ALTRA VANISH C - Long Term Test
Posted on April 16 2022
Since ALTRA was acquired by VF they have embarked upon a pretty rapid development of their shoe range. Not only an expansion of the range, but a complete rethink of who they are, and where they want to be in the market.
This season has seen the release of many groundbreaking shoes, The MONT BLANC, THE TIMP 4 and now the VANISH C (for Carbon).
The aim for the brand is to be present in all the relevant market segments in the market and the one big gap in their offering has been a high end road racing shoe built on a super foam. Something for them to take all brands at that top end of the market.
The answer is the Vanish C, formally launched globally on the 15th April.
For a brand priding themselves on "natural running" the challenge has been how to square that with the the obvious enhancements super foam and carbon brings to this sector. Some might say they are late to the carbon game but the development of this shoe has been very carefully considered through 17 prototypes to finally get to the market offering we see now.
We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to run in this shoe for around 8 months and indeed I did the Standard Chartered Half in them last year. So with just under 300ks into the shoe now we have a pretty good understanding of what the shoe is all about.
Firstly the tech spec:
The aim has been to produce a light, responsive racing shoe good for all road racing distances and that means keeping it light. At 206g for the men's and 176g for the women's that certainly has been achieved.
The mid sole foam is a brand new, nitrogen infused material they call EGO PRO. The Vanish C is the first in the ALTRA line up to have this incorporated.
The use if a Carbon plate is of course the tricky challenge in thinking how to do that, but still keep a natural running feeling. The Carbitex half plate, split into 3 blades, and sandwiched between two layers of EGO PRO is their answer.
Good torsional energy return but flexibility to respond to the bone structure of the foot. It is somewhat similar to the adidas approach with 5 carbon infused rods. This three pronged plate gives a more responsive feel to the way your foot moves that say a more rigid full length plate.
The upper is a super light and breathable engineered mesh upper to keep the weight down.
Of course, being ALTRA, the shoe has balanced cushioning which means 30 mm under your heel and forefoot..
The ALTRA FOOTSHAPE concept has also evolved and now ALTRA shoes come in one of three FOOTSHAPES, The VANISH C is in the SLIM FOOTSHAPE offering.
So how does this all work.
The first impression is being struck by the lightness. They really are featherlight.
Then there is the putting on. The upper is very much aimed at simply encapsulating your foot so it can be somewhat tricky to get the shoe on and the tongue and the vamp lying smoothly around your foot but that's a good thing because when lacing up, its very easy to get a good locked in feeling. The two padded restraints on the heel do prevent any heel slippage and the narrower "SLIM"" Footshape caresses your foot well.
Once on, and laced up off for the run. What ALTRA have done is to place the inflection point of the shoe at about 65% of the way from the heel to the toe and this is a great way for a balanced cushioned shoe to still provide a great feeling of forward momentum. The rocker point is enhanced by the torsion in the carbon plate and you get a nice spring at toe off from the foam and the plate.
The running feel is nice and bouncy indeed BUT, its still feels stable. Some of the other carbon plated shoes I have run in can get a bit unstable running downhill or if you are an avid heel striker. This is much more accommodating.
The EGO PRO foam is very springy and you can feel the difference to the EGO MAX and certainly to the EGO foams used in other models.
What you have to accept though is this is a racing shoe, its meant for those special races where you are looking to do your best. You can see at less than 300km the EVA outsole is pretty much shot. I do land on the outside of my left foot but this is an unusual level of wear and once through to the EGO PRO don't expect any traction, especially on Hong Kong's famous waterfront tiles.
There will be a non carbon version of this coming next season so save these for your important races.
Conclusion: An excellent addition to the ALTRA range and a top contender in the carbon plated super shoe sector. The ability to now combine that with zero drop means you get all the benefits of that nice natural running form with a shoe that can help you take those precious seconds off your PR.
CHECK OUT THE RANGE HERE: