Tuesday, August 09, 2016

OR Altra Running 2017 Previews: Altra EGO midsole, Escalante, Provision 3, Instinct 4, King MT, Superior 3.0, Timp iQ and Torin IQ

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run

Our OR visits with Altra Running co-founder Golden Harper never disappoint. Always designing, innovating, and personally and extensively testing, Golden is one of the brightest minds in the run shoe world.

Before we get to the details here is what Golden said in response to the following question at the end of his presentation:
 "What is your favorite shoe of the 2017 line?"

He quickly and decisively answered:

On a personal level
Altra Running Escalante

The Esaclante  a new light, knit upper trainer with the new energetic high rebound Altra Ergo midsole material, his road running shoe and as he travels so much, his one shoe for trips shoe.

For lust:

The King MT FKT rough terrain racer and peak bagger with its aggressive outsole, Altra Ergo midsole, and durable supportive upper with strap

For the brand:

The Provision 3, a light stability shoe updated with a Guide Rail system. The most "mainstream" of Altra shoes and should be a big seller for those wanting to transition to Altra's Zero Drop and Foot Shaped toe boxes.

Read on for the details....

Altra Running Escalante

Escalante is a 8.2 oz/232 g neutral racer trainer with the fit/last of the Torin 2.5, one of our favorite shoes of 2016 (review here) but with the lower(3mm) stack height 25mm heel/25 mm forefoot of the Instinct. This shoe should be right in my sweet spot for faster paced running and racing given the stack, low weight, and new responsive Altra EGO midsole. $130. Available February 2017

Key Escalante Features:

  • Altar's first engineered knit upper. It felt supportive as opposed to slipper soft like
  • Altra EGO midsole material which was created with the goal of being fast and springy, yet comfortable and soft. So, adidas Boost like, and while proprietary, my understanding is the material is not made of TPU pellets as in adidas but has another material or method of making the midsole. It will be interesting to see how it rides. There are no plastic stabilizing pieces and the midsole felt firmer than Boost, a good thing.
King MT
Altra Running King MT
Altra is starting to name its shoes after iconic places and peaks in its home state of Utah. King Peak is the highest mountain in UT and has a very long, remote approach so if you are going to do it in a day you need a fast agile shoe, thus the King MT. 
King MT weighs 9.5 oz/241 grams with a 19mm heel/19mm toe stack. The new Altra EGO midsole is topped off by an aggressive outsole and the most supportive upper of any Altra. 
King MT should be a great option for fast peak bagging, obstacle and mud racing.  Altra also has clearly targeted this shoe to the European market where mud and fell running on wet terrain is popular. 

Available February 2017. $140.

Altra Running Escalante
Key King MT Features:
  • Burly upper with TPU overlays and an adjustable FootLock strap at mid foot, likely essential to lock the foot on such a light platform for rough ascents and descents
  • High rebound Altra EGO midsole with embedded StoneGuard rock protection plate
  • Big 5.5mm outsole lugs for lateral braking, medial grip, and maximum traction on wet and slippery terrain.
Altra Running King MT

Provision 3.0
Altra Running Provision 3.0
The Provision 3 joins the growing trend of guidance shoes with stability control achieved by means other than those annoying medial posts of stiff foam. Road Trail Run reviewed 3 such shoes earlier this year here. As Golden Harper put it: some stability when and if I need it was the design goal for the Provision. And I need it later in races....Altra other light stability shoe the Impulse was my 2015 shoe of the year (see here). 
At 10.5 oz/ 298 grams with a 25mm heel/25 mm toe stack is not exactly light even for such new generation guidance shoes but should be a durable steady trainer aimed at the big wide middle of the market.  It will have the last of the Impulse so not as wide as the fit of the Torin. Available November 15, 2016. $120.
Altra Running Provision 3.0

Key Provision 3.0 Features:
  • a guide rail is incorporated into the Abound midsole layer instead of the upper for when you need it stability. 
  • the varus sloping wedge geometry of the Provision 2.5 is retained but now with a wider heel landing
  • more StabliPods and more arch support 
Altra Running Provision 3.0
Altra Running Provision 3.0

