Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Skechers Performance GOrun Ride 7 Review: GO! Let it Ride!

Article by Peter Stuart, Dave Ames, Derek Li, and Sam Winebaum

The fine folks at Skechers Perfomance have updated their entire line with a new, very light and lively FlightGEN midsole foam, dialed in their GOknit uppers and put all of their shoes on a diet!
How does the GOrun Ride 7 run and how does it compare to other new Skechers and the competition? Read on for the details.

Skechers Performance GOrun Ride 7
We tested in the Ride 7 in all kinds of outdoor and indoor conditions in Singapore, California, Utah, and New Hampshire. Reviewer bios are at the end of the review.
The GOrun Ride 7 is the "new" plush daily trainer in the 2018 Skechers lineup. See our 2018 Skechers preview here. It’s got more underfoot than the previous GOun Ride 6 as well as the new GoRun 6. It features a GOknit upper, M-Strike technology and Skechers new Flight Gen™foam.

Those who ran the GOrun Ride 6 should realize that the GOrun Ride 7 is on a new platform  with more cushion, 2mm more in the forefoot and 4mm more in the heel and which is now is also 6mm drop shoe vs. 4mm previously.

While the Ride 6 was really very similar to the Run 5, the Ride 7 now fills a gap in the Skechers line between the Razor and  Run and the GOrun Ultra Road, becoming the  previously "missing" well cushioned daily trainer. At $95 it is an outstanding value for a state of the art run shoe,

Winter Outdoor Retailer 2018 Day Two Run Previews-adidas Parley, Under Armour, Sunday Afternoons Hat, Skechers Max Trail Ultra, Drymax, Lifestraw Soft Flask, Boa, Kahtoola Gaiters

by Jeff Valliere

Skechers GoRun Maxtrail 5 Ultra
Weight: 10.6 oz. (productions weights may differ)
Stack Height: 31 mm heel/27 mm forefoot (with sock liner), 4mm drop
$120. Available July 2018.

The Maxtrail 5 Ultra has deep and soft maximal cushion from its dual density midsole, an embedded almost full length Dupont Hytrel plate for rock protection, forefoot and mid foot stability, and also stiffness for a snappier climbing feel, drainage holes and a nice virtually seamless flat knit upper with debris collar that appears to be durable and supportive.
Update: Read our full multi-tester review of the Max Trail 5 Ultra here
The Max has 6mm lugs intended for great traction and unusually for such large lugs, multi surface comfort even on pavement.

adidas Outdoor

adidas had some great new offerings on hand, including their ever expanding environmentally conscious Parley line of product, where adidas makes these products from reclaimed ocean plastic.  A great idea that is a great step forward. See our 2017 article on the Parley's initiative here with Spring 2018 products now coming to market.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Altra King MT 1.5 Trail Shoe Review: Can it Conquer Anything?

Article by Dominick Layfield with Jeff Valliere

The King MT is a relatively new arrival in Altra’s trail line-up.  Previous Altra trail shoes had focused on dry, rocky conditions typical of Utah’s Rocky mountains and the American West.  There was definitely a gap for a shoe that would perform well in the wet grass of damper climates.  Add to that the exploding world of Obstacle Course Racing (a.k.a. running with distractions) which frequently involves wading through water and tons of mud.

The King MT first arrived to fill this niche in February 2017.  It was a strange-looking, toothy, aggressive beast, low to the ground, with a heavily-lugged outsole and unusual velcro strap across the forefoot.  A year later, with the 1.5 revision, Altra have made some minor adjustments to the upper construction, strap position, but kept the shoe largely the same.

First Impressions Review: New Balance LD5000v5 Track Spikes

Article by Derek Li

New Balance LD5000v5
It’s a rare treat for me to review spikes. I’ve owned a few pairs of spikes over the years, but the majority have been targeted at cross-country usage, e.g. the Brooks Mach series, which have a little more foam and cushioning underfoot. The lone true track spike I’ve used recently was the Nike Zoom Rival D, which is a sort of an entry level distance spike from Nike. Therefore, it’s a real treat to be able to test out a premium level distance spike such as the LD5000.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Outdoor Retailer 2018 Day One Previews-Running Sunglasses: Julbo, Bolle, Zeal, Smith, Oakley. Sole Insoles. Balega. Merrell, LaSportiva, Salomon

by Jeff Valliere

This was my first trip to a trade show and though it was Winter OR and heavy on ski and snow, there were still more running related items of interest than I could possibly fit into one day.  So I will go back tomorrow for more!

