DiscontinuedUpdate: Altra Superior 4.0
Neutral / cushion / high arch
Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with normal, high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.
Stability / overpronation / normal arch
Shoes for runners who need mild to moderate arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a low arch. See the best stability shoes.
Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet
Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.
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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.
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If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.
WeightMen: 9.6ozWomen: 8.2oz
Heel to toe dropMen: 0mmWomen: 0mm
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.
Heel heightMen: 21mmWomen: 21mm
Forefoot heightMen: 21mmWomen: 21mm
WidthMen: normalWomen: normal
Release dateDec 2017
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82 / 100 based on 9 expert reviews
Altra’s Superior 3.5 isn’t really that superior after all (100 Mile Review)
The Altra Superior 3.5 is an updated neutral trail running shoe from the previous Superior 3.0 model, which I fell in love with along the trails of the Cascade Mountains here in Oregon.
Altra has done an exceptional job of creating wonderful foot splay space with their patented ‘Foot Shape’ models, rugged tread for grinding on any terrain, and of course their ‘zero drop’ heel drop.
Altogether, this allows for a natural ride the entire way with any Altra shoe. But let’s face it, some shoes are designed better than others, and this model is middle of the road.
While I was very pleased with the previous model, the Altra Superior 3.5 has left me a little underwhelmed at times.
My initial experience with these shoes out of the box was that they felt a little bulkier than the previous models, but I was anxious to put them to the test and see how Altra’s latest updated model compares.
As soon as I put them on, my hunches were confirmed. Not only did they feel heavier, but they seem to run bigger than the previous model. Maybe it didn’t help that I chose the red/red coloring, but I felt a little bit like I was running in clown shoes.
For one thing, the tongues are a lot thicker than the previous model; it almost reminds me of an early 1990s basketball high top. Some may welcome the extra cushioning in the tongue; I miss the sleekness of the previous model.
The 3.5s also have a few extra connections for gaiters; Altra calls them ‘Gater Traps’. This is usually all well and good with or without gaiters, except there is now a metal loop on the bottom of the tongue that actually rubs against the top of my foot in a way that is quite noticeable, even uncomfortable for the first few miles.
They did add a loop at the bottom of the tongue to help prevent angry branches and debris from getting in underneath the laces—thank you for this! The rest of the upper continues with the same breathable fabric, which does allow for some water to get in, but otherwise does a great job of being light and able to dry quickly.
The midsole continues to be quite reliable; this neutral trail running shoe is no different from Altra’s ‘Inner Flex’ design.
As I mentioned before, Altra celebrates the low heel drop approach to running, and this 0mm heel drop provides for a very natural running experience while providing enough cushioning throughout the foot to make a comfortable run, even on the rockiest terrain.
I do love the treads on this series; I have been able to run in the sun and rain, on rocks and through mud, and the grip has always been exceptional. After about 100 miles I have noticed some of the tread wearing but nothing beyond normal wear and tear.
Overall, I think the Altra Superior 3.5 is a fine trail shoe that can work out those miles with no problems; a really steady shoe that is great for daily running, and one that I feel comfortable wearing in just about any condition.
This may not be a great racing shoe, but overall, this is another solid product from Altra, that has won me over time and time again.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
Altra has chosen to abandon the spry and airy feel of Superiors past in favor of a beefed-up, long-haul comfort monger that will be a great shoe for any runner who can handle zero drop for the duration of an ultra
The Altra Superior 3.5 is an outstanding zero drop shoe suitable for a variety of distances and firm terrain. But the outsole had problems on loose surfaces.
Like the Superior 1.5, this is not the lightest or fastest-feeling trail shoe available but it’s high on comfort, natural-foot friendly and suitable for non-technical trails and road running too.
Updates to Altra Superior 3.5
- The Superior series from Altra has always been a hit among trail runners. The third iteration, in particular, was a crowd favorite. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Altra releases a Superior 3.5 – an update of the third version, but only minimally. This release has improved the durability of its predecessor, a factor that is ideal because it is a shoe for the trails.
- A quick-drying Air Mesh makes up the upper of the Superior 3.5. In this version, the upper is more durable while still retaining the lightweight and breathable qualities of the previous iteration.
- The midsole of this Altra shoe features a two-layer foam for twice as much cushioning and underfoot precision. It is paired with the new DuraTread™ rubber in the outsole. All the other features of the Superior 3.0 remain in this version.
Altra Superior 3.5 size and fit
The Altra Superior 3.5 has a standard running shoe length. Because of the brand’s unique toe box, the shoe will fit runners with foot volumes from low to high. The shoe is available in D – Medium for men and B – Medium for women.
The TrailClaw™ outsole makes use of sticky rubber that follow the form of the foot’s bones and tendons to allow a natural flex and support in critical areas. The TrailClaw™ includes the prominent lugs that are essential for trail running, as they bring traction and stability while running. This outsole material is also present in the Superior 4.0.
A foot-shaped outsole material, called the FootPod, offers flexibility and responsiveness. It maps the bones and tendons of the foot for a natural stretch, therefore enhancing the ability for grip.
The Superior 3.5 also has DuraTread™, a durable material built for long-lasting traction on any terrain. It is made from a sticky, heavy-duty compound that withstands the elements.
In the heel area is the Trail Rudder, a controlling mechanism that prevents unnecessary movements and slipping during steep descents.
The Altra Superior 3.5 uses A-Bound, which is a recycled midsole compound. This environment-friendly material acts as resilient protection, keeping the foot comfortable and preventing injuries from occurring.
A two-layer ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) also takes part in forming the midsole. Compared to other zero-drop shoes, the Superior 3.5 has a lower stack height as it aims to equip the runner with better balance.
The shoe’s Inner Flex feature involves the use of flex grooves to deliver flexibility, as well as decrease the shoe’s overall weight. Therefore, running performance is improved.
Altra incorporates a Natural Ride System (NRS) design to the Superior 3.5. This means the shoe has an anatomically-shaped last, promoting proper foot mechanics and natural motions. Similarly, the midsole has Natural Foot Design (NFD), following the shape of the foot for the ultimate comfort.
A removable rock plate, called the StoneGuard, could be found beneath the sock liner. It serves as a shock disperser and protects the foot from bruises.
The quick-drying Air Mesh upper of the Superior 3.5 promises optimal ventilation and a cool and dry foot environment all throughout the run. The material has a seamless finish to reduce skin irritation. Thin and subtle overlays support the mesh for a steady and stable ride.
This shoe still features the Gaiter Trap, which is a Velcro strap that acts as an attachment mechanism so that runners could secure their running gaiters with no problems. The Superior 3.5 also has a matching gaiter that goes with the shoe; it may be purchased separately.
Altra’s signature FootShape™ toe box permits a full and natural toe splay to enable balance and stability, therefore allowing the runner to log more miles.