Thursday, April 4, 2019

Torin 3.5 Mesh review

I was so wrapped up in loving the Escalante that I missed out on the Torin 3.5 Mesh. I've been a fan of the mainstay of Altra's line, and they seem to be making continued progress on making small improvements without trashing the basics  - a supportive zero drop shoe that is a great everyday trainer. 

The 3.0s were a major improvement over the 2.5s; this upgrade is a minor improvement but has significant changes. 

The 3.5 Mesh differs from the 3.0 in the following ways (see my 3.0 review here):

- There is an improved mesh upper in this version. It is more comfortable to me, especially over the big toe, than the 3.0. This version is soft and has the kind of give in the material that I like in an upper - no hot spots after 90 miles. When I first tried on the shoe it fit a little tight, but loosened up very quickly.

- There is a lot more support around the heel collar. Some dislike it and the fact it goes "up" the back of the Achilles heel; I find it super comfy and have no issues here.

- They have a bit of an inner stretch booty going on (you can see it under/left of tongue) which works well to improve hold.

- The midsole feels a bit more firm to me - not as firm as the 2.5, but a bit firmer than the 3.0. I love the feel of this shoe - and it doesn't feel like it is getting "flat" yet unlike past Torins which start to lose resiliency around the 100 mile mark. It is a bit softer than the 3.5 Knit, a point made by Road Trail Run's review.

I've had some foot pain from running in the very flexible Escalantes so have been wearing the Torins for all my runs over the past couple of weeks. Out of necessity I'm running a couple of races (10M and 10K) in them, and find them totally acceptable to wear - not too heavy nor too warm. The Torin 3.5 Knit, in comparison, feel way too bulky and hot to race in in warmer weather. The Knit has a better feeling upper in terms of grip and fit, but the tightness of the weave broils my feet in anything other than sub freezing temps.

I'm looking forward to the soon to arrive Torin 4.0s. From Road Trail Run's photos they look similar to the 3.5s re the upper and have improved outsoles with more rubber coverage (hopefully they exhibit better road wear for me then past Torins -- they scuff/wear quite a bit especially when I run downhills!).

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Altra Escalante 1.5 and Escalante Racer review

I was almost a believer in the first edition of the Escalante. Altra's EGO midsole foam blew me away - it was light and bouncy and had terrific durability - what you hoped their A-Bound compound (Torin and Lone Peak) should be. A-Bound loses bounce very quickly and becomes dead foam in 100 miles or so in my experience over several generations of Torins and LPs.

Unfortunately, the Escalante 1.0 had an upper that didn't provide any support on any kind of corner. I have a memory of running in them on a wet track where my foot was sliding off the footbed a half an inch on turns - it just didn't have any kind of lockdown. And they stretched out as well - so they became a little baggy after purchase.

The Escalante 1.5 remedied the weaknesses of the first version. The shoe has improved the mesh by creating more reinforcement on the inside and outside of the shoe with a thicker weave - it didn't resort to uncomfortable straps or wires for a better lock down. Now, it provides enough support to me so that I didn't experience the sliding from 1.0.

The weave under the logo is thicker and has less "give"

Altra firmed up the midsole material just a tiny bit - its not quite as marshmallow-y as the first version, but keeps it pretty close to what made the ride for the Escalante 1.0 so special. It prevents the foam between the bottom of the rubber outsole from bottoming out (the spot between the rubber pods with "Innerflex" bulged out and wore on the ground in 1.0 - now it doesn't).

The rubber outsole is super durable - unlike the pods on every model of Torin it doesn't wear down to the foam. I've had three pairs - the lifespan of the 1.5s is well north of 300 miles - I do feel the EGO foam losing some resiliency around that point but they continue to be wearable and show no loss of integrity in the upper.

The Racer series has a completely different upper than the 1.5. It isn't a stretchy mesh - it is a harder less flexible weave that provides even more support on a track. It is more aerated with bigger holes to aid in ventilation. And the midsole compound is even firmer than the 1.5. I'd rate the three shoes like this, with a 10 being the bounciest:

Escalante 1.0: 9
Escalante 1.5: 8.25
Racer: 7.5

Despite the changes in the upper and midsole, I have found the Racer to be very comfortable on both the road and track, and wouldn't hesitate to wear it in distances including a half-marathon. For a full 26.2, I like the extra cushion of the 1.5 version.

I haven't put many miles on the Racer, as I generally prefer the 1.5 for training and save the Racer for, well, racing.  

The Escalante 2 will provide more support in the upper and slightly more rubber on the outsole , according to - but in my view, this isn't necessary. Altra has a super good thing going with this model, and here's to hoping they don't destroy what is my favorite shoe of theirs to this point.