The most recent incarnation of the Superior – the 3 – is a very different beast from this one, the 1.5, and in my mind, no match. What’s so good about this earlier model? I explain below..
When Altra first launched their Superior trail shoe, nearly all their shoe models boasted a wide toebox, a zero-drop sole and were both lightly cushioned and flexible. Since then, their range has moved towards bulkier, stiffer midsoles, which in my opinion is a shame (though it’s great to see they’ve maintained a 100% zero-drop stable and kept the roomy toebox).
My first run in these was over two hours long, on a mix of trail, fields and lanes, and there was no rubbing or discomfort at all (the ankle collar and tongue are well-padded). Much of the upper is constructed with mesh to prevent water staying trapped inside the shoe once it’s entered and the tongue is stitched-in most of the way along, which helps to keep out debris. A stitched plastic toebox protects toes from roots and rocks, while at the back of the heel, a Velcro tab allows you to attach a gaiter if you’re running on particularly messy or dusty terrain.
The midsole, like all Altras, is zero drop. Put it on and you’re immediately aware of the benefits of the low, broad platform: you feel stable, yet close to the ground. The shoe 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 shallow lugs on the outsole are set lengthways, with each row facing an alternating direction to provide multi-directional grip. That said, this isn’t a shoe to take on extreme terrain. Its shallow lugs flailed a little in deeper mud and didn’t inspire confidence on slippery rock. On wet grass and stony trail, however, it behaved beautifully.
The strange-looking protrusion at the rear of the heel is meant to act as a rudder, to aid control on steep descents but 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:
It’s been put through its paces with 150+ miles of mostly trail but also some tarmac with mud, snow and ice featuring heavily. There are no signs of wear-and-tear to report.
This is not the lightest or fastest-feeling trail shoe on the block but it’s high on comfort, natural-foot friendly and a great choice for non-technical trails with the flexibility to handle moderate doses of road running too. It’s durable too. 83/100
Weight – 308g – (UK size 8, minus rockplate)
Upper – Mesh with stitched plastic toe protector and midsole. Well-padded ankle collar
Lacing – Standard
Midsole – Depth 18mm. Zero-drop
Outsole – Two-directional lugs
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 purchased this shoe.