Of interest on today's visit...


We'll soon be putting together a roundup of the best running/outdoor sunglasses being offered in 2018

Heading up those options is the new Julbo Aerospeed.  Building off of the already crazy light Aero and then Aerolite (review here) with their super effective any light conditions Zebra Light photochromic lenses , the Aerospeed offers a variety of Zebra and Spectron lens options to accommodate a wide variety of lighting conditions.  The Aerospeed is larger for larger faces or for those looking for more protection when cycling or windy conditions.  Though larger, they feel as light or lighter than previous siblings and have a nice adjustable nose bridge and anti fog.
Update: Read our full review of the Aerospeed here

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brooks Caldera 2 Review - All of the Goodness of the Original Caldera with an Improved Upper

Article by Jeff Valliere, Shannon Payne and Dominick Layfield

Brooks Caldera 2
The Brooks Caldera 2 retains all of the positive qualities that made the original Caldera (RTR review here) one of our favorite trail shoes of 2016/2017, but with an improved upper that helps dial in the fit, increases comfort, ventilation and durability.  A top choice for all around smooth comfort and door to trail versatility with enough competency to also handle technical terrain in small doses.

Weight: Men's  9.9 oz/ 281 g  US Women's 9 oz/255 g
Dom: my size US M10 weighed 300 g / 10.6 oz per shoe
Stack Height: 25mm heel/21mm forefoot (28/24 with sockliner), 4 mm offset
$140. Available now.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Altra Running Instinct 4.5 Review: A Heavier Trainer with Sublime Upper Comfort and Room, over a Lively, Firm Base

Article by Sam Winebaum, Dom Layfield and Dave Ames

Altra Instinct 4.5

Sam: The Instinct is Altra's original road shoe. With version 4.5 the big news is that it gets a soft engineered mesh upper for the first time. Combining Altra's FootShape toe box with this type of upper for me really delivers a front of the shoe comfort that is second to none, yet securely held. I do not have any toe or front of the foot problems but those that do should really try this shoe. The ride is on the firm side yet well cushioned and because of the Inner Flex grooves surprisingly flexible given the high forefoot stack.

First Runs Initial Impressions Review: Skechers Performance GOrun Forza 3

Article by Sam Winebaum

The Skechers Performance Forza 3 was my pick for Best Update of Outdoor Retailer Summer 2018 and it does not disappoint!
We will have multi tester full reviews of the Forza 3, Ride 7, GOmeb Razor 2, and GOrun 6 soon at RoadTrailRun. Our 2018 Skechers Performance preview article is here  with details on the above

GOrun Forza 3 
23mm heel/17mm forefoot, 6mm drop
9.2 oz/261 g (M9), 7.3 oz./ 207 g (W8). 
My sample US M8.5 weighs 8.8 oz/251 g so 9 should be just under the spec.
$120. Available now including Running Warehouse here

The light stability Forza  drops 1.4 oz/40 g from version 2. Skechers calls it a "fast stability" shoe,
The weight drop in large part can be attributed to the new FlightGEN midsole foam, a very light, bouncy yet dense feeling material. At 9.2 oz this is a very light shoe for its stability features and overall substance.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

OOFOS OOCloog Sport Clogs: Recover Anywhere, Any Time, And In Style!

Article by Sam Winebaum with Jeff Valliere

The OOFOS OOCloog Sport ($70) is an incredibly comfortable "recovery" clog (also available in slide, mule and thong styles) whose patented OOfoam absorbs 37% more shock than the foam in running shoes.  The video below explains the technology.
Very light, with a patented arch supporting footbed the closed cell form does not absorb moisture or tend to absorb odors. They are machine washable and are surprisingly long lasting. My pair received in early December is showing almost no wear at all of the outsole. The comfort and durability is truly outstanding.

It's not that OOFOS is new to RoadTrailRun. We have followed and used various styles of their footwear almost from the day the company first started selling them. But there was a problem...

The original OOFOS were in matte colors of black, brown, or baby blue.  Fine just after a race but quite frankly too loud and crude, at least for us, as day in day out, pretty much any occasion footwear, which we wished we could use them for, as they are so comfortable. And runners' legs are sore after workouts and in need of some relief, pretty much around the clock.
At The Running Event OOFOS gave us a pair of the new OOCloog Sport.  We literally have worn them around the clock: around the house, driving, around town, in the evening to go out, and even for work occasions.
What did OOFOS do? Simple really.  The men's clog is now a shoe like glossy brown fading to black from the lower upper to the midsole/upper. Voila!  It looks like a regular leather dress clog or boot, or certainly close enough. And the women's models also get the style "upgrade'.

