The 5 Best Altra Running Shoes in 2024: From Road to Trail

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If you are transitioning to zero drop shoes (or in the case of Altra, ‘balanced cushioning’) or already an established zero drop user, here we take a look at a selection of Altra models suitable for every surface, from the roads to the trails.

Now a well-established brand, Altra is known for its balanced cushioning and footshaped toebox. This unique combination of features makes them instantly recognizable.

When zero-drop shoes gained popularity alongside a more minimalist approach to cushioning, Altra made a bold move in proclaiming that you can have that zero-drop feel that encourages a more midfoot strike, but you don’t have to sacrifice cushioning.

Shoes such as the Olympus 5 (below), have as much as 33mm of cushioning, so while having a balanced feel, cushioning is as plush as any other shoe.

The footshape toebox offers a broader fit across the width of the foot and provides a roomier fit that allows the toes to spread. 

This natural foot-shaped style offers several advantages, especially on the trails. The foot spreading adds to natural stability and for those with foot conditions such as neuromas or bunions, the extra space provides additional comfort.

So, let’s take a look at some Altra running shoes that offer everything to introduce you to the brand whether you are a road runner, trail runner, or a combination of the two. 

best altra running shoes

5 Best Altra Running Shoes

1. Best Altra Running Shoe For The Road: Altra Paradigm 7

2. Best Altra Running Shoes For Road To Trail: Altra Outroad 2

3. Best Altra Running Shoes For Long-Distance Trails: Altra Olympus 5

4. Best Altra Running Shoes For Trail Races: Altra Mont Blanc

5. The Best-Selling Altra Trail Shoe: Altra Lone Peak  7

The 5 Best Altra Running Shoes

#1. Best Altra Road Running Shoe:
Altra Paradigm 7

Stack: 30mm balance cushioning (rear and forefoot); Weight: 293g / 10.35oz

Paradigm 7

As well as a plush full-length stack of cushioning, the Paradigm 7 offers dynamic support in the form of its Guiderail system.

Similar to the system found on Brooks ‘GTS’ models, the guide rails are extensions of the midsole cushioning that wrap up, around the rear of the foot to control pronation on both the lateral and medial sides of the shoe.

The thought behind the guide rails is that should the foot roll out laterally or over-pronate medially, the guide rails will prevent this excessive motion. While the rails work very well if not required, they won’t interfere with your natural gait.

Like shoes such as the Brooks Adrenaline GTS, the guiderails of the Paradigm 7 make the shoe a good choice for pretty much any type of runner. So, for those wishing to sample the brand’s balanced cushioning shoes, the Paradigm makes a great choice.

Of course, the footshaped toe box is present as on all Altra shoes and in this instance, this allows the foot to spread naturally and provide additional stability should it be required.

The 30mm stack of cushioning uses the brand’s Altra EGO MAX foam, a light, soft and relatively responsive foam that’s perfect for a daily trainer.

The Paradigm 7 also uses Altra’s footpod design, a series of flex grooves incorporated into the shoe to mirror the foot’s structure and provide more natural flexibility to the shoe. This all works very well and contributes to a natural and uninhibited ride.

Use: Road

Type: Stability

Speed: Everyday training

#2. Best Altra Running Shoe for road to trail:
Altra Outroad 2

Stack: 27mm ; Weight: 303g / 10.7 oz

Outroad 2

Built for the road but equipped for the trail is how Altra describes the Outroad 2.

Essentially it is a road running shoe, offering a 27mm stack of balanced cushioning, that has a sole capable of dealing with both the road and light trails.

The MAXTRAC sole doesn’t have the most aggressive lugs, but their shape gives them excellent traction when you venture off-road.

Being evenly spread across the width and length of the shoe as well as having good spacing also means that the lugs spread any pressure evenly across the whole foot. This is an important consideration for road-to-trail shoes and hear the design works very well.

The midsole cushioning used in the Outroad 2 is the brand’s ‘standard’ Altra EGO foam, an EVA-based material, but it works well and is perfectly adequate in this type of shoe.

