Altra Provision 6 Review: Light Touch of Stability
TAYLOR: The vehemently zero-drop foot-shaped shoe company drops yet another variation of their proud line of shoes. I keep thinking to myself, how many different things can they do with this simplistic approach? Turns out that they are a creative bunch over at Altra.
This shoe “philosophy” has a cult following and, through experiences, I’d say there are some definite benefits to their ideals. I would never say that zero-drop or a wider toe-box benefits everyone. On the other hand, most would find comfort and possibly correction (physiologically) in Altra shoes for the day-to-day miles. That’s exactly where the new version of the Provision line has been finding its stride for me!
With less stack than its bigger cousin (the Paradigm 6) the Provision 6 is one of the few Altra models that offers built-in support and stability for runners who need a little extra umph in those departments. The Altra platform is already naturally stable. A guide rail system is added to bolster up the medial side of the foot.
I unintentionally put a bunch of miles on last year’s model of the Provision. It was then a complete redesign. This year’s 6 basically received an equivalent amount of updates to make this a somewhat familiar but completely new experience at the same time. Let me tell you more about it.
ROBBE: I have to admit, I’ve never really bought into the zero-drop cult mentality, despite having loved some Altra shoes in the past, namely the Superior and the Torin 4.5 (one of the more underrated shoes of last year). The people who love Altra really love Altra, and usually love other things like REI, Eno hammocks (guilty), and cargo hiking pants. That’s a gross overgeneralization, but tell me I’m wrong.
Nevertheless, I’m always down for destroying my calf muscles after running in primarily 8-10mm drop shoes, so bring on the pain. Taylor already gave you the details, let’s get into the review.
TAYLOR: Really, this is pretty much a brand-new shoe. We’re talking weight reduction (10.1 oz for a men’s 10.5), notable upper updates, midsole updates, cosmetic updates, the whole gamut. The only piece that reminded me of the last model was the Guide Rail System. As a whole package, the shoe that this reminded me of most of was the ASICS Kayano Lite. That’s a good thing too!
In a handful of reviews, I have found myself sounding like a self-proclaimed lone wolf in denial. I don’t need the support okay! I’m fine on my own! When it comes to extra tech in shoes, I truly do not need or seek extra medial support; a neutral shoe is a preferred shoe for me. I promise! Then, I ran in the Altra Provision 5 and found that sometimes it feels good to be supported. I still stand by my no-needs approach, but I found myself appreciating the Guide Rail System (GRS).
What’s really nice about this GRS is that it’s an improved system with adjustable support and is a little less finicky than the past model. Two of the laces loop right through a strap that’s connected to the medial arch. The tighter you lace, the more support you have from that strap. If you don’t need or want it, keeping the laces “loose” gives you less support. Even loose laces didn’t change the fit much because of a slimmed-down yet moderately padded tongue.
The brand new Altra EGO midsole offers a little more support on the medial side with a subtle flare out of the foam. It creates a slightly more dense feeling under the arch but is definitely not blocky as with traditional posted systems for support.
This new foam is the same that’s finding its way across Altra’s road line like in the Rivera. The Provision 6, however, boasts a slightly firmer rendition of the foam. At the same time, it feels pretty light underfoot. I really like this density of foam for a road shoe because it brings some of everything: protection, responsiveness, and cushion. The Provision rides very smoothly for a modern-day moderately stacked shoe (28mm). It can do about anything you ask from picking up the pace to big mileage. Personally, I’d take this ride over the Torin 6 for just about any run.
Not only does the Provision 6 look a heckuva lot better than the previous model, it is also much more comfortable. The sandwich mesh used makes this one of the most comfortable uppers on the block. Soft layers of mesh provide a beautifully breathable and soft feel on foot. It holds its form better than a knit upper but comes in hot with just as much comfort.
The backside gets some attention with a little bit of padding around the heel. The elf ear is certainly noticeable in looks and comfort by taking pressure off the Achilles side of the collar. Benefits are comfort and a comfortably locked-in feel without a firm molded heel cup.