Women aren't left out that's for sure with a Geo and Luxe collection of new colors and always that supreme comfort.

The Satin Latte color was particularly striking, subtle and classy. As OO has styled up the platform has stayed true to the comfort. There are also slides and thongs and new OOmg high and low shoe styles available.
Jeff Valliere also got to feel the OO and here are his thoughts.

OOcloog Sport:  

These have even more cushion that the Slide Sandal and are like walking on air.  They make great house slippers like the Sport Slide Sandal, but find that even in the winter, they can be a bit warm for house use, as they don't breathe nearly as well as the slide and I find my socks getting a little damp.  The OOcloog Sport however is great to keep by the door for quickly putting on for short trips outside, quick errands or even going out to eat, as they look really classy.  

I highly recommend Oofos to anyone looking for a comfortable house shoe/recovery shoe, they are the most comfortable out there and I essentially never take them off unless I am running, sleeping or showering (though the slide could pull that off).

OOahh Sport Slide Sandal:

These are ideal for wearing around the house as slippers, as they are well cushioned and unbelievably comfortable.  We have hardwood floors and I have a minor case of Plantar Fasciitis, so I pretty much always have to be wearing something and these work perfectly for house duty and are substantial enough for heading outdoors to get the mail, take the kids to the bus stop or take out the garbage.  Fit seems to run a little large, maybe by a half size or a size.  The strap over the top is not adjustable, but holds well to my foot.

Check out OOFOS! We are huge fans and now we get to "Feel the OO" anywhere, any time, and in style.

Comments Questions Welcome Below!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Comparative Review- Garmin Fenix 5x with Topo 24k Map Bundle vs. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro

Article by Jeff Valliere

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro - $549 ($599 with HR Smartsensor)
Garmin Fenix 5x - $649.99

After recently reviewing the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro (review here), I was intrigued to test it side by side with the flagship Garmin Fenix 5x to compare GPS accuracy, wrist HR accuracy, navigation capabilities and overall usability and customization options.  Sam has already published an in depth and detailed review of the 5x (review here), so this is a supplemental comparison review. Here I plan to add some additional perspectives from use in mountainous terrain and also review Garmin’s 24k Southwest map bundle that they graciously provided to us.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Salomon Running Avenue Sonic RA and Sonic RA Max Reviews: Masterpieces of Functional Run Shoe Design. Light, Stable, Supportive and Fast

Article by Dave Ames, Shannon Payne, Peter Stuart, Tiffany Teaford and Sam Winebaum

February 1st Salomon introduces all new road shoes with its Running Avenue line. Solidly designed and built, and scientifically grounded, this new line provides light, fast supportive models ranging from a natural riding performance trainer the Sonic RA Pro (Update: see our review of the Pro here), to a light daily trainer Sonic RA, to a more supportive trainer the Sonic RA Max. We put two models, the Sonic RA and Sonic RA Max to the test. We will also soon test the Sonic RA Pro.

For our YouTube Overview of the Sonic RA and Sonic RA Max see below

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Brooks Running Ravenna 9 Review: Neutral Runner Wowed by its Light Stability

Article by Dave Ames

Brooks Ravenna 9

Known for many years as a “hybrid” in the Brooks Running line, the Ravenna 9  can be ever so slightly categorized as a stability or guidance shoe.  Using a diagonal rollbar, the Ravenna 9 provides just the smallest amount of additional support to keep a smooth heel to toe transition going.  The Ravenna 9 sheds 0.7 oz of weight always welcome, making the Ravenna a very light shoe in the light guidance class. It boasts the BioMoGo DNA cushioning system to give an ever so responsive, yet fast ride for an everyday trainer.  The new engineered mesh upper is a pleasant change from Brooks previously, in my opinion,“stale” uppers. It fits like a glove.  I have had very pleasant running experiences in the Ravenna 9. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Topo Athletic Magnifly 2 Review: Impressive zero drop balance of attractiveness, comfort, and function

Article by Larisa Dannis

Editor's Introduction
The Topo Athletic Magnifly 2 updates the original Magnifly (RTR review) with a change in geometry from a 25mm heel/20mm forefoot, 5mm drop to a 25 mm heel and forefoot zero drop geometry. The midsole is now dual density with softer foam underfoot for cushion and firmer foam below for response. It gains 0.6 oz in weight over the Magnifly 1 which very likely is due to the added 5mm foam in the forefoot. Magnifly features a new and more streamlined seamless upper. It retains Topo’s signature anatomical toe box.

