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Road Running Shoes • March 18, 2022

Altra Rivera 2 Review: Simplicity is a Good Thing

altra rivera 2 cover

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.5 oz. (240 g.) for a US M9 / 7.2 oz. (204 g.) for a US W8
  • Runner (and puppy) approved
  • Slim for an Altra but still plenty roomy
  • Available now at Running Warehouse for $130

ADRIENNE: My introduction to Altra didn’t go quite how I would have expected. While traveling for the Mesa Marathon last month, I got a text from my neighbor that there were shoes all over my living room, courtesy of my dog. Honestly, this isn’t shocking for anyone who’s owned a one-year-old golden retriever, so I didn’t think too much of it. However, when I walked in the door, I realized that I didn’t recognize every shoe that was part of the mess.

Sitting by the door was the Altra Rivera 2, which was kindly unboxed by my pup, Tyler. I’m just glad the shoe must not have tasted too good because he didn’t chew them any further. It was midnight, and I was already exhausted, so I barely realized that this was my latest review shoe. Marathons will do that to you — so will puppies. I’d never run in, much less owned, a pair of Altras in my life before the Rivera 2. Not because I don’t like zero-drop shoes or because I don’t like Altra’s style, but just because I had never gotten around to it.

Anyway, I’ll just cut to the chase and say that these simple, well-designed shoes are fun to run in. Let’s get into the details.

altra rivera 2 top

The Good

ADRIENNE: The Altra Rivera 2 was a pleasant surprise, and I’m glad my dog didn’t eat them while I was away. Light, fast, flexible, and simple are qualities I look for in a daily trainer, and this shoe checks all the boxes. Also, it’s comfortable and stylish enough for casual wear, so bonus points for that.

The Rivera 2 looks more like a traditional shoe upon step in and feels hella comfortable. Honestly, it’s probably a great starting place for anyone interested in the zero-drop game.

What’s the Rivera 2 ready for? Pretty much anything. Purists who eschew the super shoe revolution may even like this as a half marathon racer or a speedier workout shoe. I found it worked best for moderately-paced daily efforts, but the Altra Rivera 2 doesn’t mind picking up the pace. Given the energetic ride of the AltraEgo, I’d save this shoe for non-recovery days.

On top, the Simple Engineered Mesh upper is pliable, but it provides a decent amount of support for neutral-footed runners. Some strategically placed stitching helps hold the midfoot in place, though the upper is fairly unstructured — save for a robust heel counter. The fit is considered slim for an Altra model, but you’ll have plenty of room for toe splay, and I wouldn’t consider this necessarily a narrow shoe. Of course, I can’t speak for all Altra shoes since this is my first venture.

Underfoot, you’ll find what Altra calls “balanced cushioning” (the heel and forefoot are at the same level), and the shoe has a moderate stack height of 26mm. The segmented outsole makes the shoe super-flexible without being sloppy or unstable, and the Ego midsole has a rubbery bounce to it at lower speeds. Like I said above, it really wakes up at faster paces. I started to notice the energetic forefoot at marathon pace or faster, and it’s easy to embrace your natural stride with neutral support. Speaking of the natural stride, I think having a pair of zero- or low-drop plateless shoes helps with form and proprioception. Honestly, there should probably be a pair of some sort in everyone’s rotation.

Rubber coverage is also fairly substantial for such a lightweight shoe.

Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Men Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Women altra rivera 2 outsole

The Bad

ADRIENNE: The Altra Rivera 2 runs a tad short. Not painfully short, and the flexible mesh saves toenails, but those accustomed to having more room will want to size up. I noticed some lower leg soreness after a couple of runs, but that could be because I’m coming off a marathon, too. That, or it’s just from transitioning to lower-drop shoes. As I mentioned earlier, probably not the best choice for slower paces.

The jury is still out on durability, but that’s because I’m still brand new to the shoe. I only have about 30 miles on my pair, but I see little to no wear, so it looks promising.

Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Men Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Women altra rivera 2 midsole

Altra Rivera 2 Conclusion

ADRIENNE: The Altra Rivera 2 reminds me quite a bit of the Atreyu Base Model, and that’s a compliment. While there are notable differences in construction and drop, both shoes prove that simplicity still has its place in the running world. Those familiar with Altra will probably like this shoe, as will runners new to the beloved zero-drop brand. It’s pretty reasonably priced (at least by 2022 standards), making the Rivera 2’s flexibility that much better.

You can pick up the Altra Rivera 2 for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Men Shop Altra Rivera 2 – Women altra rivera 2 heels


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