Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gear Review: Altra Superior 2.0

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
Altra Superior 2.0

Although Altra is a newcomer to the running industry, it has quickly gained a strong fanbase in the ultra trail running community. Altar's unique selling points: zero drop, a foot-shaped toe box and A-bound midsole material, have enabled it to be at the forefront of shoe design. It also caters to semi-minimalist needs as well as to those who prefer a more maximalist shoe (e.g. their Olympus model)

I have been training and racing in my faithful pair of New Balance Leadville V2s for some time now and was looking for a replacement pair. Altra's design philosophy caught my attention, and since i have wide feet , i decide to go ahead give the Superior 2.0 a try. Once again, there are many great reviews on the web but this is my own take on it. I also hope to give views from a Singaporean perspective.

I have had this pair for 2 weeks and have logged in around 35 km in them on both trails (MacRitchie and Mandai Track 15) as well as speed work in East Coast Park. This review will be based on my initial usage of these shoes. Will do a longer-term review later on. 

Just holding these in your hands, you can tell these are a light  pair of shoes. It comes with a pair of removable  Altra Stoneguard rock plates. This is a great idea if you feel that you do not need that much protection on certain trails and want to shed some weight.

i love the upper so far. It is light, firm and very airy. You can actually see through it. Singaporean runners will know that all it takes is an hour run in our humidity to totally drench your shoes with perspiration. We are all familiar with the "squish squish" feeling. These shoes do soak up sweat but dries up pretty fast. It also drains out well after running through puddles. The laces are light and stay tied during my runs. The gusseted tongue is nice and thin, with just enough padding. Toes are sufficiently protected from rocks by the toe bumper and extra lamination on the front end of the shoes.

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
The Superior 2.0 is a great looking pair of shoes!

The removable Stoneguard is a great idea and it works as it should. I have not tried running without it. The foot shaped toe box really does allow your toes to spread out naturally and adds to stability. I do find that the overall volume of the toe box is still very small, the top of the toe box seems to press down on the tops of toes. I hope this will not be an issue on my 50km race next Saturday. I wear Injinji toe socks, so that could explain the tighter feeling I get from the toe box.

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
The grey removable Stoneguard goes in under the green insole

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
The Stoneguard fits very snuggly inside the shoe. It stays in place throughout the run.

The midsole is responsive and offers a good balance between cushion and trail feel. Coupled with how naturally your toes can spread out, you feel more stable on uneven terrain (read: the stretch of trail between MacRitchie Ranger Station and Jelutong Tower). The zero drop profile does feel more natural when you are running, especially switching over from the 8mm dropped Leadville V2.

Mega grip on dry and muddy trails. I have yet to test it on wet rocks, in the rain. I think that will be the ultimate test to see if a trail shoe can hold its own in Singapore. The outsole tread pattern plus the toe splay really makes you feel like you are able to dig deep and claw your way up anything. The lugs are deep yet clean themselves very well. The deep lugs did not seem cumbersome too when I did a 11km fartlek on tarmac. 

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
Super grippy and sheds mud well.

The Superior 2.0 is notoriously short in length, so it is highly recommended to at least size up half a size. Some wearers need to up a full size. Best to try these on in person, and in Singapore you can do it at Fast Corner on the second floor of Queensway Shopping Centre. They are the official local distributor of Altra products. 

This is trail shoes that is light, responsive and makes you feel fast. Most reviewers reckon the Superior 2.0 can handle distances up to 50miles. Due to the lower stack height and relatively lack of medial support, I think this is a fair view. I will be personally putting this to the test next Saturday at the MSIA Action Asia Singapore 50km trail ultra. Get this pair if you want a fast and light trail shoe that has zero drop and a wide toe box. 

Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe
Will be putting these through the grinder, stay tuned for a longer-term review!

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