Weight Women’s US8 8.6 oz/166 g,  Men’s US9 9.4 oz/226 g
Stack Height: 25mm/25mm, 0 drop
$110. Available now from Running Warehouse here

Altra Superior 3.5 Review: Refined, Stellar, Potentially Polarizing

Article by Dominick Layfield with Dave Ames

Official Stats:
  • Stack height 21 mm
  • Weight 10.3 oz / 292 g  (usually referenced against US M10)
  • $110 MSRP
  • Available now (Dec 2017 release)
  • Men’s size 10 US weighed 654 g (pair) or 11.5 oz / 327 g  per shoe INCLUDING “stone guard” rock plate.

  • With “stone guard” removed, same shoes weighed 584 g per pair or 10.3 oz / 292 g per shoe.

  • Stone guard weighed 70 g (2.5 oz) per pair


Altra’s trail shoe line-up used to be simple:  Superior, Lone Peak, Timp,  in order of increasing cushioning.  With the addition of the King MT with 19 mm nominal stack height, the Superior (21 mm) now comes fills the number two slot in the sequence.  Lone Peak stack is 25 mm, and Timp is 29 mm.

As ever, things are not quite as simple as that progression seems.  Altra’s various trail offerings have different tread patterns.  The King MT has an aggressive outsole with dense 6mm lugs.  The Superior tread pattern is sparser, with less prominent lugs (I couldn’t find official numbers, but I measured the lugs at ~4 mm).   The Lone Peak tread pattern, with large squarish lugs, works better on a range of surfaces, including pavement.   The Timp tread is similar to the Superior.   Can you discern the pattern?   If so, then you’re a better man than me!

  • Superior and Timp PFS2-M
  • Lone Peak SD6-M
  • King MT RFS-M
First Impressions and Fit

If you’re a fan of the previous iteration of the Superior (3.0), you’ll find that not much has changed.  This is a relatively minor update, with some tweaks to the upper to improve durability, and a modified heel sling to accommodate Altra’s new four-point gaiter, that has hooks on either side of the foot in addition to the previous front hook and rear velcro attachment point.

I’d not previously run in the 3.0, and was expecting that the Superior would have a similar fit to the Lone Peak 3.0 and 3.5 since I understood this shoe to be targeted at runners wanting to go faster over shorter distances and wanting a shoe that was closer to the ground.  Consequently, I was surprised to find a much roomier forefoot, more reminiscent of the Lone Peak 2.5.

My initial runs were on relatively smooth, soft trails, and I was struck that the shoe felt curiously removed from the trail, with good rock protection but little sensitivity.   It felt disconnected, and -- despite the comparatively low stack -- somewhat ponderous.

BUT... the Superior has a removable rock plate under the footbed, which Altra brands the “Stone Guard”.  With this removed, I found the character of the shoe much different and (to my taste at least) much improved.  The shoe not only felt lighter, but more sensitive and more nimble.   The downside was that the removal of the stone guard made an already roomy shoe feel oversized.  I compensated for the extra space by inserting a slim footbed from an old pair of sneakers (Nike TK3) and was very pleased with the feel of the resulting ensemble.

Dave:  I previously did not have much trail or road time in an Altra.  Over the past few years I’ve been going more away from the lower drop/zero drop footwear as I have been feeling much more beat up after marathon training blocks in these types of shoes.  However, initial fit and step in on the Superior 3.5 was very, very nice!  I have a narrow foot, but loved the wider toe box and snug midfoot grab on this shoe.  Loved the red colorway on the pair that I received.  


The upper fabric is a lightweight, dense mesh with welded overlays for reinforcement.  It feels light and durable.  Generally, I felt the choice was excellent.  On dry, dusty Los Angeles trails, the weave was dense enough that dust ingress was limited.  On muddy, wet English trails, the upper shed mud nicely, and -- while nowhere near water-resistant -- the bulk of light splashes ran off quickly with minimal absorption.  Breathability seemed good, too.  

Overall, I felt that the upper was excellent.  The only downside that I could think of was that there’s very little elasticity to it.

