A newer brand of running and hiking shoe is creating waves in the world of outdoor footwear. Bucking conventional athletic footwear form that has reigned for decades, Altra aims to provide an alternative that is high performance and foot friendly.
Altra is an American based brand which was established by two American runners, Golden Harper and Brian Beckstead. Both Harper and Beckstead researched the human foot to design their shoes specifically to prevent foot injuries common to runners and hikers. The technology behind the Altra design provides hikers and trail runners with a shoe that can ideally keep them going longer and faster than before.
Since the company’s start in 2011, Altra has grown exponentially, taking their marketing worldwide so everyone has the chance to benefit from their design. While there are more models and options available each year, the foundational design is present in each model. Altra Trail shoes are uniquely named after the surrounding mountain peaks of the company’s origins. The Superior also now has three different models of shoe, each one slightly more improved. The brand is responsive to feedback and is continually improving on their design to keep the shoe as reliable as possible. One of their newest models is the Superior Trail Shoe 3.0. Due to their award winning design, I wanted to try out the Superior Trail Shoe for myself.
Features of The Altra Superior Trail Shoe 3.0
Wide Toe Box
The Altra brand designs their shoes to complement the body’s natural stride. They studied the foot’s movements and observed how the toes spread when walking or running. From their observations and research, the company created their FootShape toe box. The FootShape toe box grants the toes enough room to spread out when making contact with the ground. As mentioned before, this creates more stability in the foot which helps fight pronation problems and prevents plantar fasciitis.
Zero Drop Technology
The Altra shoe also strands out from the crowd with their Zero Drop Technology. The Zero Drop refers to the sole of the shoe which equally places the heel and the front of the shoe at the same distance off the ground (see below). The benefit of this design is in promoting a natural balance for the foot as well as aligning the posture from the heel to back. With correct alignment, runners see improved body posture and flexibility. Over time the Achilles and lower calf muscles are strengthened due to the more natural design of the Zero Drop technology.
Overall, the Altra shoes offer great fit and comfort. The sizing of the Superior 3.0 runs slightly smaller compared to average shoe. The lacing helps create an improved feel and fit with an asymmetrical design.
The top or upper material of the Altra Superior 3.0 is a combination of thicker waterproof plastic which reinforces the shoe, and mesh. The mesh provides breathability and the ability to dry quickly.
The Altra Superior’s design provides extra cushion throughout the sole to support runner’s and hiker’s comfort for even longer distances.
The Superior contains a rock plate in their packaging that can be attached on the bottom of the sole to protect the shoe from unwanted rocks stuck between the tread. The rock plate is flexible and supports the Zero Drop design of the Altra brand.
The shoe’s design also includes a Velcro gaiter attachment point on the heel. The sewn in heel “sling” is helpful for securing “Four-point” gaiters. Altra makes gaiters as accessories for their shoes to prevent dirt, rocks, and debris from entering into the shoe.
The price of Altra shoes are similar to most trail and hiking shoes. Older models of hiking shoes are available for discounted rates.
The Altra brand offers a 30 day refund, replacement, or exchange for their shoes bough in the continental U.S.
- Toe box is designed to allow toes freedom to move. This prevent foot injuries as well as blisters and offer extra stability.
- Tread provides traction on trails and gravel
- Zero Drop-the heel is the same distance from the ground as the toes are, which helps build better running technique and strengthens calf muscles.
- Minimal design with some cushion
- Lightweight shoe
- Breathable upper material that dries out quickly
- Gaiter attachment points
- Comfortable Fit
- The sizing is known to run slightly small
- There are no options for specific width of the shoe around the midsole
- The mesh upper material is thin and can lead to rips in tough
When I heard about the Altra Brand in 2015, I was intrigued by the wide toe box and Zero Drop technology. I had to try a pair for myself. Since then, I have recommended Altra running shoes to many of my friends, as they have become my go-to hiking and running shoe. Most of my family and friends now sport their own Altra shoes and feel the same way. For a reliable, breathable hiking shoe, try the Superiors by Altra.
You might also be interested in budget hiking backpacks