Altra Superior 5 Review
April 15, 2021
The BadFit - Pressure at ankle connectionLace securityNot enough cushion for long days
The Altra Superior 5 has a classic low profile feel on the trails. For a naturally flexible shoe with a wide toe box, it is surprisingly nimble and grippy in most settings. Those strengths make it a non-ideal boulder hopping or snow running choice (especially if the boulders are wet), but do make it an easy choice for a quick outing on nearly every other type of terrain. The lack of bulk and minimalist nature also make the Superior 5s appropriate for everyday use, whether running or walking, for those looking to improve foot and arch strength. The fit is consistent for the whole trip, regardless of how many hills and switchbacks you throw at them.
My biggest issue with the Superior 5s, both in comparison to previous Superior models and to the other shoes in the 2021 class is a mild but persistent fit issue with the top of the tongue and laces. The updated upper (softer and more form fitting material with an extra lace hole) and tongue design (medial side fully stitched, lateral side gussetted) worked against eachother to create a situation in which the tied laces would rise up above the top of the tongue, creating a pressure point at the base of the ankle/foot connection. In order to prevent this issue, I had to lace the shoe tighter than was otherwise comfortable for the top of my foot. I asked a friend with a similar shoe preference to wear the shoes while hiking with me and she did not experience the same issue, so this may be related to my personal preference to lace shoes fairly loosely. Both of us also found that the laces tended to untie quite easily, unless firmly double knotted.
To summarize, the Superior 5 is a great minimalistic choice for under 50k settings, over a variety of terrain types. Just make sure to check that the lacing works for your foot, especially if you have enjoyed previous Superior models!