Underneath is Altra’s Natural Ride system which is a strategically mapped out outsole. The grippy rubber is placed directly under a runner’s metatarsals to give more feedback and support a natural running sensation.
ROBBE: I’ll start out with my favorite part about this shoe, and that’s the traction. The outsole rubber that Altra uses on the Provision 6 and the full-length placement of it creates a phenomenal grip on the roads. It’s probably my favorite road outsole next to the sticky and claw-like Pumagrip. It’s a fairly thick layer of rubber for such a lightweight shoe, so you’re definitely going to get a ton of miles out of it.
Like Taylor, I also appreciated the weight reduction in this model. It feels surprisingly light on the foot and almost registers as a tempo shoe when you really get into the flow of things. I took it out of the box for 10 miles and found it to be pretty straightforward, in many ways reminding me of a more cushioned version of the Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte.
It does provide that touch of support without being too intrusive, in some ways reminding me of a less-annoying version of the Nike Infinity React, with a medial support bump. The two support straps of the Guide Rails provide a snug fit and do the job that Altra says they’ll do.
The upper overall is lightweight and breathable, and certainly less plush than past versions. I’m not sure if I like that, because I felt like it was a bit too roomy, but more on that later. Lastly, the price point of $140 is fairly reasonable for a stability shoe. And hey– this is actually a pretty good-looking shoe!Shop Provision 6 – Men Shop Provision 6 – Women
TAYLOR: In general, most shoes rack up a whole lot more positives than negatives. In the Provision 6’s case, it joins the few shoes that I have basically nothing to rip on! Is it the lightest? No. Most protective? No. Snappiest? No. It’s exactly what it claims to be. So, how can I dog on that?
If I were to bring attention to anything, it would be the fact the OG Altra fans are slowly being squeezed out in the forefoot. The toebox is definitely foot-shaped, but that foot shape is getting slimmer by the year. Personally, the fit was great for me. I do know for sure, though, that Altra is going to get slammed by its old-school club for being a sell-out. To be honest, this fit on the Provision will be pleasing to the masses… I don’t think it will be uncomfortable for the wide-foot fam….just not the width they might be hoping for in an Altra shoe.
ROBBE: I will say that the Altra EGO midsole just felt too firm or ‘meh’ for me. Maybe my expectations were set wrong (I very well could’ve got this mixed up with the Paradigm 6), but I just was not feeling it. I mean, if you like a firmer ride then by all means you’ll probably enjoy this shoe. It’s somewhat slappy and inflexible and just overall very average to me. That said, after a 10-mile run, I felt quite fresh and had no issues the next day, so maybe I’m just crazy.
Interesting that Taylor thought it wasn’t that wide because it seems to me like Altra went back to its roots in opening this thing up (even though it looks slimmed down from a top-of-the-shoe view). I thought there was a lot of room (maybe too much, even) in the toe box, so if that’s your jam, you’ll love it. But if you’re used to a more narrow shoe it may be a bit too much for you.Shop Provision 6 – Men Shop Provision 6 – Women
TAYLOR: The Provision 6 is completely redesigned, yet maintains a simple equation for runners looking for a little more out of a shoe. It hits all the boxes for improvements as it is a lighter, more versatile and more comfortable version of the Provision. Adjustable support makes this a unique shoe and I appreciate this continued attempt at finding alternatives to the blocky posting of old. This shoe ran smoothly on a variety of runs and it looks to be a very promising option for the foot-shaped and zero-drop company.
ROBBE: This probably isn’t going to be my first pick for running, which could be totally subjective since I just don’t care about wider toe boxes. But overall, it’s a pretty solid shoe that original members of Cult Altra will probably be very happy with. Especially that grip, man– more of that please!
You can pick up the Altra Provision 6 at Running Warehouse for $140 (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Provision 6 – Men Shop Provision 6 – Women
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