Altra Vanish Tempo Review: Ego Pro on the Go-Go
Weighs 8.2 oz. (232 g.) for a US M9 / 6.9 oz. (195 g.) for a US W7
It’s an Altra, but it finally takes a few risks
The Ego Pro midsole is pretty great
Err, we might want to talk about price
Available now for $190
ROBBE: Judging from the comments we get on an Altra review on here or on YouTube, I’m willing to deem hardcore Altra fans as a foot-fetish cult. And they should be proud of it. The devotees to that zero-drop, natural foot splay philosophy have spent years securing themselves to the mast of the good ship Altra and deflecting any attempt to disrupt that.
Vanish. Magic. Speed. We’re running out of words to make you feel fast, so why not combine them to make you feel faster? Hence, the Altra Vanish Tempo. Of course, there’s no lack of shoes with Tempo in the name. Brooks Hyperion Tempo, New Balance Tempo, Nike Tempo Next%, the list goes on. Then again, a tempo shoe is one of the legs of the tripod that forms the runner’s version of the nutritional pyramid — race day, tempo, and daily trainer.
While Altra had some solid lightweight shoes in the past that allowed runners to pick up the pace (Escalante and Escalante Racer), there was never really an option to compete with some of the more glamorous tempo shoes of the past couple of years. Until now.
With an all-new, nitrogen-infused, TPE-based Ego Pro midsole (the same compound found in their carbon-plated racer, the Vanish Carbon) in a lightweight package, the Vanish Tempo presents a viable training option for Altra fans. That is — if you can afford it. Those piggies wiggling around in that wide toe box better get to market and start slinging some goods if you want to afford this shoe.
More on that later, but let’s go wee wee all the way into this review and see what comes out of it.
THOMAS: I’m apparently in the minority that likes pointy running shoes with a little bit of drop. When it is time to run hard, I want to look down and see a fighter jet strapped to my feet. With Altra’s “foot-shaped” trotters, all I saw when I looked down was hippie sandal shape. While writing this, two tunes drifted through my brain, the Top Gun’s Danger Zone theme than The Grateful Dead’s Casey Jones.
When we were introduced to the Vanish line in late 2021, the slimmer look with a high stack of foam looked like something that could get Kenny Loggins back in the studio. Translation: the Vanish Carbon and the Vanish Tempo were designed to look as fast as an Altra can. I was curious how the Altra team could create a race day shoe with a plate and maintain zero drop. Can you load a plate with enough energy without the leverage of drop? After trying the Vanish Carbon earlier this year, I can confirm that Altra figured out a way to make “balanced” (i.e. zero drop loosely defined) work.
ROBBE: While I was hopeful for the Vanish Tempo when we first saw it at The Running Event last December, I wasn’t that hopeful. Altra makes fine shoes, but they seem to always be “Altra” without taking too many risks.
Well, risks were taken, and for the most part, they paid off.
The number one risk is slimming down the profile of the shoe. Known for their roomy, natural foot splay toe box design, Altra quietly began to slim down the design of some shoes after being bought by VF Corp. However, they’ve come out loud and proud this year, announcing that their shoes’ uppers will now be streamlined into two buckets: traditional Altra Signature and Slim Footshape designs.
To some Altra loyalists, slimming down the toe box is akin to giving the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a fresh coat of graffiti. The toes need room, and any suppression of the natural form is heresy.
I like it because the toes still have room to breathe, but the shoe profile looks much less clown-like. I think the Vanish Tempo executes this perfectly.
The upper is generally made of a breathable engineered mesh but offers more substance than the Vanish Carbon. The lockdown is solid—no issues with extra room or movement within the shoe.
I was most surprised at how well Altra executed the midsole. The Ego Pro is nitrogen-infused and done right. It feels comfortable, lightweight, and responsive on the run. Like many of these shoes, it can be used as a lightweight daily trainer or a tempo shoe (or even a race day shoe in a pinch). On the run, it transitions smoothly and feels like an extension of the foot. The outsole rounds things out with a generous layer of rubber that should hold up well for many miles.
