Who should buy the Altra Escalante 3

The third version of the Altra Escalante is perfectly suited for those who want a: 

  • grippy and stable shoe for short to long miles on the road
  • quick and energetic running shoe that's also stable on light trails

Altra Escalante 3 profile

Who should NOT buy it

When it comes to fit, the Altra Escalante 3 has shifted from very roomy to rather snug (save for the toe box), which is why it's not been a favorite among runners with wide feet. If you happen to have broad feet, the Altra Rivera 2 is a must-have, says multiple Altra fans.

If you're looking for something lighter but just as speed-oriented, the Altra Escalante Racer 19 (162 grams/5.7 ounces in US men's 9) is a less bulky alternative to the Escalante 3 (255 grams/8.9 ounces). 

Altra Escalante 3 lab view

Altra Escalante 3 is very breathable

On our tests, it scored 4/5 for breathability. The average is 3.7 so you're in for a treat. And look at all that smoke coming out! 

In case the smoke is not enough, we can notice how the light easily goes through the upper when the shoe is cut in half. 

Not the best winter shoe

Here's why: 

  1. The shoe got 111% stiffer after spending 20mins in the freezer. Shoes usually get 41.7% stiffer (on average). 
  2. Looking at the softness (durometer numbers), the shoe got 31.5% firmer and shoes usually get 22.3% firmer. It's comforting that even after 20mins it's not so much firmer than other shoes at room temperatures, but still, there's a big difference for the shoe itself. After 20mins in the freezer, the durometer showed 31.3 for Escalante 3 and the average softness for room temperature is 28.5

Altra Escalante 3 freezer

Snugger than ever

The Altra Escalante 3 is now more form-fitting. This has drawn both positive and negative reactions from multiple Altra fans. Those with medium to narrow-width feet agree that this version resolves the sloppy fit of the past iterations, citing these observations: 

  • An expert has reported they have "a little more control on downhills" and the shoe is less sloppy. 
  • "It locks my foot in better than previous versions," says a runner who has also reported less in-shoe sliding. 
  • This shoe offers more structure and it feels "more secure without being constricting," as one critic shares. 

Fact check

Lab says: definitely! The heel is 9.1mm narrower in the upper than what we see in average numbers (75.7mm). 

Altra Escalante 3 heel upper width

Altra Escalante 3 vs. 2

As one road runner puts it, the Altra Escalante is "one of Altra's bread-and-butter staples" in the running world. And with this iteration, the Escalante pumps things up by:

  • being snugger-fitting but heavier (goes from 196 grams/6.9 ounces to 255 grams/8.9 ounces), thanks to the added padding in the upper
  • a more stable ride

With these changes, the reactions from Escalante loyalists have been mixed. It's either they love it or hate it as their comments go from "This version is fire," to "Altra has failed at staying true to their brand."

Altra Escalante 3 road run

Ready for the tempos

The overall ride is snappy. It's bouncy yet firm, as one reviewer confirms, and it's loaded with energy. In the Altra Escalante 3, it's easy to pick up the pace. So much so, another runner has this to say, "The Escalante 3 is a winner in my book." 

Another adds that it's his "favorite Escalante of all time" as it's more responsive than ever before. If anything, it "feels athletic, nimble, and fast," shares another critic. 

Altra Escalante 3 mid run

A speedster can be comfy 

"Sweet ride" is how a running expert commends the shoe's comfort. It's soft (but not the mushy kind); it's comfortable for all-day wear. Another impressed commenter adds that "Altra really knocked it out of the park with this one" because he's stoked about the shoe's foot-pampering ride. 

A long-distance runner also agrees with these comments saying, "This shoe impressed me on all levels!" His first test run was about 10 miles, and according to him, his feet and legs didn't feel trashed after because the shoe's cushioning is absolutely great.

Fact check

To check these comments on comfort and cushioning, we look at the durometer measurements of the midsole (once cut in half). Escalante 3 scored 23.8 while the average for all the shoes in our lab is 28.5. This confirms that the shoe provides a softer-than-average experience. 

Topping it all off, a new Altra runner shares that running in the Escalante 3 is "KABOOM" because the underfoot sensation is just far out! 

escalante 3 in black

This is what natural feels like

Many describe the Altra Escalante's performance as natural. It's low to the ground, and is not overly soft; "It's a winner!" exclaims one runner. An expert also chimes in saying, it does not offer the "holy shit, this feels weird" sensation. 

escalante 3 road running

Fact check

There are a few data points we can check here: 

  • low to the ground: forefoot is higher than the average, sitting at 24.8mm while the average is 24.1mm. Heel, however, sits at 25mm while the average is 32.6mm. This means that the Escalante 3 is 26% lower than the average shoe (in the heel). 
  • not overly soft: it is softer than the average as already explained, but definitely not "overly" softer. 
  • natural performance: it is more flexible than the average running shoe. 20% more flexible to be exact which goes on to help with the "natural" feel.  

