Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Altra Paradigm 4.0 review - good first try but not there yet

This is a highly awaited and positively touted update of the Paradigm series. I did not run previously in the Paradigm, but the early praise of the 4.0 by Sam Winebaum on Road Trail Run got me interested.

A great looking pair of Altras - maybe the nicest yet.

See the StabiliPod at the outside of the shoe near the pinky toe and the heel.

On the inside, just a StabiliPod near the ball of the foot.

Excellent looking outsoles that should hold up for hundreds of miles. I wish the Torin looked like this.

Recommended by Altra for road, trail and cross training, the shoe is super comfortable - its one of those models where they feel absolutely perfect in the store and you know you must have them. The EGO material in the mid sole is luxurious, the toe box is ample but not too roomy, and the quality of the shoe is spectacular. The out sole has enough rubber on it to hold up to wear, but not too much. I couldn't resist.

Unfortunately for me, the shoe has two drawbacks that led me to return after two runs.

First, and most important, the shoes clip the inside of my ankle when running. When the right foot swings back the front left side of the right shoe can nick my left ankle. I've had this experience in Topo's Ultrafly (original - the second version shaved enough material that this doesn't happen). It is one of the drawbacks of natural style shoes that are big in the forefoot. It only happened a couple of times when running, but it was enough to scratch up my leg. 

Second, the shoe is just too bulky. I've been running in the Torin 3.5 knit which are really delightful in the cushion/ground feel tradeoff. Unfortunately, the Paradigm 4.0 is over the top in this department. That might not be a problem for people looking for a real cush shoe for either recovery or ultra road distances (I couldn't see wearing these on trails - I'd be tripping over rocks and roots with this stack height). But for me - my average daily run is in the 5 mile range, long around 10, and weekly miles sub 40 most of the time -- this is just too much shoe. If they took off a bit of the stack height and got the weight down by an ounce or two, this would be a super trainer for me.

I encourage Hoka enthusiasts - particularly people who love the Bondi or Clifton and think it could use more room in the toebox - to check out the Paradigm 4.0. But for me, I'll wait and see what they can do in the Paradigm 4.5 to address some of these issues.

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