Friday, May 03, 2024

Alltra Running Experience Flow Multi Tester Review 4 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark and Sam Winebaum

Altra Experience Flow ($140)


Sam: The Altra Experience Flow is an upper update to Altra’s first non zero drop shoe, the FWD Experience (RTR Review). It is joined by the Experience Wild (RTR Review soon), a door to trail shoe and the Experience Form (RTR Review soon) which adds a bit more stability with the Flow already having plenty. Needless to say Altra, the “zero drop” pioneer’s move to introduce some shoes with drop is significant. 

Altra staples the “Foot Shape” toe box, here in the intermediate Standard width, and the great forefoot underneath with Inner Flex and plenty of platform width are all on board. 

At men's 8.25 oz  / 234g (US9)  /  women's 7.18 oz / 203g (US8) on a quite big 32 mm heel / 28mm forefoot platform they are a lot of shoe for the weight even if they gain some weight over the earlier FWD.

The brand sees the Experience line as a way to broaden consumer’s experience with the other great parts of Altra’s offering and serve as a stepping stone, if desired, to zero drop. Personally, the Foot Shape and forefoot with Inner Flex have been what I have liked best at Altra, not so much the zero drop. Let’s see how they performed.


Lightweight: strong cushion/weight ratio: Renee/Sam

Versatile: Renee 

Broad inherently stable platform: Sam

Trail worthy comfortable and secure upper: Sam

v1 issues resolved: tongue doesn’t rotate, achilles collar is more comfortable & less rigid: Renee


Not the most dynamic ride: Renee/Sam

Compression molded EVA foam is a bit firm and dated in feel (especially at the heel) but very light: Sam

Weight gain over FWD but still light at just over 8 oz.


Approx. Weight: men's 8.25 oz  / 234g (US9)  /  women's 7.18 oz / 203g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  8.02 oz / 226g US8.5, V1 Altra FWD 7.48 oz / 210g US8.5

                  women’s 7.18 oz / 203g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 32 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot ( 4mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  30 mm heel / 26 mm forefoot

Platform Width: 90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 110 mm forefoot

$140 Available now including at our partners at the end of the article.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: I can’t argue with a lightweight shoe, and at 203g in a women’s size 8, the Experience Flow is lightweight, especially for its stack height. And hey, it has 4mm of drop!  As of this writing, I have 70 miles in the shoes, give or take because my Garmin GPS was not working accurately for three days (surprise, surprise). 

My longest run was 4 hours (two 4-hour runs) and my shortest run was 4 miles. In terms of upper fit, the Experience Flow is generous. 

The heel and midfoot lockdown are fine and on par for what I expect from a shoe I consider to be a “workhorse”  daily trainer. For sizing, most runners can wear true-to-size. 

For runners between half sizes, I suggest the half size down. In Altra’s  “slim” foot shape fit, a size 8 works fine for me. The Experience Flow is the “standard” fit, and I have a bit too much room in the toe box and could probably half size down.

Altra states the shoe is “stylish,” and while that’s subjective, the “taupe” colorway I received isn’t the prettiest of shoes I own. 

Sam: Classic Altra Foot Shape with a small 4mm drop. What’s not to like! Just looking at the toe box says we got room to splay but with the stout upper and “Standard” fit we are not looking at giant width. Except for walking and hiking, I have found their "Original" fit too broad for my narrower to medium foot and their Slim too narrow.

Altra clearly, along with the 4mm drop, wanted a middle road that combines a non squeeze broad toe box fit with plenty of upper support. As Renee says, “workhorse” daily trainer and given the lightweight and secure snug overall hold I would say a fit and purpose for uptempo running more than easy comfort runs.

The first version, the FWD, had a similar intent and fit but was quite rough in fit, but ready with enough dialed in support for even trail runs which I actually did in them in Utah. No different here but with the rough edges tuned down and the upper actually beefed up in support

I had the following as “Cons” for the FWD upper in my review:  

1) the tongue rotates. 

2) the top of the rear Achilles collar is high and quite rigid. Could use more flex, angle to the rear and or padding. 

These issues are resolved in the Flow. The tongue stays but and while for sure not the plushest the achilles collar is no longer as rough or as rigid.

