Spring running brings less snowpack and ice, while also creating some sloppy trail conditions. In general, I stay off muddy trails out of respect for shared community use. If we’re all considerate of transitional conditions, we’ll all also be in a better place to enjoy getting off road in a few weeks.
That means I was shopping for a solid daily road shoe. My decision came down to the Altra Escalante vs. the Altra Torin 3.0. My experience with the Escalante was positive: I got 500 miles out of my last pair. They’re comfortable, snappy, and the ride grew on me quite a bit. They also seem to activate the post-tibial stress I’ve been managing for a few months. Looking for something more substantial, I dusted off pairs of Torin 2.0 and 2.5 that I thought were goners. A little duck tape and strategically placed moleskin fixed the worn out heel cups, and I managed about 250 more miles out of those 2 pairs of shoes. Miraculously, my post-tib issues were gone within a week of regular running in the old Torins.
So, I trekked down to my local specialty store, The Runner’s Shop, and asked them to order me a new pair of Torin 3.0. I have about 50 miles in them, including a solid 13.1 miler. Here’s my experience so far.
The T3 fit true to size for me. I wear a 13 in past versions of the Torin, the Altra Lone Peak 3.0, Escalante and Altra Superior 3.0. While I’ve never run in the Lone Peak 3.5, I’ve tried them on and would have to settle for a 14 since there’s no such thing as a size 13.5.
The upper is more breathable and flexible than the T2.5, but nowhere near the slipper comfort of the T2.0 (which were the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn). The toebox is appropriately roomy, and the stiff heel counter seems to be more robustly constructed than previous Torins. Both the T2.0 and T2.5 wore through at the heel by around mile 200 causing exposed plastic and blisters. While I MacGuyvered a fix which lasted over 100 miles per shoe, I wasn’t pleased that such pricey shoes made it through less than a month of my typical high-season training mileage.
The zero drop platform, foot-shaped toe box, and relatively wide heel make for a stable and pleasant ride. The feel is quite a bit firmer than past versions of the Torin. On the other hand, they’re more responsive and have solid energy transfer. While I wouldn’t say I felt beat up after 13 road miles (in cold weather too boot), I was a little disappointed by the diminished cushiness. I suspect this is because of a visibly reduced layer of Abound midsole. Even compared to the Lone Peak 3.0, the Torin is firmer and the layer of Abound is significantly thinner. The T3 would work just fine for a marathon and beyond, but they’re not Hoka killers. I tend to like a firmer ride, but runners seeking a cloud-like feel will likely want to look elsewhere.
Are you into the “Dad Shoe” trend? If so, the T3 may be for you! All kidding aside, Altra seems to be going for an overall more mainstream look over the last few years. While the T3 are definitely a big, somewhat goofy looking shoe, I’m happy to let my dad flag fly and wear them out-and-about. The upper is a little more refined in appearance compared to the T2.5. The black, grey, and red option is pretty low-key. Ultimately it’s about the performance of course, but I’m pleased with the looks of the T3.
In summary, I’m happy with the Altra Torin 3.0. They’ve performed well on flat runs at around marathon pace, on my usual hilly road loop (1000′ climbing over 6.5 miles), and at paces a bit faster than lactate threshold. The firmer ride is an adjustment, but it’s a reasonable trade-off given the T3’s increased responsiveness. At $115 with my runner’s club discount, the value is to be determined. If I can get 350-400 miles out of them, I’ll be satisfied. The T3 will likely be my go-to shoe for the next couple of months as I work on extending my long runs and waiting for the trails to dry out a bit. That being said, I do miss the Escalante. That’s an “A” grade shoe in my book, and probably worth doing extra calf-raises to manage my lower leg issues. If you’re looking for a solid marathon training shoe or a daily trainer that can handle anything from long runs to track repeats, the Torin 3.0 is a great choice.