Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review Altra Running Torin 2.5: Altra Puts it All Together with Great and Refined Balance.

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run with Peter Stuart
Sam: The Torin 2.5 finally wraps Altra Running's wide Foot Shaped toe box, Zero Drop geometry, and a nearly flawless highly supportive upper into a light weight, flexible, well cushioned do anything and light 9.1 oz/ 256 g (men's 9), 7.5 oz/213 g (women's 8) trainer.

And I mean do anything, as the wide on the ground stance and supportive upper also makes the Torin a fabulous trail shoe if mud or loose sand or snow are not of the party. Altra, for the first time for me, has put together a no compromises, versatile and very pleasant to run shoe, good for longer miles and races, some trails, and every day training.  The Torin 2.5 is one of the best, if not the best, light trainer I have run in the last couple years. 

The stack is 28mm heel/28 mm forefoot. Retail $125. Available now.

First Impressions
Sam: The Torin has a wide and wide looking Foot Shaped toe box.  Start to put them on and something unexpected emerges. The fit is snug, very snug from heel to toe. There is a full foot splay up front with no slop what so ever from heel to toe. When I first tried them on I thought my true to size might be to small due to the low and substantial toe bumper. Changing to thinner socks and a few runs stretched things out but those with long first and especially second toes will likely want to size up half a size. Off for a run I noticed for the first time in an Altra that I did not miss the heel, either as the heel foam was too firm as in the Impulse and as I recall Torin 1 or too soft as in the Lone Peak.  Just right midsole firmness so that those whose strike wanders towards the heel don't bottom out... below zero... or feel a harsh landing.
I was amazed at the foot hold and ride on the road and so for my second run took them on smoother dirt single track.  The wide stance and supportive upper were confidence building that's for sure and that wide front of the shoe and very decent flexibility from the Inner Flex channels made them a very good climber and quite agile, more so than most Hokas while the wide heel was very stable on the trail and road.. And don't forget we are talking 28mm of forefoot and heel cushion so clearly a shoe in the maximal category, the ride is very well cushioned but decently firm and responsive.
Peter: You know Sam, I had a pretty underwhelming first impression of the Torin 2.5. My first run felt okay, but they were too short at my normal size. My (freakishly long) second toe got blistered—especially on downhills. Altra were kind enough to size me up to a half-size larger which solved the toe issues, but my second run in them was decidedly ‘meh’. This of course is the reason for putting more than a couple of runs on a pair of shoes before reviewing them—they’ve grown on me. 

Upper and Fit
Peter: Once the sizing issue was taken care of, the upper and fit were terrific. The Torin, despite the decidedly wide and platypus-looking shape, is a lace them up and forget them shoe. They hold my feet really well, hold it in all the right places and allow some nice wiggle room in the toe-box. Upper materials are soft and high quality.
Sam: A huge part of the magic of the Torin 2.5 is the upper. Gone is the looser mesh of the Torin 2. A single layer of soft mesh is printed with varying densities of red dots.  The all black areas have no overlay dots and are soft, for example on the medial side up front. This overlay system provides variable support as needed without resorting to strips of overlay material, beyond one running from the laces to the toe o the medial side. The feel is one of consistent  substantial support from heel to toe with no discontinuities as the foot flexes or hot sports.  Some may find the upper overly supportive when compared to say the "slipper like" fit of the Altra One. I like being as one with the platform.
The toe box is certainly wide and foot shaped but the front bumper is low and substantial. More height or somewhat softer materials there, especially so at first try on and first run would help particularly where the sole overlay meets the front of the shoe by the big and second toe. Given the foot is otherwise impeccably held, I have not felt like my big and second toe jammed the front even on runs up to 14 miles and on trails but some pressure was felt for the first 30 miles and I do have to use thin socks in my true to size pair.
For sure  if you have longer big and second toes you should consider sizing up a half size.
All of this said in a recent half marathon with 1500 feet of downhill I felt no front pressure whatsoever so my pair at 30 or so miles as "fully seasoned" is correct at true to size for me.
The lace up is impeccable, once and done, although when new I was not able to double knot until I had run a few times them.  There is no question the upper needs some stretching with use as does packing down the very substantial 6mm sock liner. I have found more than once, for example the adidas Adios Boost 1 the sock liner needs some runs to increase overhead toe room and improve overall fit. 
The tongue is moderately padded and attached at the 3d lace hole on the medial side for some mid foot support and at the last laced hole on the lateral side, reminding me of the approach of the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3. 

