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What You Need To Know
Our takeaways from The Running Event 2022 in Austin, Texas
Highlights from Atra include the Torin 7, Paradigm 7, and Lone Peak 7 (now go play a slot machine)
Gotta say, the design team has been really improving the looks of Altra recently
Not fully inclusive of all 2023 shoes
The cult of Altra (aka “The Caltra”) is strong these days. We’re talking about the au natural foot fam, those who want more wiggly for the pigglies and a zero drop package to run wee, wee, wee all the way home.
Started in 2009 by co-foundersBrian Becksted and Golden Harper,the little-company-that-could established a rabid fanbase of runners who wanted something different; that is, a more natural feel while running, without sacrificing comfort and protection.
Of course, all indie bands sell out sooner or later (we’re not judging, we’d do the same thing), and in 2018, Altra was bought by VF Corporation (home to brands like The North Face, Supreme, Vans, and Timberland). Since then we’ve seen some changes that have both embraced the legacy of Altra, while looking to expand the consumer base.
Talking with Altra at The Running Event
One of those changes– and a big one at that– is the range of Footshapes that debuted in 2022, essentially different fits for different shoe models. Marketing translation: legacy Altra shoes look like clown shoes made for GORPers and they needed to make these things look good on the feet so people outside of running will buy them.
While the standard Original Footshape is still available in a few models, Altra has broadened (and by broadened, we mean slimmed down) the upper fit to now include a Standard Footshape (e.g. Torin, Escalante, Paradigm), and a Slim Footshape (e.g. Vanish Tempo, Vanish Carbon).
Other recent changes include a creative Matrix-style bend of the “zero-drop” technicality by employing a very noticeable rocker, and also much better designs across the board.
For us, this is all a net-positive, but the changes have been a bit of a thorn in the side of hardcore Altra fans who have been collecting Kool-Aid cult points since the beginning. To which we say: even Bob Dylan went electric.
As we look to 2023, we see some of those changes continue to become the standard going forward. And while not every shoe on this list is a major upgrade, there are some overhauls on core models within the Altra lineup.
Of course, you know we’ll review them all and give you our full thoughts as soon as they’re available to us.
Altra Footshape Guide
ALTRA TORIN 7
STACK: 30 mm WEIGHT: 9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Standard RELEASE DATE: June 2023 PRICE: $150 NOTABLE FEATURES: The Torin has no doubt been one of our favorite shoes in the Altra family for some time. For awhile, it was a very confusing shoe, as there was a half-numbering system and a plush and non-plush version, whatever that meant.
However, it’s been simplified over the last couple of years, so now we simply have the Altra Torin 7. Looking back at our reviews, apparently we never reviewed version 6, but we still enjoyed version 5, and luckily the price remains unchanged after two years ($150).
So what is this shoe? Essentially it’s a neutral daily trainer with just enough cushion to give you a ton of comfortable miles, but also light enough that you can pick up the pace if necessary.
This year’s model has a lot of new features, including a higher stack Ego Max midsole (30 mm), a redeveloped tongue for a more plush comfort, and a molded heel collar for added comfort and locked-in feel.
While it’s not the lightest shoe at just under 10 ounces, it’s still completely acceptable for a daily trainer and should remain the reliable workhorse it’s always been.
Altra Torin outsole
ALTRA PARADIGM 7
STACK: 30 mm WEIGHT: 11.8 oz. (336 g) for a US M9, 9.5 oz. (270 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Standard RELEASE DATE: July 2023 PRICE: $170 NOTABLE FEATURES: We’re not calling things stability anymore, but this is essentially the stability shoe in the Altra lineup.
There’s a lot going on in this one, from the Altra Ego Max midsole with a 30 mm stack height to the GuideRail for medial support (when it’s needed). A more plush tongue and collar provide additional comfort for an altogether supportive ride.
However, all of those details come with a price (both literally and figuratively). The weight is chunky at almost 12 ounces for a US M9, making it one of the heavier shoes out there. It’s also $170, which puts it at the top tier of the price range for Altra (aside from its racing shoes).
