Our verdict

The Altra Paradigm 7 shines as a zero-drop daily trainer, appealing to both neutral runners and those with mild pronation. Its standout feature, the abundant Ego Max cushioning, ensures a perfect balance of responsive and cushioned ride. While the foot-shaped upper allows for amazing toe splay for everyone, we found the added stability makes this model particularly welcoming for newcomers to the Altra brand. However, the shoe comes at a higher price point and is not optimized for speed training.

Pros

  • Exceptional space for toe splay
  • Highly stable and supportive
  • Really light
  • Features Ego Max foam for added comfort
  • Innerflex technology promotes natural midfoot striking
  • Outstanding durability
  • Versatile for walking or gym use
  • Genuine zero-drop design!

Cons

  • Becomes uncomfortably firm and stiff in cold weather
  • Priced on the higher end of the spectrum at $170
  • Not suitable for fast-paced running

Audience verdict

83
Good!

Who should buy

In the lab, we think that the Altra Paradigm 7 is an excellent option for:

  • Altra enthusiasts seeking a daily training shoe that also provides a stability boost.  
  • Individuals comfortable with the $170 cost who are interested in making the switch to low-drop running shoes.
  • Runners looking to add variety to their workouts with a low-drop shoe, or beginners eager to kick off their running journey on a safe note with a minimalist option.

Altra Paradigm 7

Who should NOT buy

If you usually run in shoes with 4-12 mm of drop, be cautious when switching to zero-drop shoes like the Paradigm 7. A sudden change can easily lead to injury. In our view, you might be better off with a regular daily trainer that also offers stability features, such as the Saucony Tempus or the ASICS GT 2000 11.

If you're looking to go faster or longer, the Paradigm 7 might not be your best Altra option. The Torin 7 is quicker and more agile, although it doesn't offer as much stability.

If you are into marathon training, consider the VIA Olympus. We felt that its rockered shape makes for easier transitions, especially when your legs start to feel tired in the longest runs.

Altra Paradigm 7 parts

Breathability

If you're shelling out as much as $170 for a daily trainer, you'd expect it to have good breathability.

In our lab tests using a smoke-pumping machine, we were pleased to see that the Paradigm 7 scored a perfect 5/5 for breathability.

Under closer inspection, we observed that the shoe has multiple areas designed for better airflow. This is a smart design choice since many shoes only focus on the toe area for breathability.

Altra Paradigm 7 micro

To get a better look at the toebox, we used our microscope.

Altra Paradigm 7 microscope

The Altra Paradigm 7 has large holes for maximum breathability, but they also added a white, thin fabric layer underneath for extra comfort and durability.

Test results
Paradigm 7 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 189 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

After checking breathability, we turned our focus to durability by firing up the Dremel in the lab.

We observed that the toebox area held up quite well! The white fabric layer we talked about just before did its job. That's a 3/5 from us.

Test results
Paradigm 7 3
Average 2.2
Compared to 123 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel didn't hold up as well as the toebox, scoring only a 2 out of 5 in our tests.

If you usually get holes in the heel of your running shoes, this is something to watch out for.

Test results
Paradigm 7 2
Average 3
Compared to 119 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

When we look at the outsole, the first thing we do is measure how hard the rubber is.

Altra Paradigm 7 outsole

The outsole features several cutouts to make the shoe more flexible and lighter.

For the Altra Paradigm 7, we found that it scored an 83.6 on the hardness scale. This is a bit harder than what we usually see.

Test results
Paradigm 7 83.6 HC
Average 80.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 241 running shoes
Number of shoes
55.5 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

We've confirmed that Altra uses a tough rubber for the outsole. So, did it hold up well?

We powered up the Dremel one final time and were thrilled to discover that the tool left only a tiny 0.5 mm dent. That's truly amazing and a clear sign this shoe is built to last!

Altra Paradigm 7 Outsole durability
Test results
Paradigm 7 0.5 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 101 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

At just 2.7 mm, the rubber isn't super thick, but it seems like Altra's designers knew that was enough for a durable shoe. Why add unnecessary weight?

Altra Paradigm 7 Outsole thickness
Test results
Paradigm 7 2.7 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

The strategy really worked wonders. Weighing in at a mere 9.3 oz or 264g, the Paradigm 7 is among the lightest stability shoes you can find in the market.

Altra Paradigm 7 Weight
Test results
Paradigm 7 9.31 oz (264g)
Average 9.42 oz (267g)
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The heel of the Paradigm 7 has a stack height of 27.6 mm.

While that might sound low to some people, it's worth pointing out that Altra designs its shoes to be zero-drop. This means they're really made for midfoot and forefoot strikers who don't need a lot of foam at the back of their feet.

Altra Paradigm 7 Heel stack
Test results
Paradigm 7 27.6 mm
Average 33.5 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot area, we measured a stack height of 27.5 mm. That's plenty for almost all runners and makes this a solid choice for a zero-drop stability shoe. It also serves as an excellent entry point for those new to the Altra brand.

If the forefoot stack gets too high—like over 30 mm—the risk of causing instability goes up a lot. 

Altra Paradigm 7 Forefoot stack
Test results
Paradigm 7 27.5 mm
Average 24.7 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
34.8 mm

Drop

Altra is famous for making zero-drop shoes, and the Paradigm 7 is no different. We measured a tiny 0.1-mm drop in this shoe. That's basically zero when you consider small variations in manufacturing. So, you're getting what you'd expect!

Zero-drop shoes come with their own pros and cons. We cover this in more detail in our guide about heel-to-toe drop.