Altra Escalante 3 forefoot stack height

The Altra Escalante 3 is stable

It has a wide midfoot and forefoot base; you don't have to worry about losing your footing. "Natural stability is here in spades," reports one expert reviewer, because according to her, the shoe has a "decisive, no-bullshit ride." 

Altra Escalante 3 heel midsole width

An avid road runner who has been struggling to find shoes that are supportive underfoot happily expresses that she's "over the moon!" with the Escalante 3.

Fact check

Stability is usually attributed to the wide base and upper that's narrower than the base. This is what lab data can tell us in this case: 

  • At the forefoot, the midsole of Altra Escalante 3 sits at the average (111.5mm vs 111.8mm). At the heel, it is narrower than the average, almost 6mm! (Escalante: 82.8mm, average: 88.7mm) 
  • Looking at the upper at the forefoot, it's again around the average (98.8mm vs 98.5mm). At the heel, it is much narrower: 66.6mm compared to 75.7mm. 
  • Basically, what sets Escalante 3 apart from other shoes is a heel that is 9.1mm narrower in the upper than the average shoe out there! This might have attributed a lot to the overall stability feel. 

Ready for the miles ahead

Because of the outsole's rubber coverage, Altra loyalists and experts predict that this shoe can last 300 miles.

Altra Escalante 3 outsole

Those who have also already clocked up several miles in the Altra Escalante 3 stand by the shoe's strength. 

Escalante 3 outsole softness

On top of its durability, the outsole also has a solid bite on gravel, damp roads, and even light trails. 

Fact check

The outsole on Escalante 3 is nothing but average according to our lab numbers. Thickness? 3.6mm. What's the average thickness? 3.5mm. And the durometer numbers, which tell us how hard the outsole is, again put it at the average with the Escalante 3 scoring 80.0 and the average being 80.5. 

Escalante 3 outsole thickness

A jack of all trades

Whether it's for daily running, tempo days, biking, hiking, or even racewalking, the Altra Escalante 3 can handle it all. And it does so beautifully that one runner swears by it sharing, "I love this shoe because you can do a lot of stuff in this." 

escalante 3 pieces of a shoe

Toe box: Everything you expect from Altra

Which means it's roomy AF. "The toe splay is some of the widest in the business." This is how a tester describes the toe room. Another runner who has Morton's toe claims that he can comfortably run in the Escalante 3 as it's very spacious in the front.

Escalante 3 forefoot width

Fact check

To check the "roomy AF" comment, we look at our caliper measurements of the upper at the forefoot. Escalante 3 is 98.8mm wide there and the average is 98.5mm. This means it does not offer any extra room when compared to the average running shoe. What might have happened here is the upper material that allowed the testers' toes to splay thanks to being stretchy. 

Wide-footed runners think otherwise, leaving these remarks: 

  • "Altras hurt my midfoot now." 
  • "[I] was getting some gnarly rubbing on my left shoe by the bottom of my ankle."

Their advice? Go half a size up. 

Escalante 3 POV

Heel is snug and VERY soft 

Based on our lab numbers, we see that the heel scored 1/5 for stiffness. Given that 5/5 would mean the stiffest heel out there, this means that this is a VERY soft heel. Compared to the average for all our shoes, which is 2.9, embrace yourselves: it's as soft as it can get.

escalante 3 heel closeup

Escalante 3 is very flexible 

Given that there's no rock plate and that this is an Altra shoe, and those tend to be on the more "natural" side, the numbers on flexibility completely make sense. 

  • At room temperature, we needed a force of 25.7N to blend the shoe. On average, we need more: 31.4N.
  • Longitudinal and torsional stiffness scored 2/5 while the averages are 3.3 and 3.4, respectively.
  • These numbers show that the Escalante 3 is more flexible than an average running shoe out there. 

  Altra Escalante 3 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 253 272
Drop (mm) 0.2 8.6
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 25.7 31.4
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 54.3 43.4
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 111.1% 41.7
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2 3.3
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2 3.4
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 5.9 5.9
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 98.8 98.5
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 66.6 75.7
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 1 2.9
Tongue: gusset type none -
Heel: pull tab none -
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 117.4 111.8
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 94.5 88.7
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 25.4 24.1
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 33.9 32.6
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 23.8 28.5
Durometer Midsole - Heel (Freezer 20 minutes) 31.3 36.0
Durometer Midsole - Heel (% of change) 31.5% 22.3%
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 3.6 3.5
Lugs Depth (mm) - -
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 80.0 80.5
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 4.5 4.5
Insole: removable yes -

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 7.7oz / Women 9oz
Drop: 0mm
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: 26mm
Heel height: 26mm
Pronation: Neutral Pronation / Supination / Underpronation

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Altra Escalante 3 video reviews

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.