In the span of only a couple of years, Altra is turning the heads of road runners and trail runners alike as a top running shoe brand. On display next to established companies that have been around for decades, Altra has hit the ground running with innovative designs that feature a patented Zero Drop midsole and FootShape Toe Box. Both of these features are present on the Altra Torin 2.5.Founded by elite runners, Altra's focus is based solely on the design of running shoes that provide a natural ride. Evidence of the time and energy spent comes from the shoe being one of the most comfortable, roomy, and creatively designed road running shoes in our test group. Altra produces a very good overall shoe, but its FootShape Toe Box certainly suits some better than others — not all feet are shaped the same. We noticed this standard foot shape design versus foot shape reality issue with the Vibram V-Run as well. Not all feet are shaped the same and if your toes look like mine (second toe longer than the first), there might be models better suited to you.
Altra Torin 2.5 Review
Cons: Low durability, Zero Drop not for everyone, FootShape not for everyone
Our Analysis and Test Results
We see the Torin 2.5 as the Prius of the running shoe world, compared to the Formula 1 Nike Flex Fury 2. The Altra is of our favorite choices when heading out for our shorter runs, the wonderfully soft and light midsole on this road shoe providing great comfort. One of the best features of this thoughtfully designed shoe is the zero heel-to-toe discrepancy, which Altra calls the Zero Drop feature. The Zero Drop isn't for everyone and it can take time for your feet and legs to adjust, but if you can bring yourself past the amazingly hideous color choices and take a pair out for a test run, we're confident you'll be pleasantly surprised. That's so long as your foot is shaped to the FootShape Toe Box. That means if your second toe is longer than your first you will have a surprise, but it will not be pleasant.
We notice many shoe companies like to throw around the word "responsive" like candy on Halloween. We had the luxury to compare many supposedly "responsive" shoes side-by-side. Altra uses their lightweight Abound rubber they claim increases responsiveness on the Torin 2.5. When we compared its responsiveness to the rest of the road shoes in our group, it performed at the top of our cohort.
While the Torin 2.5 was the top scoring shoe in this category, it is worth discussing the neutral shoes in the next rung down, particularly because the Torin 2.5 might not be suited to all foot shapes. The Brooks Ghost 9 and Saucony Kinvara 8 scored just beneath. Each shoe has a certain pop to its landing and takeoff, but the Ghost 9 is better suited to heel-strikers. Much of the pop comes from the cushy heel and roll to toe motion nursed by this shoe and this running style may work better with the Ghost 9. Conversely, the Kinvara 8 is suited to any running style and foot shape and has a thick stack from heel to toe, but it just does not have the same pop as the Altra Torin 2.5.
We struggled with the FootShape Toe Box on this contender. Though it allows more room for our feet to spread out, giving a more stable feel in the landing, its particular shape does not fit all feet. Unlike most shoes, the Torin 2.5 has toe box with a stiff toe cap with zero give, so a long second toe would be smooshed up against it while the big toe and other little piggies are perfectly happy.
It doesn't have the perfect comfort like our Editors' Choice, the Brooks PureFlow 6, though it still feels good, minus our toe shape issue and for that reason it scores low in the upper. The shoe would have been much higher on our overall list, maybe even an award winner, had the brilliant toe box not been molded for a different foot shape. The Pearl Izumi E:MOTION Road N3 has a similar ride with a more regular landing, which doesn't match the landing of the Torin 2.5.
The upper on this pair of shoes is thin, simple, and does not provide much support for our feet at all, though the collar has a nice amount of padding. Compared to the locked-in feel we get with the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 19, our heel moves around laterally quite a bit. Then again, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 19 has too much of a locked-in feel for us, so for those who feel claustrophobic in tight models, this is your shoe. The extra room in the toe box is great, but we would like to see the mid through heel area hug our feet more like the Saucony Kinvara 8 does. This loose heel is also noted in the Brooks PureFlow 6.
The smooth, thin upper is made of Altra's Quick-Dry Air Mesh, which allows for excellent breathability and the Altra Torin 2.5 comes out on top with our highest breathability rating, aside from the top-scoring Vibram FiveFinger V-Run, whose barefoot design obviates it from being anything other than a lightweight, breathable design. It has a lot less flair on the upper, like most of the shoes in our group. Having all this open mesh allows our feet to breathe better than most of the other shoes we tested, many of which contain an abundance of overlays and unnecessary upper material.
Similar models scoring alongside the Torin 2.5 are the Editor's Choice PureFlow 6, Best Buy Kinvara 8, and Top Pick for Racing Flat Flex Fury 2. What all four of these shoes have in common is limited padding along the mid and forefoot, and a fine, tight fitting mesh that wicks away moisture while also providing ventilation to keep the foot cool. Because these comparable shoes each scored so closely, we suggest looking at the other categories of the Torin 2.5 to determine if it is the best shoe for you. For example, it is the most responsive shoe in our lineup.
From first glance, you might well perceive this shoe to be among the heaviest, as well as one of the least aesthetically pleasing, of the running shoes we tested. Surprisingly, the Torin 2.5 comes in at only 10.3 ounces per shoe in men's 11, and more than four ounces a pair lighter than the Pearl Izumi E:MOTION Road N3. We all know it's what's inside that counts, right? Hidden among the seemingly thick and heavy midsole, wide landing pad, and roomy toe box construction lies an ultra light cushioning system. Altra uses Dual Layer EVA cushioning with a resilient and recycled Abound material to get the super light and comfortable results we feel.
The most significant downside we encountered with the Torin 2.5 is its durability, and it scores the lowest in this metric. The minimal upper design comes with very few overlays that are thin and seam-welded instead of stitched. The no frills design on the upper and outsole is a common theme with all of Altra's running shoe line. The outsole has abrasion resistant rubber in a few of the high wear areas, though it is extremely thin. We like this simplicity, and also realize this pair won't last as long as the other shoes we tested. Look at the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3 if you're interested in one of our highest rated shoes for durability.
We suggest using this flexible road shoe for moderate to long road runs when you want zero midsole drop without sacrificing comfort.
For $125 with one of the lowest durability scores of the group, it's hard to say this road shoe is a good value. We hope to see the price drop a bit as well as the durability of the outsole increase and modifications to the shape of the toe box be made in future versions.
Can Altra keep up their momentum? We would really hate to see them become the Pandora Radio of the running shoe world. Altra has great ideas and potential as a running shoe company, and we're excited to see what else they can dish out once they work out a few kinks and find consistency as a running shoe company. Maybe even take into account the shape of other feet in their toe box.
— Ryan Baham