Verdict from 7.1 hours of research from the internet

6 reasons to buy

  • Some consumers claimed that the upper unit had a stretchy and accommodating build which allowed the foot to relax while feeling secure.
  • The breathability of the upper was lauded, with people commenting that they didn’t feel stuffiness taking over their runs.
  • Several purchasers noted that they didn’t need to break-in the Altra Superior 4.0 as it felt comfortable and responsive from the start.
  • The underfoot platform was considered by testers to be bouncy and reactive to the natural movement of the foot.
  • People were happy that the Superior 4.0 had a lightweight construction. They didn’t feel their movements being tarnished.
  • Most runners considered this product to have accurate measurements for width and length.

2 reasons not to buy

  • Some users feel that the sole unit is too thin and gives limited protection.
  • A couple of testers didn’t like that the shoelaces are a bit too long.

Bottom line

The Altra Superior 4.0 was able to capture the appreciation and trust of a majority of those who have tried it. This neutral running shoe had praised showered over it because of its secure yet breathable façade, the highly reactive midsole foam, and the true-to-size-and-width configuration. On the other hand, several trail runners expressed disappointment over some structural elements.

This product aims to cater to people who enjoy running on trails and experiencing enhanced steadiness on unpredictable ground. Its light and flexible build welcome the natural biomechanical capacities of the foot.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Our reviews

98
/100 by Mordechai Sopher, posted on .

From the moment I took my new Altra Superior 4.5 out of the box, I was impressed and realized why they named these shoes “Superior.”

They look sharp, feel great, and are awesome trail running shoes. They are perfect for most types of trails, and some of the top trail runners in the world even wear them.

 

Altra-Superior-4.5.jpg

Past Experience with Altras

The Superiors are my fifth pair of Altras. I bought my first pair three years ago, and I have become a bigger fan with every new purchase.

Altras blend minimalist barefoot running with high-quality standard running shoes. They are unique in their Zero Drop midsoles and wide toe boxes, which allow for maximal comfort and encourage proper running form.

Different models have varying degrees of midsole stack height, firmness, and stability.

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Design.jpg

 

All of my Altras have been super comfortable, and I have seen positive improvements in the newer models in durability, stability, and sole responsiveness. 

I last purchased the Torin 4’s, which were great for roads and light trails, and I was looking for an even firmer midsole and a more specialized trail running shoe that could be versatile enough to handle roads effectively.

The new Superior 4.5’s are just what I was looking for! 

First impressions

I often rave about the wide toe box in Altras, and this feature makes it difficult for me to comfortably wear other shoes that don’t have the width in the front of the shoe.

The wide toe box actually makes your foot wider as toes begin to spread apart naturally. The wide toe box also prevents blisters as toes are not rubbing against each other while running.

I don’t understand why more running shoes don’t include this simple feature that adds so much comfort. 

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Toe-box.jpg

 

The one drawback with the width is that the shoes can look a bit goofy, with the extra-wide toe box in the front of the shoe.

With the new Superior 4.5, Altra has improved the design to remain wide but appears sleeker and more natural-looking. By the way, the wide toe box is not just for comfort; it is also great for injury prevention. 

Superior style

The Superior’s improved look in the toe box (and as a whole) is excellent.

Color options range from simple all black with a cool hologram-like picture of the mountains to brighter blue, red, or yellow options. 

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Upper.jpg

 

With its 19 mm stack height, the Superior looks minimalist but maintains excellent cushioning, which I prefer for longer run and tougher terrain. 

As is typical of Altras, the weight feels shockingly light. Listed at 8.9 oz in a men’s size 9, without skimping on ample support and cushioning. 

This shoe is minimalistic and not bulky, yet has the amount of cushion that I like for longer runs and tougher terrain. The best of both worlds!

Gator attachment

The Superiors, like some other Altra trail shoes, come with a velcro attachment at the heel for a gator. I do not have the Altra gator, but I believe it could go well with the Superiors for several reasons. 

