Update: Instinct 4.0
Arch support
M: 230g | W: 184g
Heel to toe drop
M: 0.0mm | W: 0.0mm
Heel height
M: 24mm | W: 24mm
Forefoot height
M: 24mm | W: 24mm
Widths available
M: Normal - D | W: Normal - B
Show moreless facts


Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.


Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

Good to know

As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

Neutral / cushion / high arch

Shoes for runners who does not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

Stability / overpronation / normal arch

Shoes for runners who needs arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a normal arch. See the best stability shoes.

Motion control / severe overproanation / flat feet

Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

Good to know

- Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
- More about arch support in this video.
- Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

Daily running

Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.


Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

Good to know

If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.

There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.


We spent 9.6 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

6 reasons to buy

  • Most runners noticed the improve design, more responsive ride and softer upper unit of the newest version of the Altra Instinct.

  • The Instinct 3.5 has an improved lacing system that gained positive feedback.

  • This shoe features the Natural Ride System that promotes natural foot movements.

  • The FootPod Outsole provides a responsive ride and flexibility.

  • Some runners noticed that this version offered improved cushioning.

  • The Quick Dry Air Mesh and the seamless design of the upper makes the interior and exterior clean and non-irritating to the skin.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Some runners pointed out that the sole of this shoe was too firm.

  • Based on some reviews, the heel cup was positioned too high, causing some discomfort to the backs of their feet.

  • Others noted that the forefoot section of the Instinct 3.5 was a bit narrow.

Bottom line

The Instinct 3.5 from Altra offers a newer look, an improved upper, added cushioning and a more responsive ride. It is a reliable stability shoe engineered for long-distance running and ultramarathons.

World wide, Instinct 3.5 is in the bottom 50% most popular running shoes. The brand, Altra, is the 14th most popular.

Map: Shows popularity per continent based on 1010 shoes


4 / 5 based on 387 ratings

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Expert reviews

Experts are running shoe geeks, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

Are you an expert? Apply to contribute here.

80 / 100 based on 14 expert reviews

  • 90
    Running Into MyselfLevel 2 expert
    by Running Into Myself
    It made a more nice snug fit. I appreciated that. The toes can still splay.
  • 99
    Denny KraheLevel 1 expert
    by Denny Krahe
    Overall, I'm giving this shoe a rock solid A. I love everthing about them. They're comfortable. They feel good. They respond well when I'm out running.
  • 80
    Runner's WorldLevel 5 expert
    by Runner's World
    This small update to Altra’s original model tweaked the midsole density to bring it back to the feel of the popular first version, and improved the fit of the upper, giving it more toe height, a softer, foot-hugging feel, refined overlays, and an attractive toe swirl that gives the foot-shaped forefoot a more mainstream look. 
  • 74
    FellrnrLevel 5 expert
    by Fellrnr
    The Instinct is too firmly cushioned for its weight, with similar levels of cushioning to shoes that are much lighter. 
  • 86
    Brian MetzlerLevel 4 expert
    by Triathlete
    "The result is a lightweight, smooth-riding shoe that is versatile enough to be durable and protective for logging long training miles but responsive and agile enough for shorter interval workouts and tempo runs.

  • 80
    Donald BuraglioLevel 3 expert
    by Feed the Habit
    Despite the design tweaks, there aren’t any major surprises in these update; if you liked previous versions of the Instinct or Intuition, these will continue to be a favorite. 
  • 61
    flyersfan1088Level 3 expert
    by Gear Institute
    The Altra Instinct 3.5 is a good upgrade from previous versions, but needs some more work to be considered at the top of your shoe necessity list.
  • 88
    RyanLevel 2 expert
    by Happy Healthy Vegan
    They have a little more cushioning, which really is awesome. Like I side for a longer runs,now I can go and do the distance runs.
  • 80
    Noah SommersLevel 2 expert
    by Running Northwest
    I find these to be a touch more durable, but I also just kind of like the new design changes. 
  • 70
    WebmanLevel 2 expert
    by Midpack Gear
    Unfortunately, I like these shoes less than after the first run.
  • 90
    DizRunsLevel 1 expert
    by DizRuns
    And if I can manage another 500+ miles of road running on these guys before putting them out to pasture, I’d have no problem upgrading them to a solid A+.
  • 86
    Doug HayLevel 1 expert
    by Rock Creek Runner
    This is a great, comfortable road shoe that can handle itself well on buffed out trails.
  • 85
    Willim QuickLevel 1 expert
    by Willim Quick
    From the 3rd version, you have a lot of padding in the ankle area. The 3.5 is not gonna be like that.
  • 84
    Derek LennonLevel 1 expert
    by A Mountain Journey
    It’s lightweight, breathable, flexible, and comfortable. 
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  • Richard Shop Zappos
    It has innerflex midsole and flex grooves throughout that gives amazing flex.

Updates to Instinct 3.5

The lacing system in the Instinct 3.5 has been redesigned. The Instinct 3.0 had a lacing system that’s too limited and tightly woven. Now, this version gives the laces a wider space between each other, making sure that most of the topside of the foot is covered. The crisscrossing of the laces even extends near the forefoot area of the shoe, making it cover more surface area.

The mid-foot area has been designed to have a medium volume, but it’s a bit snugger this time around. The upper unit hugs the foot well, but it doesn’t make the fit too tight or too restrictive.

The FootPod Outsole still offers natural flexibility, but the material used in this outer layer is firmer and more resilient against wear and abrasion. The entire sole unit still follows the natural foot shape design that’s prevalent in Altra shoes.

The platform of this model is easier to break in, but firmer than the previous iteration. Improved cushioning systems make sure that the platform is both resistant to breakdown and still efficient in flexible & responsive underfoot cushioning.

Instinct 3.5 size and fit

The Instinct 3.5 fits half-a-size smaller than the regular sizing scheme. It is advised to buy this model ½ size above the standard choice. The medium-width of the heel and mid-foot areas make the fit snug and secure, while the wider forefoot area allows natural toe splaying.


The FootPod outsole was designed to mimic the natural shape of the human foot. Having such a design provides runners with a more natural ride that’s balanced and stable. Natural flexibility, freedom of movement and responsiveness are the selling points of this foot-shaped outer sole.


The A-Bound is a mid-sole compound that’s made from recycled materials. It’s environmentally friendly, but very sturdy. It protects the foot from impact and discomfort when running.

Dual-layer EVA foam is a unit that offers shock attenuation, springiness and responsive underfoot support. It’s a high quality material that doesn’t easily wear off or lose structural integrity. Runners can expect a well-protected, highly efficient ride with this in the platform.

The Natural Ride System encourages natural movement of the foot by following the shape of the foot. The forefoot area is more spacious and the rear section is snugger.

The zero-drop system makes sure that the runner achieves balance, especially when transitioning from the heel to the toe. Landing the foot on the ground ensures equal distribution of impact protection, energy and natural performance.


The Quick Dry Air Mesh provides breathable support to the runner. It’s lightweight and flexible, and it has moisture-wicking capabilities while further enhances the overall comfort.

The Heel Claw construction makes sure that the rear section of the foot stays locked down and secure. It makes it easier for runners to prevent accidental slips and shoe-removals when performing.

Next-to-foot comfort is afforded by the seamless design of the upper unit. It’s an efficient design that gets rid of irritation and discomfort when wearing the shoe. Having such a comfortable inner construction allows runners to wear the Altra Instinct 3.5 even without socks.

The 5mm-thick insoles add more cushioning. Because this shoe has a low-profile design and because it has a zero-drop platform, the additional layer helps to make the foot more comfortable even when running for longer periods of time.


Comparison to category means
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