Altra Duo

8.8
8.8 score
[Editors rating (8.8)] = Runnerclick score (8.8)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

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Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
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Altra Duo Review Facts
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The Duo is Altra’s first attempt at making a maximally cushioned running shoe. It is extremely unique in that it is not only highly cushioned but unlike many other shoes in this category, it is very lightweight. Altra cut down on the weight through the decoupled design of the outsole. Instead of a heavy tread pattern, the shoe features precision placed textured o-shaped lugs with flex grooves in between that work in conjunction with the midsole to provide lightweight flexibility. The Duo is also different from other sneakers in its class because the generous amount of cushioning is not designed to be plushy and squishy, rather, it is engineered to deliver responsiveness and firm cushioning. The lightweight design of this sneaker is also thanks to the razor-thin mesh material that makes up its upper. The Altra is a groundbreaking maximally cushioned neutral running shoe designed to give you a natural and responsive ride. 

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Extremely lightweight design
  • Maximal firm cushion
  • Roomy forefoot design for natural foot shape
  • Flex grooves in outsole and midsole deliver excellent flexibility
  • Dri-Lex interior lining wicks away moisture
  • Durable blown rubber outsole
Cons
  • Some say upper and laces stretch over time
  • Outsole design tends to collect small rocks
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Altra Duo is composed of blown rubber and has a decoupled design that works together with the midsole. If you look at the bottom of the sneaker, you will notice the wide foot shape forefoot which gives your toes room to splay and delivers a more natural run. Featured on this outsole are a number of different o-like shaped textured lugs with flex grooves running in between each one which Altra calls “innerflex”. This gives the outsole less of a solid-piece-of-rubber feel. Rather, it adds to the lightweight factor of this highly cushioned yet speedy racing sneaker. The way in which the lugs are placed and the fact that there is so much flexibility to the outsole helps to give you a fast and responsive running experience.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

This shoe’s midsole is firm yet comfortable. Although it is a high-cushioned sneaker with a 30mm stack height, the midsole focuses more on responsiveness as opposed to plush cushioning. Mainly comprised of Max LT (or Max Lite) foam, the midsole provides the right amount of cushioning without feeling like you are standing on top of a giant piece of foam. Some users comment that it feels more like you are sinking into the cushioning as opposed to standing on top of it. Many maximally cushioned sneakers give you a squishy or spongy return when your foot hits the ground, but in the Altra Duo, you will feel cushioned responsiveness. This high-energizing cushioning midsole is lightweight, responsive, and maintains its shape well after many miles. It has been praised as a great combination of cushioning and speed.
Upper
Upper

Upper

One of the first things you will notice about the Altra Duo if you picked them up in person is how surprisingly thin the upper is. This super thin yet durable mesh provides excellent breathability and helps the shoe maintain its incredibly lightweight yet cushioned design. Almost everything about the upper is thin and lightweight. It has a thin ankle collar, thin tongue, and thin laces. On top of all of this super thin mesh you will find, yet again, super thin TPU overlays to help the sneaker in the durability department. The heel cup is stiffer, yet thinner than many other maximally cushioned racers out there. To add more durability, Altra reinforced the toe cap and around the laces. Because the upper is made from such razor-thin mesh material, it is more susceptible to letting moisture in. For that reason, there is a Dri-Lex fabric liner that wraps around the inside of the shoe’s upper and is designed to not only help the sneaker provide second-skin comfort, but it also aids in keeping your foot dry with its moisture-wicking abilities. Looking at the Duo from above, you will clearly see how the shoe is designed using Altra’s “foot-shape” technology with its wider forefoot area. This allows you to have a more natural run.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The lightweight characteristic of these shoes is something that many users rave about. It is a maximally cushioned sneaker without all the bulk and weight. Depending on the size, of course, these shoes weigh less than 10 ounces: the men’s weighs in at 7.9 ounces while the women’s weighs 5.3 ounces.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The hyper-light mesh material that makes up this shoes' upper lends itself to a great amount of breathability. Many users comment on how amazingly breathable this sneaker is, despite the fact that it is highly stacked with cushion. The Dri-Lex lining inside the sneaker also helps to wick away moisture. Because these shoes are built for running long distances, this is an excellent quality since you don’t want your feet to be super swampy by the end of your run.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

A large number of consumers of the Altra Duo have complimented the shoe on its great comfort right out of the box. Because it is a maximally cushioned running shoe, it provides a large amount of underfoot cushioning comfort. However, it isn’t spongy or plush, rather, it is more of a firmer cushion to deliver great responsiveness. The Duo proves itself to be a very unique sneaker because it is not only low to the ground, but it also is highly cushioned and extremely lightweight; there aren’t a lot of sneakers like it out there on the market today. The lightweight mesh upper hugs the foot while the Dri-Lex liner inside of the shoe helps it to feel more like a second skin.
Style
Style

Style

While the Altra Duo looks like a maximally cushioned running shoe with its 30mm stack height, it is a good-looking sneaker. It won’t lend itself to being versatile because if you wore it with your casual-attire, it’ll definitely look like a running shoe. It comes in some nice colorways and there are a lot of users who compliment it for how great it looks on your feet.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Due to the fact that this shoes' upper is extremely thin, some people may have concerns about its durability. However, Altra made sure to reinforce the toe box and laces with a thin synthetic overlay to help it retain its shape and make it more durable. Also, the Max Lite midsole isn’t on the squishy side, rather, it is more firm than many maximally cushioned sneakers. This will help the sneaker maintain its shape and the firm midsole will prevent the material from sagging and wearing down quickly. The flexible blown-rubber outsole provides durability as well and will provide you with durable, responsive runs for miles and miles.
Protection
Protection

