altra superior – gear review

altra superior review

After years of running minimal I was thinking it time to try out something with a little more cushion. Something for the 4+ hour long runs on already tired legs. I like me some shoes, and this gives me another alternative to expand the arsenal so to speak. I like rotating between a half dozen shoes to keep the feet from getting too used to any one. Because the different construction they all tend to work my muscles just a little bit differently. I don’t expect to use them too much in the rotation, perhaps as much as I use my Vibrams.

Overall I like the shoe a lot, it’s a good alternative on those spaghetti leg days. I’ve put about 50 miles on them mostly on trails, but also on roads.

altra superior underneath
barefoot pattern

zero drop

I prefer minimal drop shoes in the 0-4mm area. I literally feel like I’m wearing high heels with anything taller. Altra is known for zero drop, so makes sense I give them a spin. Not much else to say about that.

wide toe box

Yes, yes and yes. Finally shoe companies are making shoes that let the toes splay out naturally. From barefoot running my feet are probably wider than most. The feet just naturally want to spread out.

Where a wide toe box can be a hindrance is on very technical terrain where you want a snug fit for gripping. Kind of like how climbing shoes work. You don’t want to run down a switch back and have your foot move too much within the shoe while twisting around.

This might be why Innov8 have narrower toe boxes. The company is UK based, and running the fells of England you really need good grip. The trails there are much more gnarly than one would expect. I wouldn’t be caught dead with the Altra shoe on the English country side.

same shoe size believe it or not…minimal on right, maximal on left

cushion

Another good reason to get these. My 100 mile attempt really solidified in my mind that I need more cushion for those really long runs. I can get by 4-10 hours on my regular shoes, but anything longer and my feet really start taking a beating.

cushion caveat

The cushioning make it so you can easily slip into bad heel pounding running form. I noticed my stride started to lengthen on the road sections, my body apparently trying to go back to old habits. So just being Zero drop doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to give you a better running form.

ground feel

As expected the added cushioning takes me away from the ground feel. Feeling less of the ground is usually not a good thing. Response/reaction times to rocks and roots becomes dampened. A few milli seconds late responding to a protruding rock and you can be looking at a sprained ankle. At least from my experience. So I’m steering away from highly technical trails for these shoes. Unless it’s late in a really long race and I’m going slow enough.

light weight – sorta

Compared to my other shoes they do feel a little on the bulky side, but that’s to be expected. Although only 7.9 ounces they still feel heavy, perhaps it’s the air drag.

removable insole and rock-plate

This is the first time I’ve seen a shoe where you can remove the rock-plate. Not sure what to say about that.

tread

The Superior seems to be made for easy, well groomed American trails which is fine. I have yet to try them on gnarly and wet surfaces, my guess is they may be just a little slipper. The tread just looks so flat and simple compared to my NB and Innov8 trail shoes.

gator attachment and wing/spoiler wtf

I don’t use gators so it’s pretty useless for me. I have no idea what the little wing thing is on the heel (see top image) and I’m not even going to Google it. That’s kind of how little I care.

style

Meh on the style. They look a little bulky on my feet, but I don’t think as clownish as some of the Hokas. I do think they could do a better job here.

Overall good shoe, does what I wanted it to.

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