Altra Superior 5
The upper provides that classic Altra locked-in feel, while the wide toe box allows your toes to naturally splay inside of the shoe. Nothing about this shoe is aggressive, so it is able to transition from trails to sidewalks to even the gym. In fact, there are quite a few users that wear the Superior series as just a casual everyday shoe that is cushioned, lightweight, and insanely comfortable.
Below, I wanted to take a deep dive into all of the advanced features that make the Altra Superior 5 a fantastic trail runner for both speed as well as distance.
Very responsive Quantum midsole
Lightweight StoneGuard is able to be removed as needed
Very grippy MaxTrac outsole
Modest lugs can transition to sidewalk running
Lightweight and breathable upper
Zero-drop with a 21 mm stack height
Great for speed or distance
Midsole cushioning isn’t very plush
Just like previous versions of the Superior series, the midsole is composed of Altra’s Quantum midsole foam. What makes this midsole really shine out on the trails is that it is lightweight and responsive, and provides your foot with a good deal of nimble cushioning. Overall, the Quantum midsole feels more like running on tiny trampolines than marshmallows. The nimble feel of this midsole is designed to go fast and keep you light on your feet when the road ahead is rocky.
Another important feature to note about the construction of this midsole is that it provides runners with zero-drop. It has a stack height of 21 mm, which provides plenty of energy return, but there is no stack difference between your toes and heel. A zero drop allows you to tap into all four corners of your feet for a more balanced and responsive ride. Plus, the zero drop design makes this shoe more lightweight so you can zip through the trails with a good deal of speed.
The outsole of this design is composed of MaxTrac rubber. If I could describe the performance of this outsole in one word, it would be ‘grippy’. Whether the trail ahead is slick with wet leaves or mud, the grip of this outsole will ensure that you won’t fall flat on your face. Plus, the Trailclaw lugs aren’t as aggressive as other trail running shoes. It provides just enough grippy traction to dig into the trails, but not so much that you also couldn’t wear these while running on the sidewalk or simply running errands.
One of the biggest improvements made to this shoe is the construction of the stone guard. When the shoes arrive, the stone guard sits separately from the rest of the shoes, and you can elect to pop it under the midsole or omit it completely (although, I don’t know why you would). This improved StoneGuard helps to protect your feet from jagged rocks, and it is made from lightweight and vented materials that give you a little boost of protection in high-impact areas.
The upper of this design is made to contour to the shape of your foot to provide an excellent lockdown that doesn’t feel too tight or restrictive. When comparing this shoe to other Altra trail runners, the upper is composed of a much softer material that wraps your foot in comfort. While this design omits the gaiter compatibility, the overall fit and cut of the upper works to keep rocks and debris out of your shoes, so you most likely won’t even feel the need for an additional gaiter.
The upper is composed of a blend of stretchy mesh materials that have synthetic overlays on your forefoot for additional stability where you need it most. The heel collar and tongue provide modest padding for added comfort, but the extra padding isn’t so aggressive that it will hinder your full range of motion. The blend of materials walks the line between cushioning and minimalism.
Overall, I would suggest this shoe for runners that want a lightweight trail runner. Similar styles get bogged down in the weeds with big and heavy outsoles that grip the trails but slow you down quite a bit. If speed is your number one concern (and you don’t want to sacrifice grip and traction) the Altra Superior 5 is an excellent choice. It’s grippy, it’s lightweight, and it really made for speed.
While it’s technically built for the trails, this shoe is quite versatile as well. The lugs on the outsole are modest enough that these shoes translate well on sidewalks or even to the gym. They have a lightweight design that feels like a road running shoe (or even a casual everyday shoe) but offer runners a little boost of grippy traction when on the trails. Sure, they are designed for trails, but many runners wear the Superior series off of the trails as well.
One of the things that I love most about Altra shoes is that they are great for a wide variety of users. It boasts a super wide toe box that allows your toes to naturally splay inside of the shoe, which is great for trail running. This wide toe box provides a good deal of added stability and prevents your toes from jamming on those downhill descents.
Overall, this shoe runs true to size. If you are a size 10 in other Altra shoes, the same can be said for the Superior 5. If you are new to Altra, I suggest taking good measurements of your feet and comparing those measurements to Altra’s detailed sizing chart to ensure that you get the proper fit and save yourself a trip to the post office to make a return!
When compared to other shoes in the Altra lineup, this shoe boasts a low profile and slim design. The low profile of this shoe not only looks great, but it also provides runners with a better range of motion compared to other trail running shoes. One of the things that I love most about this shoe is the color options offered.
Each design has a unique color palette that really pops in a world of boring trail running shoes. Personally, I love the blue upper with the orange outsole and yellow laces.
The price tag of the Altra Superior 5 isn’t exactly your budget-friendly trainer, but it is far from being the most expensive trail runner out there on the market. Overall, this shoe runs in the middle of the road in terms of price. Compared to previous versions of this shoe, Altra tacked on a few extra bucks, but the additions made to this shoe are worth the slightly higher price point. When you take into consideration the performance, durability, and versatility of this running shoe, it is worth every penny!
Comparisons to Previous Versions
Another improvement made to this shoe is the construction of the StoneGuard. This improved design utilizes less overall material than previous versions, and it is much more lightweight and breathable. Plus, it gives you added protection where you need it most without hindering your full range of motion.
What I love most about this shoe is that while it really shines out there on the trails, it can easily transition to running on the sidewalks, or even worn to the gym. In fact, there are some users that feel that the stylish design, responsive cushioning, and lightweight frame make it a perfect casual shoe as well.
While it may cost slightly more than previous versions, the updates made to the Altra Superior 5 make it well worth the extra cost in the long run!