Sunday, July 30, 2017

Outdoor Retailer Altra Running Spring 2018 Preview and Introductions: Duo Max Cushion Super Light Trainer, Vanish-R 3.9 oz. Road Racer, Entry Level Solstice & All New Everyday Collection

For the last Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, with many running companies not attending,  Altra, a local company, really rolled out all the stops with a bigger booth, still crowded as always, and two stunning new high performance running shoes, an entry level new models  and a new Zero Drop casual line.
All shoes are Spring 2018 releases. Exact dates to follow.

Altra Duo
The star of Outdoor Retailer for Road Trail Run was the new Altra Duo ($130 ) road shoe. We gave it our Best New Running Shoe award.

Update: Read our multi tester Duo review here

The Duo has a 31mm heel and forefoot stack and what should be a bouncy, lively injection molded midsole.  Weighing an amazing 7.9 oz./224 grams(M(9), 6.8 oz/193 g (W8) it has a gossamer thin highly breathable mesh upper with plenty of soft reinforcing overlays. This will be a great shoe for humid, hot, and wet run environments. 
Altra Running 2018 Duo

It is clearly a competitor in the super cush department to the now heavier Hoka Clifton 4 (RTR review) which comes in at over 9 oz., the yet heavier Bondi and the fine Skechers Performance GOrun Ultra R2 (RTR review) at 8.6 oz but with 4 mm more heel cushion. Even Altra's Paradigm 3.0 has only 1mm more stack but weighs 2.4 oz more.

Altra founder Golden Harper told us it has the widest highest volume toe box of any Altra to date and with the soft mesh it should accommodate many foot types. I hope the upper it is supportive enough and durable enough on that high stack but support appeared to be assisted by the high rear midsole side walls cupping the heel area. 
Altra Running 2018 Duo
Altra Running 2018 Duo
Altra did not skimp on the outsole with plenty of carved out full rubber coverage. The shoe was very decently flexible for the high stack due to the Inner Flex "tennis racket" pattern grid, a feature of many Altra models,  molded into the midsole just below the foot which reduces weight and also increases flexibility. 
Altra Running 2018 Duo
 Our video of Altra Founder Golden Harper describing the Duo to Road Trail Run below
The Duo with all have a January early release exclusively at Fleet Feet. It will be in general release in March.

From the maximal cushion and light weight of the Duo Altra introduced a shoe at the other extreme, the 3.9 oz/111g Vanish-R road racing flat (price and availability to follow). With a 14mm Zero Drop stack it is about as light as race flat has gotten and competes with the New Balance MRC5000v2.
Altra Running 2018 Vanish-R
The Vanish-R has a front engineered mesh upper with at the rear mesh. And lest we forge,t unlike other super minimal race flats, it has Foot Shaped toe area.
Altra Running 2018 Vanish-R
To keep the 14mm midsole from bottoming out Altra embedded a flexible TPU Propel Plate with a carbon finish in the midsole, the black seen through the decoupling "windows" in the picture below. Needless to say the outsole coverage is also minimal but decently thick to keep the weight down.
Altra Running 2018 Vanish-R
A unisex shoe the Vanish-R will come in a variety of colors suitable for men and women.
Altra Vanish-R colors
The Vanish-R will be released in early February.

Altra will also be launching the Solstice a 23mm stack entry level Altra at an affordable $90 price. It will have an engineered mesh upper and midsole will be the outsole. It will be released January 2018 at Jackrabbit Sports and February elsewhere.
Altra Running 2018 Solstice
Altra Running 2018 Solstice
Instinct 4.5 gets an engineered mesh upper and updated midsole
King MT 1.5

Altra Everyday
Altra introduced an all new collection of EveryDay shoes. As Golden put it to us the billion people on earth who are barefoot don't tend to get foot problems as the shod rest of the population does such as bunions, crowded toes, and neuromas.  So why not after the run, at work and for leisure have stylish Foot Shaped, Zero Drop footwear. All shoes in the Everyday line have Foot Shaped toe boxes, are Zero Drop and come with Bloom Foam insoles made algal biomass to significantly reduce environmental impact. (Prices and availability to follow) 

The 9 oz.(M9), 6.5 oz (W8) Vali with a sleek knit upper and 23mm premium soft EVA midsole. The Vali will be released at Grivet Outdoors November 2018 and in general release January 2018.
The Desert Boot II gets a premium leather upper. It will be released in November. 
The Cayd has a modern casual look and combines leather and mesh, "old school tennis shoe meets street style."

