s358523134725050912_p34_i3_w640The Altra Torins, First Impressions

I was very intrigued the first time I saw an Altra running shoe. I am very familiar with lots of different kinds of running shoes, but had never seen the Altra shoe line before. One of my habits is to look at people’s footwear, whether I am running road or out shopping with my family, and it’s important for me to do this. I like to make sure I can help get people fitted into the correct shoe for the task they have at hand. If I can get someone to improve their run times, part of that job is done.

I have given away many shoes because I have so many on my shoe-shelf. Hokas, Brooks, Nikes, and others but I didn’t have a pair of Altras. I was hoping to add a pair of these and see if it would be right for my needs.

Now, this is where the Altra shoe line becomes intriguing. It is different in most every way from a traditional shoe. The Altra line-up has a Zero Drop height, meaning the heel and the forefoot is equal. Many running shoes have the traditional wedge shape, and so the heel is higher than then the forefoot of the shoe. With a ‘zero drop’ minimal type of outsole it allows you to stand upright, as if you wear standing bare-foot, rather than standing with your heels elevated.

The other thing to note is the Altra Torin shoe has a foot-shaped last. Your toes have adequate room to splay your toes. The toe-box is generous with the overall semi-circular fore-foot shape. The shoes felt very lightweight when I picked them up.

I immediately noticed the thin laces and felt like an eyelet was missing. A shallow shoe usually means that the laces should be butterflied in order to prevent heel slippage.

I also noticed the pull-loops on the tongue of the shoes. These are meant for quickly transitioning the shoes on and off your feet, and used in conjunction with elastic laces.

I decided to give the shoes a try.altra-torin-guest-review-by-john-shepard


The Torin Features

  • Weight: 9.3 oz.
  • Cushioning: High
  • Ideal Uses: Running, Ultramarathons, Long Distance Walking
  • Platform: Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform, FootShape™ toe box
  • Last: PFS–M
  • Stack Height: 27 mm
  • Midsole: Dual Layer: EVA Blend with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • Outsole: FootPod™ Outsole
  • Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh
  • Other Features: Great Slip-On Feel, NRS™ Natural Ride System

Field Test

The first week of running in the Altra Torins my calves blew up; meaning my calves were not properly conditioned for a lower heel shoe. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was because of the shoes or from the fact that I was doing aggressive running in them for the first week. I know that the first generation of Altra shoes lacked flexible grooves and this contributed to some of the stiff sensation. Newer models have corrected this issue. Altra actually recommends rotating between your old shoes and the Altras for the first 3 weeks so your body can become conditioned best to use the shoe. This was actually a fault of mine because I was very excited to try the pair out. I did feel the extra effort required by my muscles and so I transitioned over a short period of weeks to transition properly.

The Torin is a shoe that definitely deviates from the traditional shoe shape. It was noticeable to me that the wider shoe toe-box allows the toes to relax and splay naturally. For runners who have a large fore-foot, or a foot-shape that cannot take the traditional narrow arced shoe, the Altra Torin could work for them. A standard shoe in the Double EE size may still be too confining, and so having this option is a plus. My feet are particularly wide and I developed neuroma. Blistering, or black toe-nail problems can be illuminated by running in the Altras I believe.

The Altra Torins comes with a soft two-layered foam they call AltraBound™ . This cushioning is supposed to return energy back into each stride and reduces impact on hard surfaces. I noticed upon using the shoes that I could feel the road, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, and I got a larger stride because I could do this in an ample but not soft shoe. The shoes were very responsive to the road.

The weight is light. They are not as light as say, the Nike Free, Vibram Five-fingers or the Brooks Pure Flow, however they are within range of a what a minimal shoe should be; between 8.5-10.00 ounces. Mine came in at 9.5 oz for a size 10. You get more than enough comfort in this light to mid-weight shoe.

The shoes are not stiff like the common uppers of most running shoes, but they are not completely flexible either. Essentially they are a hybrid of firm and soft, but this is a good thing. The outersole has some rigidity so your feet are not completely twisting on the street, and not so firm that it lacks responsiveness. In fact, I did a lot of miles over technical terrain and they were versatile and performed sufficiently over various types of technical terrain.zero-drop1



The Altra comes in at $120.00 and clearance models can be purchased for $65.00-$75.00 if you spend time to track those down. Newer models should hover around $110-120 for a long while as they just updated.


The shoe provides good comfort and is mostly a light weight mesh that can air-dry quickly. Tongue is connected to the shoe and never slides around; thin and soft. Wide toe-box, and light-weight high-cushioning shoe with adequate comfort.


Older models seemed to be less durable as the upper did not hold up well in trail elements with mud, water and abrasion from debris. However, the shoes hold up very well for running strictly on the street and track. Newer models corrected this problem and have a durable upper.


Great functionality and can be used for long-distance walking or running. For those who are in the military, this is a good cushioning shoe that is light-weight, and can be used for physical fitness tests and for running short distances without added weight. If you prefer extra traction on the trails, try out the Lone Peaks or Superiors with the foot-plate. With a flat sole it can be substituted for Olympic Lifting or Crossfit shoes in a pinch, until you get the proper footwear.


Light-weight. Adequate for your road needs.

I currently own four pairs of Altra running shoes. I have two pairs of Torins, a pair of Lone Peaks, and a set of Superiors. They got it right with this shoe and I think Altra is off to a great start.

By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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