soft and springy.

That being said, if you are looking for a lightweight option that combines a slightly firmer ride with some ground-contact feel, the Altra Experience Flow could be exactly the right shoe for you. There’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with this shoe, I just personally prefer a softer, and more responsive ride.

Finally, it’s always worth keeping in mind that roomier, foot-shaped shoes with wide toe boxes might not suit especially narrow feet. However, with unremarkably average-width feet, I can confidently say this shoe fits well, very well indeed.

AUSTIN: This is broken record stuff, folks: shorten the laces. Seriously. I’m not sure why shoe companies haven’t adapted a standard length for their entire lineup. I love the variety of laces today. They’re flat, rounded, stretchy, stiff, noisy, etc. But set a length and stick with it. Barring no drastic name changes, will the updated Experience Flow 2 have an Ego midsole? That might pique Sam and Robbe’s interest.

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Final thoughts on the Altra Experience Flow

RUBY: Altra made a splash last year when it released the AltraFWD Experience with a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. Bringing a completely new shoe to market takes years of research and innovation, so it’s understandable for the next iteration to be fairly similar. That said, the Experience Flow is identical to its predecessor, the AltraFWD Experience, save for an updated two-color engineered mesh upper to improve its breathability. If you already have miles left to run in your pair of AltraFWD Experience or spot a good deal on a pair, there’s no reason to retire it in favor of the Experience Flow.

That said, with warmer temperatures on the horizon, the new mesh upper is a valuable upgrade. Add to that how the Gray/Green colorway of the shoe I tested masks dirt well, especially the sandy and dusty kind that comes from logging miles on dirt roads and dry trails. The Experience Flow clearly has Summer running in mind.

Before you rush to buy this shoe, make sure you set your expectations correctly: despite the resemblances, the Experience Flow is not a Hoka Clifton 9, nor an Asics Novablast 4, and it doesn’t have a poppy, bouncy ride like the new super-foam daily trainers. What it is is a lightweight, firmer -but not too firm or stiff- ride, with a midsole rocker helping you transition through the gait cycle. I’d compare the Experience Flow to the Saucony Kinvara 13. With almost identical weight, stack heights, and 4 mm heel-to-toe drops, the similarities between both shoes are uncanny. The Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 5 is another comparable shoe, but in this case, I’d rank the Experience Flow slightly higher because of its extra cushioning.

Undoubtedly, the Altra Experience Flow is a shoe designed to go the distance, and I anticipate the mile-to-dollar ratio being very favorable. Overall, Altra’s foray into non-zero drop shoes looks promising: this well-fitting, moderately cushioned, neutral shoe has the potential to compete with the larger non-zero drop shoe brands in this footwear category.

AUSTIN: Sam and Robbe didn’t care for the AltraFWD Experience, so I’m sure they’re glad to skip this update. If you’re an Altra fan who liked the AltraFWD Experience, I have no reason to think the Experience Flow will not be a natural extension of that model. If you didn’t like the FWD Experience, skip this one since little changed.

You can pick up the Altra Experience Flow for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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ruby running
Ruby Wyles
Track and XC Reviewer
  • Instagram

Ruby is an NCAA Division 1 student-athlete, running shoe geek and all-around exercise science nerd, originally from the United Kingdom. An aspiring pro runner, Ruby currently competes on all terrains– road, track, and cross country– from the 3000m distance up to the half-marathon. A true mileage junkie, Ruby has plenty of opportunities to test out different shoes and properly put them through their paces.

All-time favorite shoes: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, Hoka One One Clifton 6, Nike Zoom Vomero 14

More from Ruby
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance

5K & 10K

  • 16:45

  • 34:56

austin bonds
Austin Bonds
Southern Road Reviewer
  • Instagram

Austin, who lives north of Atlanta, is a stay-at-home father and running store part-timer (year eleven). Based on his inability to provide a 10K or 5K personal record, he should probably race those distances more. It’s rare to not see a party size bag of peanut M&Ms in his pantry and a pair of Shokz on his ears during a run.

All-time favorite shoes: OG Altra Escalante, Saucony Kinvara 3, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%

More from Austin
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 3:03

  • 1:25

    Half Marathon
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