One of the perks of getting to travel for work is being able to run in a lot of great locations. However, as anyone who has ever traveled or had to pack for a trip can tell you, finding enough space to fit everything you need and want into one suitcase is not always an easy task.
Unfortunately, the easiest way to overcome this issue is by only packing one pair of running shoes. This always leads me to the predicament of which shoe should I bring with me that will be capable enough to accomplish the majority of my weekly training.
Usually, the debate will end with having to make a choice between a lightweight but less cushioned shoe that is good for speed work or a cushioned but heavier shoe that is good for easy and long runs… that is until I was introduced to the Altra Escalante Racer 19.
I will preface the next part of this review with the fact that I have been running in zero drop shoes for a couple of years, and specifically in variations of the Escalante line for the past year.
The Altra Escalante Racer 19 is a lightweight, zero drop, neutral road shoe that pulls double duty as a competition shoe and daily trainer. The firm and responsive ground feel is perfect for speed work, tempo runs, and races.
At the same time, the midsoles stack height and cushioning provide enough comfort to keep my legs happy for the long-haul day after day.
The breathable loose knit weave upper enables these shoes to be compressed for easy storage and packing. The upper also provides great airflow during the hot and humid summer days.
Though this is also one of the biggest downfalls of the shoe. If it is cold or wet out, you will definitely feel the environment more in these shoes than the competitors’ offerings.
It is also worth mentioning that the upper in combination with Altra’s already roomy toe box does make these run a half to a full size larger and sizing down is recommended.
Aesthetically the lack of overlays in the upper provides a very minimalistic and streamlined silhouette. While the colorways, which are inspired by and pay tribute to the cities around the world that host major races, bring some playful fun back into the styling of the shoe.
The tread performs as expected on dry pavement and holds stable traction during cornering in wet and snowy conditions. After putting in just over 100 miles the tread shows typical signs of wear and should not have a problem getting to or exceeding the expected 400-500-mile lifespan.
Considering how versatile this shoe is, I would not hesitate to purchase a pair at the full retail price of $140, but they can often be found on sale which makes them an even more appealing and solid buy.
Now anytime I have to pack for a trip without question these are the first shoes I reach for and rarely second guess or replace their spot in my suitcase with another shoe. They have performed extremely well in all the situations I have thrown at them.
I have been hard-pressed to find another shoe that has similar characteristics and is as capable as the Escalante Racer 19. With the only downfall being the looser weave of the upper, which is really only an issue in cold and wet environments, and the sizing issue, which again can be solved easily by trying them on before buying.
I cannot recommend these shoes enough. If you are already familiar with Altra or the Escalante line these are a great addition to your stable of shoes for faster speed work and races.
If you are looking to transition to a lightweight, zero drop, and very well-cushioned shoe that can do it all the Escalante Racer 19 should be a top contender to consider.
Good to know
- The Altra Escalante Racer 19 is an update to the spin-off model of the Escalante, 2018’s Escalante Racer. The changes, though minimal, enhance the performance of the runner. These updates are particularly noticeable in long-distance activities, such as speed-oriented contests and endurance runs.
- One of these altered elements takes the form of an exaggerated open-weave upper construction which aims to heighten breathability and reduce the overall weight of the shoe.
- Altra EGO serves as the midsole unit, and it’s made to be a bit firmer than the one used in the previous versions. The firmness is designed to encourage the push-off power of the foot. A rubber compound shields the base of the foam from the abrasive nature of the surfaces.
The standard sizing scheme is used by the Altra Escalante Racer 19, so runners are welcome to get a pair with their usual choices of size in mind. However, it is worth noting that garnering a pleasant in-shoe experience may require trying on the shoe first or getting ahold of other users’ feedback.
When it comes to the fit, Altra stresses the use of a foot-shaped construction to accommodate the natural curvature of the foot. A roomy toe box, a flexible platform, and a form-fitting upper embody this foot-shaped design.
The external pad of the Altra Escalante Racer 19 is made of rubber. This compound is artistically patterned to exhibit the rough outline of the pad of the human foot. Its purpose is to provide traction and protection against wear-and-tear.
FootPod™ is an outsole design that maps the anatomical structure of the foot. The result of such a feature is a set of horizontal and vertical flex grooves that serves as a means of mimicking the shape and motion of the foot. Heel-to-toe transitions become fluid and effortless because of this movement-encouraging configuration.
A slightly firm Altra EGO™ midsole offers a soft surface for the underside of the foot. This full-length piece has a close-to-the-ground construction to permit proprioception or the inherent relationship of the foot to the ground, thus potentially bolstering the performance. The mildly firm configuration is for toe-off power.
InnerFlex™ is a set of integrated flex grooves that bolsters the midsole’s capacity to bend in conjunction with the foot as it goes through the gait cycle.
The upper unit of the Altra Escalante Racer 19 is made of engineered knit, a woven silhouette that is form-fitting and breathable. It has an open construction to permit air into, and through, the foot-chamber, thereby delivering a cool and dry ride.
The FootShape™ Toe Box design widens the forefoot section, fundamentally giving the toes more room to spread and relax. The toe-off phase benefits from this design because a balanced and energized lift is engineered by toes that are not restricted or bunched together. Shoe series from Altra, like the Superior, feature the FootShape™ structure.