Gear Review: Altra Torin

As I unpacked the shoes from their packaging, I actually said “Whoa…”.

These were not the Altras of yesteryear. Let me back up a bit.

Regular readers of this blog know I had an enlightening experience with my Altra Provisions. I started out sorta not being super keen on them. It was mostly due to their being built like tanks and needing some wearing in. Now those shoes vie for billing as top shoe in my closet. But, honestly, they are still fairly ugly.

altra_torin_thumbThe shoes I was unpacking were anything but ugly. They were bright, no doubt.  Let me give you an idea of what these kicks look like. Imagine for a moment, a pair of race flats from the 70s. Pre-wedge style here, and think “patriotic”. Now pull out the red from the equation. Triple the thickness of the sole. Now, imagine that creature rebooted Avengers style.

Boom. The Torin ain’t borin.

Keep in mind also that what we have here is the blue colorway. The black version screams “look at me” far more quietly than the blue. I wore the Torins to an xmas party with a 3 piece suit overtop of them. To a person, everyone commented on the Torins, all positive. Then again, I’m the kind of person who can get away with wearing a 3 piece suit & tie over running sneaks. Your mileage may vary.

Enough with the show, how about the go? Let’s look at construction here. The Torin could not be more different from the Provision in terms of how it is built. The upper here is welded, and the interior is built in a far more “traditional” manner, requiring a sock liner of some kind. This was a minor bummer for me, as I really dug the Provision’s liner-less capability. (For a couple reasons, as will soon become clear). Still, the Torin comes with multiple liners which fit the shoe well and are quite comfortable.

The sole of the Torin is also a far cry from the Provision. Sure, both are still zero-drop. They wouldn’t be Altras otherwise. But the Torin doesn’t LOOK like a zero-drop shoe, they’ve managed some visual wizardry that hides the blocky nature of the sole. Even though this shoe has loads more cush and stack height than the Provision, it looks lower and sleeker.

The ride is noticeably softer in the Torin. I run the Provision liner-less and wedge-less, and that provides a super low to the ground feel. The Torin rises up and puts a bit more fluff under you, but doesn’t feel overly mushy or unstable. More importantly, even though there’s not a ton of cushion, the shoe provided great rock protection on my light trail runs. Usually I cringe about 5 or 6 times on my 4 mile out and back in the Provisions as I step on a sharp edged rock. In the Torins, I stepped on the same rocks and knew they were there, but really didn’t feel much. Nice.

Let’s drop into how the Torin fits. Here was the one sour note I found. Now, I know, me and Altras often have to get to know each other, and honestly this is nowhere near a deal breaker, but I felt as though the last that the Torin is built on has significantly less volume than the Provision.

Let me put that in perspective though. One, I have a high volume foot, with a high instep AND a couple bone spurs on top of that. So my foot is anything but normal. Two, I run the Provision without the insole or stability wedge, greatly increasing the available interior volume of the shoe.

That said, I found two areas of comfort trouble. The first was lace pressure atop the foot, a condition I solved through creative lacing. By skipping some laces and then doubling back I was able to spread the pressure across more of the foot. It still isn’t 100%, but keep in mind that the shoe is still new and hasn’t quite form fit itself.

The second issue is slightly more difficult. I am finding that my big toe hits the top of the shoe on my right foot. Keep in mind, I’m not saying it hits the END of the shoe, I have room there. It is actually being pushed down on from the shoe’s volume. Again, in the other kicks I’d be riding way lower, so that’s probably where that’s coming from. But in a shoe famous for having room to splay the toes (which I still have, just not a lot of vertical space) I thought there’d be more to play with. Whether this stretches and gets more comfy only time will tell. The area is one with a lot of welding overlay, which may or may not bode well. I’m considering stuffing a few things in there to stretch the shoe.

Let me reiterate, the fit issues I describe above are likely unique to my oddball foot and certainly not serious enough to warrant not running in the shoe. At the moment, it is first in my rotation for medium runs as I try to wear it in some. With its ability to swallow rocks, I’m hoping it might replace my HOKA shoes for medium-long trail runs.

These shoes are a huge step forward for Altra. For people with lower vertical volume feet than mine (probably almost everyone) these shoes will be long-run capable out of the box. You don’t see that everyday. They’re lightweight, comfortably soft yet provide good ground feel. And they’ll be the talk of your next black tie affair. You might want to get the black ones for that though. Unless you’re hoping for a lot of shoe conversations.

Cost: $115 (sale prices available on some color/size combos)

Website: The Fat Panther Store
Score: 9/10 RAWRS (Great do-everything shoe, lightweight, zero-drop)

High: Zero-drop with cushioning, lightweight, good looking
Low: On the low volume side, interior requires sock liner

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