Years ago I started out wearing the Altra Torins and liked them so much that I purchased three pairs and then went on to purchase two Lone Peaks and one Superior. Yes, I like Altra. With the introduction of the Escalante model into their line up Altra joins a list of other companies, such as Nike with their Flynit or the Adidas’s Primeknit, by offering a soft-knit, engineered mesh upper, shoe. Nike debuted the textile they labeled “a new textile called Engineered Mesh,” The shoe fits somewhere between the Instinct and Torin in their line up. The Escalante is designed for trail- and road-running.
It is a very comfortable shoe. It is not as breathable as other similar mesh shoes like the Nike Flynit. The Escalante is very much like the shape and fit of the Altra Torin. It is a slim model with a height that stays close to the floor. I’ve been using Altra for about 4 years now and I really like this new shoe in their line-up. The toe-box is generous with the overall semi-circular fore-foot shape. The shoes felt very lightweight when I picked them up. Here are some of the factory specs:
  • Ideal Uses: Running, Racing, Training
  • Cushioning: Moderate
  • Stack Height: 25 mm
  • Weight: 8.2 oz. / 232 g
  • Designed To Improve: Natural Foot Positioning, Walking Form, Toe Splay, Comfort
  • Platform: Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box
  • Last: PFS2-M / PFS-W
  • Midsole: Altra EGO™ with InnerFlex™
  • Insole: 6 mm Contour Footbed
  • Upper: Engineered Knit
  • Outsole: FootPod™ Technology
  • Other Features: New Altra EGO™ Midsole Compound; Engineered Knit Upper; Sock-like Upper Fit; Metatarsal Mapping, Performance Last for Fast Training and Racing
First Impressions
I’ll be honest and say that I do not like the look of the material they used for the shoe. This is my personal preference. I feel the knit look and its modern aesthetic departed from their original look; it now seems a bit too disco or dressy for me.  The shoe’s knit upper is supposed to echo the Escalante river’s sandstone gorges. The lightweight mesh can air-dry quickly. Whether or not you agree with the shoe designers intent and execution I think we can agree this is a good shoe for running. We don’t buy shoes solely for its appearance but instead for its feel, first.

Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box

The Fit

The fit is good as it really mirrors the natural shape of the foot though some runners should go down a size because of the wide toe-box. The curvature of the wide toe box it makes it so there is a generous amount of room for your feet. The sizing of the Escalante is similar to the Torin 2.5, and the Lone Peak 3 or the Superior. I recommend trying the shoes on in a shoe store. Purchasing them online does not give you the opportunity to see if they will fit to the shape of your foot. Although I have wide feet I cannot fit in certain types of Altra running shoes. My little toe needs that extra space. You can always wear thicker socks to get a perfect fit if need be if it is a size too large. Orthotics and inserts can be worn with the shoes. The shoe has a soft toe cap that collapses a bit too much when you run; I think they could have made it a bit stiffer but this would have changed the whole idea of using knitting.

The dressy looking Escalante means it can be worn with slacks for a hip look.
For those heel strikers there is a small heel counter to support and stabilize your energetic efforts. The shoe fits well around the mid-foot. The fabric is soft and encapsulates the foot. There is no padding in the tongue at all. I prefer a more padded tongue so the laces don’t irritate my foot. They added a more robust lace to their shoes.

Stack Height: 25 mm

One of my complaints about their earlier models was the thin laces that tended to irritate the top of the foot at its pressure points when the shoe was fully laced down. There wasn’t much give when the feet began to swell while running. These laces are softer and more pliable. I usually use a butterfly lacing technique in order to get the heel locked down because the shoe is shallow and tended to slip off the heel. They have a suitable height heel collar. The Torin for example used to have a shallower heel collar that had a tendency to slip off. The eyelets are knit material. I am uncertain how durable they are yet.

Outsole

 The outsole features the same Foot Pod Outsole with flex grooves seen on some of their other line ups. This outsole is to map the bones and tendons of the human foot. Altra’s new shoe features their EGO midsole. Their foam is a little bouncier than regular EVA and gives sufficient rebounding. The forefoot is a bit higher than the heel although they promote this as a zero drop shoe. Overall a good looking and fun to run in shoe.

Outsole: FootPod™ Technology

Summary

COST 4/5

The Altra Escalante comes in at $130.00. There is a 6 month warranty of manufacturing defects from date of purchase.

COMFORT 5

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

DURABILITY 

Uncertain at this point. I would have to put 200 plus miles on it first to say yea or nea

FUNCTIONALITY 5/5

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.

WEIGHT 5/5

Light-weight. Adequate for your road needs.

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About The Author

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 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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One Response

  1. Chris

    Hi. Great review of a great shoe.
    I’ve just written a review of the Escalante after a year of use and nearly 2000km. I found the durability quite good, even though I’ve seen a few people complain about it.
    You can find my review here: http://galah.it/altra-escalante/
    I hope people find it useful.

    Reply

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