Altra Paradigm 3.0
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 to improve natural foot positioning and toe splaying.
The midsole of the Altra Paradigm 3.0 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.
- Excellent energy return
- Feels lightweight
- Good sized toe box (men's)
- No break-in time
- Comfortable on long distances
- Great for foot pain
- Slightly narrow toe box (women's)
- Some testers experienced poor outsole durability
- Heel tab breaks off easily
- Runs a half size small
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.
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 an 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.
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.
The heaviest components are the rubbers in the outsole and the fabric and TPU overlay 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, Innerflex technology helps keep the midsole weight low. The quick dry air mesh in the upper is very lightweight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Zero Drop technology was intended to help the wearer strengthen their muscles and tendons but also to improve balance, especially when going offroad where higher drops can be a bit much.
- Quick dry air mesh upper
- GuideRail Dynamic Support Feature
- TPU overlays provide support
- EVA foam and A-Bound midsole
- Designed to have a comfortable fit
- Fully Cushioned Zero Drop midsole
- FootShape toe box allows the toes to push off
- 5mm sculpted footbed
- Natural Ride System
The FootShape toe box and Innerflex allow the foot to flex and move naturally, and the Zero Drop promotes strength and balance. There is a good support and the weight is low for how much cushioning is used.
The energy return is very high, the 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 Altra Paradigm 3.0 is a great neutral daily training shoe with a high level of energy return and cushioning.