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Trail Running Shoes • June 22, 2023

Altra Superior 6 Review: Altra Goes Retro… Kind Of

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What You Need To Know


9.1 oz. (258 g) for a US M9

8.3 oz. (235 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

21 mm in heel, 21mm in forefoot (0 mm drop)

Best For

Shor trail efforts on a budget

Key Features

Vamp mesh upper, Compression-molded EVA midsole, MaxTrac outsole

On The Run
Solid lockdown Good grip Needs a little more protection underfoot


MICHAEL: Here at BITR, we talk a great deal in our reviews about scope. Before you click away, thinking I’m about to go off on a non sequitur rant about nautical instrumentation or mouthwash (honestly, though, would you be surprised?), allow me to explain. At the launch of any new shoe (we’ll call it the Fly Carbon Max 4 TR Lite X for the purposes of this example), brands advertise what application they believe the kicks are designed for, such as long runs, tempo runs, technical terrain, or easy days.

The formation of these individualized expectations prior to reviewing the shoe is pretty important; you wouldn’t judge a Waffle House t-bone using the same scrutiny with which you might judge a steakhouse ribeye. Sometimes, if the info is not clear or if the shoe is a new release, things get crazy, and we make up the expectations for ourselves. All that is to say, it’s important to consider a shoe’s scope in a review, and for some shoes, it’s more important than others. The Altra Superior 6 is one of those shoes.

In past iterations, the Superior has always been an interesting entry in Altra’s trail lineup. Compared to its wildly popular sibling, the Lone Peak, the Superior sports a much lower stack and a more minimal feel, making the Superior feel at home for both minimalist enthusiasts and sub-ultra racers alike. So, while Altra describes the Superior 6 as a “go-to option for everyday trail outings,” I’m mostly going to try to evaluate the shoe based on what I believe to be its former scope — a minimalist trainer whose lightweight construction makes it ready for faster paces and shorter races. Let’s get to it.

What we like about the Altra Superior 6

MICHAEL: One great aspect that first stood out with the Superior 6 is the overall build quality of the shoe, especially when compared to some Altra shoes I’ve reviewed in the past. I’ve put 95 and 70 miles, respectively, on the Lone Peak 7 and Timp 4 and have not been impressed with their longevity. Seriously, the Timp 4 is essentially ready to retire; I’ve got blowouts in the upper, the forefoot of the outsole has a significant loss of traction, and the midsole already feels dead. Such is not the case with the Superior 6. The midsole (though substantially firm out of the box) still feels new after 30 miles, and the upper feels strong yet breathable, with no signs of delamination.

Speaking of the upper, another aspect of this shoe I really appreciated was the slim footshape. Of course, this is not for every Altra fan, and the OGs may still prefer the original foot shape of the Lone Peak 7, but it worked perfectly for me. Lockdown through the midfoot and heel was excellent, and I even enjoyed the partial booty construction on the tongue. This gave the shoe a very form-fitted feel, perfect for a shoe meant to provide a real minimalist experience out on the trails. Altogether, the Superior 6 upper is a masterclass in simplicity, with a lightweight construction that provided legit lockdown without being uncomfortable at all.

While I have more to say about the midsole later on in the bad section, there’s no denying that the full coverage outsole and firm midsole combo do provide a great overall package in terms of protection that I would not have expected. While I still don’t necessarily think this is protective enough for race pace, I do think this provides enough solid underfoot protection for daily miles. So while the readdition of a rock plate might open up the shoe to a little more of a broad scope for me, this shoe is still capable; maybe just choose your terrain and distance wisely.

Lastly, the outsole of the Superior 6 is absolutely the best I’ve tried on any Altra trail shoe to date. Altra doesn’t advertise any significant upgrade or change over their other recent MaxTrac releases, but there is certainly a noticeable difference in tackiness when compared to the Lone Peak 7, not to mention an increase in durability in comparison to both the Lone Peak 7 and Timp 4 MaxTrac outsoles. Understandably, not every shoe in a lineup can have Vibram outsoles (unless you’re Topo, which has seriously amazing outsoles on nearly every model) so it’s good to see MaxTrac starting to catch up here to competitor’s in-house outsoles, like Saucony’s PWRTRAC and Brook’s TrailTac.

