Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Altra Running 2019 Previews: Vanish-XC, Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush, Escalante 2, King MT 2, Tushar Hiker, Grafton and Wahweap Approach Shoes

Article by Sam Winebaum with Peter Stuart and Shannon Payne

Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush multi tester review 
Escalante 2 multi tester review

Altra as always presented in detail and in depth at The Running Event. The season's preview was presented by Brian Beckstead, Altra co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer.
Watch our video preview here

Vanish-XC ($80)
Available May 2019
Weight: 5.5 oz
Stack Height: 15 mm

The wild Vanish-XC was one of the stars of The Running Event. A beautifully simple concept, the Vanish is designed for cross country racing, trail running for minimal fans, and I venture to say it should be a great 5K road shoe for me.  And it is not to be underestimated on the trail for some anyways... Altra elite Zach Bitter just set the world 100 mile trail record in 12:08:35 in a pair!

The Vanish features a unique lacing system. Lace anywhere through the upper for a custom fit.
The midsole foam is the excellent firmer and responsive Max LT found in the Duo (RTR review) and upcoming light performance trainer Kayenta (RTR review soon)
The front outsole is a single plate which provides traction but also gives the shoe flex snap at toe off and in Brian's demo it sure was snappy!

The traction includes lugs but also protruding four "spikes" of the same material as the rest of the outsole.

Altra King MT 2 ($140)
Altra King MT 2
The King MT 2 has the same 19 mm stack as 1.5 but weight drops from 10.6 oz in our test samples of 1.5 to a catalog weight of 8.7 oz. Available May 2019.
The King MT was one of the most fun and versatile trail shoes , especially in rough and sloppy conditions we ran last year (RTR review). However, it was very heavy at 10.6 oz in our samples at size 9 due in large part to its extensive, thick and excellent Vibram MegaGrip outsole.

For 2019 the King MT gets a new Vibram Lite Base MegaGrip outsole. The outsole also features 4 mid foot drain holes, a unique feature from Vibram for Altra.  By reducing the full coverage outsole plate on which the lugs sit by 2mm, and increasing the EGO midsole stack 2mm and making it softer, we should see a considerably lighter, more flexible and cushioned shoe. We are confirming the quoted 8.7 oz weight (which may not include sock liner or production height lugs) as it is a huge drop from our King MT's 10.6 oz size 9 tested samples. The lugs shown in the photos are not the full 6mm production height. Regardless there is no question King MT 2 will a lighter, faster and livelier shoe yet.

The Velcro support strap moves slightly higher. The mesh upper has translucent overlays.

The toe box bumper has drain holes.

Altra Torin 4 ($120) and Torin 4 Plush ($140)
Update: Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush multi tester review 
Torin 4 Plush
Available May 2019
Weight: Torin 4: 9.1 oz mens's 7.5 oz women's
              Torin 4 Plush: 10.1 oz men's 8.5 oz women's
Stack Heights:
Torin 4: 26mm
Torin 4 Plush: 28mm

The Torin splits into two models: the speed oriented Torin 4.. 
Altra Torin 4
..and the comfort oriented Torin 4 Plush.
Altra Torin 4 Plush
The Torin 4 has a very breathable engineered mesh upper and removes the Strobel board under the sockliner. As such it will have a 2mm lower stack and be slightly firmer and more responsive.  The Plush has a knit upper, a more premium TPU sockliner, and the Strobel board.

Both Torin get a new Quantic midsole, said to be softer and more responsive than the prior midsole.
The Quantic midsole is shared with the Superior 4 (RTR review soon).
The outsole is redesigned with a wider heel base for additional stability and new flex grooves enhancing transitions through their decoupling. 

Altra Escalante 2 ($130)
Available August 2019
Weight: 8.8 oz men's, 7.4 oz women's
Stack Height: Same as before at 24mm
The Escalante 2 gets a new knit upper which should provide more side to side support and through perforations good breathability. The rear knit is de-bossed meaning it is denser to provide more support in those areas. So we can for sure expect this new version to be more supportive than the 1.5 (RTR review) which already improved on version 1 in that area.
The outsole is similar to its predecessor but has more continuous connections between rubber sections to increase durability. In comparing to 1.5 these more continuous sections are concentrated near the toe. Flexibility was enhanced by increasing the decoupling of the Altra EGO midsole and outsole. Stack stays the same at 24mm.

The Escalante gains a bit less than an ounce based on catalog weights. We should expect the same Escalante comfort and ride now tamed for better support increasing the versatility of the shoe.

Altra Tushar ($200)
Available August 2019
Weight: 19.8 oz men's, 16.6 oz women's
Stack Height: 27mm

Altra was very excited about their expansion into the Outdoor Adventure category with their first hiking boot, the Tushar-named after a rugged range in their home state of Utah;  as well as two approach shoes The Grafton and Wahweap described below.
The Tushar features Altra Foot Shaped toe box, super welcome on long hikes. Altra's Lone Peak is the most popular shoe for long hikes such as the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Coast Trail but not exactly ideal in rougher terrain and with heavy packs for some.
Altra Tushar
The Tushar has more flexible heel area than most hiking boots with a deep  lace lock and uses Guide Rail as in the Paradigm to help stabilize without over directing the foot. The midsole is made of PU which is a more compression resistant. long lasting, softer material than the usual sheet or compression molded EVA found in hikers. It should provide a comfortable ride on those long hikes and over time. 

The upper is a ballistic nylon. The Tushar has a waterproof breathable Event membrane.
The outsole is Altra DuraTread and unusually for a hiker is decoupled and works in conjunction with the InnerFlex grooves. The boot is clearly more flexible than a typical big hiker but plenty protective and supportive from what we could see. The Tushar appears to be an ideal boot for my home White Mountains where endless rocks and slippery roots require protection and support, grip, but also agility.

Altra Grafton ($140)
Available July 2019
Weight: 11 oz men's, 9.2 oz women's
Stack Height: 23 mm

The Grafton represents Altra's entry into the rugged approach/canyoneering shoe category. It can scramble and also go casual with its mix of canvas, suede leather, and climbing style toe cap. It has a Vibram MegaCrip outsole.

Altra Wahweap ($100)
Available July 2019
Weight: 8.9 oz men's, 7.5 oz women's
Stack Height: 14.5mm

The Whaweap is the Grafton's somewhat more casual sibling. It has a 75% hemp functional and sustainable upper, a cool looking sticky rubber outsole with sipes (small cuts) for multi surface traction versatility and a rubber climbing style toe cap.

Comments Questions Welcome Below!
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chris said...

What a pity that the Escalante will gain weight

60 said...

Agree - why would they go in the wrong direction on the escalante? The racer is lighter and provides more upper support. Please don't ruin the shoe.

amadeus303 said...

After the Racer came out, I stopped running in the regular Escalante altogether. I hope they don't ruin the Racer too!

Unknown said...

Yeah I love the light weight of the eaclante, I fell in love with these shoes , sure hate to see they gained weight , I won’t be buying the 2

Anonymous said...

I hope they solved the issue with the King MT toe box area easily tearing on the top. It looks like they added more protection, but we'll see. I'd prefer a little more weight on my trail shoes to protect the uppers because, especially with Altra trail shoes, I never make it a full season on one pair. I've had older "heavier" pairs of trail shoes in which the uppers lasted until the Vibram soles completely wore out. I am still waiting for this trail shoe, and I had been hoping the King MT would be it.

Malarowski said...

Any word on the King MT release? Clearly it's not May 2019. Was there any news at any point?