Making its debut this past April, the Altra Escalante is a zero-drop, lightweight and amply-cushioned daily trainer suited for all types of runs and a great pick for many types of runners. Being an entirely new entry in the Utah-based shoe maker’s lineup, the Escalante also debuts quite a few new features and technologies, such as Altra’s Altra Ego midsole compound, and their first take on a knit upper. At $130, it falls on the more expensive end of the shoe price spectrum, but after reviewing these puppies for 100 miles of running and probably another 50 or so just walking around (they’re so comfy I don’t want to take them off), I can confirm that the build quality is superb and the cushioning still bouncy and resilient. In short, the Escalante is absolutely phenomenal and well worth a look for those runners who are interested in zero-drop, lightweight, Kylo-Run style shoes.
Weight: 7.8 ounces – men’s size 9
Stack Height: 19mm heel, 19mm forefoot (0mm drop)
Midsole: Altra Ego is a new midsole compound designed for high energy return and improved durability
Outsole: FootPod Outsole follows the natural construction of the human foot for maximum flexibility and durability
Fit – 10/10
This is one seriously comfy shoe. As I’ve mentioned before, the best advice for choosing a running shoe I’ve ever received is “pick the ones that make it feel like you’re not wearing a shoe.” The Altra Escalante definitely hits that mark, and it appears to have been designed with that exact quote in mind. They simply melt away when you put them on and let your feet do what they’re supposed to do. The new knit upper from Altra is excellent; there are no hot spots or rough parts to speak of and it is exceptionally durable, with neither shoe’s upper showing any significant signs of wear after 150 miles of running and walking around the city. As always, Altra’s Footshape fit, with its wide toe-box and anatomically-inspired last, is like a breath of fresh air in running shoes. My toes can splay out as much as they need to, and the fit remains comfortable even after my feet inevitably swell during long, hot runs in the summer heat. I’ve never had anything even resembling a blister in the Escalantes.
There is one very minor issue: they can feel just a tad sloppy on faster workouts like tempo runs, downhills and sharp turns. The knit uppper, while being supremely comfortable and accommodating, allows the foot to move around on top of the midsole a little too much, making for some awkward and occasionally uncomfortable landings. This is a very small complaint, however, and definitely doesn’t affect landings during long, steady runs. For that reason, I’m still giving the Escalantes a 10/10 when it comes to fit; it doesn’t get much better than this.
Performance – 10/10
The Escalantes get a perfect score for performance. They can handle just about anything I can throw at them, they’re extremely durable, and the new Altra Ego midsole material somehow provides luxurious cushioning combined with snappy responsiveness. I’m not too sure what else to write on this subject. They’re one of the best-performing shoes I’ve ever worn.
Of particular note is the durability of the outsole, especially on the outside edge of the forefoot. Most of my shoe wear is at that location because my feet supinate. Not so with the Escalantes. The rubber from the FootPod outsole holds up very well and hasn’t shredded off like it does with many of the other shoes I’ve worn recently.
Looks – 7/10
This category is the only one where I docked some significant points, although they’re entirely superficial. Currently the Escalante only comes in a kind of bland red, a bland blue and a bland black/grey. They did have a Boston Marathon-themed version that was mildly interesting, but that has quickly disappeared. The Escalantes certainly won’t turn any heads, but you don’t really need ’em to.
Value – 10/10
The Escalante is a $130 shoe, but I believe it’s worth every penny. First of all, most other top-quality running shoes nowadays are just as expensive, if not drastically more expensive (Those On Cloud shoes, which I have not reviewed, as well as some Hokas and Adidas top out around $200 *jaw drops*). Second, I believe you actually end up getting a ton of shoe for your money with the Escalantes. As I mentioned, I’ve been running in mine since April and I absolutely love walking around in them as well. The fit and comfort is so extraordinary that I find myself keeping them on at the office, instead of changing to my office shoes.
On top of this, the Altra Ego cushioning has remained extremely resilient and shows no signs of bottoming out like standard EVA foam. Also, the outsole has durable rubber where it is needed, so I am not shredding the midsole and shortening the life of the shoe.
Verdict – 37
The people at Altra have served up a winner in the Escalante. It’s everything I look for in a running shoe: lightweight, responsive, supremely comfortable, durable… I could go on and on. It’s definitely my favorite shoe right now, and has beat out the Clifton 3 as #1 in my rotation. I now rotate between that and the Altra One 2.5 and Altra One 3.0 (Reviews will follow soon).
I have read a handful of reviews saying that the Escalante’s knit upper doesn’t breathe well, but that is about the only negative I’ve been able to find at all, and I haven’t even noticed it myself.
This shoe is a must-try for any serious forefoot-striking runner and will definitely be my top training shoe for the foreseeable future. Excellent work Altra!