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Road • June 11, 2018

Altra Torin 3.5 Performance Review (Knit and Mesh)

Robbe: For Altra wearers, not much has changed in the newest iteration of this fan-favorite shoe, but it now comes in both a mesh and knit version, with an updated design (for better or for worse). I hadn’t run in previous versions of the Torin, but for my testing I did almost 30 miles in this version. This shoe is a lightweight, daily trainer with some serious cushion and comfortability that would have no problem bumping up into the long-distance range as well.

Aside from design differences, the structural specs of both the knit and the mesh versions are nearly identical. Both feature Altra’s Zero Drop platform and FootShape toe box, their stack heights are 28mm with a 5mm sculpted footbed, and underneath both versions you’ll find the FootPod Outsole that maps the bones and tendons of the foot to let its natural progression play out. The major difference between the two versions is that the mesh weighs 8.4 ounces for a size 10, while the knit comes in at 9.1 ounces.

Additionally, both versions of the 3.5 do not include the TPU overlay of the 3.0, because really who does TPU overlays anymore?

Altra Torin 3.5Altra Torin 3.5


Robbe: I took the mesh version on a few shorter runs and a 10-mile long run, and really enjoyed its ride. The shoe features a sock-like upper with Altra’s A-Strap support system which felt perfectly snug for me, while allowing my toes to move around just the right amount, as Altra does. The tongue is a thin neoprene and as such, I was worried it’d slide around, but it stayed secure throughout my runs.

Both versions have a comfortable ride, and with their wider outsole, provide great stability. I had no problem with traction, but I didn’t take these out in the rain. I’d be interested to see how they’d hold up, as parts of the sole are foam while the majority is a rubber grid broken up along the patterns of one’s foot bones.

Another thing I loved about this shoe was its surprising quickness. It does not look like a quick shoe, but looks can be deceiving. I found some nice pick-up with Altra’s A-Bound energy-return cushioning and was pleasantly surprised to feel a nice little bounce in my step when I ticked up the pace. Overall, I really enjoyed running in the knit version of this shoe—the mesh, not as much.

Erin: I received two pairs of the Altra Torin 3.5: one pair with a knit upper, and one pair with a mesh upper. Altra is referring to these, respectively, as the “comfort” Torin and the “speed” Torin. Before I get into the differences between these two shoes (and there are more than you might think), let us discuss the similarities.

It’s probably pertinent to note that I have not run in previous versions of this shoe, though I have SEEN them, so I can only comment on the difference in how they look. Personally, I thought the 3.0 was pretty meh from a visual standpoint, and the 3.5 is definitely an improvement in both the knit and mesh versions. However, there is no mistaking that these are Altras. If you think Altras are hideous, these won’t change your mind. I received the knit Torins in black, and the mesh in blue. They look very different from one another; the knit ones are a bit more understated and simple, while the mesh are kinda busy. 

Both versions of the Torin 3.5 are, of course, zero drop, and they each have a 28 mm stack height. Step-in feel for both is extremely comfortable and cushy, though I did find that the mesh ones were a little more difficult to put on, and this is likely due to the difference in midfoot stability between the knit and the mesh versions, which I’ll get into in a minute. The midsole is Altra’s 2-layer Abound + EVA, unchanged from the previous version of the Torin, and the outsole employs Altra’s footpod technology, which aids in the flexibility of the shoe, particularly the forefoot, which is helpful in a shoe with a 28 mm forefoot stack. They are also pretty light, considering the cushioning; the mesh (7.2 oz) is almost a full ounce lighter than the knit (8.1 oz), which is probably why the mesh version gets the “speed” designation.

Shop Altra Torin 3.5

Altra Torin 3.5Altra Torin 3.5


Robbe: The mesh version comes in .7 ounces lighter than the knit, a significant difference on paper, but I just did not enjoy it as much as its sibling. My main concern was its breathability. I noticed immediately upon putting them on that my feet felt overly hot. Part of it can probably be attributed to the thick padding on the integrated tongue, a huge difference over the knit version. Additionally, I think the synthetic nubuck heel that extends around the collar is an odd update and likely adds to the breathability issue. I mean, it just isn’t breathable.

