Altra Instinct 1.5 Review Facts
Altra has gained somewhat of a cult following for their zero-drop running shoes. While other shoe companies continue to convince us to cram our feet and toes into narrow shaped vessels, Altra introduced the foot-shaped toe box. A hit amongst wide footed runners especially, the roomier design is more forgiving on the feet. Cramped, numb toes are a thing of the past in a pair of Altras. With more space to breathe, your feet have room to extend themselves naturally. Folks with foot problems like bunions will find relief in these clownish shoes, too.
At first glance, the zero-drop design of the Instinct looks deceivingly minimalist. Worry not, the thick midsole is just as forgiving as the wide forefoot. The Instinct is just as much the hero of the road as it is the trails. At the time of its release, the shoe was named ‘Best Debut’ by Runner’s World Magazine. Suited for a variety of training situations, the 1.5 is very similar to its predecessor. More of a mini update than a complete revamping, the half-revised trainer is mostly unchanged save for some tweaks in the upper area. Like the previous edition, the shoe was well received by runners. There’s a lot to like about the Instinct 1.5 and we’re here to give you the low down on this impressive shoe.
The outsole of the Instinct is pretty much the same as the first edition of the shoe. A rubber sole covers the entire bottom of the shoe. It’s relatively thick and incredibly durable. The Footpod design that adorns most Altra brand shoes is also featured on the Instinct. Instead of large thick lugs, the outsole features a pod-like configuration. This keeps the weight down and affords runners with a nimble ride feel. Overall, the feel is more minimalist
than not, despite the reasonably substantial midsole construction.
Reviewers seemed unanimous in agreeing that the outsole was durable and appreciated the full-coverage rubber design, which kept wear and tear down to a minimum.
Another area that’s remained mostly unchanged is the Instinct’s midsole. It’s composed of dual layer EVA cushioning, which delivers impact protection. The overall stack height is about 22mm (remember, the Instinct is zero-drop) so you can imagine that the midsole is fairly thick. Atop the EVA is an A-Bound layer for responsiveness. Midfoot support is about average and probably not significant enough to offer up support for those who really need it, however, users do have the option between two insoles, one with a stiffer arch
for added support.
The shoe offers a good amount of cushioning, but it’s nowhere near close to a maximalist design. In fact, the Instinct sits somewhere in between minimalist and maximalist. It’s a nice midpoint, especially for those wanting to transition to less shoe. The cushioning is firm rather than soft. Even though there’s a decent amount of padding, the Instinct doesn’t feel pillowy soft. If you’re looking for a cloud-like feel, this isn’t the shoe for you.
The upper is made of lightweight Air Mesh, but while it ventilates really well, users complained that the mesh was quite fragile. Many users noticed holes in the mesh over time. Not a deal breaker, but it’s not exactly a positive, and something to keep in mind when making your purchasing decision. The changes to the Instinct lie primarily in the upper design. Most of the updates are design-specific, however, so the fit and feel are mostly the same. Since the original design, the look has been streamlined somewhat, but the aesthetic still needs some work.
As mentioned previously, the Instinct is designed with Altra’s signature foot-shaped toe
box. The forefoot appears wider than the rest of the shoe giving feet room to breathe and splay.
The upper is adorned with a quick-dry material, and users can tighten the fit using the asymmetrical lacing system. A few wearers complained about the quality of the laces saying that they came undone too easily. The lacing system itself, though, works well and tightens in all the right places.
Inside, users can choose between two removable insoles. One is 5mm thick, and the other is 3mm thick. Choose which one suits you best depending on the amount of support you prefer. The so-called ‘Strengthening sole’ is slightly thinner and offers a flatter, less supportive feel. The ‘Sculpted’ option provides additional arch support and more padding. Alternately, you can opt to use no insole at all, but you might encounter fit issues. Without an insole, the shoe feels a little too roomy instead for most, which might lead to blisters
The majority of reviewers found the Instinct was true to size. The fit is much the same as the first version of the shoe.
Most of the complaints reviewers had were to do with the upper. According to reviewers, the sock liner is slow drying and tends to impede airflow. A few reviewers also noted that the thick tongue and collar tend to hold onto moisture, which isn’t great if you’re running in rainy weather.
Reviewers characterized the Instinct 1.5 as “lightweight” and “fast.” It’s not the lightest shoe on the market, but neither does it fall into the category of ‘heavy.’ The moderately sized Altra shoe weighs about 10 ounces for men and 8.3 ounces for women
. The shoe really looks clunkier than it feels, say reviewers. It’s apparent that the construction materials have been selected to save on weight. The rubber outsole’s Footpod design is thick and durable, without weighing the shoe down and the midsole is generously padded but doesn’t feel excessive.
The Altra’s Air mesh upper is made to dry quickly, which reviewers appreciated. Most agreed that the upper dried fast and provided excellent ventilation. We did mention before, though, that the ankle
collar and tongue do tend to hold onto water, something that could be improved in later versions. The sock liner, too, doesn’t drain very well. The interior dries slower than the exterior and can become waterlogged. The shoe could definitely use some drainage holes.