Use: Road to trail

Type: Neutral

Speed: Everyday training

#3. Best Altra Running Shoe for Long-distance Trails:
Altra Olympus 5

Stack: 33mm; Weight: 350g / 12.3 oz

Olympus 5

The brand’s plushest, cushioned, trail running shoe, the Olympus is well established as a premium, long-distance off-road model.

With a balanced midsole stack of 33mm of cushioning running the length of the shoe, the compression-molded EVA midsole is capable of soaking up the ground step after step and mile after mile.

While capable of dealing with ultra-distance-type events, the Olympus 5 is by no means exclusive to that type of mileage and can just as easily provide great comfort over shorter distances.

Whilst not specifically having the guide rail system of the Paradigm, the midsole cushioning of the Olympus 5 does wrap up, around the rear of the foot. This design contributes to a stable, cushioned ride that’s perfect for the trails.

On unpredictable terrain, it’s a nice level of support being effective without overly controlling.

A Vibram outsole ups the stacks in terms of traction and provides good grip on most surfaces in both the wet and dry. 

Should you be tackling more serious terrain or conditions, hooks are fitted so you can fit gaiters for that next level of protection from the elements.

Use: Trail ultras

Type: Max neutral cushioning

Speed: Long-distance cruiser

#4. Best Altra Running Shoes For Trail Races:
Altra Mont Blanc

Stack: 30mm; Weight: 280g / 9.9oz

Mont Blanc

A long-distance trail racer, the Mont Blanc provides a great level of traction and cushioning in a lightweight package.

With perhaps a nod to the UTMB event, the Mont Blanc would be more than at home in such an event. 

Its 30mm, balanced cushioning midsole uses the brand’s more responsive midsole, Altra EGO MAX, a foam with a more responsive feel and energized toe-off.

The 30mm stack feels just about perfect to provide good cushioning yet at the same time be nimble enough for more technical trails. 

At 280g, the Mont Blanc is the lightest of the shoes in this selection and that again hints at its speed-orientated credentials. The upper feels a little more minimalist (without sacrificing protection) and the shoe itself fits well and almost disappears around the foot.

In a model such as this, the footshaped toe box is a welcome feature. When running at speed or negotiating more technical terrain the foot spreads naturally within the shoe and naturally balances itself.

This feeling is different to those not used to Altra shoes, but quickly becomes welcome and gives an added sense of balance off-road.

Vibram Litebase is used on the sole of the shoe. This is Vibram’s lightweight, performance option in outsole choices and keeps the weight down but traction at its best.

It’s a flexible design with good lugs and adapts well to uneven terrain without compromising on grip.

Use: Trail

Type: Lightweight neutral 

Speed: Faster paced training/racing

#5. The Best-Selling Altra Trail Shoe:
Altra Lone Peak  7

Stack: 25mm; Weight: 314g / 11oz

 Lone Peak  7

Previously did a full review of this shoe that could be linked here.

As the best-selling trail running shoe in the USA last year, the Lone Peak has serious credentials.

This fact in itself is a testament to the versatility of the shoe. It offers good cushioning from the 25mm stack of Altra EGO foam, good traction on a variety of surfaces thanks to the MAXTRAC sole and the familiar footshaped design gives a unique, but clearly very popular fit.

The Lone Peak 7 adapts well to various trail surfaces thanks to its low-profile design and built-in flexibility. The cushioning hits the sweet spot in this respect, providing enough comfort whilst remaining adaptable. 

One of the first Altra shoes I tried; the Lone Peak 7 proved a good introduction to balanced cushioning.

The uneven surface of the trails tends to encourage a more natural mid-foot strike and in doing so negates the need for additional rearfoot cushioning. 

In this respect, for those wishing to try or convert to lower-drop footwear, a trail shoe is the ideal starting point. 

Use: Trail

Type: Versatile, multi-surface

Speed: Versatile, technical training/racing

Photo of author
Paul Freary really does have a lifetime of experience as an athlete. Paul’s father, Mike was British record holder over 10,000m in 1966, so Paul was almost born to run. With best times ranging from 3:56 for the mile to 13:55 for 5k, and ran 2:40 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon at age 55. Having worked with several leading brands as well as in retail he also knows running footwear inside out and also has experience in gait analysis and orthotics. Paul writes regular running shoe reviews for our site and our Youtube channel!

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