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Trail Running Shoes • May 10, 2024

Altra Experience Wild Review: Drop Into The Wild Side

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What You Need To Know


10 oz. (283 g) for a US M9,

8.7 oz. (246 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

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

Best For

Easy door-to-trail days

Key Features

MaxTrac outsole, CMEVA midsole, rockered geometry, Standard Footshape, Engineered Mesh Upper

On The Run
Altra nailed this version of Maxtrac Maybe 4 mm of drop ain't so bad Midsole already shows some wear
Price / Availability

Available now for $145

Introduction to the Altra Experience Wild

TAYLOR: Flapjacks. Hotcakes. Skillet bread. The many names of this delectable morning treat food add to its legendary allure. I apologize if you don’t do wheat, but this review is going to be downright glutinous. Even though I would (most days) prefer French toast over the circular hot bread, I have an insatiable desire, a duty, if you will, to have an unbeatable recipe of my own.

This story really starts with my grandpa. One of my favorite memories about staying at my grandparents’ house as a kid was getting a hot pile of pancakes. They were tasty, no doubt, but that was beside the point. It was the intentionality of him mixing his own batter, heating the griddle, and meticulously flipping the pancakes until they were pristine and ready for our plates.

The whole experience is what made Grandpa’s flapjacks so special. That’s what I want for my grandkids someday. Family recipes typically go this way. The immediate children will enjoy them, but it’s the following generation that will appreciate the broader experience, going from singular ingredients to a fluffy stack ready to eat.

For whatever reason, that’s the vibe I’m getting from the Altra Experience Wild. The Altra name has gone through a metamorphic process over the years and is now landing in the lap of a new generation, one that finds appreciation for the originals yet the boldness to add a little spice of its own.

The Altra Experience line will give you one of two feelings depending on your history with the company. Which side will you fall on, intrigue or rage? Both the Experience Flow (road version) and Experience Wild (trail) have the “Standard” foot shape with a little bit of drop. Yes, you read that right, 4 mm of differential between the heel and your toes… in an Altra.

Why? Well, Altra is giving you a gateway drug. Think of it as an introduction to low or zero-drop shoes with the added benefit of the foot shape Altra is known for. As soon as I slipped on the Altra Experience Wild, I thought to myself, “Yes, this is what we’ve been asking for all these years.”

What we like about the Altra Experience Wild

TAYLOR: Welcome to Lounge Town, where we only accept chill vibes and easygoing personalities. It’s a “pancakes all day” kind of place, and the Altra Experience Wild fits in nicely here. All aspects of this shoe are oriented toward a comfortable running experience that is about as lax as Homer Simpson on melatonin.

The Altra Experience Wild is built on Altra’s mid-range last, which is listed as “Standard.” It’s the same fit that you get from the Lone Peak 8, Timp 5, and Mont Blanc Carbon, all of which are good company. Within Altra, that means you’re getting a foot-shaped shoe with a wide toe box and more fitted yet still relaxed midfoot and heel. The majority of Altra users out there will fall into this fit range. If you haven’t tried a wide toebox like this, it’s a little surprising at first, but the overall spaciousness is quickly appreciated.

With fit in check, the Altra Experience Wild also has an engineered knit upper. The whole feel is roomy and soft. Even though the upper is on the thicker side, I appreciate how it tends to hold its shape nicely rather than flop in like a soggy tent. A few strategic overlays around the forefoot and lacing chain assist in this. A solidly structured heel counter does the same. Pillowy padding around the heel collar and tongue really wrap this one up nicely to maintain that sleeping bag-esque comfort while being able to cinch down for a fairly dialed fit.

Underfoot is pretty much the same story. The compression-molded EVA midsole is soft, too, and surprisingly squishy. At 32/28 mm of stack, it’s more than enough to feel truly cushioned, but there’s still a good amount of ground feel, thanks to the lack of a rock plate. Personally, I enjoyed having that connection.

The Experience Wild didn’t offer much responsiveness, but comfort is the priority here anyway. The noticeably rockered profile helped make the transition from initial strike to toe-off feel smooth, though. I found myself thinking back to shoes like the Hoka Challenger ATR 7, On Cloudsurfer Trail, and Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3.

For some, the four millimeters worth of drop will be huge. The transition from strictly no drop to utilizing low drop is great for runners who may be considering a transition to zero drop. It is also great for those who know they do not want zero-drop midsoles but still want some of what Altra has to offer with its foot-shaped methodologies. That’s the vein I’m in. A four-millimeter drop is very common among trail shoes these days, and the Altra Experience Wild will gain many followers because of it.

Altra’s proprietary outsoles have had very mixed reviews over the last few years, but I’m happy to report that this iteration is a good one. Not only is the rubber proving to be surprisingly grippy it is also more durable. There was little to no wear after my test miles in the Experience Wild.

The outsole’s design has a bunch of shallow tooth-like lugs that work quite well for a variety of conditions as long as it isn’t too soft or deep. Overall, the Maxtrac outsole was surprisingly competent through a diverse range of conditions and terrain.

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What we don’t like about the Altra Experience Wild

TAYLOR: One of the blunders of Altra going big business is its build quality. It’s ebbed and flowed with the transition into VF Corp over the last few years, and the Altra Experience Wild’s midsole is one that I worry about falling prey to that cycle. After a mere 20 or so miles, the softness I loved out of the box is already waning. This should be expected to an extent with all shoes, I know, but this one seems to be melting quicker than most.

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Final thoughts on the Altra Experience Wild

TAYLOR: With the Altra’s ever growing line, I admit that it’s hard to wade through which shoe would be best for what. The Altra Experience Wild does help with that filtering a little bit, as it’s the first trail shoe that contains a little bit of drop. For me, it certainly fits the bill as a shoe that’s just easy. It’s the feeling of Sunday morning with a fresh stack of pancakes and a mimosa. The Altra Experience Wild has a comfy and relaxed aura about it that bodes best for runs when terrain and effort coincide.

Even though I appreciated the Altra Outroad when it debuted, and I have always enjoyed the Lone Peak series, I think I enjoy the Altra Experience more than either of those as it meshes what each of them does best. It’s a low-drop foot-shaped trail shoe that can just go with the flow, man.

You can pick up the Altra Experience Wild for $145 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the review!
    I took these out the box on a 23 mile mostly dry, rocky outing with 5,400ft vert. A solid test for any trail shoe. Since then I’ve done a few shorter outings.
    Altra put together a smooth ride with a very plush step in feel. The slight rocker, softer EVA blend combined with the lightweight of this shoe moves along very nicely.
    The outsole does good on a variety of surfaces, but can gum up in softer mud not shedding as fast as you’d hope.
    All the cushion in the tongue and heel collar do come at a cost. The shoe runs warm and can hold on to sweat and water.
    I did get some rock zingers if I wasn’t mindful of foot placement but overall enjoyed the trail connection these had.
    One other minor issue was the medial side of my big toe got irritated on the first long run to the point I needed to put tape on it. Since then I haven’t experienced this issue.
    More 4mm drop shoes Altra! Would love an “ultra” model.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve been burned by durability issues with Altra too many times to give this a shot. I recently took a chance on the Timp 5’s, which I initially liked, only for the upper to start peeling apart after 25 miles. I’ve made the switch to Topo and I’ve been really pleased so far. Still, I’m glad that Altra has started making shoes with drop… iron sharpens iron so I’m sure those two companies will be competing for market share in the “foot shaped” shoe category and thus hopefully developing better and better products

    1. Robbe says:

      Totally get it, a lot of people have done the same as you

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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

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