Altra Paradigm 3.0

8.5
8.5 score
[Editors rating (8.0) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (8.5)/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.

If there are less than 10 user reviews for the product in total, the weight of user reviews is decreased from 50% to 25% to make sure that new products are not rated too high.
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Editor rating: 8.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 3 user ratings
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Altra Paradigm 3.0 Review Facts
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The Altra Paradigm 3.0 is a cushioned neutral road running shoe. It has a quick dry air mesh upper with a bunion window so that it fits comfortably on any foot shape. The TPU overlays add support and structure to the upper. The GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature helps to steer the foot during off-road runs. The fit was designed to be comfortable and improve natural foot positioning and toe splaying. The midsole uses a two-layer EVA foam and eco-friendly A-Bound cushioning. The Fully Cushioned Zero Drop midsole improves balance by keeping the heel and forefoot at the same level and helps build strength in the feet. The toe box uses a technology called FootShape, which allows the toes to splay and push off naturally. The combination of Zero Drop and FootShape is called a Natural Ride System, which allows the wearer to run naturally, like a cushioned barefoot run. The rubber outsole uses FootPod technology so that it matches the shape of the toes and foot. Innerflex allows the foot to flex during takeoffs and returns energy during landings, while keeping the overall weight low. There is also a 5mm sculpted footbed for additional support and comfort. If you are looking for a highly-cushioned shoe to wear on your daily runs or for fitness or cross-training, continue reading to find out if the Altra Paradigm 3.0 is right for you.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent energy return
  • Feels lightweight
  • Good sized toe box (men's)
  • No break in time
  • Comfortable on long distances
  • Great for foot pain
Cons
  • Slightly narrow toe box (women's)
  • Some testers experienced poor outsole durability
  • Heel tab breaks off easily
  • Runs a half size small
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The rubber outsole uses FootPod technology. Treads cover the entire outsole. The more durable darker rubber is used on the treads, while softer and more flexible lighter rubber is used for the grooves. The treads are patterned around the shape of the toes and joints of the feet and the grooves are where the joints are for maximum traction and flexibility. Although there are no lugs present, the shoe gets great traction both on and off-road.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole is made of two layers of foam, EVA and A-Bound, as well as a sculpted footbed. The standard EVA foam offers cushioning, shock absorption, and responsiveness. A-Bound is an eco-friendly foam made of recycled materials that returns energy well. It also provides good ground feel as well as protection from impact and compresses 2-3x less than other foams for better durability. The 5mm sculpted footbed adds and additional layer of support and cushioning underneath the foot. The midsole has a fully-cushioned Zero Drop in order to improve the wearer's balance and help them strengthen muscles and tendons. The GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature helps steer the foot when going off road, adding support and improving balance. The Natural Ride System means that there is no drop and the toes can splay naturally, almost like running barefoot over a cushion. The Innerflex technology keeps the overall weight low while returning energy and allowing the foot to flex.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper is made of fabric and textile with TPU overlays. The quick dry air mesh provides ventilation, keeping the foot dry and cool. The TPU overlays provide support and add structure to the upper. The mesh upper has a bunion window so that it can comfortably fit any foot shape. The FootShape toe box allows the toes to splay and push off naturally. The upper was designed to be comfortable while improving the natural positioning of the foot and splaying of the toes. The laces secure a snug fit and the tongue, heel and collar are padded for support and comfort. A heel tab is added to the back of the shoe to make it easier to put on and slip off, and the front of the shoe has a layer of rubber extending over it from the outsole for durability and protection. The heel counter helps lock in the heel to prevent sliding.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The men's shoe weighs 10.3 oz (292 g) and the women's shoe weighs 8.2 oz (232 g). Although there are lighter shoes available on the market, testers noted that the shoe feels lightweight when running, and the high level of cushioning and great energy return make up for the extra weight. The heaviest components are the rubbers in the outsole, and the fabric and TPU overlays in the upper. The midsole's EVA foam is lightweight but when combined with the average weight A-Bound cushioning and sculpted footbed, the midsole ends up weighing more than an average midsole. However, the Innerflex technology helps keep the midsole weight low. The quick dry air mesh in the upper is very lightweight.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

Breathability is provided by the quick dry air mesh. It allows air to flow into and out of the shoe so that the foot stays cool, even at the end of a long run or when the weather is hot. The mesh dries quickly to keep the foot dry in case it gets splashed when going through puddles. There are no stitches to trap air or rub against the skin, and the overlays are small so they do not block air flow.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

The Altra Paradigm 3.0 is very comfortable. It takes no time at all to break in, so wearers can go for a long run on day one. It is comfortable on long distance runs and reviewers who normally have pain in their feet reported that they did not have those problems while wearing this shoe. The length is normal, although some testers thought it ran about a half size small and suggested sizing up accordingly. There is even a bunion window in the upper so that any foot shape can be accommodated. The cushioning in the heel is moderately soft and the forefoot cushioning is very soft, thanks to the thick midsole made of EVA foam, A-Bound cushioning, and a sculpted footbed. The shoe was designed to allow natural movement, and reviewers of the men's shoe reported a good-sized FootShape toe box, while some of the women's shoe reviewers thought that the toe box was slightly narrow. The laces and upper material create a comfortable fit, and the padded tongue, heel, and collar do not slip or rub against the foot thanks to the padding. The light-feeling weight, breathability and responsiveness also make the shoe more comfortable to wear.
Style
Style

