Altra Provision 6 review and lab test

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Provision 6 has seen a lot of updates from its predecessor, it’s lighter, has a softer midsole, some intense grip adjustments, and a return to the “foot-shape” design of the shoe. It’s a go-to for zero-drop enthusiasts and this reviewer’s choice for a first dip into the zero drop world. 

Who the shoe is for

The Altra Provision 6 is a perfect daily runner for those tempted by the promises of the zero-drop movement. Using a unique take on adjustable pronation correction the Prov 6s are great for overpronators who want to get a dialed in feeling on their daily trainers. 

Who the Altra Provision 6 is not for

You may want to look elsewhere if:  

  • You run neutral, Altra has lots of non-stability options. Our favorite is the Altra Torin 5
  • You want speed over stability, the Altra Escalante Racer 19 drops the guide rail system but improves the speed
  • Soft stability for those feet is your prime concern, the Paradigm 6.0 offers more cushioning

A new upper design on the Alra Provision 6

The first word people who have run in previous Provisions usually say is smaller. The upper on the Provision 6 has been tailored to create a slimmer fit. With a forefoot that’s 102.1mm it’s still wider than most, but the heel cut is only 66.8mm which is nearly 10mm slimmer than the average. 

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The tight heel cup comes into play specifically with the lacing system, but the thinner design is still very roomy in the forefoot, anyone with wider feet will be pretty happy. I have narrow feet and found my forefoot sliding into the anterior of the shoe a little. 

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This was a little uncomfortable at first, but I got used to it over time. I wonder how much it affects the motion control, however. Moreover, because of the shape of the shoe, you’ll be hard-pressed to find orthotics that fit properly in them.

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Overall though, the Provision 6 is super light for a stability shoe, at 9.7oz (274g) it’s one of the lightest, especially for the amount of cushioning on offer. 

Personalized stability control is legit on the Provision 6

The overpronation control on the Altra Provision 6 took me a bit by surprise and required a bit of exploration to figure out exactly what was going on. 

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Essentially there are two straps connected to the lacing on one side and the guide rail system on the other. When you tighten the laces the straps engage the guide rail, so the tighter you lace, the more stability control you get. It’s a pretty novel idea, and at first glance, it could just be a gimmick. 

As an overpronator that wishes the New Balance 860 v12 would calm down a little bit, I was curious. Changing lacing through my runs showed that it actually works. With some playing, I found the kind of support that I liked, and even on days when I was feeling a bit achy, I could dial up the support. 

The fit requires some experimentation

A personalized guide rail system that depends on the lacing raises the obvious question “What if I want less support but a tight fit?” If, like me, you would think a strong tongue gusset and sock liner would save the day, prepare to be disappointed. 

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No gusset, no sock liner, and only two eyelets above the straps. What’s more, if you use both eyelets you run out of lace to tie a proper knot. It’s therefore quite difficult to get a secure fit with some configurations and when you do there’s a bit of bite along the top of the foot. 

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Moreover, getting both shoes feeling the same takes practice. I found myself taking 10 minutes to lace up before a run, which is less than ideal. 

A softer midsole, if you’re used to Altras

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Before testing the Provision 6s I read a few other reviews online and spoke to some of the other zero-drop followers at RunRepeat. I saw lots of excitement about the “huge amounts of cushioning” in the newest version. The way it was presented, I was expecting a run like the Hoka One One Bondi or maybe the peppiness of the Pegasus 38.

So imagine my surprise when I started my run and felt the energy sucked out of my stride. Everything seemed slow and like effort. At 49.0 HA with 29.96mm of heel stack height and 29.18mm in the forefoot, it’s not a surprise at all. 49.0HA is a fair bit about the overage score of 41.6HA. 

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I’m going to put it down to experience. The whole point of a zero drop shoe is that you’re forced to engage your calfs more to get a proper heel strike and toe-off. Once I started focusing my stride in this way, things felt a lot better. Still not Hoka still cushioning, but I could definitely feel more cushioning than the beginning of the run. 

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So I reckon that anyone used to Altra’s or other shoes like Vivobarfoot will really notice the cushioning, and newbie’s to the realm like me might want to choose these for a softer introduction. 

A little stiff, but reliable

With the relatively low profile of the shoe, I was expecting them to flex a lot more. In our lab testing it took 39.0N to bend the shoes to 45°, the average is 29.0N. Similar to the cushioning, you only feel the flex if you really think about how your stride is working. 

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Ultimately this is a good thing, I’d really recommend at least having a pair of these in rotation. Check out our Running Shoe Rotation Guide & Tool here!

The Altra Provision 6 has intelligent grip

Although I’m not always a fan of exposed midsoles, I’m going to give Altra a pass today. The implementation of their chunky 5.7mm rubber outsole is phenomenal. Not only is this keeping you secure and stuck to the tarmac, both wet and dry, but Altra has even worked motion control into the outsole. 

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The thinking is that by adding more rubber under the sections of the foot that should be in contact with the ground longer, the outsole can control your stride and therefore correct it. 

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As with everything with the Altra Provision 6, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it, I found the Altra’s gave me a great and enjoyable run without the sort of overbearing stability I’m used to. 

Conclusion

They’re definitely different, but the Altra Provision 6 have a lot of really interesting and unique feature in them that make them a seriously attractive option. 

Whether you’re a zero-drop purist or just want to spice up your shoe rotation and keep your muscles guessing, these are pretty damn fun to run in. 

  Altra Provision 6 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g)

274

276
Drop (mm)

0.8

8.9
Flexibility of the shoe (N)

39

29.0
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 50.1 37.7
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 28.5 31.5
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 38 23.3
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)

4.0

3.2
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)

4.0

3.4
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 6.0 6.4
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 102.1 98.6
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 66.8 82.7
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 2.0 2.7
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4.0 3.0
Tongue: gusset type None -
Heel: pull tab No -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 113.3 112.0
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 90.5 89.2
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 29.2 23.9
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 30 32.7
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 49.0 41.4
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 5.7 3.7
Lugs Depth (mm) NA 3.3
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 56.5 82.6
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.2 4.5
Insole: removable Yes  

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 10.8oz
Drop: 0mm
Arch support: Stability
Forefoot height: 28mm
Heel height: 28mm
Collection: Altra Provision

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Author
Doug Turner
Doug Turner

Doug is a Scottish documentary and fashion photographer and filmmaker. Stumbling into the sneaker game later than usual, he started out behind a camera through long hiking expeditions around the world. Seeking a cleaner aesthetic, Doug now works mostly in fashion and sport, opting for outdoor locations rather than a studio.