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Altra Superior 4.0 Trail Running Shoes

Review: Altra Superior 4.0 Trail Running Shoes

Super lightweight, comfortable barefoot-style trail running shoes that easily deal with a variety of trails. Pure zero drop joy!

The Altra Superior 4.0 trail running shoes are super lightweight barefoot-style shoes without the discomfort often associated with barefoot shoes. Their zero drop soles are moderately cushioned providing just enough comfort on even the most tricky trails. Plus, their extra wide toe box encourages proper form resulting in great grip and a natural running style.

Altra Superior 4.0 trail running shoes: The stats

Best for:All types of off-road trails
Heel to toe drop:0mm
Weight:448g / 15.8oz (Men’s UK 10)
Waterproof:No

Features of the Altra Superior 4.0 trail running shoes

Outsole

Sole of shoeThe outsoles feature MaxTrac soles with TrailClaw canted lugs that are positioned underneath the bones of the toes. This helps improve traction when powering off from the toes.

Lacing

Shoe lacesThe flat laces stay done up very well and are highly adjustable without pressing into the tops of the feet. This is down to the unique combination of ghillie lacing on one side — which takes the laces through tabs on the outsides of the shoes — and normal lacing — which runs the laces through eyelets embedded in the main body of the shoes.

Cushioning

Shoe cushioningThe zero drop platform means that your heel and toes are the same distance away from the ground. This is designed to encourage low-impact form when running and to use your body in a more natural way. The platform is moderately cushioned to provide just enough protection to the underfoot on tough and rocky terrain.

Toe box

Toes of shoesA classic design feature of Altra’s trail running shoes is their wide toe box. The extra space across the forefoot allows toes to spread out in a more natural position that is similar to barefoot running. Using your toes to run in this way provides more stability on steep terrain and is also much more comfortable for your feet.

Gaiter trap

BAck of shoesThe Superior 4.0’s feature hook-and-loop tabs to attach running gaiters to without having to use straps. This is an excellent feature for running on gravelly terrain to prevent debris coming into the shoes from above. Gaiters are also often worn in wet/snowy conditions.


Altra Superior 4.0 trail running shoes review

Since getting the Altra Superior’s I have worn them to run 98km of trails in just over a month. I completed several park runs in these shoes — beating my PB each time — and also completed the Quest Wales (38km) Adventure Race. This race involved two runs, two bike rides, and a canoeing segment. I wore the shoes for the full event.

My initial impressions were that the shoes felt exceptionally lightweight and I really liked the no fuss design and simple colours used. After a couple of wears I soon got used to the extra width at the toe compared to other more regular shaped trainers. Additionally, I was very impressed with the lacing system as it locks my foot nicely into place without the laces loosening during my runs.

Comfort and fit

The shoes come with a stone guard insert for running on rocky ground. I have never seen anything like this before, but I like that Altra are trying to make these shoes versatile for different types of running. I’ve yet to run with this shoe insert in. Mainly because of how instantly comfortable the shoes felt when I first put them on.

Trainers with thick soles can feel like there is a lot of bounce in the shoe, the opposite of barefoot-style shoes. I have worn barefoot trainers before and they felt like my foot was directly on the floor. The Altra’s offer the best of both worlds. They feel similar to a comfy pair of flip flops; not with a massive thick wedge of a sole but offering some protection with the ability to feel some of the ground below your foot with just the right amount of cushioning.

Fitting for both shoes feels good and is true to size with at least one thumb nails width from the end of the shoe and my toes. The innovative design of the tongue also adds to the good fit of the Altra’s. It is permanently attached to one side of the shoe which means that it stays in place really well.

Protection and stability

Another good feature is the protective rubber on the toe box. I can’t recall running in them and ever stubbing my toe! Plus, I always feel like the area around my ankle and the top of my foot is very well supported and close fitting. In contrast, the area around toes feels very roomy. The combination of the spacious toe box and fitted ankle means that my feet don’t move around in the shoes, yet the ability for my toes to land and spread out certainly assist with greater traction and control on the trail.

Grip

I mainly wear these shoes our running in my local woods, running over lots of roots and different types of often very uneven terrain. On one occasion, when the ground was wet underfoot, I took a tight turn on a muddy corner and slipped over. Other shoes I have worn have had deeper lugs on the soles. Had there been a deeper tread in the Altra’s, I may have stayed on my feet.

Running in the rain

However, the key test for these shoes was the Quest event, which included 17km of running in the wet, uphill, through a woodland, downhill over wet slabs and mud, and running on mixed forestry trails. I have to say that on all this mixed terrain in soaking conditions the shoes did not let me down. I stayed on my feet during the ascent, descent and across wet roots. At one stage I had to run through a river and was also surprised that I didn’t feel that the shoes had doubled their weight due to water. Instead they seemed to let it out pretty quickly.

I was also pleasantly surprised, when running across a steep slope, that the shoes didn’t slip at all. The traction was excellent.

What I love the most about the Altra Superior 4.0’s

I really enjoy wearing these shoes to run in. I found them instantly comfortable and my foot doesn’t move around inside them. I believe that the wide toe area gives improved control over normal shoes. Plus, the thin soles allows my feet to react to the ground allowing the shoes to mould to the terrain.

What I don’t love so much about the Altra Superior 4.0’s

The only downside so far is that after about 60km of running a small split appeared on one of the shoes between the uppers and the sole. It could be that it was a failing of the glue. So I put some more glue in this gap and have not had a problem since.

I would also prefer slightly deeper lugs to cope with slippery corners and fast turns during the muddy and wet winters.


Verdict

If you’re looking to take a step towards barefoot running but don’t want to sacrifice comfort then the Altra Superior 4.0 trail running shoes are an excellent option. They let your toes splay in a natural way that allows you to eat up the miles in comfort. I would highly recommend these shoes for trail running on steep, challenging and varied terrain.

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Altra | REI | Amazon

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About Dave Keane

author-Dave

Outdoor adventure has always been a huge part of Dave's life. In his younger years he spent many hours climbing and fell running throughout the UK. Plus he ran a thriving Scout Unit for over 10 years. More recently his adventures include all kinds of on and off-road cycling missions and trail running. This year his biggest challenge was taking part in Quest Wales: a 42km running, biking and canoeing race.

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