This is most recent incarnation of the Superior. In our review of the Superior 1.5, Sam argued that the 3.0 was no match for the earlier model. Is the 3.5 any better?
In short, while it is foot-shaped, flexible and lighter than the 1.5, in our opinion, there is too much cushioning underfoot, particularly for a trail shoe and this reduces its stability. On the other hand, it is comfortable and some will appreciate the 21mm of soft midsole, particularly on harder, smoother trails.
It was comfortable right from the off. The ankle collar and tongue are thickly padded and the lacing enabled a secure fit around my heel and midfoot but with plenty of room for my toes to splay. The plastic overlays provide sufficient protection from roots and rocks for the type of mild trails this shoe is designed for. One addition to the 3.5 is the provision of attachments for Altra’s 4 point gaiter. These additions are unobtrusive.
The midsole, like all Altras, is zero drop. Zero-drop should feel stable and close to the ground, but if you are used to minimal shoes, 21mm of soft EVA feels wobbly on anything but hard trail or tarmac. On tarmac the shoe feels great for easy, recovery runs. The sole flexes in just the right place: at the ball of the foot, which means your foot doesn’t have to work harder than it should to roll through to toe-off. The 4mm lugs on the outsole are set across the foot in rows and provide reasonable grip for light trail, but watch out on British mud.
The protrusion at the rear of the heel is meant to act as a rudder to aid control on steep descents, but, like on the 1.5, see our altra superior 1.5 review, I can’t say I’ve been aware of its assistance. There’s also a removable rock plate under the sockliner (which you only really need for sharp rocky terrain and otherwise simply adds weight).
Wear and Tear:
I’ve run 80+ miles of trail and tarmac in this shoe and there are no signs of wear-and-tear.
Like the Superior 1.5, this is not the lightest or fastest-feeling trail shoe available but it’s high on comfort, natural-foot friendly and suitable for non-technical trails and road running too. 79/100
Weight – 272g – (UK size 8)
Midsole – Depth 21mm. Zero-drop
Outsole – Rows of rectangular 4mm lugs across foot
Insole – Standard and removable. Removable rock plate
Flexibility – High
Fitting – Wide toebox. Natural foot-shaped last. Comes up small – order half to one size up
I won this shoe at the Running Awards (bloggers’ event!)