With the exception of the Altra logo itself, all the overlays seemed functional, rather than decorative.  (And no silly mountain graphics like on the Altra Lone Peak!)

The gaiter attachment points sewn into the heel sling is also a useful addition.  I didn’t have a pair of the new “Four-point” gaiters from Altra to test with, but I did try some Inov-8 gaiters with similar side hooks (but lacking rear velcro attachment point) and found they worked well.

The tongue is conventionally gusseted.  

Dave:  I’ll second Dom here on a light and durable upper.  For the type of trail running I do, which is a mix of Upstate NY single track and Southern California cruisers, the shoe needs to withstand multiple weather conditions, yet not be overly aggressive.  I had a great run in Upstate NY on the trails in snow, ice and sleet, as well as snowpack.  My feet were warm and relatively dry.  While I may not be running the most rugged trails compared to the awesomeness of Colorado or Utah, this shoe and upper will do just fine for what I need.  I think that’s a perfect category to put this shoe in.  “Get’s the job done.”


Not too much to say here.  I’m a fan of Altra’s A-Bound version of EVA foam.  It gives a very pleasing “creamy” ground feel that absorbs a lot of harshness.  I didn’t test the Superior on pavement, and certainly not in a side-by-side test, so can’t comment much on rebound and energy return, which is typically a much bigger factor on road than trail.

In the past, I’ve found that A-Bound has excellent durability.  I’ve had Altra shoes fail from upper wear, but have not observed any midsole compression or loss of resilience after many hundred miles of use.  In the Superior, the midsole is exposed through several cut-outs in the outsole, and appears to be holding up well.

Dave:  I had the opportunity to run on the road vs. the trail in the Superior 3.5, just to get an initial idea of how the A-Bound midsole reacted under my foot before I took it to the trail.  There is no question that this shoe is made for the trails, but the A-Bound works quite well in transitioning the runner smoothly and efficiently and I felt that on the roads as well.  Taking this baby to the trails, it’s so so smooth.  My stride felt amazing on the limited trail time I got in this thing (SoCal fires put a big damper on the amount of time I got in)  You find the sweet spot ever so nicely in the Superior 3.5 and add the trail feel to that and they have built a winner here.  Nice snappiness and your legs feel ever so fresh on the trails shaping mile after mile of happiness.


I liked the outsole material, thickness, and tread pattern in all the conditions I tested (dry, dusty dirt through wet mud).  The lugs are fairly small and widely spaced, which meant that mud is shed relatively quickly.  Traction was good in all conditions.  The only caveat might be that grip on wet rock didn’t feel particularly reassuring.

I’m not convinced by the strange flap of outsole that cantilevers out, extending past the back of the heel, which felt superfluous.  Maybe someone who loves this feature (shared by the Altra Timp, but not Lone Peak or King MT) can explain to me what it achieves.  In testing, I had to restrain myself from trimming it off completely.
Dave:  As stated earlier, I do not run overly aggressive trails, so the Superior 3.5 for me, honestly, has more or about the same outsole as I am used to (Skechers GoTrail etc) - - The tread pattern as Dom states, never collected too much mud, snow or rocks by any means.  My runs were in the winter in Upstate NY and SoCal, so I did not get to test the Superior 3.5 on any slippery rock or algae/moss that can build up and be treacherous to a trail runner (mostly East Coast unless in the PNW)


As mentioned above in the “First Impressions” section, I found that the Superior was more to my liking with the “stone guard” insert removed.  This thin piece of plastic makes a surprisingly large difference to both the feel and the weight of the shoe.  With the Stone Guard in place, I thought the shoe was lacking in ground feel.  With the Stone Guard removed, the shoe felt much improved: more nimble, and with better underfoot sensitivity.

Of course, the “right” amount of cushioning and the optimal trade-off between rock protection vs ground feel are a matter not just of personal taste, but also depend on terrain and duration of activity.

When I’m reviewing shoes, I try to review them “as supplied”, but outside of that domain, I like to play with various different insoles to tweak the feel and fit of the shoe for different conditions, sock thicknesses etc.  As such, I was expecting to really like the customizability provided by the removable rock plate.   In reality, I was a little disappointed.  While I love the idea, I found the shoe imbalanced with the “stone guard” in place.  Moreover, the insert added a surprising amount of weight (70g, 2.5 oz per pair), and was thick enough (~1.8 mm, 0.07 inch) that the shoe felt noticeably roomier with the plate removed.

