Altra Superior 4.0 Review Facts
The Altra Superior sneaker has been a highly successful model for the company and they definitely improved the overall design with the 4.0. This version of the shoe is sleeker, lighter weight, and more comfortable than the 3.5 according to most reviewers. The Trail Claw outsole and Natural Ride System moves and flexes with your foot naturally, delivering a minimalistic and natural ride which is something you definitely want if you are in the market for a barefoot trail shoe. This shoe is grippy, supportive, and has a stylish subtle design that is sure to please many users. If you are in the market for a barefoot trail shoe, the Altra Superior 4.0 is definitely a solid choice.
As seen in the previous version of the Altra Superior, the outsole is equipped with Altra’s Trail Claw design. Trail Claw utilizes a sticky rubber multi-directional pattern
that will grip the ground over a multitude of varying surfaces. The updated lug system under the forefoot and the claws under the toe area will deliver improved grip and lots of stability while trekking through trails. One look at the outsole and you will notice the FootPod design which looks like a human foot. This allows for great flexibility and response over trail terrains. The anatomically-shaped rubber is grippy and ups the durability level of the shoe. The multidirectional lugs are relatively shallow and work well on uneven terrain.
Being that this is a zero drop trail shoe, there is not a whole lot of cushioning going on in the midsole. This updated version of the Superior features Altra’s Quantic midsole which remains lightweight while providing cushioning and responsiveness. The midsole also features Altra’s Natural Ride System, or NRS, which includes a foot-shaped last
and shapes to match the metatarsal section of your foot and the outsole to allow for more natural foot movements. In turn, the NRS allows for excellent foot movement and comfort while delivering a decent amount of cushion considering that this is a zero drop shoe. Within the midsole, you will also find inner flex grooves to allow for even more flexibility and help to keep the weight of the sneaker down. Another feature of the midsole is the removable StoneGuard Rock protection insert which can be slipped under the sock liner to help alleviate shock and protect your feet against injury.
The upper of the Altra Superior 4.0 has undergone a few great upgrades compared to its predecessor. The upper as a whole has been slimmed down and all of the unnecessary synthetic overlays have been removed as well as the extra material around the heel collar. This results in an adaptive fit without excess material and cuts down on the weight of the sneaker. The upper’s material is softer, stretchier, and more comfortable than the material found in the Superior 3.5
, resulting in a glove-like fit. The forefoot of the shoe features a single piece of lightweight semi-stretchy fabric while the midfoot and rear portions of the upper boast a less stretchy fabric that adapts to your foot shape and provides more support. The heel counter is thin and flexible, as is the tongue of the sneaker. The tongue is connected on the medial side of the shoe and forms a burrito tongue which comfortably wraps your foot and locks it in place. Another feature of the upper is the gaiter attachments found at the rear and under the most forward lace where you can attach a gaiter.
This version of the Altra Superior shaves an entire ounce off of the weight of the previous version thanks to less extraneous fabrics and lightweight materials used in its engineering. These lightweight minimalist trail shoes weigh in at 8.7 ounces for men and 8.3 ounces for women.
The Altra Superior 4.0 is a relatively breathable lightweight trail shoe thanks to the materials used in its makeup. However, a couple of reviewers did say that they felt a little hot in warmer months
. The material in the forefoot is slightly more breathable than that found in the midfoot to rearfoot areas and the sneaker can be worn without socks to create a more favorable breathable foot environment.
The overall consensus of the fit of the Altra Superior 4.0 is that it is roomy
and comfortable. The toe box area is wider to allow for ample foot spreading for a more natural running experience, but several users stated that the toe box is not as wide as previous versions. The midfoot is equipped with a thicker upper material that is designed to grip your foot in place while the burrito tongue wraps around your foot to aid in this as well. The cushioning level of this shoe is pretty decent, especially considering the fact that these are zero drop minimalist trail running sneakers. Several reviewers said that their ride was extremely comfortable while others said the sneaker tends to run a little large. To combat this, the StoneGuard insole could be used to take up some space within the shoe and it will also keep your underfoot more comforted when combating rocks and harsh underfoot conditions.
By and large, minimalist trail running shoes are pretty minimal by design and these sneakers fit right into that category. That is not to say that they are not attractive minimalist trail sneakers, rather, they are sleek and subtle. The low profile and less-exciting colorway options give these shoes a stylish, more classy
appeal. The extraneous material around the heel collar and synthetic overlays found in the previous model have been removed, giving this sneaker an even sleeker appeal.
Because these sneakers do not have a whole lot of material in their makeup, which results in an extremely lightweight minimalist trail shoe, they are not the most durable sneakers on the market. The outsole rubber is softer than other outsoles on competing like-sneakers and the lugs are not overly-aggressive
. That means the outsole may wear a little faster than competing sneakers and it may not protect the small amount of cushioning found in the midsole and insert over a long period of time. The upper is fairly durable, considering the fact that these are a minimalist shoe and should not pose a problem in terms of lasting over a couple of hundred miles. Some reviewers said that they will probably only get around 200 miles out of these while others swear by them and say they will be able to stretch out their life for much longer. Obviously, this may depend on the type of terrain you use them on.
