Altra, a premier running shoe company from Utah, introduced the Escalante as an homage to it's home state's natural beauty. Not ironically, the region is very scenic and provides enjoyment for runners, hikers, and backpackers alike. Bearing the namesake of the winding, graceful Escalante river - which flows through many gorges and canyons in the landscape of the state. Altra Escalante is designed with an upper that aims to carry over these patterns for a unique and thoughtful look.
This upper, which is engineered knit, is the first foray into this new fabric niche and received positive reviews. Sporting a midsole that some have hailed as the holy grail of running shoe cushioning, the Altra Escalante is also a spry, comfortable shoe that has won a solid place in the shoe collections of many a runner. Incorporating Altra's zero drop platform and roomy toe box, it is a neutral road running shoe that can be used for daily training, indoors and out. Due to its lightweight, it is also suitable as a racing kick.
The dense and firm black rubber of the outsole is laid out to strategically protect the Ego midsole.
The rubber, arranged in a pattern to offset wear and tear, also offers additional grip and traction on rough or slippery conditions.
The stabilizing, fuller coverage outsole of the shoe is part of the sole unit package that is deemed "lively" and seems to please most.
Purportedly named EGO™ for the new cushioning's dual nature, Altra employs a brand-specific compound blend in its midsole. Altra is not spilling the beans on its secret cushioning but some believe it is not EVA or rubber foam blended... but found that the shoe does, in fact, live up to the hype. It actually does produce a discernible energy return and feels soft, even to the touch and Altra states it is built to perform well even in extreme temperatures.
In tests, it has been found that the EGO midsole has excellent durability while maintaining its responsive, plush ride. Its distinctive and unique design was inspired by the innately strong but featherweight feel of a spider web. And while the sole borders on maximum cushion with a stack height of 25mm, this is not reflected in the flexibility or responsiveness.
Taking advantage of forefoot flex grooves, the Escalante retains the foot's range of motion, making for a confident ride. So there are certainly those that scoff at the idea that a shoe could be so slipper-like comfortable and still be fast, but many are standing up to say that it is indeed true and laud the Altra Escalante for finding the best of both worlds.
It continues the Altra tradition of a natural wide toe box which is great for those with bunions, but some felt it be a little lower and not as tall as other shoes under the Altra umbrella.
While raved about as comfortable and sock-like, some feel this knit fabric is not entirely breathable but good for colder temperatures. Though it is not deemed great for sweaty feet by a few, most agree it offers good drainage for rainy or wet conditions.
Deemed partially breathable by some claiming that feet tend to sweat some in warmer weather, others find the movement of air around the toes to be very comfortable. The Altra Escalante is said to drain water from rainy or wet conditions which helps prevent blisters and chafing but does not perform as well with aerating moisture and sweat from warmer weather runs creating a less comfortable environment. However, by and large, this issue did not seem to be of great concern to wearers.
The toe box is roomy and wide and while some noted it felt a little lower, this did not create an issue for most.
The upper is knit fabric and provides a great deal of flexibility due to its nature and also that there are no seams or overlays and most find it still fits like a sock, comfortably and snugly.
The knit seems to have a drawback to some in that a handful of reviewers have claimed that the heel has too much give and not enough support for confident stability.
Overall, most feel that between the upper, the impressive 25mm stack height of cushioning, and the Altra Ego midsole, Altra Escalante is supremely comfortable.
Some say it feels like running on a pillow and some claim it alleviated symptoms of plantar fasciitis. While Altra claims the shoe is suitable for even extreme temperatures, most felt it performs best in cooler air, because of the nature of the upper's fabric and its relative loss of ventilation.
Created to meet the specific needs of the female foot, Altra Escalante also has Fit4Her technology in its women's version of the shoe.
The knit of the upper aims to emulate the natural aesthetic of the Escalante River region in Utah and this symbolism provides a stylish and distinctive shoe appearance. The socklike look of the shoe paired with the considerable stack height makes for an eye-catching design that most find appealing.
It is available in a few color option. The men's version is offered in Gray, Blue, and Red, and the women's in Magenta, Blue, and Gray.
With the Altra logo classically displayed on the side of the shoe and the trademark zero drop even platform, this shoe stands proud and confident.
With an engineered knit upper, one might also be inclined to think it could tear but most wearers feel it held up well. Due to the shoe's natural foot shape, there is ample room for toe splay and bunions and this may be part of the secret behind its durability. With drainage seemingly very good, there is little concern in the way of moisture management which could affect the lifespan of the shoe. Some claim to get upwards of 300 miles whereas some felt great until about 200 miles.
Wearers have said that it seems Altra has created a secret to success in that their proprietary and undisclosed midsole EGO formula provides all the cushion while maintaining a comfortable feel with a proven energy return. This shock absorption helps to prevent injury and fatigue while also creating feedback to the runner for a more in-tune and confident ride.
Incorporating the special EGO midsole and utilizing flex grooves in the forefoot, most found the shoe to provide adequate feedback and allow for a more confident range of motion. The upper's knit fabric fits like a sock and was unconstricted yet snug creating an environment for improved flexibility and natural foot movement.
While some love this feature, care should be taken in transitioning to a zero drop shoe from those with a higher drop.
While the zero drop aims to mimic natural foot motions, it is not for everyone and can create issues with the calves due to a lengthening of the lower leg muscles but, most, with a little attention to how this shoe is rolled into their existing shoe inventory, enjoy the feel of the Altra Escalante.
- Ideal shoe for road running and racing
- Could be used as a daily trainer
- Both soft and comfortable as well as quick and responsive
- Lightweight and flexible
- Altra's well-known zero drop
- Wider toe box for unrestricted toe splay and more natural movement
- Stylish and flexible knit upper
- ALTRA EGO midsole provides superior comfort without compromising responsiveness or speed
It is considered speedy enough for a racer and soft enough for a daily trainer. If you can wear neutral shoes and enjoy a low drop, this is definitely one to try and would be an added bonus to almost any runner's arsenal.