Dave:  Just an extremely pleasant ride for me in the Superior 3.5.  Fast, snappy and smooth, allowing nice level landing and quick heel to toe transition.  I felt confident and connected to the trails in this shoe and would recommend it to anyone.  Run after run (as stated earlier...not as much trail time as I would have liked) it got better and better.  I plan on using this shoe for its entire life cycle and have become a huge Altra trail fan because of it.  For Zero drop, which has been a while since I’ve been back running in, I noticed no issues at all in getting back used to this platform.  I felt fresh and ready to attack the trails the next day.  My runs ranged from 60 mins of rollers to 2.5 hours of singletrack.  Nothing crazy, but enough to test out at various paces and aggressive hill climbs.


The fit of the Superior 3.5 is classic Altra.  It has a wide toebox that provides a roomy fit.  Personally, I like this type of fit more for training than for racing.

If you have an unusually wide foot, this may be a “hallelujah” shoe (particularly with the “stone guard” insert removed).  If you have narrow feet and/or like a snug fit, the Superior 3.5 is unlikely to work for you.

Otherwise, the midfoot retention is excellent, and I experienced no other fit issues.

Dave:  I am a classic size 9 in most trainers across the board and had no issues with length or width. Perfect fit for me.

Conclusions and Recommendations

I think the Superior will be a polarizing shoe, in that some people will love it, and others hate it.  It has a wide toe box in the classic Altra tradition.  The fit reminded my of the Lone Peak 2.5.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but based on my experience with recent Altra shoes (Lone Peak 3.0 & 3.5 and Torin 2.5 & 3.0),  my impression was that Altra have been moving away from this to a more mainstream fit.
I preferred the feel of the shoe with the “Stone Guard” insert removed.  However, this made an already roomy shoe noticeably roomier.  I added an extra insole to replace the missing thickness.   If I were buying the shoe, I might be tempted to drop a ½ size down.   However, the smaller size might then be a little short.

In most other respects, I found the Superior 3.5 to be a stellar trail shoe.  Material choice was excellent.  Running dynamics were excellent.  Grip was good.  You can tell that this is a shoe that has been refined over several iterations.

Perhaps my biggest disappointment is weight.  Although not exactly heavy, the Superior 3.5 are way off the cutting edge.   With the rockplate installed, my pair of size US M10 weighed 654 g (22.9 oz).  I keep a spreadsheet with the weights of every pair of shoes I’ve owned or tested.  Of the 25 shoes I’ve measured, the Superior 3.5 (including stone guard) is the 2nd heaviest.  The only shoe that was heavier was the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell (waterproof version), at 656 g -- and I made a note that I weighed these dirty (i.e. covered in mud).

With the Stone Guard removed, the 580 g weight puts the Superior 3.5 right in the same ballpark as the Nike Terra Kiger, Hoka Speed Instinct, and Brooks Mazama.  (See comparisons below)

Dave:  Overall a solid shoe with all I am really looking for in a trail shoe.  Again, I just don’t have the time with a full time coaching business and marathon training to get out to the trails consistently, so the Superior 3.5 fits the bill just fine for me.  It’s aggressive enough for some nasty conditions on the East Coast and can cruise on the dry dirt here in SoCal (Santa Monica Mountains, LA Crest etc) - - If you are looking for a legit trail shoe, reasonably priced, good fit and boasting a snappy midsole, Superior 3.5 is for you.  If you plan on getting a little more gnarly, check out the more aggressive models in Altra’s lineup.


Dom's Score:  9/10

  • -0.5 for a toebox that seems excessively wide, particularly with rockplate removed
    • However, for some runners this will be a +0.5!
  • -0.5 for rockplate weight and thickness
I really like the Superior 3.5.  I prefered the dynamics of the shoe with the Stone Guard removed, but felt this made the shoe excessively roomy.  The shoe could be more competitive weight-wise, particularly with the Stone Guard in place.

Dave Score:  10/10
I honestly had not a single issue with this shoe!  Great work by Golden and his team!


