Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Altra Adams

Altra Running touts three primary attributes that set its shoes apart from other products on the market: zero drop heel-to-toe ratio, foot-shaped soles, and gender-specific models. The Adams (or Eves for women) are Altra's minimalist offering, weighing 4.7 ounces with a 3.4-millimeter rubber sole.

The Altra Adams right out of the box.
The Adams feature a Velcro closure system instead of laces and feature a breathable stretch and mesh upper. With two removable insoles, the shoes offer three cushioning options: 1.) the seamless foot bed, which provides you with the most ground feel with just the rubber sole between your foot and the ground; 2.) the flat "Strengthen" insole, which gives you a little cushioning; and 3.) the molded "Support" insole, which contours the sole and provides the most cushioning of the three choices.

My pair of Altra Adams arrived at the beginning of September, and my first impressions were very positive. In the past month, I've logged 87 miles in the shoes, including the Akron Marathon. I've run long and short distances, and in dry and wet conditions. I've run on roads, multi-purpose paths, and rough trails. The only thing I haven't dealt with (yet) is snow.

The fit of the Adams is similar to a water shoe, slipper-like and flexible. The extra wide toe box feels a bit loose, but is unnoticeable after a few miles of adjustment. My first run in these shoes was on the Buckeye Trail, and I kicked more than a few tree roots.

However, now I've completely acclimated to running in the Adams and enjoy how comfortable my toes feel without being constricted and allowed to fully splay. (I can stretch my toes as wide as possible and just barely touch the edges of the toe box.)

Traction is solid, but can get a bit dicey on muddy terrain. Take it slow on wet trails.

What I Love
The ride of the Adams is exactly what I've been looking for in a minimalist shoe. The shoes are light weight, thin and comfortable. They meet my 3F criteria of flat, flexible and providing lots of ground feel. The Adams are quite comfortable without socks, but I've worn them comfortably with wool socks (and no insole) in the recent cold weather.

The philosophy of Altra is refreshing. This company isn't just placating the "minimalist/barefoot" crowd with a couple products to cash in on the trend. They promote learning to run with good form, and all their products reflect that message. They get it.

What I Hate
The cinching straps work fine in securing the Adams to my feet, but the placement of the lower strap caused a blister during rainy run prior to the marathon. I would much prefer laces.

I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't use the "Support" insole much. However, in the interest of a thorough review, I ran four miles last night with the insole. It's just too springy. I noticed a tendency to stomp more, as my foot seemed to seek the ground feel it has grown used to receiving. While this insole is not for me, it may be beneficial to runners who are new to minimalist shoes. (The "Strengthen" insoles have proven to be a nice blend of cushioning and ground feel.)

Who Should Buy
The Altra Adams are a good choice for any runners seeking a minimal shoe. With the two insole options, these shoes would be helpful to new converts to the minimalist movement. Barefooters who run in cold climates might find the Adams a good tool when some protection from the elements is necessary. And finally, runners interested in the Vibram Five Fingers but unsure about the individual toe sockets will find the Adams a worthy alternative.

A New Hope
If you dislike the notion of Velcro straps instead of laces, worry not. Altra is releasing a laced version, to be called the Samson and Delilah, in early 2012, according to Minimalist Running Shoes. In case Altra is curious, no, I wouldn't mind a free pair to review, kthanksbye.

[Drunkard's note: The Altra Adams were purchased by me with a 40-percent discount coupon provided by Altra. Listed price is $99.99. I was not asked or paid to write this review. The opinions expressed in this blog post are mine.]


Anonymous said...

Interesting (and good) review. I wonder how well they keep stuff out.

Nitmos said...

But are they better than watermelon rinds and twine?

Jess said...

I'm not a minimalist runner, but I do like these shoe names! I wanna run in a pari of Delilahs because of the name alone!

Kelly said...

Thanks for the review. Do you wear socks with these shoes? If not, do the shoes get smelly?

I ask because after a month of running in my new Vibram Bikila LS's, they stink. I don't wear socks with them which I suppose is why they smell now, although I wonder if the individual toe boxes of the Vibrams help to trap the sweat/bacteria and promote the smell? Maybe the Altra's would be better this way?

I've taken to washing my vibrams weekly now so as not to offend the noises of anyone in a 6 ft. radius around me.

B. Kramer said...

I avoid socks when running, except in cold temps. So far, no stink. The Vibrams are notorious for their stench, yet I have had no problems with my KSOs so far. Good luck with all that. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Great review! Glad to hear the shoe is working out so well for you. The front strap can be frustrating at times, but it does provide some versatility. The Samson will provide that more performance based upper with the laces.

@Kelly, if you wear them a lot barefoot they will smell, but soak them in original dawn and rinse and air dry or use Stuffitts Shoe Savers and you will find they smell fresh and new! Works great for your FiveFingers as well. I find that I only ned to really wash mine after a really sweaty run or every few weeks.

@Jess, just because of the name you will love the shoe ;). For more cushion check out the Intuition

@Jamoosh, what are you trying to keep out?