That said, if you loved the Paradigm in the past for either running or walking, the updates here are enough to offer improvement without changing the overall nature of the shoe. So we expect Paradigm fans to be pretty happy with this version.
ALTRA RIVERA 3
STACK: 28 mm WEIGHT: 9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US M9, 8.2 oz. (232 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Slim RELEASE DATE: February 2023 PRICE: $140 NOTABLE FEATURES: When people say “Keep it simple, stupid,” they’re actually talking about the Altra Rivera. This is the most basic model in the Altra lineup (aside from maybe the Escalante), so its features are minimal, but it’s a shoe that embraces the roots of the brand. Except for the Slim Footshape, that’s more of a newer thing.
Anyway, this version of the shoe does have an increased stack height of 28 mm, on the base-level Altra Ego midsole foam (traditional EVA). According to Altra, the ride has also been improved by redesigning the outsole as the flex grooves in the last model didn’t have the smoothest transitions. That said, these changes do come with a cost– the shoe has picked up almost an ounce and a half over last year’s version, which is pretty significant. So instead of a light and uptempo shoe, this now falls more in that daily trainer category.
Save this shoe for shorter runs, or if you just want an Altra walking shoe that’s simple and comfortable.
The price has increased a bit to $140 in this version.
ALTRA LONE PEAK 7
STACK: 25 mm WEIGHT: 11 oz. (314 g) for a US M9, 9.2 oz. (261 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Original RELEASE DATE: Available now PRICE: $150 NOTABLE FEATURES: We head to the trails with the Lone Peak 7, which our reviewers are currently getting miles in. Straight up, this may be the best looking Altra shoe to date. The design is impeccable. Which is good, because it’s the go-to trail running shoe for most Altra fans.
They should be more than excited about the newest top-to-bottom updates, which includes a more durable and secure upper and an Altra Ego midsole underneath (kind of interested what an Ego Max midsole would’ve looked like on here, but whatever). Altra removed the stitched-in overlays from the last version, and instead opted for welded overlays on a ripstop-style upper.
A MaxTrac outsole with multi-directional lugs provides great grip across any terrain, while a StoneGuard rock plate helps with foot protection on technical trails. This is one of the few models that retains the Original Footshape, so hardcore Altra followers can breathe a sigh of relief there. Plenty of room for toe splay. Gaiter attachments on the front and back allow for customization and additional protection.
ALTRA SUPERIOR 6
STACK: 21 mm WEIGHT: 9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Standard RELEASE DATE: May 2023 PRICE: $135 NOTABLE FEATURES: We get another solid design in the Superior 6, a shoe that’s made for trail runners who like more of a ground feel over light to medium terrain. At only 21 mm, this is the lowest stack of any Altra shoe out there, including the Escalante. So you’ll definitely get plenty of ground feel.
Updated ripstop quarter panels provide protection while lessening the weight load of the shoe. Speaking of weight, it’s relatively reasonable at 9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US M9. All in all, this looks to be a fun option for those wanting to pick up the pace and feel at one with the trails.
ALTRA OUTROAD 2
STACK: 28 mm WEIGHT: 10.7 oz. (303 g) for a US M9, 8.7 oz. (246 g) for a US W7 FOOTSHAPE: Slim RELEASE DATE: June 2023 PRICE: $135 NOTABLE FEATURES: The first version of the Altra Outroad was one of our favorite trail shoes of last year, namely because it worked so well as a road-to-trail option. For those that enjoyed that shoe, it’s basically the same thing (i.e. same Ego midsole and MaxTrac outsole design).
The changes come in the upper, focusing on improved durability without sacrificing comfort or breathability. As with last year, this is a Slim Footshape design, so it’s definitely a more traditional fit, but still offers room for some toe splay.
This is just one of those shoes that’s an all-arounder– good for getting out on the trails for a quick run, an adequate hiker, and a capable road shoe. Great for traveling or just “one shoe to do it all.”
Altra Outroad 2 – Outsole
Watch the full rundown of Altra 2023 on YouTube!
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