Midsole and Outsole
Sam:The midsole is 2 layers. Just under EVA Strobel board there is a thin orange layer of Altra's "responsive A-BoundTM compound that returns energy into each step and is weight-balanced from front to back to encourage low-impact landing." Do I notice something special about A-Bound? No, but overall the midsole is smooth in its cushioning from heel to toe and decently responsive. Below the A-Bound is a decently firm layer of EVA with Inner Flex channels within the midsole. The Inner Flex channels which I first experienced in the Impulse give the 28mm stack a moderately long smooth and very decent flex for such a thick midsole.
The outsole has 2 durabilities of rubber plus exposed midsole areas. The black areas are firm long wearing rubber with the central midfoot area I think also providing a touch of stability. The red strip is slightly softer to the touch and also depresses further into the midsole, I assume due to the underlying Inner Flex channels.  Upfront on the lateral side, the outsole is exposed midsole. I am seeing some scuffing/slight peeling here so if you wear in that area expect wear.
Overall the outsole midsole works very well in combination providing a smooth transition from heel to toe even for this quite heavy heel striker. Altra describes the approach as a "FootPodTM outsole technology (which) maps the bones and tendons of your foot for a free, natural flex."
The ground contact on road and trail is outstanding as while pods of a sort, the contact is continuous on the same level across the outsole and stable, 
Peter: My only thought on the outsole is that the section of softer exposed material on the bottom of the shoe under the arch may wear pretty quickly. 

Ride
Sam: One can really feel the entire foot and all the toes does doing their work in a nice stable directed fashion. It's a different feeling even for Altra where that wide foot splay has either been sloppy such as in Lone Peak or a bit constrained and awkward, such as in the Impulse. I have run with and without a heel wedge cut from an old sock liner and notice very little difference at the heel, a first for me in Altra where I often "miss the heel" without a wedge.
While not a speed shoe per say my tempo runs in them have been swift and comfortable if a bit disconnected from road feel. 
That downhill half with 1500 feet of drop went by (relatively) painlessly and fast for me. The last time I ran it 2 years ago I ran in the Hoka Huaka and while a minute slower this year I was fast, felt no harsh pounding, and had no cramps.  
Runs that mix road and moderate smooth trail are a joy in the Torin. In fact while not having enough miles to determine durability  the Torin has among the finest trail support uppers I have tried this year. When compared to the Altra Impulse (my shoe of the year for 2015, review here) the ride is softer and more cushioned especially at the heel, and not as snappy but not so much to put the Torin into the ponderous marshmallow feel of many maximally cushioned shoes. 
Peter: The Torin 2.5 is a nice, even, plush ride. I agree Sam that it’s not mushy soft—it’s a nice balance of cushiness without veering into mush at all. I like them a lot for easy runs and for steady long runs. They pick up fine, but aren’t what I’d wear for a tempo workout. 

Recommendations and Conclusions
Peter: I’m liking these more and more. They’re in the same class as the Saucony Ride 9 and the Nike Pegasus 33 for me and I may just prefer these to both of those shoes. The Pegasus has a little more snap, but the Altra Torin 2.5 is comfortable and easy to run mile after mile in. 
Sam: The Torin 2.5 was a big and pleasant surprise for me, as was the Impulse last year, absolutely one of the top trainers I have run this year if not the best as I keep reaching for it  I have the good fortune to run and test many different shoes and the last few weeks I have been continuously reaching for them, particularly for hilly routes here in Park City which combine road and trail, slower and faster paces. 
The Torin is the first Altra where Zero Drop and a sense of a missing heel is not really noticeable for me. Runners thinking of transitioning to zero drop should gradually adapt calves and achilles and a good place to start is with the Torin. If you have a long big or second toe you should  consider sizing up half a size. 
While not a speedster per say and the road feel is muted by the considerable stack this is a decently agile shoe and light at 9.1 oz. I would not hesitate to run a marathon in them. The Torin clearly challenges the Hoka Clifton in the maximal yet light category. The added benefits of the Torin: flexibility and great upper support making it dual purpose for road and trail. Highly Recommended

Sam's Score 4.85 out 5
-0.15 for low firm toe bumper around first and second toe at true to size and upper break in for a good fit.

The Torin 2.5 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Shopping at the links below help support Road Trail Run. Thanks!

Men's and Women's Altra Torin are available from Altra Running here


Torin 2.5 is available from Running Warehouse  

Men's here  Women's here