The Superiors are lower to the ground, making it easier for debris entry, and gators function to keep out debris.

One of my few critiques of the Superior 4.5’s is that my foot is not totally locked down in the heel. They have a low cut in the ankle collar, and I have to be a bit careful while rounding sharper turns.

The gator could also potentially add ankle stability and the option to upgrade the shoe by attaching the gator for tougher trails is nice.

Tongue

The next interesting feature of this shoe is the tongue. This is completely sealed closed on one side.

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Tongue.jpg

 

This smart design feature effectively keeps the tongue closer to the foot and prevents debris from entering from that outer side.

I was concerned that the closure on the tongue’s side would cause the foot to heat up. Fortunately, the designers compensated for this by adding a lot of ventilation in the upper, so the airflow is good overall. 

Stone guard

Another unique feature is the gray stone guard insert, pictured next to the shoes. Some shoes come with extra inserts, but these are very different.

They are super thin (6 mm) and made of very stiff plastic. The intent is to add an extra foot protector for tougher terrain.

I tried the shoes first without the guard. Even without the guard, the shoes have enough cushion to protect my feet from rocks comfortably, but some runners with more sensitive feet may enjoy this extra layer of protection.

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Insert.jpg

 

The stone guard gives the shoe a bit more responsiveness by adding firmness. So for a cross country race, they could be good to slip in. 

Thank you, Altra, for this extra gift! I really like to use them for extra protection with some of my barefoot shoes, which sometimes hurt my feet when running on rocky trails.

In general, I find the Superiors more comfortable without the guard (I mainly run without it), but I appreciate having the option for different types of running.  

Outsole

The “MaxTrac” rubber outer sole grips the trails nicely and is definitely a trail running sole.

The lugs are less deep than other Altra models like the Lone Peaks or Kings, but they still manage to handle trail terrain well.

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Outsole.jpg

 

An advantage of the less deep lugs are their ability to hybrid and handle roads well. They are definitely best suited for trails, but when there are stretches of road between trails, the Superiors are comfortable and do the job. 

Superior comfort

This is my fifth pair of Altras, and I can honestly say that I have not yet had a pair that was anything but super comfortable.

I ordered every pair online without previously trying them on, and they all fit my foot perfectly. It’s great to have confidence that Altras will fit me comfortably, no matter the model.

I think that most people would be impressed by the comfort of these shoes and sizes wise. I surprised my wife with a pair of Altra Escalante’s, and she agreed that they are very comfy, even as all-day shoes.

Performance 

These Superior 4.5 are a performance shoe. Meaning, they are great while running hard on the trails, and even some of the best pro runners wear them.

They are suited for both longer runs and high tempo shorter runs because they are light, sleek, and have a responsive “Quantic” midsole.  

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Performance.jpg

 

The mesh in the forefoot of the upper is not your typical mesh. It has lots of little air holes for ventilation, but the mesh is stiff, which provides the added benefits of stability and comfort. 

Fit

As mentioned, I think that the lock down could be slightly better in the heel. Foot stability has been a common issue I have had with some Altras, but the lack of stability was previously in the front.

I would prefer a higher heel cup with the Superiors, like my Altra Torin 4’s (pictured next to the Superiors), which had great heel lock down. 

 

Notice the higher heel cup on the Torin on the left.   

Altra-Superior-4.5-Heel-Cup.jpg

 

I have heard that Superior 4.5 did improve its stability from the 4.0 model, but I think it could go a step further, mainly in the heel. 

Also, as you can see from the picture, the Superior’s heel has no pull tab. It’s not a big deal for me but probably makes the shoe sleeker. There is also the gator attachment that opens up with velcro inside. 

Conclusion

I am a big fan after a month of running intensively on the trails almost every day with my Superior 4.5! They are extremely comfortable while also sleek and lightweight.

I feel fast in them, and they look good as well. They are really a solid trail running shoe for someone like me who prefers a more minimalistic shoe with toe comfort, firmness, and rides low to the ground. 

