Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Gear Closet: Altra Superior 2.0 Trail Running Shoes

Find just the right pair of running shoes can be a bit like searching for the Holy Grail. Legends say that they exist, but actually finding it can be a challenge. As a daily runner, I tend to put a lot of wear and tear on my shoes, and since I am larger than most other runners I typically need footwear that is a bit more substantial than I'd sometimes like. This is especially true when it comes to trail shoes, where the lightweight models have tended to disappoint in the past. That isn't the case with Altra's Superior 2.0 however, as I have finally found a shoe that can provide plenty of comfort and support, while also leaning towards the more minimalist end of the spectrum.

Tipping the scales at just under 9 ounces, these shoes save weight by using a light upper while still maintaining a solid heel and sole. A lot of minimalist shoes cut corners in the amount of cushioning and support that they offer, but that isn't the case here. In fact, I've found that these shoes provide enough protection to my feet that I can use them on both the trail and the road, although they are definitely better suited to the former.

Durability doesn't seem to be an issue either, as after putting a decent amount of mileage on them, the Superior 2.0's look and feel like new. Then again, most of my running shoes tend to look nearly new, even after they've lost their ability to cushion my feet on a run. Still, having used these shoes for more than a month, the only indication that they've been run is the bits of dirt and grime they've picked up from the trail.

Altra has included some interesting design options into the Superior 2.0 that makes them well suited for my feet and running style. For instance, they have a wide toe box that actually gives your toes plenty of room inside to spread out when necessary. The result isn't just increased comfort, but also better stability on uneven terrain too. The difference is noticeable almost immediately, and since I started wearing them I've come to appreciate this approach to the shoe's design.

Underneath the shoe, the custom sole has canted lugs that grip a variety of surfaces – both wet and dry – very nicely. This helps to bring an added level of stability to the shoe as well, and I've found that they work just as well in mud and rain as they do on smooth surfaces and even dry pavement. The lugs aren't overly aggressive either, which I appreciate when transitioning from road to trail and back again.

Running in the excessive heat and humidity of summer my shoes tend to get soaked with sweat on a long run. Worse yet, they don't always dry as quickly as I'd like. But the Superior 2.0 is made with lightweight, breathable, and quick drying materials, which have allowed them to avoid getting too damp in the muggy conditions and dry out much more quickly too. As a result, I'm not putting my foot into a wet shoe and they aren't building up awful odors either.

Altra ships the Superior 2.0 with removable StoneGuard inserts that help protect your feet on sharp, rocky surfaces. Most of the time I didn't feel the need to use them, but they definitely come in handy when running a trail that features a lot of potential rock hazards. I like that the rock plate can be removed however, as much of the time it isn't needed at all.

As I've already mentioned, shoes that lean towards the minimalist realm don't always work the best for me. But the Superior 2.0 has been fantastic in every way. I've run 10+ miles in these shoes on more than one occasion, and they have taken everything I've thrown at them and performed well at every turn. In fact, I've been very impressed and surprised with how easy it has been to run in shoes that weigh so little. Typically in the past, anything more than about 3 miles in lightweight shoes leaves me longing for something with more support. Happily, that isn't the case here, and I look forward to even longer runs once the heat of the summer starts to subside.

If you're in the market for a new pair of trail shoes, and haven't given Altra a look yet, you really owe it to yourself to do so. They're doing some innovative things with their footwear, and I've really enjoyed getting to know the brand a lot better. I have another pair of their shoes in the wings waiting to be tested, and if they perform anywhere close to the level of the Superior 2.0, I'm going to be a happy guy.

Priced at $110 the Altra Superior 2.0 is a relative bargain in my mind. You'll be hard pressed to find a shoe that is this comfortable, durable, and easy to run for that price. Throw in the fact that they are also lightweight, quick drying, and highly breathable, and you have all the makings of a perfect running shoe. Check them out right here.

1 comment:

admin said...

I saved some money and picked up a pair of Altra Superiors. These are a more minimal shoe than their big brother, the Lone Peaks. Whereas the Lone Peaks can feel tank-like the Superiors carry more minimal armor, while being just durable. Mark at Runners choice