500k IN THE ALL-NEW ALTRAFWD Experience
Posted on October 08 2023
Ever since ALTRA Running was founded the company has focused on zero drop, footshaped shoes to promote a more natural running form. Less pressure on the knees and a greater extension of the hamstrings and calves which many believe leads to fewer injuries.
Now for the very first time the company has brought out a neutral everyday road training shoe with a 4mm drop meaning the heel cushioning is 4mm thicker than under the forefoot. This may not seem like a lot but this is a major step for the company and perhaps predictably the ALTRA diehards out there have been expressing some dissatisfaction that the company would move in this direction after for years extolling the virtues of zero drop.
Well I look at it from the way I see many customers reacting to the ALTRA story when they come into the shop.
If you have spent your running career in some of the more traditional brands, adidas, New Balance, Nike, it was for many year the norm that you would have something like a 8 to10mm drop in your shoes. The shoes would also be shaped in the toebox in a way that conformed with the accepted wisdom of what attractive shoes should look like. That's all well and good but that was rarely how people feet were shaped and most importantly required the big toe to be confined and rarely straight.
We explain the benefits of natural running form and the Footshaped toebox to the se customers and the majority are ready to give it a try but the change to zero-drop causes concern. A step too far for some.
At that point they may choose something like a HOKA Clifton 9 with 4mm drop and give up on the benefit of the Footshaped Toebox.
ALTRA have now provided a solution for those customers! The ALTRAFWD Experience!
We have been lucky enough to have a pair of these for the last 6 months and in that time covered around 500kms. This is our impression over that time.
First the Tech Spec.
Weight: 240g (men's US10.5) / 201g (women's US8.5)
Stack height: 32mm/28mm (Heel/Forefoot)
Heel to Toe Drop: 4mm
Outsole: Wear-resistant rubber outsole.
Cushioning level: Max Cushioned
Rocker Geometry for a smooth Gait Cycle
Upper: High-performance knitted mesh
Midsole: Compression Moulded EVA
The very first impression when you pick up the shoe is just how light it is. The 240g spec doesn't do justice to the lightness of the shoe. Its featherweight.
Step in feel is very comfortable with the toebox providing what you would expect from ALTRAs STANDARD Footshope.
Somewhat surprisingly, the midsole is compression moulded EVA not the branded EGO foam on say the Torin 7. Maybe a nod to keep the cost of the shoe down a little. The $1199 price point is indeed very attractive.
The upper is a very well executed, single piece high performance knit which gives a lovely smooth execution and also functions extremely well. In the ALL-Black version this also will appeal as an everyday leisure shoe.
Then there is the ride. The heel and the forefoot midsole shape has been constructed to be an exaggerated "U" shape which results in one of the smoothest rides I have ever had. The roll on, roll off is so smooth your running gait almost becomes silent.
I have found myself reaching for these shoes frequently in the available rotation. They are just so comfortable, smooth and easy to run in that they quickly become a favourite.
They are an everyday trainer and you really can run everyday in them. The cushioning is pleasant, the rocker rolls you along. The upper hold your foot steady and your toes have room to spread. Its really hard to find any fault with the shoe
As for longevity, after 500k I can see very little deterioration on either the upper or the outsole. I typically roll along the outside edge of the shoe and therefore there was a little more wear there but overall I think these shoes will make 1000km with ease.
So yes, I am a big fan and see absolutely no problem with ALTRA providing a 4mm drop solution, perhaps as a transition from high drop shoes to zero, but also in their own right as just a wonderful, light, everyday trainer. This will get people into ALTRA shoes that otherwise might not try them. They will also fit into a shoe rotation when occasionally a little drop provides some variation and breaks up your gait a little.
The tag line for the shoe is RUN MORE. EFFORT LESS.... and it really is true.
Pick up a pair and see for yourself!!.
MENS AND WOMENS AVAILABLE HERE https://gone.run/collections/altrafwd-experience