I’ve wanted to try the Altra Superior 5 now for a while. It’s a lightweight, low-profile trail shoe. What more could you need?
Altra Superior 5 Quick Facts:
Weight: 7.5 oz
Heel to Toe Drop: 0 mm
Altra Superior 5 Introduction:
The Altra Superior 5 is Altra’s lowest-profile trail shoe. If you’re looking for a minimalist shoe to hit the trails, this is the one. It’s basically a sock with a lot of traction. At just 7.5 oz, it weighs less than many road racing shoes. That says a lot since usually, the traction on trail shoes is heavy.
I haven’t tried previous versions of the Superior, but I am familiar with them.
Altra Superior 5 Fit:
If you’ve never tried Altra running shoes before, they are built to be foot-shaped. Not wide, but shaped like feet. This means you will see a more rounded toe box that allows the feet to splay and not feel cramped. This does not mean they are wide, which does not mean they are the widest shoe option out there. Say that again: Altra is not the widest shoe option out there. Most brands that come in wide are wider.
The Superior has a new updated upper, which is softer. While it resembles the Escalante, it’s not the same. It’s softer and lighter than the Torin 4.5 plush as well. The new upper is simple like most Altra running shoes. It wraps around your foot with no rubbing or irritation.
Typically in running shoes, I wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide. I found the size 11 to be the best fit in the Altra Superior 5.
A lot is happening in the Altra Superior 5 upper, so I’ll probably break it down a little more:
Trail Specific Components:
Updated Gaiter Trap: Altra removed the small clip in the front of the gaiter trap. You now clip in the front and ve; velcro in the back. It gives a little more variability to what works for you. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, a gaiter trap is designed to keep debris from the trail out of your shoe. It’s a subtle change that opens the Altra Superior 5 up for a more customizable fit.
Removable Stone Guard: The Altra Superior 5 is the only Altra running shoe with a removable stone guard. The stone guard has also been updated to have different densities. It’s thicker in certain spots where you are putting more pressure on the ground. Truthfully it’s so light; I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just wear it and why you need to remove it. My best guess is if you want to put an insert into the shoe instead.
Altra Superior 5 Ride:
If you’ve never run in Altra Running shoes, they are known to be a zero drop brand. This means the forefoot and the heel are the same height from the ground. Even with the zero drop, many models have more or less cushion to change the shoe’s ride. The drop in a shoe doesn’t mean it has more or less cushion. Think about those platform flip-flops from the 90s. They are zero drops but with a lot of cushion.
I had the opportunity to meet Golden Harper a few years ago at the Runners World Half Marathon. It was fun to learn all about zero drop and how Altra was created. Altra uses “Our Balanced Cushioning,” which means your heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground and have the same amount of cushion.
With a trail running shoe so light, you wonder, will I hurt myself running in it? The midsole of the Altra Superior 5 stays the same as the previous version. Altra uses the “Quantic Midsole.” It’s one of the few shoes from Altra that still uses it, and most are going towards the EGO.
Durability and Traction: The outsole is extremely grippy, and it does just feel like a sock with massive lugs on it. I haven’t found an Altra shoe that I don’t get at least 400 miles out of, and I anticipate the Altra Superior 5 to be just like that. The traction allows for it to go in pretty much any condition.
I’ve run several miles in the Altra Superior 5, and they’ve all been on the trails. For me, it’s a great option for trail running. I’m not sure if I would want to run 20 miles in it because I prefer a shoe with more cushion, but I’ve found it to be a good option for the 10-12 I do. I’ve run dunes as well as more “forest-like” trails with no issue.
Altra Superior 5 Conclusion:
I really like the Superior 5 and haven’t had any issues with it. I appreciate how lightweight and simple the shoe is. If you are looking for a low-profile trail shoe with plenty of traction, it’s a great option. I only caution you if you plan to use the shoe for 20+ mile runs as I think something a little more cushion might be better.
My Current Shoe Rotation:
You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.
Looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths of running shoes.
Questions for you:
Have you tried the Altra Superior 5?
What is your favorite trail running shoe?