The area in the front of the toe box is also hard rubber, which just seems unnecessary. Performance-wise, it felt the same as the knit version (minus the breathability). Secondly, when taking corners or turns at a faster pace, they’re not the most agile shoe, which I think is just a byproduct of their design, compared to other brands. However, it’s not a deal-breaker.

My last complaint is that I literally hate everything about the mesh version’s design. It’s straight-up ugly as hell. It looks like a cross between a Heely shoe (those shoes with actual wheels in them), and something a wannabe skater bought at Zumiez in the mid-2000’s. It’s chunky, the hard rubber toe is weird, the nubuck looks out of place—it’s just embarrassing to wear.

After my run I struck up a conversation with a dude who had a Bones Brigade ripper tattoo on his forearm and I was so self-conscious that the guy thought I looked like a total douche—because I did. I’ll stick to the knit version, whose design I still don’t love, but at least it looks like a normal running shoe.

Erin: Ok so here I’m going to detail the bad parts in general, as well as differences between the two versions. I’ve run in several different Altra models, both on the road and on the trail, and have never had any issues with zero drop; in fact, I ran quite a few miles in the Solstice and loved them, and the Superior 3.5 remains my current favorite trail shoe. With these, however, I’ve had some calf tightness and plantar fasciitis (which I’ve not experienced since college). My guess is that it is the combination between the zero drop and the fact that these shoes are SO cushioned, at least compared to what I normally run in.

Now, I didn’t find these flat or slappy (issues that have been reported with the Torin 3.0), and generally enjoyed the ride, but just be aware that if you’re used to running in something on the firm end of the spectrum (or a shoe with an 8-10 mm drop), these may require some breaking in. I personally would also not choose either of these for any sort of speedwork or racing; I think the Solstice is a much better choice for that.

I was expecting that I would prefer running in the knit upper compared to the mesh, but the opposite is true. The knit upper is too stretchy, and doesn’t offer enough midfoot support, even with the 2 sets of A straps on either side of the midfoot. The midfoot of the mesh Torins feels noticeably more stable. I also prefer the tongue on the mesh version; it has a strap down the middle for the laces to pass through and fits more securely, and both the tongue and the inner bootie (present in both shoes) are more substantial in the mesh version. The knit tongue is allegedly integrated, but it still slides around enough to be annoying. Plus, I mean, the mesh ones weigh less. They’d win regardless.

The only other noticeable thing about these shoes that may cause an issue for some people are the ankle collars – why are they so high?? These shoes almost look like high tops. It didn’t cause any rubbing on me but then I generally don’t have that issue anyhow; just something to be aware of as I am sure it will bother some people. Also, dude, shave that down and these shoes could be lighter, right? And while we’re talking about shedding weight, I had to cut six inches off the laces of the knit Torins because they were so GD long. STOP WITH THIS.

Shop Altra Torin 3.5

Altra Torin 3.5Altra Torin 3.5

Altra Torin 3.5 Conclusion

Robbe: For Altra fans who haven’t already tried the Torin, I highly recommend it. And for those looking to get into the zero drop thing, this would be a great place to start out. It’s shockingly light for what it gives back in cushion and support. Also, spend the extra $10 and go for the knit version. You can get it now at Running Warehouse for $134.95, while the mesh version goes for $124.95.

Erin: The Torin 3.0 is Altra’s best-selling road shoe, and I think fans of that shoe will be happy with the improvements seen in the 3.5. If you haven’t tried Altras and are a fan of light shoes with a lot of cushion, definitely give these a try, but be sure to break them in slowly to prevent your calves from hating you. Also, if you get a pair, get the mesh ones. They’re lighter, they’re cheaper ($125 vs $135 for the knit), and the fit is better.

Shop Altra Torin 3.5



Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Stephen Goodman says:

    @Robbe LOL at your paragraph on the looks of the mesh, I’m dying

    Different conclusions on mesh vs knit … I think some sort of bake-off contest is needed!

  2. Midpackbiped says:

    Thanks for the review – convinced me to buy the mesh which is spectacular.

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