Compared to all the other shoes tested, the Paradigm 3.0 is a great option for runners who want to experiment with zero drop and the Altra brand. The shoe was soft, very comfortable, and offered a forgiving ride for first-time zero drop runners due to the large amount of cushioning. However, several testers found the length to feel a bit short.
Out of the box, the Paradigm 3.0 is an extremely comfortable shoe. Underfoot is a consistent 32mm of soft Dual Layer EVA midsole that absorbs impact flawlessly, making the Paradigm 3.0 the perfect shoe for recovery runs. The newly redesigned upper gets welcomed improvements over the Paradigm 2.0, offering runners a more breathable and flexible feeling from the upper. Few structural elements are built into the upper and heel counter, while the ankle collar sits much lower than other shoes.
Characterized by a wide toe box and zero drop, Altra has a very unique fit compared to the mainstream running shoes, which can create an awkward feeling for first-time wearers. Relative to past Altra shoes, the toe box felt much smaller in both length and width, venturing closer towards a traditional toe box versus previous Paradigm models. A few testers noted issues with the length and found their toes rubbing against the top of the shoe, which became a serious issue for those with Morton’s toe.
Our testers all agreed the Paradigm 3.0 was way too soft to score high in responsiveness. Downward forces placed against the Dual Layer EVA midsole were absorbed with no trouble, but it offered little propulsion back.
Running fast while wearing the Paradigm 3.0 was somewhat of a chore. Testers found that due to the massive amounts of cushioning the shoe performed best at slower speeds and was hard to get moving. A slight increase in weight from its predecessor also contributes to the slowness of this shoe.
The Paradigm 3.0 is a soft, slow cruising shoe and was one of the better riding Altra running shoes tested. Instead of what testers called “a blocky feel” from previous Altra models, the Paradigm 3.0 had a smooth transition at the toes. Altra’s zero drop design favors those who strike towards the forefoot with a smooth transition, while heel strikers will find a flat ride. Placement of a GuideRail along the medial side of the rear foot is designed to add support, but due to it’s soft, natural feels there was little to be had.