Altra Running released the newest version of their popular, versatile, low profile, and agile trail shoe, the Superior 3.5. Like all Altra shoes it features, Zero Drop™, the company’s signature FootShape™ Toe Box, the TrailClaw™ Outsole, and a flare on the outsole that offers lateral stability. In the women’s version, the shoe boasts the Fit4Her™ technology, a gender specific build that features a narrower heel, longer arch and narrower Midfoot, Higher Instep, a last that closely matches an average female food, and outsoles designed to support those areas of the foot that tend to experience the most pressure from the footfall on an average female runner.
The Superior 3.5 continues in this tradition. It is an excellent, stand-out shoe all-around, following in the literal footsteps of its 3.0 predecessor. This shoe functions well on most types of terrain, but is especially good for off-road running as in dirt roads, more technical trail running, and possibly in hiking. Some might even be able to use the more minimal Altra shoe for light backpacking and fast-packing, depending upon an individual’s general foot-strength and ankle stability. A note on ankle strength–several of our testers remarked that wearing these shoes requires more than average ankle stability since they are so low profile. This is something to be aware of as you are choosing your next pair of trail shoes.
Compared to other Altra trail models, the Superior 3.5 weighs in at only 8.2 oz, a bit heavier than the 8 0z 3.0. It remains true to size, although it is a bit more snug than other Altra models, due to the narrower last (PFS-W and PFS2-M) the shoe is built upon. There are also added gaiter loops on the heel and toe.
The 3.5 continues to be flexible in the toe-box to conform to the curvature of the foot as it naturally springs forward and up, but is still sturdy enough to keep the forefoot protected from bumps with rocks and roots. Although the Superior is built with a much narrower last than other Altra models like the Olympus, the shoe still manages to maintain space in the toebox following the nature profile and shape of the human foot along with room for toe-splay.
Testers loved the tread and lugs on this shoe. They are sticky, grippy, sturdy, and seem to be able to handle terrain on even the most technical trails and on the longest runs/hikes/other adventures. There is also a removable rock plate, whose absence will allow a more intimate, proprioceptive experience with the trail and whose usage promotes a more comfortable ride on technical terrain. The fit is mostly snug around the heel, perhaps a bit more so than the 3.0, offering a snug but comfortable fit which eliminates unnecessary movement in the heel.
As far as durability of the upper and outsole of the shoe is concerned, the shoe has been improved, particularly with regards to side tears, even though the upper seems more breathable this time around. Some testers noted that the top of the heel area showed premature tearing but fortunately it does not compromise the overall performance of the shoe, but they are a nuisance, and one avoidable by paying a bit more attention to the sturdiness of the fabric and materials used to create the upper without losing its signature breathability and flexibility.
Our testers highly recommend the Superior. In fact, most say that this model is the best and most versatile of all trail shoes Altra offers. Although the color selection is a bit limited, the shoe remains “sleek and sexy” in design. They are comfortable and minimal with cushioning enough to facilitate a comfortably responsive ride while protecting the feet from hazards of the trail. These shoes are a great choice if you’re in the market for a more minimal trail running needs!
Wow! 150 miles and still going strong. The Altra Superior 3.5 delivers an outstanding grip, on rocky downhills to rugged mountainous terrain, the outsole is flexible, responsive and reliable for any terrain.