Altra Superior 5 Review

David Garcia
April 15, 2021
Gear Rating

The Good

Excellent ground feel Soft, responsive midsole cushion for comfort and agility Wide forefoot and toe box for toe splayLightweight and agile on turnover

The Bad

Overall shoe volume is too little Lacks rigidity and support Partially sewn-in tongue causes it to slide to one sideLace pressure due to low volume

Name:  David Garcia

Shoe Tested (Brand/Model):  Altra Superior 5






The Altra Superior 5 is lightweight and built for speed.  It is trimmed down for weight savings but still maintains that classic Altra foot shaped toe box.  The Quantic midsole is soft but still responsive to give you comfort while maintaining its agile nature.  The Superior 5 is built for those who want a minimal shoe and excellent ground feel under foot.  





One of the most noticable aspects of the Superior 5 is the overall low volume of the shoe.  Granted, I have a bit of a high volume foot, but it was immediately evident when I tried lacing up the shoes.  From the attached photo, you can see that the laces span the entire instep of my foot. This is in part a function of the location of the eyelets creating the volume issue.  This has two negative effects that I have noticed.  One, it creates some lace pressure because so much of the top of my foot is in contact with the laces as opposed to being secured by the sidewalls of the shoe.  Second, with the tongue being attached to the upper on one side, it tends to slide over as opposed to staying in the center.  The only solution I found was to wear a very thin sock and to keep the laces looser than I wanted.




The Altra Superior 5 is a super sensitive and flexible lightweight trail speedster for those who enjoy zero drop, minimalist running.  It weighs in at under 9 oz and is every bit as nimble as you can imagine.  The Quantic midsole on the Superior 5 is soft and flexible and really gives you great ground feel.  I'm really impressed with how easy it is to run in these and be aware of everything under your feet.  I thought the flexibility of the Superior 5 was very apparent as my foot seemed to really wrap itself around the uneven terrain.  Again, if you're a minimalist or even barefoot runner, the Altra Superior 5 might be the closest thing to bridge the gap between barefoot or natural running to cushioned trail runners.  I didn't do any super long runs in these considering the lack of cushion.  I could tell that my foot was more tired after running in these than other shoes.  The trade off to having a sensitive shoe with a soft midsole is that you feel every rock and root that you step on.  I didn't find the rock plate insert to be all that helpful in protecting my foot from getting beat up.  The Superior 5 is an excellent shoe for those speedy days on the trail.  I feel like the Superior 5 can handle all kinds of trail conditions; however, if you run lots of technical or rocky trails, you may feel it afterwards.  I would recommend the Superior 5 for short to medium distance runs on easier trails. 



FIT 4/10


The Altra Superior 5 missed the mark on fit with my foot.  The actual shape of the shoe worked well.  I found that past generations of this shoe were wide through the toe box but narrowed too quickly for my foot putting undue pressure on my 5th metatarsal.  That wasn't the case with the Superior 5.  It was plenty wide enough through the forefoot and midfoot that I had no issues.  My problem with the fit is due to the low volume.  Granted, the Superior 5 fit like a tight glove, but it was too stuffy, especially when I was wearing a cushioned sock.  It seemed slightly better with an ultra thin sock, but then I had to deal with increased lace pressure across the instep.  Unfortunatley, I ended up keeping the laces loose to keep the lace pressure at bay, but ended up sacrificing some of the foot security on uneven terrain.  Thus, I thought it the Superior 5 worked better on less technical terrain for me.  I believe the Altra Superior 5 runs pretty true to size.



RIDE 5/10


The Altra Superior 5 sports a 21mm Quantic midsole that I feel is softer than previous editions but is still reactive to all trail conditions.  It provided marginal protection from rocks as the softness was prone to wrap around what ever was underneath.  This tended to tire me a bit more than expected; however, I still found the Superior 5 to be a very nimble and athletic shoe.  Its fast and efficient on turnover which makes it a joy to wear on easy trails when you want to pick up the pace.  Because of the lower stack height, the Superior 5 also feels very stable.





I thought the rubber of the Maxtrac outsole was soft and sticky.  With its flexibility and the soft Quantic midsole, Altra found a good blend of midsole and outsole performance that made the Superior 5 feel grippy on all kinds of terrain.  The downside to all of this is the lack of protection it offers you on sharp rocks or really uneven terrain, despite inserting the rock plate under the insole.  The upper affords you with some decent protection from the elements and debris with the full leather sidewalls and integrated tongue.  The downside to the tight nylon upper is the lack of breathability for hot summer runs and its inability to drain water for creek crossings.


MSRP $150.00