Overly wide forefoot causes some mild foot sliding
The Altra Torin 3.5 Mesh provides flexibility, cushion and zero drop in a lighter weight package. While the new mesh upper and Nubuck Heel hold the rearfoot and midfoot well, the forefoot suffers from being a bit too wide and slightly short due to the toe guard. The Torin 3.5 will protect runners for long miles and recovery runs while keeping feet happy. However, don’t expect to break any land speed records due to the soft cushion. This shoe is best for longer miles and recovery runs.
Altra is known for continually tweaking their shoes to get perfect rides and fits. Hence the reason for their half versions. The Altra Torin 3.5 comes with a new upper and an integrated tongue to reduce sliding. Further improvements include reducing the volume of the midfoot in order to provide a slightly snugger feel. While the new upper is very apparent, the fit continues to be Altra-esque with a very wide forefoot and foot shape last. The ride provides natural cushioning with a high level of protection for long easy miles. The weight hovers at 8.4 ounces and with a 28mm stack height, the Altra Torin promises a large amount of cushioning with a lighter weight. However, while testers noted the lighter weight feel, actual run testing revealed that they still land on the soft side. These worked far better still for easy runs and long miles on the road, while testers found themselves reaching for other shoes when the run required uptempo or speed efforts. Overall testers were impressed with the updates, lighter weight and continued natural ride. However many wished for a bit more responsiveness to help with the softer cushioning.
Once testers put their foot is in the shoe, they loved how the wide upper did not cause any pressure points and the cushioning provided soft protection with each landing. The Altra Torin 3.5 is a plush shoe that also happens to be very stable due to the filled in arch and wider last. Testers felt this shoe was comfortable except for some pressure from the toe guard in the forefoot.
The majority of the comfort came from the very forgiving sole that provided easy and protected landings, while the wider shape gave testers plenty of room for their feet to splay. Testers all noted that the Torin’s new upper allowed for great breathability. This combined with the wider fit kept testers’ feet happy over many long and hot miles.
Altra has dialed in the heel of the Torin 3.5 Mesh well with a Nubuck Heel, which holds the rearfoot nicely without the harsh pressure of a heel counter. For those with Haglund deformities (heel bumps), this is a great shoe that will keep the back half of the foot secure. The front half of the shoe is typical Altra style—wide and foot shaped. Testers with average to narrow feet found that the Altra Torin 3.5 Mesh fit a little too wide in the forefoot, causing some mild slipping issues at speed or turning corners. Those with a higher volume forefoot however were in heaven.
The fit was fairly true to size for all reviewers. Some noted the significant toe guard up front made them feel like the shoe was short, but noted they had plenty of room between the tips of their toes and the end of the shoe. Testers discouraged sizing up due to the wider fit potentially causing too much room with a larger size.
Our team appreciated the wider fit especially on longer outings. Testers noted that the laces responded well to tightening and they were able to lock down the upper. However, based on the fit, many stated they regulated this shoe to recovery days to let their feet recover and breathe.
The cushioning and ride of the Altra Torin 3.5 is plush and flexible, which detracts from responsiveness. The softness of the midsole is great for long easy miles but does not lend to being able to pick up the pace. Testers found pace changes difficult in this shoe and kept this shoe exclusively for recovery or easy runs. Many found that this shoe protected their legs well but tended to not respond when they tried to run faster. Testers preferred this shoe on the roads as the sole provided great protection on longer pavement miles. Those used to trails stated that the softness of the shoe combined with the trails made the run a bit mushy.
The plushness of the midsole severely detracts from the speed of the Altra Torin 3.5. Testers found the shoe rewarded a slow easy pace far more than attempts at picking up speed. The flexibility of the sole further detracted from speed but traded in for increased comfort. Testers found they enjoyed this shoe far more for warm up and cool downs rather than actual workouts. The fit of the shoe further detracted from speed as many stated they had too much room for a good lock down in the toe box. Thus many testers had trouble with high speed due to excessive foot movement and the softer sole. However, for easy and low speed runs our team agrees these shoes worked great.
The plush ride, flexible sole and toe spring promote a comfortable roll from wherever you land to toe off. Testers were impressed that the flexibility and toe spring reduced pressure on the calves and kept the ride smooth despite the Altra Torin 3.5 Mesh being a zero drop shoe. The deep flex grooves allowed for smoothness and a more natural ride, which surprised a number of our testers given how much midsole was present. However, due to the softness of the midsole and decreased responsiveness, many testers noted they had trouble getting going in this shoe. Instead, the comfort and smoothness made the Torin 3.5 Mesh reward a relaxed pace during moderate to long easy distance runs. Despite the softer sole, many testers noted how stable the ride was due to the FootPod Outsole, wider last and Natural Ride System.
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HOW WE TESTED
Testing of our lightweight road shoes was performed by a committee of testers, both male and female. Our group consists of eight testers who wore the shoes for total distances of approximately 20 to 80 miles. Single runs ranged in distance from three to 26 miles, and included casual training as well as speed workouts and road racing. The majority of our testing is conducted on asphalt roads or all-weather tracks, but we occasionally venture off-road onto jeep trails or smooth trails. Each tester prepares a summary overview of how each shoe performed in the criteria of fit, comfort, responsiveness, ride quality, and speed, and he or she also includes any additional thoughts or observations about the shoes during the test period.
Dr. Matthew Klein PT DPT OCS is a doctor of physical therapy and Kaiser SoCal Sport Fellow. He is a long time competitive runner over a variety of distances. He has a keen interest in running shoes and has been researching and reviewing them for almost a decade.