Protection

There’s no question that the Altra Duo is chock-full of cushioning. This Max Lite cushioning provides protection for your joints against the naturally-occurring jarring motions that running causes. The midsole will absorb a decent level of shock and deliver an excellent energy return, giving you a pretty smooth ride for such a low to the ground shoe. The ankle collar is thin yet stiff so it will protect your ankle and keep your foot inside the shoe. Despite the fact that this sneaker features a no-platform design, the blown rubber outsole will protect your feet from underfoot debris.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Max Lite foam material that makes up this shoe’s midsole provides a responsive yet cushioned ride. You won’t feel like you are running on a cloud, but you will feel an excellent energy return with each stride. The low-to-the-ground engineering of the Altra Duo will give you more of a natural-feeling run but at the same time, you can rest assured that your foot is cushioned and supported through the responsive midsole. The flex grooves also add to the incredibly responsive ride these shoes offer by allowing your foot to move naturally with each stride.
Support
Support

Support

The lightweight nature of this sneakers' upper will allow it to comfortably wrap around your foot and keep you snug and secure. The synthetic overlays will also keep your foot supported throughout your run. Altra’s ‘foot-shape’ technology allows your foot to maintain a natural-feeling and fit inside the shoe and your feet will be comfortable and supported thanks to the firm Max Lite midsole. Although this shoe boasts a no platform design, you will feel more supported than a traditional no-platform sneaker thanks to the generous cushioning provided.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Altra Duo is built to tackle the road. They are designed for neutral runners who are looking to tack on some mileage with speed and response as well as firm cushioning. They will work well inside but really crave the open road.
Price
Price

Price

Altra is known for making high-quality sneakers and the price tag on the Duo is pretty consistent with similar quality maximally cushioned running shoes. They are on the higher end of running shoes, coming in around $130, but these are really a groundbreaking sneaker in that they are both lightweight and maximally cushioned.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The textured o-ish shaped lugs on the outsole of the Duo are designed to give you an excellent response in combination with the flex grooves and Max Lite midsole. The blown rubber used to make the outsole is engineered to withstand 100’s of miles and keep you sure-footed along the way. Whether you are running in wet or dry conditions, you will experience a speedy, cushioned, and responsive ride.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

Altra engineered the Duo with what they call “inner flex” which is a flex groove system that runs from the outsole up into the midsole. They did this not only to cut down on weight but also to allow this maximally cushioned sneaker to flex better than some other highly-cushioned sneakers on the market. Oftentimes, when you put on a pair of maximally cushioned sneakers, they may feel like big bricks on your feet due to their weight and lack of flexibility. With the Altra Duo, that won’t be the case. With the combination of the sneakers’ inner flex design and extremely thin upper, these shoes won’t feel stiff on your feet. In fact, the inner flex will give you an extra bit of momentum on your run.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The Max Lite foam material that makes up this midsole allows you to sink into the cushioning while you run, which will help keep your foot stable. There is a thin insole on top of the midsole cushioning system which will also help to keep your foot supported within the sneaker. The ankle collar is stiff enough to help your ankle feel stable throughout your run. This is Altra’s roomiest shoe to date with its foot-shape technology in the forefoot. This will help your foot feel natural in the shoe while the lightweight flexible fabric that makes up the upper wraps around it. This results in a comfortable and stable fit where you won’t feel your foot slosh around inside of the foot chamber.
Drop
Drop

Drop

This shoe features a no-platform design which means it has a 0 drop. This fact may scare some shoppers, but the Altra Duo is unlike many natural/minimalistic running shoes out there. Despite the zero drop, there is by no means zero support or zero cushioning. On the contrary, this shoe boasts 30mm of stacked cushioning under your foot. This fact makes it a cushioned neutral runner as opposed to a minimalist running shoe. You won’t feel the ground beneath your feet but you will feel supported by the firm cushioning. The zero drop is a result of the 30mm heel stack and 30mm toe stack. Altra designed the shoe like this to encourage your foot to land on the midfoot as opposed to the heel, which is a more natural way of running.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- Max LT midsole provides firm cushioning and excellent response
- Blown rubber outsole features responsive treads and flex grooves, making the sneaker lightweight and flexible
- Ultra-thin lightweight mesh upper is breathable and makes the sneaker super light on the feet
- Zero drop with 30mm stacked cushioning will help you strike the ground more naturally with your midfoot
- Inner flex technology runs from outsole up into the midsole to give you a uniquely cushioned yet flexible running experience
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Altra Duo is an incredibly unique shoe. Unlike many other maximally cushioned running shoes out there, it is lightweight and flexible. It is ideal for neutral runners who are looking to speed up their shorter runs or even their marathons. Because it has a zero drop, it provides a more natural feel as you step, as opposed to many highly cushioned sneakers out there that cause you to strike the ground with your heel. Although it has 30mm of cushioning, it won't feel like a spongy cloud on your feet. Instead, you will feel a responsive and firmly cushioned run. The outsole and midsole combine to deliver a flexible and forward-propelling momentum, making it an excellent shoe for races. The upper is incredibly lightweight as well. As a matter of fact, some users say the upper looks like a “racing upper” while the midsole and outsole look more like a maximally cushioned sneaker. In the end, it is a high-quality lightweight and responsive natural-feeling sneaker that is a great option for experienced runners.