Altra Paradigm 2.0 ReviewFebruary 6, 2017
- Roomy toe box for wide feet
- Very light
- Suitable for heavier runners
- Firm outsole reduces ride quality
- Zero drop not for beginners
- Midsole requires some use to soften up
Like other Altra running shoes, the Paradigm 2.0 is a niche shoe designed to serve those who have issues with mainstream running shoes restricting toe splay. Best suited for heavier runners and those who require a roomy toe box, the Altra’s design is a favorite among ultra runners looking for a natural and relaxed toe splay. New for this season, the Paradigm 2.0 gets an improved upper for better durability, increased reflectivity and new color options.
The Altra Paradigm 2.0 offers neutral runners a very cushioned ride with zero heel drop. Designed with Altra’s Footshape toe box, the Paradigm 2.0 fosters a natural and relaxed toe splay for maximum comfort and stability. A zero heel-to-toe drop offers equal cushioning throughout the midsole and is designed to promote a natural, low-impact running stride.
Sitting down, the Paradigm 2.0 is extremely comfortable. The upper is flexible and plenty of padding surrounds the heel collar. However, once up and around, the Paradigm 2.0 feels as if you’re walking on a firm platform. The Footpod outsole material is extra firm, which reduces the midsole ability to absorb impact, contributing to the awkward feel.
The Paradigm 2.0 fits unlike any other running shoe on the market. Altra’s claim to fame is their extra wide toe box, which is designed to follow the shape of your foot for “better comfort, balance, and running efficiency.” Initially, the large toe box feels loose and odd. One tester noted having issues with the topsole feeling lumpy, noting “it felt like my heel was sinking below my toes into the mush–and a lumpy feel on the top-sole that turned into a hot spot where the arch meets the ball of my foot.”
Poor flexibility throughout the forefoot severely affects the Paradigm 2.0’s ability to respond. Despite having a zero drop, there was way too much foam under the forefoot, which negatively affected how force was transferred to the ground.
Despite being the lightest shoe tested in the comfort category, the Paradigm 2.0 was the slowest. Try flexing the midsole and you’ll quickly see the Paradigm 2.0 has no flexibility to it. With 31mm of cushioning under the toe box (more then any other shoe tested), it’s impossible to get a nice roll off the toes to pick up the pace.
The combination of a zero drop and 31mm of cushioning underfoot gives the Paradigm 2.0 a rather clunky and platform-like feel. The zero drop, which favors those who naturally transition to forefoot running, offered little forgiveness for rear-footed strikes. Underfoot, the midsole took awhile to break in and soften up.
Cory is a Santa Barbara, CA based athlete, online running coach and freelance journalist specializing in running and climbing related content and gear review.