Altra Instinct 4 Review Facts
The Altra brand has released the fourth version (sixth shoe since it goes by halves) of its Instinct series – a line of running shoes that arguably brought a massive amount of exposure to Altra. The Instinct is a men’s only shoe (the women’s version is called the Altra Intuition) that provides runners with high quality material that is meant to log in high miles on the road. Being a heavier shoe with a lightweight feel, the Instinct 4 will be a running shoe desired by those looking for something that will last no matter how often it is tested. In concept, the Altra Instinct 4 has the similar design to the original version, except its features have been updated.
The outsole consists of a thick layer that is clearly visible when looking at it from the side. It is a fairly flat surface separated into five vertical sections. Although this platform doesn’t look like much, it does provide a reasonable amount of grip that can be used for traction in different areas. The added rubber contributes to protecting the foot, subsequently providing a fair amount of comfort.
The midsole is the thickest part of this shoe and is quite firm. It is made with a molded EVA and Altra's A-Bound midsole. This material contributes to almost a handful of different features within the shoe, and is clearly labeled on the outside of the midsole. This part of the shoe is a source of comfort, responsiveness, and protection. Having a full length structure underfoot will assist runners with the process of the full gait cycle.
The upper of the Instinct 4 consists of a mesh material with a high volume of holes for maximum airflow
. The material is soft and comfortable, yet has a structure to it. In regards to the fit of the upper, some testers claimed that this part of the shoe feels the sloppiest. In other words, it doesn’t fit as well as it should. The lightweight nature of the upper takes away the overall weight of the shoe, which is a plus. Sure, the sole makes the Instinct 4 look like a bulky, flat trainer, but the mesh upper helps make it feel lightweight.
The Altra Instinct 4 leans more on the heavier side, even for a men's running shoe. This shoe weighs a solid 10 ounces. Such a heavy weight may not be concerning for the casual runner who likes to go out for a log every once and awhile, but the committed racer will be hindered. This high weight is probably a result of the shoe’s durable material
, most noticeably the midsole and outsole.
Despite the ample appearance, breathability is present in this shoe. The added holes throughout the upper make a big difference compared to previous models. Runners will instantly notice the high level of ventilation as they run and sweat in the heat. Laced with hundreds of air holes, the Altra Instinct 4 can be used in any weather condition, even with no socks. The only area that might not receive much airflow is the FootShape toe guard, although the generous amount of air holes compensate for that section.
The generous amount of foam in the ankle and heel areas make the Altra Instinct 4 more desirable as a comfort shoe.
One plus about this shoe was the ride. Most testers were very happy with the way the shoe felt. The increased cushioning will be extremely useful, especially during the days where you want to run a lot of miles. Instead of the usual stiff toe bumper, Altra decided to go with a softer bumper that creates more space. The wide toe box helps runners feel less cramped with the ability to move their toes around as they please. One element that might decrease comfort levels for certain runners is the wide toe box. Runners with narrow feet will have a hard time controlling their movements while wearing this shoe.
With the exception of the mesh upper, the Instinct 4 looks a bit bulky. This is due to the combination of thickness between the midsole and the outsole. Besides the bottom part of the shoe, the Instinct 4 does its best to look sleeker on the top. Runners can expect to receive a standard running trainer that slightly resembles a more competitive shoe. The Altra logo is clearly placed at the midfoot, with the FootShape material properly labeled at the toebox, as well as the A-Bound material on the midsole. In addition, “Altra” is labeled towards the heel. In regards to colorways, this shoe has a handful of options for buyers. The most commonly seen color schemes for the Instinct 4 are black/white, red/grey/white, grey/white/yellow, and blue/black/white. Those who enjoy wearing darkers shoes will be the most satisfied with these options.
A significant highlight from this shoe is the long lifespan it promises the daily runner. The Instinct 4 has a thick rubber outsole that was made to take on consistent impact. Runners will be able to put on high milage
without any discouraging signs of wear and tear. With a breathable mesh upper, the construction of the shoe may be questionable. There might be potential to rip in between the upper and the midsole if you are not careful and aware of your surroundings. One tester tried this shoe for approximately 80 miles of running, and they held up in both wet and dry track surfaces. If you’re the type of person looking for a long term running shoe, the Altra Instinct 4 has the qualities that daily running demands.
