Saturday, December 02, 2017

Altra Running Fall 2018 Introductions: Torin 3.5, Provision 3.5, Paradigm 4.0, Escalante Racer

It's always fun and energizing to hear the latest from Altra founder Golden Harper. Altra is moving faster and faster with not only with a broader line, improving quality, and continuous innovations but, at long last, Golden set a new marathon PR.  This fall he ran 2:35.39 breaking his previous PR of 2:45:35 which at the time was world record for a 12 year old!  I believe he said it was his first marathon since that record.  In his early thirties Golden, has been running and designing running shoes for a long time, starting in his teens.

So of course we had to ask Golden which of the many Altra shoes he picked for his marathon, assuming he might have chosen the spring 2018 Duo (review soon, see our Spring 2018 preview here), a shoe Golden said he has put the most time working on the last two years, or maybe the Escalante (RTR review).
Golden and his PR shoe, the Solstice
Surprising us he said his choice was the Solstice, a no frills sub 7 oz $89 shoe coming this spring, with of course a Zero Drop 23mm stack height and Foot Shape toe box as all Altra have.


Torin 3.5 Mesh, Torin 3.5 Knit, and Torin IQ
Golden ponders the Torin 3.5 Knit
The Torin is Altra's most popular shoe and one of my favorite trainers of the last 2 years, until the Duo showed up. Torin will now come in an engineered knit version as well as an updated mesh version.
  • Mesh 3.5 will be the lightest at 7.9 oz/224 g dropping from 8.4 oz/238 g of version 3.0 with a more breathable upper with a snugger fit through the mid foot.  It's the speed Torin.
  • Knit 3.5 will come in at 8.7 oz/247 g and feature a A-Strap to secure the arch, always tricky to secure the mid foot in knit upper shoes. It's the comfort Torin
  • Torin IQ with its form sensor footbed. It's the smart Torin.
Left to Right: Torin IQ, Torin 3.5 Mesh, Torin 3.5 Knit
All will have a 28mm Zero Drop platform, FootShape toe box ,and the very effective InnerFlex pattern to lighten the shoe and make it more flexible given the high forefoot stacks. InnerFlex is molded below the foot bed in "a tennis racket strings" pattern according to Golden... who plays a lot of tennis too... We see InnerFlex as one of the most effective technique to date to deal with inherent stiffness of high forefoot stacks.
Altra Torin 3.5 Mesh
The Torin 3.5 Mesh Colors
Provision 3.5 and Paradigm 4.0
Golden spent a good part of the time during our meeting discussing what he believes is the ineffectual conventional approach to support. He contends that few are born with highly collapsed arches and most get them from a lifetime of foot unfriendly shoes. He believes conventional "posts" of firmer foam on the medial side are ineffectual and can be counter productive as feet do naturally want to pronate and for many, forcing them out of this motion by a rigid post can lead to issues higher up the chain towards the knees. He cited the existence of many studies as proving this point, yet the market continues to push ridged posting. 

Altra's design approach to dynamic support focuses on what Golden sees as two scientifically proven elements: a varus wedge which raises the rear of the medial side about 2.5 mm higher than the lateral side to encourage the foot to roll more to the outside along with a substantial Guide Rail above the midsole also on the medial side.  The Guide Rail provides feedback to the runner if the foot rolls to far to the medial side while the varus wedge provides a slight built in angle towards the lateral side.
Provision 3.5 Varus Wedge and Guide Rail
Golden admitted to being a bit "frustrated" as the market continues to push conventional posted approaches to stability and support. We do see new approaches emerging such as the adidas Tempo 9, Brooks Transcend, and to a lesser extent Saucony's new Liberty ISO as lighter weighted guidance oriented stability approaches, see our index page here for reviews of these.

Provision 3.5
At a decently light for a support shoe 10.4 oz/295 g,  the Provision 3.5 is Altra's offering for guided support. It has a 25 mm Zero Drop platform, 

The Provision has a varus wedge lifting the medial side, the Guide Rail also on the medial side and StabliPods under foot at each of what Altra sees as the three natural stability zones: the medial heel and on either side of the mid foot.
Altra Provision 3.5 
Golden Harper presents the Provision 3.5 and its Proven Stability Features in our video below

Paradigm 4.0
Altra Paradigm 4.0
The Paradigm is Altra's heavy duty approach to long ultra comfort, but in a dynamic non posted support form that can adapt to changes in form and fatigue in long races.  As such is often the pick of some of Altra's ultra athletes who value support for races such as the 135 mile Badwater and even UTMB where feet and legs eventually collapse and need the support. 
Altra Paradigm 4.0
Featuring Guide Rail, StabliPods and a medial midsole flare it is designed to provide dynamic support and outstanding cushion for long miles. Golden told us it competes with the Asics Kayano among others in the category.
Altra Paradigm 4.0
Weighing 10.9 oz/309 g  a 30 mm Zero Drop platform the Paradigm 4.0 is updated with Altra's EGO midsole, the third Altra after the Escalante and King MT to get this lively, bouncier midsole. Topped off with a knit upper and  with a high volume fit, it is designed to accommodate orthotics. Its deep stable EGO forefoot cushion is called out as making it a good potential run shoe for those suffering from Neuromas and Plantar Fasciitis.

Escalante Racer
Altra Escalante Racer
The Escalante Racer is a 7.2 oz race shoe is a lighter, lower profile, firmer version of the popular Escalante (RTR review). It has a 22mm Zero Drop platform so 2mm less than Escalante. It features the lively Altra EGO midsole found in the Escalante and now also Paradigm.  If there was one knock on the Escalante it was that the knit upper wasn't as supportive as it could be for faster paced running and turns. Here we have not only a more supportive and substantial engineered mesh but a more breathable one too with plenty of ventilation holes the Escalante didn't have. It will only be available on a limited edition basis. 
Altra Escalante Racer
All the models discussed above except Duo and Solstice which are Spring 2018 are for Fall 2018. We are missing some pricing and we question the weight of the Paradigm 4.0, listed at 8.4 oz in the catalog. The article will be updated when we receive this information.

See our Altra Running Spring 2018 Preview article here

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Visit our Index Page here for over 80 in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews
Visit our 2018 Previews Page here for 2018 run shoe, apparel, and gear previews 

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1 comment:

Σπύρος said...

Love the breathable upper of the Escalante Racer. Maybe the shoe with most breathable knit upper. (Usually knit is much less breathable than mesh). I wish Escalante had the same. Is the Solstice breathable?