Sunday, May 05, 2024

Altra Running Experience Form Review

Article by Matt Kolat

Altra Experience Form ($140 US)


Altra is an American brand that first made a name for itself in the running shoe world during the minimalist revolution that took place around 15 years ago (does anyone still remember those bygone days?). 

What sets Altra models apart from most of the competition is their anatomical shape (read wide midfoot and forefoot) and zero drop (no difference in foam thickness between the back and front of the shoe). And it is this latter feature in particular that I would like to highlight in the introduction to the review below because the Altra Form model is part of the Experience line, where for the first time (except for the 2023 FWD Experience) tha  Altra has moved away from zero drop to 4mm with the light stability Form here, neutral Flow and trail Wild. 

Is this a good idea? I invite you to the review!


Altra with 4mm drop (good for runners who don't like 0mm drop)

High resilience

Very stable


     - Altra with 4mm drop (fans of 0mm drop may be disappointed)


Spec Weight: men's 9.6oz / 221g (US9) 

Sample: men's US 13 UK 12 EU 48

Sample weight: 323g / 11.4oz 

Stack Height: 32mm heel / 28mm 

Drop: 4mm

$140 available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

My first impression upon opening the box was to be reminded of my previous Altras - it was the Paradigm model, which is still Altra's flagship stability model. I had run in several versions of the Paradigm and really liked this model but above 10km the zero drop was giving my calves and shins a hard time. 

The shoe is aesthetically very pleasing, the grey/green colour scheme suits me just fine - although most Altra models tend to come in much less striking colours. 

Altra  sent me the shoe in size 48 EU (13 US/12 UK) which is 1 size larger than usual. ,It fits me very well and I would therefore recommend trying it on carefully before buying as the numbering seems to be inflated by a whole size. 

The upper is made of quite a stiff, thin material but this does not affect the comfort when running. The upper is much thicker around the ankle and the shoe holds the foot very securely. 

The shoe's tongue is far too short, which is a little cumbersome when putting the shoe on, but not noticeable when running. The laces are flat and hold the knot very well, plus some of the fibers are reflective, increasing safety when training before sunrise or after dusk. 

The heel counter is very soft for a stability shoe but this doesn't translate into instability  running even for people (like me) who land on their heel. 

In terms of shoe width, Altra currently offers 3 options: Original which is the widest, most anatomical version; Standard (the one used in the Form model) which is more anatomical than most models on the market; Slim which is closest to traditional brands (tapered midfoot). 


The midsole is almost always the part of the shoe that has the biggest impact on the running experience, comfort and everything related to it. 

The main building block of the Altra Form's midsole is a lightweight EVA foam which I would broadly describe as soft and resilient for a stability shoe. After running 50km, I don't see any signs of compression of the foam, nor does it need to be broken down, it is soft already during the first run. 

On both sides of the shoe, the manufacturer has placed 'guide rails' or stabilizing walls seen as the black in the picture below. 

When I first saw these I thought they were far too small to stabilize the foot, especially in the late stages of a run. Fortunately, my fears were not confirmed.  

Another advantage of the midsole is its flexibility. It seems to me that this is not just due to the EVA foam but also to the large number of foam cuts just below the foot. Altra calls this tech Inner Flex. Big kudos to Altra for achieving such a high level of flexibility, which did not translate into destabilizing the shoe even when I was already tired and my form was deteriorating. 


The Altra Form outsole is approximately 85% rubber, which is good news because it is a training shoe and we want it to last as long as possible. 85% is a lot by today's standards, the rubber outsole is almost always the heaviest material in a shoe and this is where manufacturers often try to reduce the weight of a particular model.

The light gray rubber at midfoot contributes to Form’s stability at the ground. The Flow more neutral Experience shoe (RTR Review) has less coverage there as shown below.

 I rate the grip very well, I had no problems even on wet pavements running downhill (by the way, I did not test the Form in the field even once). As for the quality of the material - no complaints either. After running about 50km (I currently weigh 183 lbs  / 83kg), the tread has not yet started to wear down. 

Ride, Summary and Recommendations

I'll be honest, when I saw how small the stabilizing 'rails were and how soft the heel counter was I thought there was no way the Form would be stable. Nothing of the sort! The Form is very stable.I tested it on the treadmill and on tarmac and didn't feel destabilized even on longer workouts (15km plus). 

The shoe rolls very smoothly, is flexible and is relatively soft as a stability shoe. Interestingly the manufacturer chose not to include a traditional medial post for stability and  I find it hard to explain to myself how the Altra Form is so very stable but it is.

All in all, I consider the Altra Form shoe to be very successful. It is an outstanding training shoe and I think it will perform very well over distances of 5km to half marathon. It is not a very technologically advanced shoe so I think the group of runners I would recommend the Altra Form to most strongly are beginners and intermediate runners, those who seek some stability that does not “get in the way” and is more guidance oriented than prescriptive  and those who seek an anatomical “Foot Shape” broader  fit in a low drop shoe. 

Score:: 9/10

Ride: 9/10(50%), Fit 9/10(30%), Value 9/10(15%), Style 9/10(5%)


Asics GT-2000 v12 (my Review

The GT2000 v12 is one of my favorite shoes of 2023 and definitely my favorite stability shoe of the previous year. In many ways (apart fromits 8mm drop) it is a very similar shoe to the Altra. It is very bouncy and stable but achieves this stability, like the Altra, mainly by using geometry rather than traditional stabilizing methods. If you are concerned that the Altra and its low drop will not suit you - the GT2000 v12 is a great alternative. 

Hoka Arahi 7 (my Review)

At virtually the same weight, the Arahi and Altra Form could not be more different in every other respect. The Arahi is definitely a stiffer shoe, which I personally like a lot but at the same time I know that most runners prefer soft and springy footwear. Thanks to its stiffness, the Arahi is a much better shoe than the Altra for fast short workouts and short to medium distance runs. The Arahi is also, nota bene, much more narrow in fit at the midfoot and front. 

New Balance 860v13  (my Review)

Of the three models compared, the New Balance is the furthest from the Altra. Firstly it has a 10mm drop which you can feel when running, I personally liked it but it is definitely more of a 'traditional ride'. The New Balance, on the other hand, is in a similar weight category and, like the Altra, seems much lighter when running than its weight would indicate.

Experience Flow Review

The Altra Experience Form, Flow and Wild are available now at our partners


Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Tester Profile

Maciej 'Matt' Kolat- 38 years old, hailing from Poland but pounding Scottish pavements and trails since 2007. Mainly runs shorter distances on pavement 5-10 km and reserves longer runs for the beautiful Scottish Glens. Matt’s opinion sometimes may differ from otherRTR testers as he is the slowest of the bunch (5k at 25:38). Matt also uses running as a way to stay healthy having shedded 100 lbs so far (and counting).

Translated with from Matt’s original Polish review

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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