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Monday, August 06, 2012

Outdoor Retailer Summer 12: Altra Superior Zero Drop Trail Runner

Altra Running a Utah running company exclusively sells zero drop (heel to toe differential) running shoes. Their success has in my view been due to developing zero drop shoes


  • that are not all "minimal" or near barefoot, many models are decently cushioned. 
  • Altra shoes have a "foot shaped" design. The picture below tells that story better than words.

Altra Superior Trail Runner
I usually run in 4-10mm road and trail runners. I tested and reviewed the earliest zero drop shoe the GoLite Flash Lite trail shoe back in 2010.  As a "shuffler" I found the ride quite firm and slappy due to overly firm midsole foam and low stack height. Since then  I have steered clear of zero drop shoes.

The Altra Superior caught my eye at Outdoor Retailer.
Altra Superior: the light gray rock plate fits under the insole and is removable

Altra Superior: CheckerTrail Outsole & Foot Shaped Design

The Altra Superior has a removable rock plate which sits under the insole. I have never seen this approach in a trail shoe. Most "rock plates" are not really hard plates but a dense foam similar to latex which prevents rocks from pushing through to the foot.

Weight is outstanding for such a substantial shoe: 8.9 oz with the rock plate in, 7.9 oz with rock plate removed.

The black cords help synch the mid foot to the laces.  I might worry a bit about durability of  the cords on the trail. The outsole looks well designed and durable.

Stack height is 19mm at forefoot and heel, not minimal. My Montrail Bajada's are 18mm in the forefoot and 28mm in the heel. The question will be, as with all low and zero drop shoes, what happens when non natural forefoot runners such as myself get tired and tend to get back on the heels..

If you are new to zero or low drop shoes start slowly with low mileage as there is a period of adapting to the lower drops. I have found lower drop shoes (4-10mm) have completely resolved my chronic hamstring and tight calf problems, with no stretching in the mix. What would zero do? Not sure but I would like to add a shoe such as the Superior to my mix for at first occasional runs.

Retail Price: $95
Availability:  October 2012

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