With the Rivera 3 released at the start of the year and the Torin getting a huge update, it’s time to start talking about the best Altra Road Running shoe of 2023.
Sorry, high stack friends. The Via Olympus 2 is not on the list!
It’s tough to come up with the “best” because a lot is down to personal preference, but certain aspects can still make a standout shoe. Why do you think the Escalante has had such a loyal following for all this time?
If you’re in the market for a new road running shoe and you’re looking for a shoe that won’t squish your toes but still has some padding, Altra is the solution.
If you want more ground, feel, and that true barefoot option, check out my other post on Minimal Shoes.
Why barefoot? Barefoot training can be a game-changer for overall running performance! But that’s for a different post.
Let’s get into the Altra road running shoes for 2023!
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Which Altra Shoe is for you?
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The Altra Escalante 3 was released in 2022, but new colors are still coming out in 2023.
One of the favorites among the old Altra crowd, the Escalante tries to find that balance between ground feel and cushion.
The third version of the Escalante was a change from the previous versions, particularly the cushion used underfoot. I talked extensively about the changes from v2 – v2.5 – v3 in my Escalante 3 review, so head over there for the deep dive.
In the past, the Escalante was known as the soft, supple shoe that made your foot do all the work. It was a great training tool and a perfect alternative for those like me who want a little cushion but still maintain that barefoot feel.
The Escalante 3 is a little stiffer but still more flexible than most on the market and has a firmer ride.
But this change has brought the model to a wider audience. More people can lace up the Escalante and run for longer. So it’s not all complaints.
For me, the Escalante 3 is my go-to Altra shoe, and I hope it stays around forever. And if anything, I’d love to see them reduce the stack height.
Release at the end of January 2023, the Altra Rivera 3 was a surprise.
A bigger stack height, a firmer ride, and almost a rocker rider to the shoe!
For me, if a Hoka wearer came to me and wanted to transition into an Altra, I’d tell them to try the Rivera.
It’s a little narrower than most other Altra’s, making it feel like a conventional shoe with a wider toe box. For some, that’s the best of both worlds.
I’d almost describe the ride as – addictive?!
The ground feel is minimal, but the minor rocker motion pushing you forward onto your toes is joyful. And that’s coming from a barefoot runner.
It’s not an everyday shoe for me, but for my long easy runs, the Rivera is an exciting choice that will go far.
Now we’re getting into speculation.
Set for a release in June 2023, the Torin 7 is looking at a minor upgrade. Now Released!
We’re looking at a 2mm stack height increase from 28mm up to 30mm, which may sound a little like the Altra Rivera, but the big difference is the foam in the midsole.
The Torin uses Altra’s EgoMax foam, which feels more “plush.” Basically a softer, spongy ride. So if you’re looking a soft ride, the Torin 7 could be for you
The Torin comes in a Regular and wide version. The wide is excellent for those who yearn for the original Altra fit.
The upper is a tight and flexible weave with a little structure towards the heel, which doesn’t detract from the shoe at all, and the heel lock is good.
Lastly, the tongue has been simplified! No more sharp, silly tongue design!
Amazon.com – (free returns)
Altra Paradigm 7
The last shoe release we expect from Altra for road shoes this year is the Paradigm 7.
If you’re looking for a stability shoe, you should look at the Paradigm. However, it’s not a traditional stability shoe.
I expect the Paradigm to feel much like the Torin, just more stable on the inside arch.
We’ll still see the EgoMax midsole being used, so expect a softer plush feeling underfoot and a similar ride to previous versions.
This year, the Paradigm has updated the strange Innovarch wrap that was present in version 6. Originally added to help with stability, some runners found it caused an uncomfortable fit and even rubbed while running. So this is a welcome update.
The upper should see very little change other than a visual redesign, so if the Paradigm 6 fits well, expect the Paradigm 7 to be a winner.
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Stack height: 30mm
Weight: ~10.5oz / 298g
A perfect long run, steady miles shoe. Review coming soon.
Finding the “best” Altra road shoe of 2023 is impossible. It all depends on your preference.
But if I were to inject some of my barefoot/minimal bias, I’d suggest sticking with the Escalante 3.
Even though Altra did not update the Escalante 3 in 2023, it’s still my standout shoe.
I’d add a tip of the hat to the Rivera 3, which pleasantly surprised me. Because of the slimmer fit, it’s not for everyone, but if you have a narrower foot and were a Hoka lover in the past, lace up the Rivera 3. It’s fun.