The Standard fit toe box is decently broad and secure for my narrow to medium feet and is fronted by a quite rigid and extended toe bumper with moderate toe box height as a result

I am true to size here without issues.

Overall, the upper is very supportive (even trails worthy) and decently comfortable with a focus on a solid lockdown front to back for the shoe’s more uptempo rather than ultimate comfort focus.  

Midsole & Platform

Renee: The midsole offers good cushion and protection, and as compared to almost all other similar daily trainers, the Experience Flow is a lighter weighted shoe. 30/26mm is not massive in stack, but with a relatively firm underfoot feel, the shoe worked well for me for two 4 hour runs on gravel, dirt, and light woodland trail (in the rain). The platform is wide and very stable, although for personal preference I like a slightly more narrow shoe for a quicker takeoff. 

Underfoot, I have no complaints about the midsole feel and weight. At times, I wish it was more dynamic in terms of ride but as a daily trainer, it works well. The shoe feels like a 4mm shoe, and it has a bit of a rockered feel under the midfoot, which promotes a healthy mid to forefoot landing. On light trails, I didn’t think the rocker was controlling or obtrusive because the midsole has a good amount of flex underfoot. After 70 miles, the midsole still feels good. I’m predicting the shoe’s midsole to be good for a few hundred miles. 

Sam The platform strikes a very good balance of stack height at 32 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot, broad platform width at  90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 110 mm forefoot and light weight at 8.02 oz / 226g in my US8.5. To get there, the Flow uses a “compression molded EVA” foam. Not Altra’s EGO or EGO Max somewhat bouncier and rubbery foams but something else, reminding me a lot of Hoka’s compression molded foams. 

Of note is the rear stability and front flex of the platform.

The rear rising midsole sidewalla and 90mm wide landing make the Flow notably stable at the rear of the shoe. While the stability tapers forward of the heel (with the Form version more pronation/guidance focused) when combined with the very secure upper hold at the rear the Flow clearly is a very stable neutral shoe, if  a bit too rigid and stable at the rear of the shoe for my preferences.

Upfront we have Altra’s classic combination of wide platform, of course Foot Shape toe box and key for me their Inner Flex tech. 

Inner Flex is a matrix of cuts into the top of the midsole (similar to the pattern of tennis strings) which gives flex to the front of the shoe. It joins the pattern of the outsole which matches the foot bones. 

At 28mm of front stack one would think the Flow would be quite rigid but it is not overly so and delivers a very smooth natural feeling yet responsive toe off. The front ride of Altra shoes is always a highlight for me and here again it does not disappoint.

The foam is both very light but also dense and on the firm side with a responsive feel that is also very stable vs. bouncy or springy. Again well suited to what I see as the uptempo purpose of the Flow. 

I wish Altra either made the Flow a touch softer or better yet moved to a supercritical foam to give the Flow a more springy energy returning and forgiving feel. This said, if your use is uptempo faster runs and need a touch of stability and quick response with a somewhat old school feel the platform is great.


Renee: I ran less than 10 miles on the treadmill with these shoes, and the rest of my miles were on gravel and dirt, mostly during wet or rainy conditions. The photo below is after I ran, showing some mud still wedged in the grooves.  I have minimal wear on the outsole on the exposed midsole section under the midfoot. The firmer rubber coverage is well placed under the forefoot and lateral side of the heel. The shoe is not a hybrid shoe (the Wild is, although I have not tested that shoe), but it worked well for me on gravel and dirt. 

Sam: A classic Altra outsole with a very deep firm heel patch and foot bone following ribs of rubber upfront. When combined with the Inner Flex grooves up front the shoe has a flex point quite far back with some flex further forward. While of course not a plated shoe, the front ahead of the flex point provides somewhat of a plate like toe off platform.

The outsole should prove plenty durable. 

When the quite firm midsole foam is paired to the deep rear rubber I find landings a bit rough at slower paces when landing at the heel. Things get more pleasant at faster paces landing further forward. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: Altra delivers some drop to go with all their other trademark features and advantages in the Flow. The Foot Shape fit and Inner Flex with toe bones following outsole design are all here and for me that is great news. I don’t “miss” the zero drop part of the Altra formula at all.

