Altra Paradigm ReviewDecember 5, 2014
- Good cushioning
- Light for class weight
- Stride efficiency
- Wide toe box
- Wider toe box than most want, poor aesthetic design, upper
- Too much fabric in the upper
The Altra Paradigm is a cushioned trainer competing with the Hoka One One line and other maximalist cushioned shoes. The 34mm stack height of EVA cushioning gave a comfortable yet supportive ride while feeling faster than the Asics GT 2000’s and the New Balance Fresh Foam. The Paradigm is heavier and felt slower than Hoka One One’s Clifton or Huaka however is more durable for the same price tag or less (respectively). This shoe is best for the long distance runner who wants a lightweight neutral shoe with ample
Altra has a niche spot on the maximalist market due to their wide toe box and zero drop foot bed. The wide toe box could not only accommodate forefoot deformities but also allows for toe splay. The Altra Paradigm’s A-bound material abuts the foot, compresses 2x less than EVA and therefore prevents your foot from sinking into the massive 34mm of EVA cushioning. The zero drop naturally loads the Achilles to promote an efficient and injury preventative stride.
Runners with a narrow forefoot or running short distances should look for something other than the Altra Paradigm shoe. The Paradigm’s toe box is the most prominent feature of the shoe, allowing for toe splay and catering to the long distance/ ultra runner. I have an average foot and was surprised with little slippage on 20+ mile runs. The EVA cushioning provided ample absorption. The upper was cinched with flat laces therefore a thin tongue resulted in no irritation over the dorsal foot. The forefoot fabric is extensive and did gather when really clinching down for a snug fit.
With zero drop and mid foot striking, the Achilles is naturally loaded lending efficiency and speed. I had no trouble over the elevation gain of the NYC marathon and this shoe felt lighter than 9.9oz.
Under the metatarsal heads there is a pivot point transitioning from mid foot to toes. I thought this might be a sweet spot for landing to maximize efficiency however this was not the case. Overall the mid sole is extremely firm with a deep flex line offering a touch of mobility transitioning to the forefoot. Despite the enormous amounts of EVA there to was no loss of rebound and thanks to a neutral foot, this shoe flew.
Heeluxe, our shoe testing laboratory partner, tests the responsiveness of a shoe by measuring how thick a running shoe is and multiplying it by how much pressure the forefoot foot feels while running. The softer or thicker the midsole, the less responsive a shoe will feel, but the more comfortable the shoe will generally feel. The thinner or firmer a midsole is, the more power you’ll feel at toe-off.
Even after 200+ miles the blended EVA and A-bound sole showed no equating or compression lines. The only sign of true wear was local to the outer forefoot, a flaw in my running stride and easily disseminated by this shoe.
At $130 this shoe is priced correct in the maximal environment. For the amount of cushioning and minimal wear after long mileage the Paradigm is worth the price.