Altra Superior 3.5 vs. Skechers Performance Go Trail 2
Dave:  While on 2 different platforms (4mm vs. Zero) these are now my go to trail shoes for someone who would love to get more trail time in, but just can’t.  The Go Trail 2 is much more underfoot, which I think I used to like, but after running in the Superior 3.5, I think I have found a new winner.  I feel much more connected to the trail in the Superior.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs. Newton Boco Sol (yes, I just went there with the old school Newton)
Dave:  It’s funny, I’d have to say the Superior feels somewhat similar to the old Boco Sol by Newton.  I found the sweet spot upon footfall well in both of these.  The Superior wins out however, as I just feel far more connected and confident on the zero drop platform, compared to 3mm in the Newton.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs. Brooks Caldera/Cascadia (RTR review under Brooks here)
Dave:  Just too much shoe with the Caldera or Cascadia.  I enjoy feeling connected to the trail….feeling each and rock and root (in a good way) and I just don’t get that in the Brooks.  Both are just too much shoe for me for the trails.

Dom: I haven’t tried recent iterations of the Cascadia, but I have a pair of the Caldera 2 (24, 28 mm stack).  I was impressed with the overall feel of the Caldera.   I did feel that the sole of the Caldera is a little stiff: I had the sensation of tipping off rocks in the Caldera, instead of the sole conforming around the protuberance.   At 600 g for M10, the Caldera 2 is still 50 g lighter per pair than the Superior 3.5.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs. Skechers Performance Go Trail Ultra 4
Dave:  I used to like the maximal capabilities of the Skechers Go Trail Ultra 4.  And while an absolutely outstanding shoe, I use it now more for road miles on snowy slushy roads.  On the trail, the Trail Ultra 4 gets very sloppy for me laterally and I roll my ankles.  I do not feel confident as I do in the Superior 3.5.  Altra for the win here...but I still keep the Skechers for the roads.  Zero drop vs. Maximal.  Too different categories anyways.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs Topo MT-2 
Dom: The MT-2 (RTR review) feels very similar to the Superior.  Both shoes are low to the ground.  MT-2 stack height (20, 23 mm) is almost identical to Superior (21 mm).  The MT-2 has a small (3 mm) drop and slightly narrower forefoot, but very similar character.  There is, however, a dramatic difference in weight.  MT-2 weighs 522 g (18.4 oz) per pair US M10, as compared to 650 g (22.9 oz) for Superior 3.5 including Stone Guard.  That may be a little unfair, as the Superior offers slightly more rock protection with the Stone Guard.  Even with the Stone Guard removed (580 g), the weight difference is still significant.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs Nike Terra Kiger 4
Dom: Another trail shoe in the same ballpark for trail feel, stack height (20, 24 mm) as Altra Superior.  The Terra Kiger 4 (RTR review)’s weight is similar to the Superior without Stone Guard, but rock protection is better in TK4 (than Superior sans Stone Guard, comparable to Superior with Stone Guard).   For my feet, at least, the Nike Terra Kiger series is the benchmark for fit, conforming (after initial break-in) like a glove, and striking the Goldilocks balance between stack height, trail feel and protection.

Altra Superior 3.5 vs Hoka Speed Instinct 2
Dom: Out of the Hoka lineup, I think the Speed Instinct 2 (RTR review) is closest in character to the Superior 3.5.  Weight for the SI2 is about the same as Superior without Stone Guard.  The SI2 sits a little higher off the ground (22, 25 mm stack) and provides more cushioning without a rock plate.  Fit is very different: the Hoka forefoot is much narrower, but with stretchy upper fabric that enables it to accommodate moderately wide feet.  

Altra Superior 3.5 vs Brooks Mazama 2
Dom: These shoes should both be in the “fast and light” end of trail shoes, although Mazama 2( (RTR review) is a very different beast and feels a lot more like a race shoe than the Superior.  Mazama 2 (15, 21 mm stack) is lower to the ground up front.  The Mazama is substantially narrower in the forefoot, with a stiffer, thinner sole.  Mazama 2 weighed 585 g in US M10, so pretty much identical to Superior with Stone Guard removed.

Dom Layfield is an accomplished trail runner with a background and PhD in bio mechanical engineering from MIT.  His 2017 achievements include first place in the dead of winter 2017 108-mile Spine Challenger race in the UK, breaking the course record by an hour, first place in the Quicksilver 100K in California, and 14th at the Western States Endurance Run. 

Dave Ames is the Founder and Head Coach of Ame For It Run Coaching, a nationwide run coaching business, training athletes of all ability levels from 5K to Marathon. A former competitive college athlete he keeps sub 3 hour marathon fit. 

For Dom and Dave's full run bios see our Reviewers Bio Page here.
The Superior was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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