Altra Escalante 3 vs Torin 7 – Do you need all that cushion?

The Altra Escalante 3 and the Altra Torin 7 are very different shoes. Yes, they’re both zero drop and have a fair amount of cushion, but the feeling during a run is drastically different. 

On top of that, the fit of the two shoes differs, which may mean you’ll be opting for one over the other –not because of the features– but because of the fit!

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Altra Torin 7 Hero

Amazon.com – (free returns)

Torin 7

Type: Road

Width: Wide

Stack height: 30mm

Weight: 9.8oz / 278g

A maximalist shoe with barefoot roots. Great for those with wide feet. Read the Full Review

Escalante 3

Type: Road

Width: Wide

Stack height: 24mm

Weight: 9.3oz / 263g

The closet to barefoot you can get in Altra shoes. Read the Full Review

Altra Escalante 3 Hero

Amazon.com – (free returns)

In this review, I’ll take you through the key differences between the Esclante 3 and the Torin 7 and help you decide which shoe to opt for in your next purchase.

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Fit

A running shoe must fit well for it to be even considered in the first place. 

If your toes are too scrunched, the shoes are not for you. 

If your heel slips, the shoe is a no-go.

And that’s why I always start my reviews with the fit sections. So how do the Escalante 3 and the Torin 7 differ?

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The Torin 7 is wider throughout the shoe, especially the toe box. The Escalante is wider than your average Joe but feels more restrictive than the Torin. The thinner, flexible upper material is likely a contributing factor, but even from a bird’s eye view, the width of the Torin is clear. 

The Torin 7 comes in a wide and standard width. I tried the standard width, and it’s plenty wide enough for me, but there is even a wide-fitting option for even more room! This could be useful if you find shoes uncomfortable across the midfoot or toebox. This is not an option in the Escalante. 

Altra Torin 7 Toe Box

You’ll feel more at home in the Escalante if you have a shallow, narrower foot. There’s not much internal height of the Escalante. In fact, there is so little height that I swap out the insoles for a thinner pair. But that works perfectly if you have a slender foot and you’re still looking for toe space. The Torin is more middle of the road regarding internal height. 

The ankle collar sits higher and is stiffer on the Torin 7. Whereas the Escalante 3 has a much softer collar. If you’ve had issues with pressure on the ankle bones, the Escalante will be more accommodating and comfortable against the bone. 

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Torin 7

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Feel

Now we come to the big differences!

How they feel out on the road.

There’s a 6mm stack height difference between the Torin and Escalante. With the new Torin coming in at 30mm and the Esclante at 24mm, the ride is more cushy in the Torin. There’s still some “ground feel” in the Escalante, but I wouldn’t classify it as minimal. 

Altra Escalante 3 heel

The type of foam in the midsole creates a bigger difference than the height. The Torin uses the EgoMax EVA foam, and the Escalante uses the standard Ego EVA foam. And while I don’t like to buy into the naming too much, the Torin feels much more squishy and soft when compared to the Escalante. 

Because of the denser foam in the Escalante 3, there’s a small rocker motion. Brands such as Hoka are well known for their rockered designs; in the past, Altra had none of this. But with the newer range, we’ve seen a stiffening of the midsole, which gives that rocker feel. That is not true for the Torin, though. For a larger shoe, it still has a good amount of toe and torsional flex. 

Altra Torin 7 toe

The Escalante 3 is lighter, but only just! Even though the Escalante 3 is the little brother of the Torin, it’s only ~10g lighter than the Torin. Although going on feel, the Torin felt much heavier and more “clunky.” Either way, neither of these shoes would be classed as lightweight. 

There’s better lateral support in the Escalante 3, thanks to the substantial upper. You could spin this as a good thing or a bad thing. If you are cornering at higher speeds, slipping off the base of your shoe is the worst thing! A solid upper can help keep your foot in place, as you’ll find in the Escalante 3. But on the other hand, when the upper is thinner and more minimal, like the Torin, it allows the foot to move and flex more naturally. 

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Escalante 3

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Durability

It will be a close call on durability because both shoes have shared DNA. 

But some critical distinctions could see one go longer than the other. 

The outsole rubber used on both models is the exact same. Both shoes use rubber on all exposed areas of the sole, making them highly durable for all wear patterns. The only minor difference is the segmentation of the rubber parts on the Torin.

Altra Escalante 3 outsole rubber

The upper on the Escalante is more rigid and resilient to scuffs and scraps. Not that I expect you’ll be on trails in the Escalante (although I have a friend that does this), but it’s worth noting that the loose, tough weave on the Escalante will go much further than the Torin. This may also mean it’s less likely that we’d see premature wear on the Escalante upper, making it last much longer. 

With the Torin using EgoMax foam and the Escalante using Ego foam, one must be better. And for that, I’d opt for the Ego. It’s a little denser, meaning it won’t pack out as much as the EgoMax, and it’s been around for much longer, meaning it’s tried and tested. Some people report a “flat” feel from EgoMax soles after 100’s of miles. 

Although the outsole rubber seems to be ideal, it’ll likely be the first place to wear down on either model. 

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Escalante 3

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Conclusion

Considering I’m a minimal runner most of the time, it’s surprising that I enjoyed running in the Torin just as much as the Escalante. 

And while I’d reach for the Escalante 9/10 because I believe it’s a more optimal shoe for our biomechanics, the Torin is still a great shoe to have in rotation. 

Altra Escalante 3 toe

The choice comes down to 2 factors. 

Fit 

  • Do you have a very wide foot?
    • Opt for the Torin in standard or wide fit.
  • Do you have shallow feet?
    • Choose the Escalante
  • Average on both?
    • Either will work.

Feel

  • Do you want more ground feel?
    • Choose the Escalante
  • Are you looking for a long-distance “easy” shoe?
    • Choose the Torin
  • Want a do it all shoe?
    • Choose the Escalate

And that’s it! Both are great shoes. And both are great running tools!

Check out the full reviews on both.

Altra Torin 7 Hero

Amazon.com – (free returns)

Torin 7

Type: Road

Width: Wide

Stack height: 30mm

Weight: 9.8oz / 278g

A maximalist shoe with barefoot roots. Great for those with wide feet. Read the Full Review

Escalante 3

Type: Road

Width: Wide

Stack height: 24mm

Weight: 9.3oz / 263g

The closet to barefoot you can get in Altra shoes. Read the Full Review

Altra escalante 3 Hero

Amazon.com – (free returns)

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Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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