An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trying on the Altra Superior

This past weekend I had a chance to get my hands (and feet) on a pair of Altra Superior trail running shoes. And I've gotta say, they're everything I was expecting, and more.

The day started with 2 hours on the stationary bike, then shower, breakfast, and bundling up to spend a couple hours honoring our veterans at a parade. Then on the road to my old bike shop to tie up a couple loose ends, lunch, and then a stop by The Balance Athlete (I had called ahead to make sure they had the shoes).

Picking the shoe up, it feels lighter than the Instinct, though not racing-flat light like the Skechers Go Run. But this shoe isn't meant to be that light. It's a pared-down version of the Lone Peak, and I think they've made something that will, at least for the trails in the Pacific Northwest, work every bit as well if not better than their beefier offering.

The fit is very much like the other Altra shoes -- snug in the rearfoot, where it's supposed to be, and free in the forefoot, where it's supposed to be. Toe room is ample, nothing pushing anything in the wrong direction. The collar feels more cushy than the Instinct, but doesn't feel like it's giving up a secure fit.

For some reason I had envisioned the rock plate similar to that used in other shoes -- a piece of plastic in the forefoot making the shoe stiff. Even when some one asked me about a "negative drop" feeling when trying on the Superiors, I had answered that maybe removing the rock plate would help (it did, but not for any reason I had thought). I really had no idea what the rock plate looked like... I figured it was attached to a full-length insole that was removable. I was surprised to see that it is a full-length insole-like plastic insert, separate from the "Contour" insole. My shoe-geekness is slipping! Underneath the Contour insole and the rock plate is the flat "Strengthen" insole sewn in.

I put the shoes on (going up a half-size -- the Superiors run slightly small compared to the Instinct) with the Contour insole and rock plate in place, trotted around the store, and just grinned. My Instincts have a lot of miles on them, and they're finally getting to where I need to retire them from active duty (at about 18 months). These felt even better than those shoes did when new.

But I did leave the store without buying the shoes.

I know, it was difficult. But I was reminded that Christmas is just around the bend, and I DO have a lot of shoes...

Ever since a hike with my wife this past August, I've been planning on doing a long (for me) run/hike circumnavigation of the Crystal Mountain basin next summer, and have been giving some thought to which shoes I'd wear for such a day-long excursion. I wore Merrell Trail Gloves that day, but if the terrain had been more severe, I'd have wanted something more. I think the Superior is just the ticket for a day like I have planned -- long, mix of running and hiking, trails and rocks...


derscott said...

Yes, I agree, they are great shoes! I'm wearing mine almost every day and have a 40 mile ultra marathon on the books for February where they will be put to my ultimate test.

brider (aka David) said...

Hey Scott! Yeah, I read your review right before posting this. Best of luck in that ultra. An ultra in Altras!

derscott said...

Thanks, David! I keep waiting for Altra to come out with a shoe called the Ultra.