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Road Running Shoes • March 21, 2021

Altra Rivera Performance Review


What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.4 oz. (238 g) for a US M9 / 7 oz. (198 g) for a US W8
  • AltraEGO midsole packs a ton of softness into 28 mm
  • Classic 0 mm drop
  • Best Altra daily trainer?

TAYLOR: In recent years, Altra has certainly modernized and brought in a ton of new technology to complement their philosophies, but that came at the cost of enraging some original fans. Based on what we’ve seen so far, 2021 is the year that Altra pulls itself out of this mess.

Here comes a brand-spankin’-new model, the Rivera. This one is sure to be an Altra-cult pleaser.

COURTNEY: My affinity for Altra has ebbed and flowed a lot over the last 6 years. While I’ve worn plenty of their trail shoes, I haven’t experienced many of their road options. The Rivera is a nice surprise and a hell of a performance trainer.


The Good

TAYLOR: Keep it simple stupid. Altra makes their shoes with that cliche in mind, and the Rivera is a perfect example of the practice.

A brand new foot last gives the Rivera a wider fit throughout, especially in the toe box. It’s foot-shaped and roomy but not floppy by any means. This shoe will accommodate most wide-foot runners. 

The Rivera is a more moderately cushioned option (28mm stack with zero drop) to fit between the Escalante and Torin. Both are pretty versatile shoes in their own right, but the Rivera fills more gaps. The AltraEGO midsole is responsive and lightweight (8.4 oz in a men’s 9). I ran through a range of distances and paces, and this shoe felt good on each run. 

The outsole consists of a plethora of grooves that give a natural and flexible running experience. I totally buy into this. Maybe these won’t always be my choice on a speed day, but for a natural daily trainer, the Rivera is the go-to.

This upper is sweet. It’s an airy engineered mesh that reminds me a lot of the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22’s lusciously soft and breathable upper. Asymmetrical lacing, a nicely padded tongue heel collar all bring a dialed fit to the Rivera.

COURTNEY: You know when a brand sticks to their roots and completely gets it right with a new model? That’s what Altra has done with the Rivera. With their classic zero-drop platform, the Rivera is lightweight and flexible with the women’s model weighing 7 ounces. The AltraEGO midsole is responsive and hits the mark on softness with moderate cushion. 

Altra’s signature FootShape leaves ample space for the toes to splay naturally and happily while maintaining more of a hug (the good kind) throughout the shoe. With all of this wonderful alchemy, the Rivera can easily be the MVP of one’s shoe collection. It can handle various types of workouts with ease. A $130 price point doesn’t hurt too much either.

Shop Rivera – Men Shop Rivera – Women altra-rivera-heel

The Bad

TAYLOR: I’ve got nothing.

COURTNEY: This shoe is honestly perfect. Well done, Altra.

Shop Rivera – Men Shop Rivera – Women altra-rivera-outsole

Altra Rivera Conclusion

TAYLOR: The Altra Rivera is a crowd-pleaser in every sense. It’s light enough for speedwork, comfortable enough for the daily miles, and cushioned enough for a long run. The Rivera is a fine example of a modern daily trainer.

COURTNEY: The Altra Rivera has become a favorite of mine. It’s a shoe that can work for everyone. No ifs, ands or buts. Just put it in your cart and hit purchase.

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

Shop Rivera – Men Shop Rivera – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Ole J says:

    Ego is tops, but I can’t deal with the zero drop. Wish they’d put a 4-6mm shoe out. I’ve been injury free most of my running days, so I’m not about to change anything to make a shoe “work”. Sigh.

    1. Taylor Bodin says:

      Hi Ole J. Have you checked into any Topo Athletic brand shoes? They have similar principles (foot shaped, low drop) to Altra but most shoes do fit in the range of 3-5mm drop. I have been really loving their trail options – some of my favorite shoes overall.

      1. OLEJ says:

        I appreciate the suggestions. The issue isn’t that I can’t find a low drop shoe or a shoe that accommodates my foot (at this point we’re all spoiled for choice). My comment specifically was speaking to the quality and sensation of the Ego foam, but lamenting that zero drop is the only option for Ego. I want the foam; my achilles can not handle the drop. I’m good from 8-4 above 8 seems to mess with my shins, below 4 and my heels are toast. Again, thanks.

  2. Thierry says:

    You’re entirely right! I’m back to Altra because of a finally toe-box for regular/narrow feet. Omg, i love running with the Rivera. My go-to-run shoes, perfect fit, cushioned on low pace, responsive on the intervals. Well done Altra!

  3. Biorun says:

    The last comment hits the nail on the head. I was all psyched to buy the Riveras. Another Altra to go into my rotation. Almost did not purchase as the toe box is noticeably more narrow than torin and escalantes. Interesting that this was not really commented on in the review. It is not the same old Altra.

  4. belshazz says:

    I would have loved to love Altra, as a fan of 0 drop shoes since the regretted Saucony Virrata, the perfect shoe for me. But their “foot shaped” toebox isn’t anything close to the shape of my foot (my second toe is longer than the big toe), and to fit inside I had to ridiculously oversize, making the shoe much too wide with no lockdown. Has this changed with the newer models?

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