Instinct 4.0
Altra Running Instinct 4.0
Altra Running Instinct 4.0
The Instinct was Altra original shoe and version 4 returns to the last or fit of version 1.5 but now with Altra's first engineered mesh upper and with a fuller rubber outsole for more durability. At 10 oz/284 g with a 25mm heel/ 25 mm toe stack the Instinct is a solid daily trainer. Available January 2017. $120.
Altra Running Instinct 4.0
Superior 3.0
Altra Running Superior 3.0
This popular (#5 in trail shoe sales in the US according to Altra) is a 9.2 oz/261 gram light trail scrambler.  It is updated with a more consistent sizing, a  stronger upper for more durability and a small lateral flare to the outsole for more stability. Runners were using it for rougher and longer runs and using it as a daily trail shoe so Altra listened and made some small but important changes. Available December 1st  2016.
Altra Running Superior 3.0
Altra Running Superior 3.0
iQ Form Sensing, Feedback, and Coaching-Shoes and System

We covered the announcement of  iQ back a year ago at the  Outdoor Retailer here. It was expected to be available by now but isn't. From what we saw during demonstrations at the January 2016 Outdoor Retailer it just wasn't ready or perfected enough. It is now scheduled for Q1 2017.
As the tech wearable columnist for Competitor Running I have and am testing several run form tracking and coaching systems and getting the hardware, algorithms that analyze the data, and the timing and nature of the feedback to all work flawlessly and usefully is very difficult.  And retailers have to believe they can sell, and consumers want to buy,  a combination shoe and sensor system for $200.  One mistake or a lack of value and utility and such concepts die quickly. So Altra is doing the right thing by continuing to perfect before selling.
Golden told us he is running with iQ daily and with his team is tuning and continuing to perfect the experience. He has been studying and working on not only shoe construction but also form for over 15 years. At  every running shoe store visit and event he conducts form clinics. He knows how to express a form tip in simple terms, the trick is to relate feedback to sensor data.  

Essentially IQ is made up of:
  • sensors embedded in midsole of the shoe powered by a multi month coin type battery. 
  • foot landing zones, cadence, ground contact, left right ground contact balance, and left right impact are the metrics tracked.
  • a phone app captures and crunches the data and provides targeted live audio feedback tips on form. For example: "Run Proud and Tall" 
  • the nature of feedback will be pace based which we think is very valuable. I can hold good form at slower paces and at the beginning of runs but later...
Well IQ is coming in 2017 and this time I think it will be ready and even more importantly not just in one shoe, as originally planned a version of the stability Impulse called the iQ.  The neutral Torin iQ will be available as well (January 2017. $220) as a very exciting new trail shoe called the Timp IQ (available March 2017, $230 named after one of my favorite and most beautiful mountains in Utah,  Mount Timpanagos, a very popular running destination. Below a shot from our hike up Timp this summer.

Timp iQ 
Altra Running Timp iQ
Altra Running Timp iQ
While the Timp iQ will initially be offered only in Spring 17 with the iQ system it may will be offered standalone, Available March 1st, 2017. $230

Golden described it as the Torin for trails with a stack height of 28mm heel/28mm toe and a weight of 9.9 oz/281 grams. It will fit between the Lone Peak and Olympus in terms of cushioning in the Altra line up. As with all iQ shoes, it will have a very cool reflective underlay below the top mesh.  The last/fit will be based on the same last as the Torin, so wide.

The Timp is real, very real. We talked to Altra athlete Jeff Browning who within the span of a very few weeks placed 3d at the Western States 100 and the 4th at the Hardrock 100, shattering the previous record for this double. He raced portions of these races in the Timp and loved them. His usual shoe is the Lone Peak.

Shop the current Altra Running line up including one of my favorites of 2016 the Torin 2.5  at Altra Running here

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, New Balance and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 40 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Σπύρος said...

Knit upper is usually less breathable than mesh. Any news about a newer version of Altra The One?

sam winebaum said...

From what I see Altra The One stays unchanged for Spring 2017 as do other current models from what I can see.. Yes, knit usually less breathable. Thanks for reading RoadTrailRun!

Katherine Ashburner said...

I am looking forward to the Superior 3.0. I hope they fixed the toe box height and sizing issue. For now, the Superior is my everywhere trail shoe. However, the KingMT has me intrigue. Might be useful on the New England rocky mountains and trails.

Tim Jahraus said...

Sam, really appreciate your first looks and reviews. Did you get a look at the new Olympus? (2.5?)

sam winebaum said...

Hi Tim, Thanks for reading RTR! The catalog shows Olympus stays at 2.0, so no changes for Spring 17. Would imagine that any new version would appear sometime around summer 2017.