One thing the Altra Instinct 4 can do with confidence is protect the foot. The durable rubber located on the outsole helps protect the shoe by preserving it after a high volume of milage. This protective layer will prevent inevitable damage from the outsole, ultimately declaring the shoe useless. The thick midsole with a surplus of cushioning will also contribute to the underfoot protection. The molded EVA in the midsole has a reasonable amount of cushioning that will ease the pain from the hard surface underneath you. Also, the ankle padding will help runners avoid blisters
if they decide to wear low ankle socks, or no socks at all.
Responsiveness is definitely something that can be improved with this model. Besides the A-Bound compound in the midsole, there isn’t any technology present in the Instinct 4 that delivers a strong, responsive ride. Those who have already used the Instinct 4 were not pleased with the lack of energy return that this shoe allocates. The A-Bound technology is clearly labeled on the midsole, and helps runners get that extra push with each step. The flex grooves on the outsole will help obtain shock, but this process won’t be enough to give runners the energy return they need, especially during long distance runs. Despite this unique material, the Instinct 4 doesn’t have much responsiveness to it, and that will be a deciding factor for some runners.
The Altra Instinct 4 is best for runners who don’t need or desire any additional arch support. Based on the lack of support, it would be safe to say that this running shoe is a minimalist shoe
. There is a lot of cushioning within the midsole, but that isn’t enough to really provide foot support. Runners with medium or normal arches
would be the best fit to use this running shoe because the lack of added support wouldn’t be detrimental to their workout.
After looking at the outsole, it is clear that the Instinct 4 is built for the road. The flat bottom of this shoe doesn’t give much room for a complex running environment. This shoe is versatile. You can wear it outside on the street or track, as well as inside the gym on a treadmill. Some have even used it with light snow on the ground and have found moderate success. Since the Instinct 4 is a heavier shoe, there is a possibility that it can handle rigorous ground such as the woods and mountains, although it is not recommended. The only thing runners would need to worry about in those conditions is the soft mesh upper, because it could be punctured.
This shoe can be found priced slightly over $100. The Instinct 4 might be considered overpriced depending on what you’re looking for. After a close observation, it becomes more and more clear that there isn’t any feature in particular that make the Instinct 4 worth any more than $100 at retail. Whether price is good or bad is totally subjective. Some people that have used this shoe feel like this price is a bargain, whereas others strongly believe that they can find another option
within a similar price range that better fits their standards.
There are no outsole lugs, which explains why the Instinct
4 works best against a smooth surface
. There isn’t anything that can be used to grip onto other grounds, like a mud-filled dirt road for example. But this shoe will hold up within various weather conditions. Several runners used this shoe in dry weather, as well as the rain, and claim that they had no issues with slipping.
One of the areas where the Altra Instinct 4 lacks is flexibility. The lack in flexibility is likely caused by the large amount of mass underfoot. Having such a thick sole prevents the foot from bending in a natural motion. The only part of this shoe that has a reasonable amount of flexibility is the upper. The soft mesh material allows wearers to move their feet around with plenty of space, without having to feel restricted by the shoe’s structure.
Foot stability is the most inconsistent part of the Altra Instinct 4. Altra’s signature FootShape structure in the forefoot has left some runners feeling disgruntled. Those with average, or close to narrow feet became disappointed with the excess room in the forefoot/toebox area. This feature might help certain runners feel “free”, but doesn’t provide the foot with a secure feeling. There is an Altra logo on each side of the shoe, and these overlays help keep the runner’s feet still. On the other hand, the heel and midfoot areas have a tighter fit, feeling held in place rather than free. Overall, the fourth version of the Altra Instinct will better serve those with wider feet
due to the wide toe box.
The heel height and forefoot height of the Altra Instinct 4 is even, both sections measured at about 25 millimeters. This means the heel-to-toe drop is zero. This explains why Altra calls it “ZeroDrop.” Just by looking at the bottom of the Instinct 4, you can easily recognize that these measurements are the same. This drop indicates that there is no arch support within this shoe as it is flat. Based off of the zero drop, midfoot strikers will excel the most with the Instinct 4, while heel strikers will struggle to reap the benefits.
• Durable outsole
• FootShape material
• A-Bound midsole
• Breathable mesh upper
Being the men’s version of the Altra Intuition, the Instinct 4 had a lot of potential. After all, it was essentially this shoe that put the Altra brand on the running shoe map. Comfort being one of the Instinct’s strong points make it an obvious choice for a daily running shoe that can be used on long distance runs. While this shoe might not be Altra’s prime lightweight trainer, it serves a purpose for moderate training. If you’re looking for a versatile shoe that can be used on various surfaces for an average price, the Altra Instinct 4 has potential to meet your needs.