The ride is uptempo, quite firm and responsive with the very secure upper well matched to what I see as the Flow’s uptempo purposes. With its broad platform and 32/28 stack height, It is light at 8 oz in my US 8.5. I think Altra could soften and energize the ride by moving to a supercritical foam or even a softer flavor of the CMEVA here to extend the Flow’s utility and ride excitement. As is, if you are seeking a low drop, stable and direct riding versatile trainer with plenty of cushion yet also some feel for the road and want to feel your feet in the game it is a solid choice.

Sam’s Score: 9.1 / 10

-0.7 midsole foam lacks excitement, is dated , -0.2 far rear of shoe is over stabilized/somewhat rigid


Renee: The Experience Flow is a lightweight shoe with a good amount of midsole for comfort during long efforts (4 hours, for me). Lightweight, low drop shoes are my favorite daily trainers, so I enjoyed the ride of the Flow. 

The underfoot geometry and 4mm drop will work better than a zero drop for most runners, and it definitely feels like 4mm instead of 0mm. The rockered geometry is noticeable underfoot, but it’s not obtrusive while running. I don’t consider the midsole responsive in a dynamic way, but the shoe isn’t slow thanks to its lightweight. 

The wide forefoot platform takes away from a fast, nimble landing in terms of speed workouts. The toe box has a bit more space than I need/prefer, especially for more uptempo paces. That said, while it might not be the best option for faster runs, it’s not a bad option. 

For scoring, any deductions are my personal preferences and not  shoe-specific issues. I’d suggest the Flow for a runner who wants one shoe for literally everything, and for someone who needs a low drop, wide forefoot shoe with a good amount of underfoot protection in a lightweight package. 

Renee’s Score: 9.4/10 (-.10 foot shape specific, -.50 lack of dynamic ride). 



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Hoka Mach 6 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Hoka has 5mm more stack height at the heel and 4mm more upfront. Unlike the Altra it has a supercritical foam midsole which gives it a considerably more energetic ride and 6g lower weight. Its ride is quicker and more agile due to the foam but also its 10mm narrower midfoot platform with heel and forefoot the same width as the Flow. It's upper is a non stretch engineered mono mesh and for sure lower volume with a near race shoe like fit and I think the Mach would make a superb non plated racer as it is under 8 oz in weight and quick and lively. If you have a higher volume wider foot you will be more comfortable in the Altra and/or if you need a touch of stability ( the wider midfoot platform) the Altra is a better choice otherwise the Mach is the clear winner for me. With supercritical foam in the Flow and it would for sure be a closer race.

ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)

Renee: Altra lists the Novablast as a competitive product in its catalog listing for the Experience Flow. For me, these are not comparable shoes. The Novablast is a high drop shoe with a very bouncy midsole and plush upper. While I prefer a low drop, light shoe (The Experience Flow), the Novablast has a fun factor the Experience Flow is missing. I might get more excited about lacing up the Novablast, but I can get more daily use from the Experience Flow. Sizing is comparable, with the Experience Flow having a much wider toe box. 

New Balance Rebel v 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both are lower drop shoes with a great weight/cushion ratio. The Rebel v4 is a lighter shoe with a much more dynamic ride. The Rebel v4 added more width to its platform as compared to its previous versions. These are very similar shoes on paper, but the Rebel v4 is much more fun and dynamic. Sizing is comparable, with the Altra having the more obvious toebox width. 

Sam: Renee has it right. More fun and dynamic for the Rebel v4 and it would say actually comparable toe box volume with a more secure hold for the Flow. The Altra is considerably more stable at the rear of the shoe. Both true to size for me.

Topo Atmos (RTR Review)

Sam: Higher stacked and over an ounce heavier the Topo has a more comfortable anatomical fitting broad toe box and overall upper. Its ride is smoother and more cushioned with its similar foam more forgiving. The Flow is a better uptempo days, even light trails trainer while the Topo ranges better to slower paces and everyday running for me. Both are true to size for me.

The Altra Experience Flow is available now at our partners


Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

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Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U.S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2023 was Sam’s 51th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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