Altra founder Golden Harper gave me a full update on the line and was kind enough to send me a pair of the Paradigms to try. My preview of the Spring 2015 Altras here. Paradigm not expected to change.
The Paradigm has 34mm of stack height front and back according to Altra and 25mm according to Running Warehouse. Will inquire as to measurements difference. Most conventional "well cushioned" shoes have 20mm or less in forefoot and 24-28mm in the heel. The advertised weight is 9.1 oz in a men's size 9. My 8.5 Paradigms (review sample provided at no charge, opinions herein entirely my own) weighed 9.5 oz on my digital scale. I will not quibble over the difference as there can be manufacturing differences. From Altra: "As for the weight discrepancy, manufacturing tolerance is usually about an ounce in either direction. Our weights are based off of weighing production shoes when they show up in a size 9. " These weights are incredibly light for such a supremely cushioned shoe. They fit me true to size.
|Altra Running Paradigm|
Comparison to Hoka One One
I have run in a multitude of the earlier Hokas such as the Mafate, Bondi, and Stinson all with similar stack heights. I loved the ride but found them slow and soft given my no knee lift, heel striking stride. The challenge is to provide either enough forefoot flexibility for all that foam and/or create a rocker effect. Newer Hokas such as the Huaka and Clifton reviewed here have reduced their maximal forefoot height somewhat and are now fantastically flexible fast and light, about the same weight as the Paradigm and even lighter for the Clifton. However, Hoka uppers are often not quite there in terms of fit and comfort for me. Don't get me wrong I will still reach for my Huakas when I want to go fast with super cushion, but for supreme comfort Paradigms will have a place in my rotation.
Altra hits it out of the park with the Paradigm creating a super cushioned, supremely comfortable long run shoe.
- The FootShape toe box allows my foot to splay spread out fully, yet I do not feel it is too wide as the midfoot upper hold is just snug enough with the lacing also effective. The overall upper is supremely comfortable, among the best or in fact the best for a long run trainer I have ever put on.
Altra Running Paradigm- FootShape Altra Running Paradigm
- The midsole is just firm enough, somewhat firmer than Hoka Clifton or Skechers GoRun Ultra, but not quite as firm as Hoka Huaka. Not mushy or overly soft. Not as energetic as the Boost shoes or Huaka but still in no way a marshmallow for such a massive amount of cushion. As I put some miles on the midsole I expect the midsole to firm up further, great.
- The heel landing midsole outsole crash pad combination is similar to the Huaka, with even less of an angle. Paradigm does not have a steep rear crash pad of the Clifton and which for me leads to an overly soft heel landing when combined with the soft foam and then a sense of loss of snappy propulsion forward. The adios Boost has a steep crash pad but due to the firmness of the outsole and the thinner cushioning works incredibly well. Smart choices by Altra in the heel area of the Paradigm.
Left to Right: Hoka One One Clifton, adidas adios Boost, Hoka One One Huaka, Altra Running Paradigm
- There are deep flex grooves in the right places; namely in the midfoot and along the length of the outsole. This last somewhat similar to Pearl Izumi E:Motion line and Salomon but in the case of Altra in 2 stages. Note the super wide landing platform. Paradigm appears about the same heel and midfoot width on the ground as the Hoka Huaka and Clifton, maybe a bit wider right under the foot.
- While there is a rocker right up near the toe, I never felt I had to force change body position or stride, that feeling of having to drop forward and then accentuate knee lift, to make it work as I have to do with the similar maxi Hokas but not the more svelte Clifton and Huaka
- There is a super fine and "seamless" interface of outsole and midsole. No harsh feeling, of firmer wear surfaces on top of softer foam. Such a softer outsole may wear faster as I have found the similar Hoka combination does. I do not think I will get the wear of my all time favorite outsole midsole combination, adidas boost in combination with the super long wearing Continental outsole rubber but we'll see.
- I did add my SuperFeet Carbon insoles to firm the heel up a bit and add a bit of drop. I am not completely sold on zero drop especially when tired.
Paradigm seems to work at the elite long ultra level as Jason Schlarb just placed 4th against many of the best in the world at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in his Paradigms. Mind you he wore this ostensibly road shoe for what turned out to be a muddy and quite rough trail. I have not run trails in them.
Where will the Paradigm fit in my rotation?
To start I am going to use Paradigm for recovery and long slow runs. The ride is smooth, stride is never forced and they are supremely cushioned without being mushy or unstable.
$130 MSRP. Available now.
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