The Commute (right) has a premium wool upper. 

See our 2018 Running Previews page with introductions from Salomon, Brooks, Hoka, Saucony, Altra, Columbia Montrail, La Sportiva & Skechers Performance here

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
For over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews visit our index page here
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Josh Butler said...

Liking the look of the new Vanish-R. I wonder if they'll roll out a Vanish-T in the future, a possible stripped back trail version? What are the updates to the Superior 3.5 looking like in comparison to the 3.0?

sam winebaum said...

HI Josh, Not sure on a T. The Golden Spike would be a good alternative for a super light trail racer. Our contributor Patrick Caron won several trail races in them, even a rocky 50K in them last year. As far as Superior 3.5 I did not get pictures of it but catalog says that it has an updated upper intended to make it more durable. Weight is 10.3 oz/292 g so it looks like it gains an ounce in weight over 3.0.
Sam, Editor

Σπύρος said...

Duo will be one of the most breathable shoes (there aren't many). The tongue looks thin, i hope it doesn't slip outwards. Do you know when it will be available?

Σπύρος said...

One of the most breathable shoes (there aren't many). The tongue looks thin, i hope it doesn't slip outwards. Do you know when it will be available?

sam winebaum said...

Spring 2018 for Duo so likely Jan-Feb but will find out.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

HI Sam,

I was wondering if you know how the fit of Altra's Lifestyle shoes will be. I tried the Instinct's everyday, but the fit is so sloppy, and the shoes feel like a boat. I stopped wearing them as a result. I would love it if the new Altra lifestyle shoes were much more streamlined.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
I did not try the new Lifestyle shoes on but the knit upper ones may work for you as the knit tends to be snug. However, it may also be that the Foot Shape toe box is just too wide for your foot regardless of model?
Sam, Editor

pjm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pjm said...

Sam, disagree on your assessment that the toebox may be too wide regardless of model. I have about 8 different pairs of Altras including several pairs of Torins (all 10.5), two pairs of Tokalas (one 9.5, one 10), the Desert Boot 1 (9.5) and Escalantes (10). My normal shoe size is a 9.5 and I wear 10.5s to run in.

The running shoes are mostly consistent fit-wise, but the Desert Boot 1 (based on the instinct sole) is a mess and their other lifestyle shoes are all over the place. Again, I got a 9.5 in the Desert Boot because I'm not running in them. They are super wide on the sides and loose in the back, but my toe is poking the front of the shoe, so I don't need a smaller size. Contrast that with the Tokala, which I also got initially as a 9.5 but was snug all around, to the point that when I got my second pair, I got a half size up and they are perfect.

I'm a HUGE Altra fan and want their Desert Boot II to succeed (especially the leather model, the existing line is a little casual for work), but they need to solidify the fit across the line first or it's going to hold up adoption.

Jack T said...

So when exactly will the Altra Desert Boot II, Cayd, and Commute be released? I'm dying to get them. You said November for the Desert Boot II, but it's Nov 30 already.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who that sees the major similarities between the Duo and the original Clifton, Including the color way, breathable mesh, flat tongue, high cushion and low weight?

sam winebaum said...

Indeed Anonymous! least for me but I suspect others the Clifton was very soft and particularly unstable at the heel which the Duo is not, even got very usual for me ankle side pains in Clifton 1 and 3. Firmer, stable, more flexible too the Duo.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Sam! I liked the midsole for the Clifton, but the shoe was just too darn narrow. I’m excited to try the Duo as the Altras are so much roomier! Keep up the great work!