Sunday, April 16, 2017

Altra Instinct 4.0 review

I still love my Torin 2.5s, but my Torins don't love me back as much. At least the heel doesn't.

As you can see, the rubber outsole on the heel smears off like cream cheese on a bagel after about 100 miles. The top photo is after 108 miles, the bottom photo is a previous pair after 158 miles. Clearly I scuff a little on the outside of the heel, but this never has ripped off a rubberized area like this.

Altras didn't have a terrific reputation for build quality - I read a lot of complaints out there about wearing through uppers, especially on trail shoes. Personally, I haven't had that issue on my Lone Peak 2.5s or 3.0s, and I didn't have wear issues on my Instinct 3.0s.

So, given that I want a little extra heel protection beyond what the Torin 2.5s provide, and I don't want to give up the Altra Foot Shape toebox, I tried the Instinct 4.0s (for men; for women, it's the Intuition 4.0) out once again. I had already bought and returned a pair of this latest model; the right shoe didn't feel the same as the left shoe (I notice the first run of shoes when they are first released, no matter who the manufacturer is, often have minor defects like this. I've had issues like this with Hoka when I get them right off the bat; I assume it takes a couple of manufacturing runs to hammer out the problems.) But given that I loved the 3.0s so much (see my review of the Instinct 3.0 here... The 3.5s left a lot to be desired, so I moved on), I decided to give them another chance given the great reviews they've been getting, and the fact I loved their grandfather the 3.0s.

I went for the grey/yellow pair after striking out with the black ones. I think I got a winning pair.

First of all, the Instincts have a lot more rubber on the bottom. There's a yellow layer - and a graphite layer of rubber around/underneath that in spots. Then there's the grey foam.

Here's a closer look:

And again with more of a side view:

It looks like its going to take a lot of scuffing to go through the yellow and graphite layers of rubber. And even if I do, the light grey foam underneath seems firmer and more durable than the light foam on the Torin.  It costs an ounce or so in weight, but given that the Torins aren't exactly racing flats at 9.1 ounces, an extra .9 ounces is not really noticeable.

The Instinct 4.0s are 3mm lower than the Torin 2.5s, which I prefer - it gives you a better ground feel.

A couple of noticeable differences...

The upper: The Instinct 4.0 is a little less form fitting than the Torin 2.5, yet, I'd say it is a tighter lacing grip. Sounds contradictory, but the Torin holds by being more molded to the foot while the Instinct relies more on the lacing.

I'd also say the Instinct 4.0 upper will be more comfy on hotter days with a more breathable mesh. But the Torin 2.5 upper didn't bother me on warmer spring days, and I have hot feet.

The midsole: The Instinct 4.0 is a firmer shoe with better road feel. The Torin 2.5 is more cushiony and pillowy. 

The outsole: The Instinct 4.0 looks to be a lot more durable. It definitely has a better grip given the additional rubber making contact with the ground. The Torin 2.5 relied on foam in a few spots which really has little gripping power. I ran a fairly tame trail 50K in the Instinct 3.0 and I see no reason why I couldn't do the same with these. Same goes for road marathons - I did with the Instinct 3.0 and these should be similar. Not sure they'd be great for faster stuff like a 5K where I found the Torin 2.5 to be pretty competent if not ultra speedy.

Looks: Altra continues to improve in the design department.  See the improvement from the Instinct 3.5 to the Instinct 4.0 -- looking more presentable in public, the little kids don't point at your feet and yell "freak".

Retail: $110. Hopefully I can get a full 250+ miles out of these. I'll be back and let you know how it goes.