I am shamelessly in love with Altra shoes. I only discovered them at the end of 2020, but I already don’t want any other shoe ever to go running with me again.
Because these shoes are the only ones I have found that don’t trouble my wide and bunioned feet, and they have zero drop (i.e., equal stack height of the heel and forefoot ).
Altra shoes are unique because they have a wide-shaped toe box that allows your toes to splay naturally. Besides, the zero-drop feature is perfect for folks like me, who have gotten used to walking barefoot or in minimalist shoes, or who want to transition to a more natural movement pattern.
I found minimalist shoes, like Vibram Five Fingers or Merrell, too cold during the winter months, and Altra’s filled the spot perfectly.
Also, when running ultramarathon distances or on asphalt, I like to have a bit more cushion than what most other minimalist and barefoot-style shoes provide.
Another reason I have been sticking with Altra so far – they have models with a bit more and even a lot of cushioning – like the two models compared in this review: the Altra Torin Plush 4.5 and the Altra Paradigm 4.5.
Let’s look at each in turn.
Altra Torin Plush 4.5 Review
The Altra Torin Plush 4.5 was the first road running shoe from Altra that I purchased. As the name implies, the shoe feels “plush.”
When I first tried them, walking felt awkward because I felt as if my feet would sink into some sand. I have been using minimalist shoes for the two years prior, and having this soft sole underneath my feet took some getting used to.
However, I adapted quickly, and running in them was no issue whatsoever – as long as the underground was hard. Running on asphalt felt good, but running over grass or forest paths was awkward. On these surfaces, I often felt as if I was losing control because it was so wobbly.
Like many Altra models, the Torin Plush 4.5 features a knitted upper that is very breathable and dries quickly. I never got hot in those shoes, and even after several runs in the rain, mud, and having run so much that they already are falling apart, these shoes have not a hint of a bad smell on them.
Running long in them felt good, and they brought me to a respectable 3rd overall place finish at the 50 K road ultramarathon in Bernau.
However, I thought that I pronated just a bit too much in them, and my inner ankles did hurt a lot more than usual after a very long run in the Torins. And while I have gotten used to the “plush” feeling, once the Torins started to fall apart, I decided to test another road shoe from Altra – the Paradigm 4.5. And how they held up, we’ll look at next.
Altra Paradigm 4.5 Review
The Paradigm 4.5 is the Altra shoe with the most cushion. It is a “max cushion” shoe.
It is also a shoe that is a good fit for overpronators as it features a “StabiliPod” that helps to maintain correct foot position and prevent foot collapse.
I usually don’t wear stability shoes, but I didn’t find that the Paradigm unfavorably changed my gait to the contrary.
Its cushion is much firmer than the Torin Plush’s and in no way “mushy” or “squishy.” Instead, the Altra Paradigm 4.5 gave me just enough cushion to enjoy long runs on asphalt without my feet becoming overly sore. I felt in control and ran smoother and with more “bounce” than in the Torin Plush. They were more responsive.
Moreover, with the Paradigms, I can run over softer trails and grass without it feeling wobbly. This comes in handy on long runs on hiking paths that are mostly asphalt with a bit of trail thrown in.
Like the Torin Plus, their upper is knitted and breathable and hence comes with the same benefits.
The Paradigm feels a bit heavy, especially since I am used to light shoes with barely any cushioning at all. Nevertheless, I found that they are a great addition to my shoe roster.
While I prefer to run on trails, I don’t have the luxury of never running on asphalt. For those days when I run roads, and especially for long city runs, the Paradigms turned out to be a perfect fit for my needs. However, I am considering adding another lighter road running shoe to my selection since the Paradigm might be too bulky for faster speed sessions and races. From what I have read, the Escalante Racer seems to be a good option.
I hope you liked my little comparison and that it will help you decide if you need to decide on a new road running shoe.