Style

The Paradigm 3.0 is available in three colors each for men and women. Men's shoes come in Black, Blue or Red. Women's shoes come in Black, Dark Blue or Purple/Orange. The shoe is covered in mesh and has two overlays that look painted over it connecting the lacing system to the toes on either side of the foot, an Altra logo on each side of the midfoot of the shoe, and another overlay that goes around the back of the heel. Testers liked the color choices for this shoe, but some found that dirt gets stuck to the shoe easily and it can be difficult to clean.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The biggest downside of this shoe is its durability. The outsole tends to chip apart easily, with one reviewer even stating that the outsole was already starting to separate from the midsole when they first purchased the shoe. The midsole has great durability. EVA foam and the sculpted footbed are durable, bouncing back to their original shapes after each step. The A-Bound cushioning is made from recycled material and compresses much less than other midsole foams so it lasts longer and can continue to spring the foot forward on long runs. The upper also has good durability in the mesh, overlays, and protective areas around the toes and heel. The only issue with the upper is that the heel tab breaks off easily, so potential buyers should be careful.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Altra Paradigm 3.0 offers good protection. The sole unit is very thick and protects against feeling cracks in the road or debris on a trail. The EVA foam and A-Bound cushioning make landings smooth and absorb shock so well that even people who normally have pain in their feet when they run were able to comfortably wear this shoe. The upper's mesh protects against heat and moisture, the heel protects against sliding, and the stiffness and support protect against rolling. There is rubber placed around the toes to protect against stubbing or bruising.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Paradigm 3.0 has excellent energy return and some sites rate it as one of the most responsive shoes on the market. The outsole does a good job of creating smooth transitions with the treads, grooves, and FootPod technology. The midsole returns a lot of energy, with the EVA foam and especially the A-Bound cushioning bouncing the foot back into the air so it does not take much effort to keep going. The Zero Drop helps improve strength and balance, which will increase speed over time. The Innerflex technology also returns energy. The upper allows the toes to splay naturally with any foot shape.
Support
Support

Support

This shoe offers some support. The dual-layer EVA foam and A-Bound cushioning support the bottom of the foot and the 5mm sculpted footbed creates an anatomical fit to the bottom of the foot and provides a small amount of arch support. The GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature helps support and guide the foot when going off road. The upper has supportive padding in the heel, tongue, and collar as well as under the mesh.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Altra advertises the Paradigm 3.0 as a fitness, road, trail, and cross-training shoe. It can be worn on dirt or paved roads, gravel, gym floors, tracks, paths and light trails. It has a GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature to help during off-road runs It does not have aggressive lugs for highly technical trails, mud, snow, or ice.
Price
Price

Price

This shoe has a slightly above average price. Buyers are willing to pay just a little bit extra for the thick, plush cushioning that is comfortable on long run and for runners who have foot pain, the features that allow the toes to splay and move naturally, the Zero Drop for balance and strengthening, and the high level of energy return. It does have some durability issues that have made some people complain or return the shoe. This is a relatively new shoe, so current pricing ranges from 25% off to more than double the original price.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Paradigm 3.0's treads gets good traction on dirt, pavement, gravel, and light trails. It can go up and down hills without slipping. It also gets good enough grip to pick up speed, thanks to the traction and the high level of energy return. This shoe is not ideal for technical trails, snow, mud, or ice because it does not have aggressive lugs to grip soft or slippery surfaces.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The Altra Paradigm 3.0 has some flexibility features, but some testers rated it as very stiff. The outsole has grooves and FootPod technology so that it can bend naturally with the foot. The midsole has thick cushioning that does a good job on takeoffs and landings but is too thick to be super flexible. The GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature helps keep the midsole stiff to guide the foot when going off trail. The upper is flexible enough for the foot to move but stiff to add some support and stability. Although some people found the shoe stiff, it takes no time to break-in.
Stability
Stability

Stability

As a neutral shoe, the Paradigm 3.0 has few stability features. The outsole's traction helps stabilize landings. The midsole adds light arch support but not enough to slow over-pronation. The GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature lightly stabilizes the outsides of the shoe to guide the foot. The upper has a heel counter to keep the back of the foot from sliding.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The heel and forefoot are both 32mm high, meaning there is a 0mm drop. The heel is about an average distance from the ground but the forefoot is higher than average because the average drop is around 12mm. The Zero Drop technology was intended to help the wearer strengthen their muscles and tendons but also to improve balance, especially when going off road where higher drops can be a bit much.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

  • Quick dry air mesh upper with bunion window for a comfortable fit for any foot shape

  • GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature helps steer the foot when going off road

  • TPU overlays provide support

  • EVA foam and A-Bound midsole

  • Designed to have a comfortable fit that improves natural foot positioning and toe splay

  • Fully Cushioned Zero Drop midsole provides balance and helps increase strength

  • FootShape toe box allows the toes to push off and splay naturally

  • Innerflex allows the foot to flex and returns energy while keeping the weight low

  • 5mm sculpted footbed

  • Natural Ride System allows the wearer to run naturally
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Altra Paradigm 3.0 is a great shoe for someone who needs a bit of extra cushioning in their running shoes. It has three layers of cushioning in the midsole, which create soft landings, do not take time to break-in, and are comfortable to wear even on long runs or if you have pain in your feet. The FootShape toe box and Innerflex allow the foot to flex and move naturally, and the Zero Drop promotes strength and balance. There is good support and the weight is low for how much cushioning is used. The energy return is very high, transitions are smooth, and the ground feel is good. Areas to improve are a wider toe box for women, better durability on the outsole and heel tab, and wide size options for people with larger feet. In short, the Paradigm 3.0 is a great neutral daily training shoe with a high level of energy return and cushioning.