Still, a significant portion of reviewers characterized the shoe as ‘breathable.’ Most wearers came for the sizeable toe box and were impressed with how great it felt. The larger forefoot promotes adequate ventilation and never squishes the toes together. The feel is comfortable without being sloppy.
Reviewers love the foot-shaped design of the Altra Instinct. Take a look at your feet. You’ll notice that your forefoot flares out quite a bit. Yet, many shoes have a much narrower design. The result is that your toes get bunched together, and pressure gets put on the edges of your feet. The wide toe box is roomy, but the shoe isn’t necessarily wide everywhere else. This makes the shoe suitable for nearly all foot shapes. Most runners
will find the larger toe box is a nice break from cramped, tight fitted designs of other running shoes. A large percentage of reviewers called the Instinct “comfortable” and “lightweight.” The midsole is lightweight but well-padded. There’s enough cushioning for impact protection. Runners who prefer a softer ride feel might find the Instinct a bit hard underfoot.
The most significant changes featured in the Instinct 1.5 have to do with the look of the shoe. The design is slightly different (mostly in the upper area), but the look is still pretty similar, and not everyone was crazy about the style of this shoe. It’s a bit of an acquired taste. The 1.5 introduces new bright colorways including a bright orange and black design and a grey and red style. The logo is still prominently displayed.
The foot-shaped design takes some getting used to. The look resembles big clown shoes. The wider forefoot looks odd, especially if you’re used to shoes with a traditional profile. The result is a design that seems clunky. Thankfully, the shoe feels a whole lot different than what its appearance might suggest.
The Instinct 1.5 has a few durability issues. A handful of reviewers found the shoe wore down quickly. The problem mostly has to do with the upper area. The mesh is ultra-breathable, but also delicate and easy to rip. Quite a few reviewers complained that they were disappointed to find holes forming in the mesh of their shoes. Thankfully, the outsole is a different story. The thick, sturdy rubber was called ‘durable’ by the majority of users.
The thick outsole is designed to protect the bottom of the shoe from wear and tear. The midsole is also fairly thick and offers a generous layer of impact protection. The zero-drop Instinct is minimalist in its design and drop-height, but still provides users with cushioning for comfort and shock absorption. While many runners found themselves using the Instinct for trail running, note that the shoe doesn’t feature a rock plate, so runners should be cautious on technical or debris-covered trails
The Instinct 1.5 does feature an A-Bound layer in its midsole, which provides a slight bit of energy-return, but overall, the design is not particularly bouncy. Ground-feel is good despite the well-cushioned midsole. The cushioning feels firm rather than soft, which offers an average degree of responsiveness. The Instinct doesn’t feel like a pillowy moon boot, nor does it feel like a snappy, racer. The ride is somewhere in the middle.
Wearers should expect arch support that’s about average with the Altra Instinct. The shoe is best suited for those with regular arches, but users do have the choice between two sock liners. One offers more support than the other. It’s a clever option to include and allows wearers to customize the feel of their Altra shoe.
The shoe also happens to be supportive despite its roomy toe box. This is thanks to a supportive, firm heel counter that keeps the foot secure. Very few reviewers complained of a sloppy fit. The asymmetrical laces have a few issues. They’re slightly too long, a little thick, and come undone easily. But, the lacing design works well to provide targeted support. Adjusting and tightening the laces
works well and actually delivers results.
The Instinct 1.5 is built for road running, but many reviewers found the shoe suitable for off-road training runs. The shoe doesn’t feature a rock plate, but the outsole is thick, and the shoe is well-padded offering excellent protection for the trails. The upper dries quickly, so running through puddles and water
crossings isn’t an issue. Trail runners might find the interior a little prone to waterlogging, however.
These are an older shoe so can be found discounted, but overall they offer an excellent value. You definitely get your money’s worth with the Instinct 1.5.
Oddly enough, there are very few comments from reviewers regarding the grip of the outsole. Almost no reviewers had anything to say about the shoe’s traction abilities.
The Altra Instinct looks rigid and clunky, but the feel is much more flexible than users expected. Overall, the ride feels natural. That’s in great part due to the outsole’s Footpod design. The Footpod construction of the outsole works in conjunction with your foot to deliver a smooth ride.
The Altra shoe is a zero-drop shoe that falls within the neutral category. The low drop height helps improve stability, but overall, the shoe offers minimal stability features. The wide forefoot fit, however, doesn’t reduce stability. The fit is secure enough that the Instinct feels stable on all types of terrain.
The totally flat Instinct features a zero drop design. The shoe is minimalist in that regard but features a thickly designed midsole for impact protection. It’s the best of both worlds.
Zero drop construction
Double layer EVA cushioning
Air Mesh upper
Asymmetrical lacing system
Dual insole design, both removable
The Altra Instinct 1.5 is a great transition shoe for those wanting to run in true minimalist footwear eventually. We expect that many runners will choose the Instinct as an interim trainer and finally settle on it as their permanent shoe. The shoe is minimalist without sacrificing impact protection and comfort. It’s minimalism for the rest of us. Those of us who can’t quite handle or fathom the idea of barefoot
running. The feel is barely there, but never really totally bare. The Instinct holds up as a transition option and a dedicated trainer.