Trail running shoe review by American Trail Running Association advisory board vice-president Susan Kendrick.
“Trail Running is for Every Body” is an ongoing touchstone at the American Trail Running Association (ATRA) as we look for ways to welcome people of all abilities, ages, shapes, sizes, genders, and colors into trail running. This and future ”Every Body” gear reviews are part of that. Get the backstory on each brand, how you could benefit from their approach, and what to consider when checking out the latest gear for yourself.
New shoes make me nervous. What if you get out on a run and don’t like them but it’s too late to turn back? What if you shoot your budget on something, then wish you’d gotten something else, maybe that pair you really wanted.
If you’re experimenting with expanding your shoe choices or are newer to trail running and still looking for that favorite fit and feel, read on. Altra just added another groundbreaking choice to its lineup.
First, Know Your Options
Every shoe out there is an option for you. For example, when new “high end” trail running shoes hit the shelves, it’s tempting to assume they’re for high-end runners only. What I see in running, biking, cross country skiing, and more, however, is that “recreational” athletes—or middle of the pack, not that fast, or whatever other self-talk you use to label yourself—need the best technology on their side as much as elite runners, maybe more. Shoes are the way you take care of not only your feet, but your whole body and your running experience.
From the Alps to Your Backyard
You don’t have to be training to run the Alps to benefit from all the good things built into the new Altra Mont Blanc BOA®. If you’ve already experienced running in Altras, you know what a game changer it is to ditch the laces for the BOA fit system. And, if you are new to Altra, hang onto your insoles, you’re in for a great new ride.
Check out this behind the scenes video below featuring the company founders, who met in high school at cross country practice by the way.
Altra is rooted in the discovery that shoes change the way you run. They either mess you up or help you out. Long before they launched Altra, the founders were learning exactly where that dividing line was for the runners they were coaching from their running store.
To help people run more naturally and with less effort and injury, they started tearing apart perfectly good shoes and taking out the cushioned heels. The result was a balanced shoe that alleviated many of the “overuse” injuries runners experience. These guys forever changed running shoe design and running itself in two significant ways:
- Create a natural fit that follows the shape of your foot for better balance
- Take out the elevated heel to create Altra’s trademark Zero Drop design, putting your foot the same distance from the ground from heel to toe for even more balance and movement as you run.
Now, just over 10 years later, Altra is a leading running shoe brand that continues to innovate.
Let’s Get Technical
- FootShape™ comfort gives your feet more space to sit naturally and is designed to address biological differences in men’s and women’s feet.
- Balanced Cushioning™ positions your heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground, encouraging better alignment and better form.
- Altra EGO™ Max midsole foam gives you all the light and luxurious performance with a little extra bounce and added durability.
- The PerformFit™ Wrap from the BOA® Fit System both holds your foot in place and reduces landing impact, while providing a micro-adjustable, precision fit you can change in a matter of seconds.
- Vibram® Litebase outsole reduces overall sole weight by 30% while still delivering that Vibram grip, traction, and durability on any terrain.
Heading Out For A Test Run
Built for any distance, the Altra Mont Blanc BOA® immediately says, “I got you.” It has a stable feel and at the same time is super light and comfortable. Each part of its design translates into a well-rounded, secure fit and sure footing on the trail. The midsole felt what I would call “broad” underfoot in the best way possible, total support and comfort but with a sense of buoyancy and energy. Your feet and legs still feel fresh even after longer runs. These shoes want to show you a good time and take care of you in the process.
Dial Me In
The two BOA dials offer more than I expected. It’s not about getting the right tightness, like when you lace up. It’s more about the flexibility to dial in a range of customized fits. And because laces can be a safety issue depending on where you run, the BOA dial system eliminates this hazard for even more confidence and “heads-up” running
Room to Roam
Another hallmark of Altra design is the wider toe box that lets your toes to “splay” to help with balance. It’s not something you’re consciously aware of, but that’s the point, shoe design that helps you run naturally and comfortably.
Unlike some shoes that leave you feeling either “shielded” from the terrain or beat up from too little protection, the Altra Mont Blanc BOA puts you in full contact and control. You get high comfort and stability matched with equally high dexterity.
Tread You Can Trust
Downhills are another test of any trail shoe. The Altra Mont Blanc BOA, with Vibram grip, has you covered. I purposefully put this tread and the BOA fit system to the test after a rain on singletrack. I had complete peace of mind letting loose on steep descents with everything underfoot from colonies of wet acorns to wet leaves, a few sandy washouts, plus those rocks and roots.
Get the Gear You Deserve
We’ve all heard that saying, “It’s not the car, it’s the driver.” But it’s the car, too. Whether you’re running 5Ks, 50Ks or running to be in nature and clear your head, your run is your run. You’ll have a better time out there if you choose the gear that supports the runner you are and the runner you want to be.