If I have to be honest, this is probably the best Altra shoe I’ve run in. Plus, it looks pretty good!
THOMAS: Robbe eloquently covered the details of the shoe, so I will add my experiential thoughts.
The step-in feel of the Vanish Tempo put a smile on my face. The Ego Pro foam is soft but rebounds like a trampoline. The upper covers the foot securely with more padding in the tongue and collar than the Vanish Carbon. But the thing that got me was how the geometry of the midsole is more rocker than flat zero drop.
Both the Vanish shoes have the same midsole shape. Depending on where you measure, you can probably get away with calling it balanced. However, between the upturned tail and the aggressive toe spring, this shoe is rockered. I have no complaints about it, and it’s a nice workaround to stay within the company’s tenets.
The rocker shape helps the Vanish Tempo roll through the gait. You get a gliding sensation as you cruise along. Another difference between the Vanish Carbon and the Vanish Tempo is the outsole. In the Vanish Carbon, Altra used a rubberized foam on the outsole that lacked durability. After 20 miles, I could grind down the outsole on the lateral edge. The Tempo has a rubber outsole and is holing up well after 25+ miles.
The fit is true to size, and I prefer the “slim” cut shape over the traditional Altra foot shape. The addition of the padding around the collar and in the tongue adds comfort to the Tempo over the Carbon. The shoe is secure without any hotspots.
Shop Altra Vanish Tempo – Women
ROBBE: I don’t have much to say here except for one very obvious and glaring point — the $190 price tag is insane. We usually try not to ding most shoes on price because they’re all relatively expensive these days, but we will ding something if you can get a comparable shoe for $50 less. It’d make much more sense if this shoe were in the $150 range.
The only other thing was that it seemed like the heel didn’t have much cushion or was lacking towards the rear of the shoe, so if you’re a heel striker, I would look out for that.
THOMAS: While the shoe fits true to size when standing still, I found my foot naturally sliding forward. With my toes tapping the front of the shoe, I assumed the Vanish Tempo ran small, but when I stopped and kicked my heel back, there was plenty of room. The issue didn’t bother me, so if I felt my toes sliding forward, I kicked my heel back on the next stride. You could probably come up with a different lacing solution if it became a more significant issue.
Robbe said it. The price seems out of whack with the market.
Shop Altra Vanish Tempo – Women
ROBBE: I thoroughly enjoyed my runs in this shoe and think it’s a promising sign that Altra will be able to stay in lockstep with competitors in the foam wars. That said, I’d like to see the middle number on that price tag vanish and turn into something like a 4. It gives off very similar vibes as the New Balance Rebel for me, and that shoe can be had for a half hundo less. You probably know which route I would take.
If you’re a super fan of Altra or toes deep in the zero drop game, you won’t be disappointed if you pick up this shoe.
THOMAS: Both Altra Vanish shoes were a giant leap forward for the brand. I would use the shoes in tandem for training and racing. Unfortunately, I would be dropping over $400 for the combo. That’s a big ask. If the Tempo was priced closer to shoes like the New Balance Rebel or the Asics Novablast, purchasing a trainer and a racer would seem more reasonable. At $190, the Vanish Tempo is competing with plated premium shoes, but a similar feel can be found in multiple daily trainers.
The Vanish Tempo is a good to an above-average trainer. If you are an Altra fan that doesn’t mind the slim fit, you will love this shoe. It is light, bouncy, and can roll through your paces efficiently. In the zero drop foot shape category, there isn’t anything that competes with the Vanish Tempo. Except for the Vanish Carbon.
You can pick up the Altra Vanish Tempo for $190 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.
Shop Altra Vanish Tempo – Women
Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.
Have something to say? Leave a Comment
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’ goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas
Robbe is the lead copywriter and editor for all things Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. Appreciates mezcal and New York Times crosswords. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe