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Altra Superior Review

edited November 2012 in Altra
I picked up a pair of the new Altra Superiors to try.  I have a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and like them quite a bit, but they are clunky and don't give much ground feel.  I wear a 9.5 in the Lone Peaks, but had to go to a 10 in the Superiors.

I'm a very casual runner, but a total shoe slut. I love trying new shoes.  I buy all my shoes at Running Warehouse, they are the best company I've ever dealt with.  I hope my wife never actually counts how many of the free tote bags she has. My normal gait is a jog/walk/stagger.  I live on a ranch in the mountains and never run on pavement.  I ran 2 miles to get a feel for the Superiors, then did a 9.6 mile run with 1,600' of elevation gain and loss.  This was on single track cattle trails, an old road, and sometimes no trail at all.

Likes:  They have a good ground feel, and are quite a bit more nimble.  The tongue is solid rather than mesh and does a great job or keeping trash out.  I wore gaiters, and only got a couple of small stickers in the shoe.  Quite pleased with this.

Dislikes:  My main problem is the shoe is tons bigger through the mid-foot than the Lone Peak.  They weren't bad at first, but midway through the long run they loosened up, and started rolling around my foot.  I had to cinch them as tight as possible to get home.  

The new sole design doesn't give good traction in loose soil or shallow sand, it's just too flat.  On firm ground or rocks, it's fine.  I had one good slip on some leaves.  Cleats like on the Lone Peak, or Inov8 shoes work best for me.  I don't know if they were going for a hybrid road/trail sole or what.

I had the removable rock plate in, but it wasn't very effective.

Other:  For some reason, I hit my right ankle with the left shoe THREE times.  Hasn't happened before with any other shoes.  The sole is kind of sharp, and it drew blood.  I don't know what's going on, the toe is wider than regular shoes, but it's not that much wider.

Overall, I was disappointed with the shoe.  With the flat, non-aggressive sole, and the gimmicky removable rock plate, it seems like they were going for a shoe that would be all things to all people, instead of being geared more toward trail running.  Huge through the mid-foot, not a problem for me with other shoes.

I stuck some much thicker insoles in and ran another couple of miles.  They helped a lot.  I'll go on another long run with the thicker insoles and thicker socks and see how they work.


  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts - exchanged mine for a bigger size and still waiting on them. I was curious how traction would be with that sole - definitely not as luggy as some other trail shoes.
  • Put another 8 miles on 'em with a thicker insole and thick socks.  Much better. Will take them on a longer run with challenging terrain in a few days and see how it goes.  Looking forward to your impression of the shoe Pete.
  • what a MAJOR disappointment. this was going to be my go-to cushioned trail shoe. 

    i'm a minimalist because it makes my feet happy. fav shoe is new balance MT00 but after some racing this summer with pain on the downhill bombing (rocks=ouch) i was leaning towards a bit more cush. since i like the altra (with no insole) for standing and walking all day, and the instinct 1.5 for long runs, the superior was my next obvious choice.

    bummer! well, i do have a pari of barefoot ted's leadvilles that are surprisingly comfortable on short runs. no pain on the rocks! have to try and see how they would do on 10 milers?? it never gets so cold in california that weather would be a deterrent.
  • That is disappointing to hear, I had high hopes for this shoe. Wider through the mid-foot actually sounds good to me, as that is usually a problem area for my feet.

    @mp0363, you might like the Inov-8 TrailRocs, the 235 has 6mm of cushion, and zero drop... I just wish their anatomic toebox was a little wider.
  • I'd second the Trailroc 235 - fantastic shoe!

  • I've got the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 and I love it!  It has a integrated rock plate but low to the ground.  It does have a 3mm drop not a zero drop but I haven't made the transition to that yet.  The 245 doesn't have as much cushion as the Altra which I like now as I get better ground feel.  The 235 model Mr. ToeSalad mentions also doesn't have a rock plate.  I don't like getting poked in the foot by sharp rocks at least for now. 
  • Steve - the 235 does provide a firm rubber outsole, so rock protection is better than in a shoe like the NB MT00. Just got my 10.5 Superiors so hope to have some thoughts soon on those.
  • I just completed my first run in the Altra Superiors. I to ordered from Running Warehouse and had to wait for a size 12.5 to replace the size 12 I ordered initially. I was impressed with the shoe. It gave me a very confident feel on the trail and I never felt I needed more traction. Relative to the other shoes in which I run frequently (MT110 and MT1010), they are heavy. However they seem to offer a softer ride that may enable longer runs. Too early for a full assessment but initially I like the shoe.
  • edited November 2012
    l also just completed my first run in Superiors.   Just like ATLRB, I had move up a size from my original order.    This shoe is going to be a nice addition to my stash.   I run on a mix of gravel roads, flat trails, and asphalt. The traction should be just fine for those conditions.   But I can see that they might be troublesome for more technical trails.   I suspect that they should also be fine on upcoming snow packed roads.       More cushioning than my Trail Gloves which is a good thing at the moment for me!   I ran with the insole but without the rock plate.   For the moment, I think the flexibility of the removable insole & rock plate will be good for me.

    And I really love the wide toe box.   I thought my Trail Gloves had a wide toe box until I put these puppies on.   My toes were very happy!       This is my 1st running shoe purchase in over a year.   With 2+ years of minimal shoes under my belt, the front of my foot has definitely gotten wider.    That is a good thing, I think.  I may not be able to wear my current Trail Gloves anymore.  
  • edited November 2012
    I have had two runs in my Superiors.  The first one was on a pretty technical trail.  I went without the rock plate and found that combination suitable for a short run (10 miles).  Like most people that posted, I bought them a half size larger (even larger than my Instinct) and had to wear my thickest Dry Max trail socks to keep them from slipping too much.  I tripped and fell hard on a steep descent at the end of that run.  While I am not ready to blame the shoe for my clumsiness, I am skeptical about using a bigger shoe in which my feet are sliding around on a technical descent now.

    We got a bit of snow with some icy spots in Denver yesterday and I wore them for an 8 mile road run. I would say the traction they provided under those conditions (light snow with  just a touch of frozen rain underneath in spots) was phenomenal.

    Overall, I want to love this shoe.  And I will continue to use and see how I like it as I break it in more.  So far, I think the MT110 is still my favorite racing trail shoe (20 miles or less?), and the Peregrine has done me really well on longer stuff (ultras).
  • Wish I could get to a point where 10 miles was a "short run"!
  • Finally got a chance to wear my half-size-up pair around yesterday. No run yet, but initial comfort is great, they seem to have a bit of a softer feel than the Instinct 1.5, which is good, and I like the fit and flexibility. I do feel like I may have been better served by going a full size up, but that's a tough call. I suspect pulling out the rock plate will give me the space I need, but they are by no means uncomfortable at a half size up. I generally aim for the thumbs width between my big toe and the tip of the shoe.
  • I tried on some Superiors last night while speaking with an Altra rep at my running specialty store.  I like the fit and feel of them more than any other Altra shoe, but I will confirm to go up at least 0.5 size.  I am a 9 1/4 (9 in Merrell Road Gloves, 9.5 in Brooks/Saucony, etc), and I most likely will wear a 10 in Superior for my next 50k.

    Since there is some mention in this thread about the Inov-8 Trailrocs, I would like to inquire about fit.  I'm a huge Inov-8 fan, and all of my (5) pairs are size 9 as Inov-8 tends to run large on me.  However, shoefitter and other sources indicate I should opt for a 9.5 in the Trailroc 245--unusual if this I8  -model were actually true to size.  Can any fellow I-8 fanatics attest to the accuracy in size of the new Trailrocs.


  • I've got 50+ miles on these and am liking them more.  Thick socks and  a thick insole cured the fit issue.  Tons of toe room.  Cushioned, but give a good ground feel.  Sole isn't ideal for my terrain, but works well on hard surfaces.
  • I have the Inov-8 Trailroc 235 - wear the same size in it as all of my other I8 shoes, from Bare-X 180 to F-Lite 195 to Road-x 233 and 155
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