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Trail Runners

What We’re Testing Now: Speed Through the Woods on This Supportive, Stable Trail Running Shoe

The Altra Superior 5 aids in a natural, comfortable stride.

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I’ll be the first to admit that trail running is still fairly new to me. This summer was my first full season of going for speed in the woods, not just walking at my usual leisurely hiking pace all the time. I’ve found that I enjoy zipping through the miles: More sights to see! More focus on the trail beneath your feet! More sweat! And, exploring the new (for me) category of trail running shoes.

I hadn’t worn a shoe like the Superior 5 until I first used it last month. The models I’d run in before then were focused on nimbleness, with relatively narrow lasts that placed a premium on precise footfalls. The wide last of the Superior 5, then, was slightly daunting to me at first. Would my steps be sloppier, resulting in spills as I sped down the trail?

Not quite. The Superior 5 allowed my feet to splay comfortably as I made miles, staving off foot soreness that I’d experienced in narrower shoes. The width, combined with the Superior 5’s zero-drop design, allowed my foot to rest in a natural position. I didn’t experience any drop in agility, either; I was able to place every step where I needed to, and push off from my big toe with each stride (I run with a slightly pigeon-toed gait).

With a 21-millimeter stack height and Altra’s proprietary foam midsole, the Superior 5 is not an overly-cushioned trail shoe. It does come with a removable stone guard, but if you’re pounding down rough trails, the suspension might be a bit overmatched. Still, I didn’t notice any aches while traversing intermittently rocky singletrack in Wyoming’s Gros Ventre range

The shoe’s overlapping tongue—attached on one side of the upper but not the other—rests across the top of the foot comfortably while holding it in place. And while I haven’t tested the Superior 5 in warm weather, the mesh-and-TPU overlays upper looks like it would fall in the middle of the breathability spectrum. I’ll be more than happy to take this shoe into next summer’s trail running season, so I’ll report back on those aspects as the miles pile up. 

Buy Now; $120