 

Altra-Superior-4.5-Test-Run.jpg

 

So far, the durability seems to be good. I take them on long runs, tempo runs, and everything in between.

Whenever it gets rescheduled (due to COVID postponement), I hope to run in a trail marathon, and I know that the Superior 4.5’s will be my go-to shoes for that. 

Mordechai Sopher | Level 3 expert Verified
Hi, I'm Mordechai! I work as a professional fitness trainer and high school Physical Education teacher. I have been a runner since childhood, however after serving in the military at age 23, my love for running developed into more of a focused passion for distance running, as I was previously more of a middle distance runner in track and field. I live in Israel and have run all of Israel's 5 full marathon courses at least once.

98
/100 by Rachela Lack, posted on .

I am new to trail running as this was my second trail distance. I choose a 50-miler in the "Desert," but it was more like the Antelope Canyon Ultra in Page, Arizona! This 50-mile course promised us 40 miles of sand, rock climbing, slot canyons, and slick rock. Plus the last loop of 10 miles of runnable trail. 

So how do you pick a shoe to perform? I always have that one call, or I read reviews. I choose the Altra Superior 4 straight out of the box. I know it is a risk but here is how the shoe performed.

 

Specifications

   Insole    5mm contour footbed
   Toe box     FootShape™ with Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop Platform™
   Stack height    21 mm
   Outsole    MaxTrac™ Rubber with TrailClaw™
   Upper    Seamless wrap-around engineered knit
   Insole    6mm contour footbed with removable StoneGuard™
   Stack height    21mm
   Midsole    Quantic ™ with InnerFlex™
   Weight    6.6 oz/187 g

Test miles

I took these shoes on a test run for my first 50 milers. The terrain included sand, lots of sand. About 40 miles of it! Another terrain during this 50 miler was slick rock, slot canyons, and rock climbing.

I was very impressed with the grip these shoes had on the slick rock - I never slipped. The grip was almost like glue. I easily could run up them, down them, and climbing was confident. 

 

 

The sand was an issue. Who trains in the sand anyway? The shoe has built-in spots for Gaiters, which I wore. With both the shoe and the Gaiters I had almost little sand at the end.  

At no point did I feel I needed to stop to change socks or dump sand out, which a ton of people did this at Aid Stations.  

Fit, feel & the ride

This shoe fit loose in the toe box. Which I knew this brand is known for. However, I felt the rest of the shoe felt good and snug. It did not slip back and forth. I wear an 8 for most running shoes, and the pair I wore was an 8. 

It is a zero drop shoe, and my cadence is normally high, so I did not affect me too much. I tried these specifically to handle the sand. Having the zero drop helped with the sand. I really did not sink much, and turning over was less work and helped save energy.

When the trail switched to the slick rock, and the rock climbing, I felt the same confident ride. On close-knit ledges, I felt happy with the feel of the shoe.  It gave me the confidence of no slippage. I was able to switch easily to a slow and steady pace to a faster pace.

 

 

Regarding the weight, these shoes are light to the touch. Very flexible, and felt like they could mold to my feet and terrain. The shoe comes with a Stone Guard Insole, which prevents rocks and other debris from entering.

 

Toe box

The toe box is going to take some to get used to it. It is part of the brand, so it’s unique. I can handle the process, and like the feel and confidence, it gave me right out of the box. So I hope it will be a top favorite in my Trail Running adventures.

Price

$110.00 - I was extremely pleased with this price. I believe these shoes will easily run for 300-400 miles.

Conclusion

This shoe performs. I also believe I will fall more in love with it with more miles, and various terrain. I will have to give it some time due to the zero drop, but I am used to shoe rotation, so it did not bother me as much.  

Also for the price point, I believe it is an affordable option if you are looking for a lightweight trail shoe that almost feels like you are barefoot. Trails can be unpredictable, and so far, I believe this shoe can handle a variation.

I would use this shoe on any terrain. I would use this shoe for probably max a 50 miler because you may want more cushion for a 100 miler.  