Altra Paradigm 7 Drop
Test results
Paradigm 7 0.1 mm
Average 8.8 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

We measured the insole and found it to be 4.4 mm thick. It's just a pretty standard insole.

Altra Paradigm 7 Insole thickness
Test results
Paradigm 7 4.4 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 256 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Altra had a variety of midsole materials to pick from and they chose to go with Ego Max. This is a mix of EVA and TPU that feels comfy but not overly soft. That's actually a good thing for a shoe designed for stability!

We measured the softness of the material at 19.4 HA using our durometer.

Altra Paradigm 7 Midsole softness
Test results
Paradigm 7 19.4 HA
Average 23.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 242 running shoes
Number of shoes
6.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
52.5 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.
Altra Paradigm 7 Midsole softness in cold

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We put the shoe in our freezer for 20 minutes and then tested its softness.

What we found wasn't promising—the softness level shot up to 29.8 HA. This means the shoe gets much firmer in cold conditions.

The softness jumps up by a whopping 53.8%, something you'll feel the second you start running.

But let's be honest, this isn't a shocker. Foams based on EVA always turn rock-hard in the cold.

Altra Paradigm 7 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Paradigm 7 53.8%
Average 26.3%
Compared to 241 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
125%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Designed to be a top-notch stability shoe, we expected the Paradigm 7 to give us a secure feel from the moment we stepped into it.

We're happy to say it totally lived up to our hype.

Torsional rigidity

Remember, this is a mild stability shoe, not a heavy-duty option. We see it as a daily trainer with some tweaks for extra support, and that's why it got a 3 out of 5 in our test at the lab.

Most runners will find it really stable, though. But if you have serious stability issues, you'll need something more specialized, like the Hoka Gaviota 5.

Test results
Paradigm 7 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 238 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The same ideas come into play here. Shoes designed for people who need a lot of support usually get a 4 or 5 in this test. In contrast, we found that the Paradigm 7 scores just 2 out of 5, putting comfort ahead of stability.

We found that the absence of plastic in the heel cup makes the shoe's heel flexible. To put it simply, it's not so much a stability-focused daily trainer as it is a daily trainer with some added stability.

Test results
Paradigm 7 2
Average 2.7
Compared to 222 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the midsole width and found it to be pretty average, coming in at 113.8 mm in the forefoot area. Making it any wider would have added unnecessary weight, so we think this is a good choice.

Altra Paradigm 7 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Paradigm 7 113.8 mm
Average 113.4 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

We noticed that the heel is a bit wider than what you usually find.

Why did Altra do this? Well, since it's a zero-drop shoe, they understand that even forefoot strikers might land on their heels at times.

A wider heel (92.0 mm) provides that little extra stability for the Paradigm 7.

Altra Paradigm 7 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Paradigm 7 92.0 mm
Average 90.3 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Built for comfort on daily runs or even just walks in the park, the Paradigm 7 is impressively flexible. Those cutouts in the outsole really do their job.

In the lab, we found that it took just 21.7N of force to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle during our stiffness test.

Test results
Paradigm 7 21.7N
Average 29.0N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 244 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

But when we tested it again in cold weather, things changed. We had to apply 36.1N of force to bend the shoe to that same 90-degree angle. So yeah, the cold definitely makes the shoe stiffer.

It's a 66.7% change, and that's not a small deal. It seems to come down to the shoe's EVA-based foam, as we said before.

For a $170 shoe, Altra really needs to step up their game here.

Test results
Paradigm 7 66.7%
Average 38.8%
Compared to 244 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Internal length

The Altra sizing guide says the internal length of the shoe should be 270 mm. In our lab, we measured it at 268.6 mm. That's super close, confirming that these shoes really do fit true to size.

Altra Paradigm 7 Internal length
Test results
Paradigm 7 268.6 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

The Paradigm 7 isn't the roomiest shoe Altra offers at 99.1 mm.

We found that it's made on what Altra calls their Standard last. But if you need a bit more space, they do offer a wide size.

Altra Paradigm 7 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Paradigm 7 99.1 mm
Average 98.2 mm
Compared to 262 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Altra's big toe area is an out-of-this-world 86.7 mm wide.

It's an absolute win for anyone needing extra room for toe splay because of its rounded toebox. Believe it or not, it's nearly a centimeter wider than what you'll find in most running shoes!

Altra Paradigm 7 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Paradigm 7 86.7 mm
Average 77.8 mm
Compared to 134 running shoes
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
90.4 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue may move a little bit while running because it's not gusseted, meaning it's not attached to the sides of the shoe.

We think that's a letdown, especially for a shoe that costs $170. Hopefully, they fix this in the next version.

Altra Paradigm 7 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Paradigm 7 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue has a good amount of padding at 5.6 mm. This keeps the top of any foot nice and comfy! 

Altra Paradigm 7 Tongue padding
Test results
Paradigm 7 5.6 mm
Average 5.7 mm
Compared to 258 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

The Paradigm 7 doesn't come with a heel tab, but we found that getting your feet into the shoe is still pretty straightforward and easy, even without one.

Altra Paradigm 7 Heel tab
Test results
Paradigm 7 None

Removable insole

Taking out the insole was a breeze for us because it's not glued. But remember, like we mentioned before, this shoe has a unique shape. So, if you're thinking about swapping in an insole from another brand, it might not be a great fit. 

If you've got custom-shaped orthotics made just for this shoe, though, you should be good to go without any issues.

Altra Paradigm 7 Removable insole
Test results
Paradigm 7 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We're glad to see that the Paradigm 7 comes with some shiny reflective pieces. Honestly, that should just be standard stuff in any expensive daily trainer!

Altra Paradigm 7 Reflective elements
Test results
Paradigm 7 Yes