Altra Vs Brooks Running Shoe Comparison: 5 Main Differences

Runners are usually interested in an Altra vs Brooks running shoe comparison when they are considering running shoes that will support a more natural running gait.

Altra running shoes are zero-drop shoes, and Brooks running shoes are known for their wider toe box, which can accommodate natural foot splay. In this way, both types of running shoes can potentially support more natural foot mechanics while running.

But, what are the primary differences between Altra and Brooks running shoes? What are the main features to consider when comparing Altra vs Brooks running shoes?

In this article, we will compare Altra vs Brooks running shoes to help you decide which brand is best for your needs.

We will cover: 

  • Which Is Better, Brooks Or Altra Running Shoes?
  • Brooks vs Altra Running Shoes: Main Differences

Let’s get started!

A person taking a step.

Which Is Better, Brooks Or Altra Running Shoes?

Although we will go into the primary differences between Brooks vs Altra running shoes, it’s also important to establish that there are a couple of similarities. 

Both brands are well known for designing high-quality running shoes for runners of different ability levels, foot structures, and training needs.

Altra and Brooks both have models of running shoes for different support needs and running terrains (road, trail, etc.).

Runners can find excellent Brooks or Altra training shoes, and there isn’t necessarily a “better“ brand for all runners, but rather your own unique needs may help determine whether you should go with Altra vs Brooks running shoes.

Both Brooks and Altra are running shoe brands accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which speaks to their merit, quality, and design.

A grey Altra.

Brooks vs Altra Running Shoes: Main Differences 

Unlike many head-to-head running shoe brand comparisons, there are actually quite a few notable differences between Altra vs Brooks running shoes.

The primary feature of Altra running shoes that distinguishes them from most other running shoe brands is that the running shoes are designed to be zero-drop shoes. 

This means that there is no change in the stack height or distance between your foot and the ground and the sole of the shoe between your heel and toe. 

Both the heel and toe of the shoe are at the exact same level. This is quite different from most conventional running shoes, which typically have a heel-to-toe drop of 8 to 13 mm or so, depending on the model and type of running shoes.

Altra running shoes also have a wider toe box than most traditional running shoes to accommodate natural foot splay better, which is the widening of the forefoot or ball of your foot and toes when you push off in the running stride. 

A wider toe box gives your foot ample room to fully spread out without being confined by the walls of the shoe.

A pair of Brooks.

As a company, Altra also spends most of its time and effort revising and updating current running shoe models rather than designing new models for the lineup. Accordingly, there are fewer Altra vs Brooks running shoes.

There are also a fair number of Altra trail running shoes, and although certainly not a universality, many trail runners tend to go with Altra versus Brooks running shoes. 

Trail running shoes are one of the brand’s specialties and one of the ways in which the Altra vs Brooks shoes as a whole are somewhat distinguished. 

In other words, although Altra makes plenty of road shoes and Brooks makes plenty of trail shoes, Altra running shoes have carved a niche in the trail running market, with many trail runners specifically seeking the Altra running shoe brand.

Brooks running shoes are certainly more traditional running shoes. They have a standard heel-to-toe drop, usually within the 6 to 12 mm range, depending on the model.

Brooks designs their running shoes as being science-driven (usually real runners in wear-testing studies) to accommodate gait rather than correct it. 

A pair of black Altras.

Altra vs Brooks Running Shoes: Durability

The durability of any running shoes, or how long they last, depends on a number of factors, including the materials and construction of the running shoes themselves, as well as factors about your own body and training.

The terrain that you run on, how much mileage you run, whether or not you rotate your shoes, your body size, and your running gait can also impact how quickly your running shoes will break down.

With that said, there is potentially a difference in the durability of Altra vs Brooks running shoes. Altra shoes are said to have a life expectancy of 300 to 600 miles, which is slightly longer than Brooks running shoes, which have a life expectancy of 300 to 500 miles.

Altra vs Brooks Running Shoes: Cushioning

One thing that’s fairly unique about Altra running shoes is the cushioning.

As zero-drop shoes, the cushioning is designed to be balanced throughout the entire length of the shoe rather than concentrated on the heel. Therefore, you will find an even level of cushioning.

A pair of neon green running shoes.

A notable difference between Brooks vs Altra running shoes is that Brooks offers different amounts of cushioning in different types of shoes and uses various cushioning elements to provide these different levels of cushioning.

If you’d like highly cushioned shoes, it is better to go with Brooks vs Altra running shoes. Brooks shoes that use DNA LOFT provide the maximum amount of cushioning. 

Altra vs Brooks Running Shoes: Stability

There actually isn’t all that much difference in the options for support in Brooks vs Altra running shoes. 

This is one of the areas in which the shoes are somewhat similar. 

Both brands offer neutral and “support“ running shoes. The running shoes that are intended to provide more support and stability use guide rail technology to stabilize your foot rather than really correct your gait.

A person walking in white and black running shoes.

Altra vs Brooks Running Shoes: Fit and Feel

The biggest difference you will find between Brooks vs Altra running shoes is in the fit and feel of the shoes.

Altra running shoes are zero-drop shoes, whereas Brooks running shoes have a traditional heel-to-toe drop of about 6 to 12 mm, depending on the particular model. When you run in Altra vs Brooks running shoes, this difference in heel drop will feel significant. 

Zero-drop shoes will activate your calf muscle more and will stretch out your calves and Achilles.

It can take some time to transition to zero-drop running shoes if you have been running exclusively in traditional running shoes.

If you are looking for more of a traditional style running shoe, it is better to go with Brooks vs Altra running shoes, but if you want to take advantage of some of the benefits of running in the zero drop shoes, you should look into Altra vs Brooks shoes.

A person running on the beach.

Because Altra running shoes are zero-drop shoes, they have a smaller or lower heel, so your heel will feel much closer to the ground.

The toe box is also notably wider in Altra vs Brooks running shoes, even though Brooks has a wider toe box than many other conventional running shoes such as Nike running shoes or ASICS running shoes.

Ultimately, the shape of the shoe last used for Altra running shoes is said to mimic better the actual shape of the human foot rather than most running shoes.

If you have a bunion, metatarsalgia, wide forefoot, or Morton’s neuroma, you will likely be more comfortable wearing Altra vs Brooks shoes due to the width of the toe box.

There’s also more difference between the shape and fit of the men’s versus women’s Altra running shoes vs Brooks running shoes. Altra has identified differences in foot shape and structure and tries to adjust the fit and feel of the running shoes for men and women accordingly.

Brooks shoes are responsive and light. In terms of fit, Brooks recommends sizing up a half-size.

A person walking in blue and green sneakers.

Altra vs Brooks Running Shoes: Price

Altra running shoes tend to be slightly more expensive than Brooks running shoes. Additionally, because there are fewer models in the Altra running shoe lineup, there are not as many budget-friendly options. 

The trail shoes and waterproof Gore-Tex running shoes are also more expensive. The typical price for Altra running shoes is about $130-$180, whereas most Brooks running shoes are closer to $100-$160.

Overall, while both Brooks and Altra offer excellent running shoes, there are quite a few differences between the two brands. 

If you are interested in the zero drop running shoes for working on a natural running stride, you should choose Altra vs Brooks shoes, and if you are interested in traditional running shoes that provide different levels of cushioning, you should consider Brooks vs Altra shoes.

To help get you your perfect pair of running shoes, check out more of our handy comparison:

Nike Vs Adidas Running Shoe Comparison

HOKA Vs New Balance Running Shoe Comparison

A pair of blue running sneakers.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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