Altra Superior 1.5


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Old news: I love Altra shoes, but I couldn't run in the original Superiors. New news: I still love Altra and the Superior 1.5s fit better!

I may have mentioned this before, but I find it funny how Altra is numbering their updates. Since they have only changed the upper they didn't upgrade to a full “2nd version” title. They will only use that title when they change the entire shoe, including the midsole and outsole.

So, why is the Superior 1.5 better than the 1? I’m not going to say that it is for everyone. But the changes to the upper allow me to run in them now so I am a big fan. As you may have guessed, the outsole and midsole remain unchanged, so you still get the fantastic all-direction traction, it’s still 18mm thick, and the StoneGuard is still removable if you are so inclined. I've been leaving it in with the new model and loving it. Without the StoneGuard the Superior feels somewhat similar to the original New Balance Minimus trail, but with it I feel like I could run any trail I wanted, anywhere. The StoneGuard is thin, but it provides just enough protection to take any edge off of anything dangerous.
The upper is where the real wonder lies though. How could simply adding a new, fabric, upper to an outsole improve how a shoe fits so drastically? Trust me, I know all about the dimensions that come into play when an upper is being created. And I know all of the production jargon that explains what I am feeling. But the experience of running in this update is crazy when compared to the original. Anyone who owned and ran in the original are going to think I’m crazy for making such a big deal about this. They are going to be able to go back down a half size and say, “Yep. Feels the same.” Then walk away until I kick them in the shins. I ran once in the original. While I loved that run, the misery of the results is the memory that remained. That memory is now gone.

Bottom line: the new upper is fantastic. The toe box is roomy, allowing for plenty of toe splay. My midfoot was locked down, and my heel didn't budge at all. The fit is excellent, and the shoe just made me want to run fast. Though running in anything that low to the ground always sparks something primal in me and being in the woods just stokes that a little more.

I do have two things that I want Altra to address though. First, the 1.5 is an ounce heavier than the 1. How is that possible? I thought every shoe in the industry was on a supermodel diet? Nearly 10 ounces is way too heavy for a “minimal” shoe that hangs its hat on its performance. Second, their website seems to be getting more serious. Why? The original write-up for the Superior had a funny little note on it and now it’s gone (I listed it in my review of the original, check it out there). You’re probably the 9th or 10th top shoe brand out there, so why have some fun? Your shoes produce fun running, your website should embrace that!

Upper: 9/10 - I know, not much of a bump in grade, but the last one was a size issue, not a comfort issue.
Cushion: 5/10 - it's still "minimal"
Traction: 10/10 - I can't imagine conditions that could beat these!