10 Best Altra Running Shoes in 2021
Whether it’s a trail or road running shoe you’re after, Altra has got you covered. The brand has always been highly regarded for its top-quality, supportive, and comfortable running shoes.
And if you’re searching for the best of all time, we are here to help you. Having tested almost 60 Altra running shoes, we are more than sure that we can give you the Altra gold mine from different categories.
Overview of this guide
How we test Altra running shoes
We don’t randomly decide on which shoe makes it to this list. We take our time testing each one of them in our independent shoe testing lab. And to really back our recommendations, we make sure to:
- Buy all the Altra shoes with our own money to prevent bias and brand loyalty
- Rake in at least 30-50 miles in each shoe to see how well they perform and how sturdy they are
- Cut each of them open to see the details inside and measure them with our calipers, durometers, scale, our custom-made smoke machine, etc.
For the CoreScore (a rating of 0-100), we collate various user and expert comments to calculate how each shoe ranks against others.
After making its way to our best zero-drop running shoes, it’s not a mystery why the Altra Rivera reigns as the best Altra of all time. It’s extremely versatile, it can be your go-to for everything.
During our easy runs, it gave us more than enough cushion to feel cozy and make the ride enjoyable from the first mile to the last. For the long haul, it gave us ample protection. And when it was time to pace it through, it was crazy responsive!
Staying true to its Altra roots, the Rivera has a wide space up front. Our toes were wriggling around comfortably, but not in a way that made the fit sloppy.
As mentioned, this shoe has generous padding, but what wowed us was how much ground feel it provided. The foam didn’t mute out everything underfoot, making it much easier to navigate the surface underneath.
Even better, it’s not heavy at all! At 8.4 oz, it’s way lighter than all the other shoes we’ve tried (9.4 oz in our lab tests). It’s almost weightless.
And if it's first-class stability you’re after, this is THE shoe. The outsole mimics the pattern of the foot, even on rugged surfaces, we were surefooted as hell. So much so, this shoe ate up all the quick turns we encountered.
To cement its place on this list, the Altra Rivera is a darn solid shoe. After hammering it on the road, it still hasn’t shown any signs of wear and tear. With confidence, we are expecting it to last 300-400 miles.
Best for flat feet
Want an incredible blend of support, comfort, and responsiveness? We’ve got the shoe just for you.
For this alone, the Altra Paradigm 5.0 is already incredibly amazing. But it’s a stability shoe that packs so much, all that we’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
First, support is not obtrusive. Unlike all the support shoes in our arenal, not once did the Paradigm feel rigid and harsh. We were just breezing through our strides with so much comfort.
Even better, the ride was overall enjoyable. It’s very bouncy underfoot, we felt like we could run a mile further. What’s more is that we didn’t need a recovery period for our legs and feet.
Stepping comfort up is the shoe’s superbly breathable upper. It’s very porous, even under hot temps, our feet were kept cool and dry.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Altra without the brand’s signature roomy toe space. It doesn’t just highlight comfort, it also makes the ride feel as natural as possible.
Best for race
If there’s one Altra shoe that screams race-ready, the Altra Escalante Racer 19 is THE shoe. At 6.8 oz, it’s so dang light, it felt like air!
We were taken aback by the shoe’s unbelievably featherlight weight, but little did we know, we were in for more surprise.
It’s anything but a traditional racer. It’s NOT rigid at all. As a matter of fact, it’s cut out for comfort. It’s plenty flexible, and it doesn’t cut corners on cushion (keep in mind its lightness). If anything, our feet were pampered in every step.
The Escalante Racer is also a shoe that breathes! When we ran under the scorching heat, our feet were sweat-free, and the in-shoe feel was airy.
Road shoes, oftentimes, leave something to be desired in the traction arena. But NOT this shoe. It grips so well, running through both wet and dry pavement was an easy feat.
We always love to abuse our shoes to see if they can withstand the harshness of the ground. And when it was time to wear test the Altra Escalante Racer 19, it was nothing short of a star in strength. 50 miles of harsh pounding on the pavement, the midsole is still not packing out, and the outsole looks brand-new.
If you want to win competitions and set new PBs, this shoe won’t fail you.
Best for trail
After testing the Altra Lone Peak 5.0 thoroughly, we just couldn’t find anything that’s not to like about it. It’s a solid trail shoe, and it’s one of the best options on the market.
It’s a trail beast, you can cruise through snow, mud, ice, rocks, and dry trails with ease. And if you don’t want to switch gears from the road to the trail, this shoe is a great option. The outsole clings to the trails excellently, but on pavement, it’s not extremely aggressive.
Uneven trail surfaces? Don’t worry about that. The outsole already made our run very stable, but the midsole took everything up a notch.
In our lab tests, we’ve gathered that it’s stiffer than the average running shoes (25.5N vs. 23.8N). But what do these numbers indicate? Simply, the Lone Peak is fantastically supportive, but it’s not in a way that’s harsh. It has enough give to keep the run comfortable and springy.
Want the best protection in your next outdoor adventure? Take the Altra Lone Peak 5.0. Its generous cushioning won’t just cradle your feet with coziness, it also dampens the harshness underneath.
If you want to swallow miles on the trails, there’s no better option than the Altra Olympus 4.0.
On varied terrain, this shoe gave us nothing but pure confidence. On gravel paths, dirt single-tracks, beat-up forest roads, technical rocky climbs, mud, and wet, loose trails, it clung like claws! Hands down, nothing beats the Olympus in the traction department.
There’s no denying, the real MVP here is the outsole. It doesn’t just stick to the ground, it’s also built tough. It’s made of Vibram rubber, and after beating it up on the trails, it came out unscathed.
And what more can you expect from an Altra? It’s got more than enough space in the toe box, making the ride and fit feel so natural. Even better, its wide base makes the run so steady and stable.
When we ran through rugged terrain, we were surefooted as ever!
The upper is also a standout feature. It’s mighty cushy, our feet felt right at home. But what really wowed us was how breathable it was. Of all the padded uppers we’ve tried, this is the best of the best.
At $170, it’s not a wallet-friendly shoe, which is why it only hails second best. But with all the perks it offers, it’s a price that we’d gladly pay.
For a shoe that costs so little, we were astounded as to how much the Altra Viho has to offer.
And if there’s one thing that makes the Viho king, it’s the unrivaled comfort. From top to bottom, it screams cozy.
The upper is not just unbelievably light, it’s also very padded. And the midsole was a couch to our feet. It’s so dang plush, we didn’t want to take it off!
And what’s more is that despite being so soft, the foam doesn’t pack out easily. In fact, what makes it a great-value shoe is its highly durable construction. After miles of pounding, the midsole remained lively, and the outsole free from scratch.
If you think the cushy foam makes the ride dull, that’s NOT the case here. The Viho has got some pop, it’s a very fun shoe to run in.
Who could forget about the toe box, right? Like all the other shoes on this list, it’s mighty roomy. Not once did we feel like our feet were constricted. Even better, it made our strides feel very natural.
To top it all off, all the benefits the Altra Viho comes with is loaded in a terrifically light package. It might look bulky, but it never weighed us down.