Trail sneakers definitely need to sport a decent level of protection, whether they are minimalist trail shoes or heavy duty trail shoes. The Trail Claw FootPod design
that is featured on the outsole of this shoe will help the sneaker to move with your foot very naturally and will allow it to flex over uneven terrain, therefore, protecting you from unwanted twisting, turning, and stiffness. The StoneGuard insert that can be installed beneath the Sockliner is a great addition to the shoe if you are looking for more protection. It will protect your feet from rock bruising without detracting from underfoot comfort. The Altra Quantic midsole will protect your feet against harsh underfoot conditions as well by responding to each step and dispersing shock.
The main source of responsiveness in these sneakers lies in the Altra Quantic midsole. This midsole is designed to deliver lightweight cushioning and responsiveness while you run. The Quantic material works along with the Natural Ride System and natural foot design outsole to move and flex with your foot naturally, providing a relatively snappy and responsive ride. However, several runners who have used the Superior 4.0 said that they were not sold on the Quantic material and longed for the A-Bound material
found in the 3.5 better. Although no users felt bogged down by the shoe, some say they wished it provided a better rebound. The outsole is lightweight and is designed with flex grooves that work in conjunction with the midsole to move and respond naturally with your foot movements, so that is definitely a plus in the response category.
Because these are minimalist zero-drop trail sneakers
aimed at delivering a more natural barefoot-like running experience on the trails, they do not offer a ton of support in a lot of areas. With that said, the Natural Ride System equipped with metatarsal-specific shapes will aid in supporting the foot as a whole because your foot will be equally supported throughout the midsole and outsole where you naturally need it. The upper’s lightweight and slightly flexible material and burrito tongue allow you to firmly secure the shoe to your foot so you should feel like they are a second-skin and will support your midfoot well considering the minimalist design. It goes without saying, if you have specific foot concerns and need certain support, you could always insert a custom orthotic for added support.
The Altra Superior 4.0 is designed to be used by experienced minimalist/barefoot runners on the trail. The engineering of these shoes makes them excellent for mild to moderate terrains but several users say that they do not perform well on highly technical terrains
due to the shallow outsole lugs and softer rubber. With that said, some users said that they wore these shoes in snow and mud as well as over slippery rocks and they performed just fine. In the end, these are ideally-suited for mild to moderate trails and if used on such terrain, their overall life will be longer.
These lightweight trail shoes can be purchased for around $110 which is a very fair price considering the great updates delivered in comparison to its predecessor.
Because these sneakers are designed to be used on the trails, their traction is pretty great. Of course, depending on what kind of conditions you are running in, you may experience some slipping in muddy or icy conditions but the grippy outsole is sticky and designed to help you scale rocks and leap through slippery terrain easily. The outsole features more shallow lugs in comparison to more aggressive trail shoes, but because they are barefoot/minimalist shoes, this is a normal thing. The overall consensus was that they perform well in most conditions as long as it is not too muddy or too slippery.
The Altra Superior 4.0 is engineered to deliver excellent flexibility in all aspects of the shoe. The outsole is equipped with Altra’s Trail Claw design which follows the anatomical positioning of the bones and ligaments in your foot. This results in an outsole that can move and flex with your foot naturally and you will not feel any stiffness underfoot. Obviously, these are minimalist running shoes so this is a big plus because you will have a decent amount of ground feel while being about to move more naturally throughout uneven terrain. The Quantic midsole material is lightweight and features a number of flex grooves that work in conjunction with the outsole’s design and will aid in a natural and flexible running experience. The upper is lightweight and fits like a glove to your foot, allowing you to move freely and naturally.
Typically, minimalist or barefoot running shoes do not provide a ton of stability in general because they are made to simply protect your feet from underfoot debris and provide some level of response and support. However, the upper of this sneaker does provide some level of stability because it is designed to wrap snugly and securely around your foot and will help to keep you supported as you move through the trail. The Trail Claw anatomically-correct outsole also provides some level of stability because it will move and flex naturally without an unnatural stiffness so you will feel more stable than if you were barefoot. The optional StoneGuard insert definitely adds stability because it will help to keep your foot protected over sharp rocks and keep you safe and more stable than without it.
The stack height of these sneakers is a relatively low 21mm and they are a zero-drop minimalistic/barefoot trail shoe. Several users said that they felt only one step up from running barefoot in these trail shoes.
- Optional StoneGuard insole provides additional support and protection against harsh underfoot conditions
- Trail Claw outsole delivers good traction thanks to the sticky rubber multi-directional lugs
- Natural Ride System in the midsole allows for a more natural foot movement and flexibility throughout your run and helps with proper natural foot mechanics
- Altra Quantic midsole delivers cushioning and response, all while being lightweight in design
- Gaiter Trap and a gaiter clip on the sneaker allow you to attach a gaiter for additional protection against debris
If you are looking for a minimalistic trail running shoe that delivers a more natural yet supported running experience, then the Altra Superior 4.0 is definitely a solid option. Although it does not deliver the amount of response that some users may like, it does have some snap to it and definitely allows for natural foot movement and flexibility. One downfall that several reviewers commented on was the fact that the laces are incredibly long, but this is really not anything that makes or breaks the shoe mechanics. The consensus of reviewers is that this is an excellent upgrade to the Superior 3.5, although the verdict may still be out on the Quantic midsole versus the previous A-Bound material. This lightweight shoe may not be the most durable trail shoe out there but in the end, it is a solid choice for a minimalist trail shoe.