Rachela Lack | Level 3 expert Verified
My name is Rachela, 43. I have ran 23 Marathons in 20 different States. I run to stay healthy with an average of 40-45 miles a week.

  • The Superior 4.0 is footwear that’s designed for the trails. This product is also a part of the Altra line of running shoes. The façade is similar to its predecessor, the Superior 3.5, save for an upper that now features more stitch-reinforcements and a wraparound overlay that covers the sides and the heel. The now-popular seamless construction is still used for this shoe.
  • Altra Quantic™, a midsole foam, is used for this trail running shoe. This full-length piece is meant to provide impact mitigation and energized steps in a lightweight package. A foot-shaped platform works with midsole flex grooves to enable the natural movement capacity of the foot.
  • MaxTrac™ rubber is used for the outsole unit of the Altra Superior 4.0. This compound is long-lasting, and it has the necessary firmness that counters the harsh nature of the trails. The slanted TrailClaw™ lug configuration doles out traction over the irregular surfaces.

Standard measurements were used in the making of the Altra Superior 4.0. Runners can use their usual choices when it comes to size. Widthwise, the available options are D – Medium and B – Medium for men and women, respectively. The semi-curved and foot-shaped construction of the façade and the midsole are meant to welcome the outline and bending capability of the human foot.

The outsole unit of the Altra Superior 4.0 is composed of a rubber compound called MaxTrac™. This layer covers the entire midsole foam, protecting it from the abrasive nature of the outdoor terrains. It has a grippy character that allows it to naturally deliver traction. Many trail shoes from Altra utilize this technology, including the well-known Lone Peak 4.0.

Heightened surface adhesion is provided by the TrailClaw™, a set of extended gripping lugs that have a skewed construction. These protrusions act like claws that ensure surface stability and control, especially when handling upward and downward traversals.

The midsole unit of the Superior 4.0 is composed of the Altra Quantic™ foam, a full-length foam that’s designed to provide responsive underfoot performance and impact mitigation. It has a lightweight build that aims to free the foot from feeling encumbered.

The InnerFlex™ is a system of grooves in the midsole that encourages natural foot flexibility. Such a mechanism heightens the quality of the step.

Improved impact attenuation and anatomical equilibrium are afforded by the Zero Drop platform. This even heel-to-toe differential is also designed to enable the instinctive performance of the foot, accommodating slight biomechanical adjustments to accentuate speed and foot-to-ground steadiness.

A removable StoneGuard layer is placed above the primary cushioning system. It is responsible for protecting the foot from sharp trail debris and rough surfaces.

A wraparound textile is used for the upper unit of the Altra Superior 4.0. This material has a light and breathable construction that allows the runner to experience cool and dry coverage. It is also smooth and form-fitting, traits that embody a supposedly comfortable in-shoe feel.

Stitched-on overlays reinforce the sides and the heel. These add-ons don’t have a substantial thickness yet they serve the purpose of securing the foot and keeping it in place.

The forefoot has printed overlays that protect against surface impact and exposure to debris.

The padded tongue and collar of this trail shoe are meant to cushion the topmost portions of the foot. Moreover, they help in the prevention of in-shoe wobbling and accidental shoe removals.

The FootShape™ toe box is a spacious forefoot design that allows the toes to splay naturally when standing idly or when gearing towards the liftoff.

Size and fit

True to size based on 586 user votes
Small (6%)
True to size (83%)
Large (11%)
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Same sizing as Altra Superior 4.5.

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Size comments

I find fit to be generally true to size.. - Road Trail Run
This size 11.5 is the exact same as my Altra Lone Peak 4.0. - Trail to Peak
The fit of the Superior 4.0 is true to size. - Running Shoes Guru
Forefoot fit
Narrow Wide
Heel fit
Narrow Wide
Toebox
Tight Roomy

How Superior 4.0 compares

This shoe: 94
All shoes average: 86
58 99
This shoe: $110
All shoes average: $130
$60 $250
This shoe: 7.9oz
All shoes average: 10.4oz
5oz 24oz
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com