Gear Review: Altras

Well, if you know me, you know that I love my Vibram FiveFingers. I’ve been running in them for about 3 years and I know exactly what to expect with every run, with every new pair, always, period. However, when the idea of IRONMAN and the half IM came up, I wasn’t (and still am not) convinced that I’d be running the entire run. With that in mind, I started thinking that I might want a more protective shoe. I still wanted zero-drop, light and minimalist, just with a little added cushioning. So, I decided to try the Altras. The hubs had made the switch to them just after the MCM and really took to them, so I thought I’d follow in his footsteps (pun intended).

Altra is a fairly new company with a fresh approach to running footwear… here’s what they are all about:

ALTRA is a group of passionate individuals committed to reducing injuries & better running technique through biomechanically proper footwear.

Runner’s think differently. Running clears the mind, rejuvenates the body, and frees the soul. We know because we RUN! From 100 meters to 100 miles we have run and raced the distance. Yet after all the years of running we never felt the balance between footwear and nature had been achieved.

Over 30 years in running specialty we felt the need in the market for something different. Bringing Zero Drop, Foot Shape, Gender Specific Running Shoes. Through our experience as former retail store managers, biomechanical experts, and industry professionals, we combined to make a line of natural footwear which blends barefoot freedom with shod protection.

Learn more at

After some consideration, I went with their trail running shoe, the Superior… because I liked how they looked the best! I also noticed that they weren’t too much heavier than my FiveFingers… intriguing!

My Altras!

It took some time for my Superiors to arrive, but once they did I couldn’t wait to tri them out and was granted the perfect opportunity to do just that when spin class was full the next morning. I set out not knowing what to expect and ended up running 6 miles (not my typical run in new shoes). These are honestly the first “real” shoes that I feel I can run any real distance in since switching to the FiveFingers. In the past I’ve tried the Merrell Pace Gloves and the Brooks Pure Cadence, neither of which completely satisfied my need for fit, ground feel, and zero drop.

I still don’t LOVE them as much as my FiveFingers. Since that first run, I’ve had some issues with blisters just behind the ball of my foot (I blame this more on my socks than on the shoes…). Currently, I’m debating whether or not to wear them this Sunday in the Raleigh 70.3, we’ll just have to see how I feel day of.

A few things I’ve paired with the Altras to aid the transition are Injinji toe socks (these are NOT the source of the blisters either and they definitely helped me get used to the feeling of “real” shoes), bungee laces (which I love and have improved both the fit of the Altras and my transition time), and of course my Zensah calf sleeves (love those things!).

Bungee, Injinji, Zensah

That said, I’m not a fan of recommending shoes for people. I think everyone runs a little differently and has slightly different preferences and therefore there is not just ONE right shoe for everyone. I do recommend minimalist/zero drop footwear and front/mid footstrike, but there is plenty of variation within that. If you are just starting down this path I would certainly suggest giving Altra a tri. Ultimately, find what works for you and go with it!

And now of course, I see that Altra is making a triathlon-specific shoe called the “3sum” (clever!). I’ll have to tri that one next… stay tuned!


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