All in all, the good aspects of the Superior 6 outweigh the bad aspects for most daily trail applications, especially if you are looking for that minimalist feel and trying to inject some strength into your legs during the occasional shorter trail run before you step back into the plush Speedgoats for race day. I found the upper to be particularly comfortable in the Superior 6 and the outsole capable as well. But there’s still one aspect of this shoe’s prescribed scope we haven’t touched on: fast days.

Shop Altra Superior - Men Shop Altra Superior - Women

What we don’t like about the Altra Superior 6

MICHAEL: I’ll start off this section with what I believe to be the main deterrent to the Superior for both long-standing Lone Peak fans and Altra-curious trail runners: the lack of midsole cushion. To be fair, I didn’t have any grand or unreasonable expectations here, and I knew going into the review that the Superior 6 would have a low-to-the-ground, foot muscle-engaging, pick your footing carefully kind of ride. So, while I typically prefer stack height at sort of Goldilocks, not too high, not too low zone.

In some cases, I’m a real fan of minimal shoes for foot strengthening or sub-ultra racing. The recent release of the Hoka Zinal 2 is a prime example of one such shoe for racing, and the Saucony Switchback 2 is an example of a shoe I love to throw on occasionally to wake up the foot and lower calf muscles lulled to sleep from running in higher stack shoes on the road.

What I didn’t expect, however, is how the Superior 6 midsole really errs on the side of harsh. Unless runs are exclusively on soft dirt or pine needles, there simply isn’t enough stack here to warrant the absence of a rock plate, even with a full-coverage outsole. To counteract this, the Superior 6 sports a much noticeably firmer EVA to provide some additional underfoot protection and guard against rocks and such. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately for me, this firmer EVA squashed any hopes I had of the Superior 6 being a potential racing flat or maybe even for taking the shoe for 10-plus miles. The ride was harsh enough to make steep descents feel a little too jarring, and I even found myself holding back a bit on fire road descents from the lack of cushioning and support. Honestly, it’s a bit of a shame that the removable rock plate was excluded from this model, or we might be looking at a comparison to the Topo Terraventure 4.

Race day is out of the question for me in the Superior 6. Sure, I love a lightweight racing flat, but not if it’s going to leave my legs absolutely toasted after every steep, fast, downhill section. There’s gotta be a little give there, and the Superior 6 just doesn’t have it.

All that being said, the midsole is my only gripe here; I found the outsole and upper to be adequate and pretty great, respectively. On the right surfaces, this shoe is peppy and fun, just maybe not for the longest runs or races. To many devoted Altra fans, this may turn out to be a refreshing backward update of sorts, a shoe that returns to the truly minimalist, natural essence that characterized many early models of the Lone Peak. For the rest of us, though, a rock plate and a little bit softer midsole would be nice. These minor changes would provide all the benefits and fun of a really low-stack, lightweight shoe without beating up feet and might extend the range of the shoe to double-digit runs.

Shop Altra Superior - Men Shop Altra Superior - Women

Altra Superior 6 Conclusion

MICHAEL: The Superior 6 has real potential to be a fantastic shoe for a very specific scope of runners. If you are looking for a minimalist zero-drop trainer to help strengthen the lower leg and foot or a sub-ultra racer for the zero-drop faithful. So while the build package and materials in the Superior 6 have no fault in and of themselves, I just don’t see this shoe working out for the general trail shoe consumer.

That being said, it just might be this narrowing specificity that is both the best and worst thing for the Superior 6. I think it finds itself in a great little niche spot in Altra’s trail line. This shoe is not trying to appeal to massive audiences or reach a new customer base for Altra, and for that reason, I have a feeling some die-hard fans will be really pleased with this update.

You can pick up the Altra Superior 6 for $129 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe


Shop Altra Superior Men
Shop Altra Superior Women

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michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

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Fav. Distance

Half Marathon (Trail)

  • 4:48

  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

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