Altra continues to improve on one of their maintstays, the Superior with the introduction of the 3.5. With minor improvements only, this is definitely just a tweak, but also a classic “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” mentality. When it comes to the Superior, this is a recipe for success because when it comes to lower cushion trail shoes with major grip, it’s hard to find better.
The upper is an updated breathable quick drying air mesh and works well. When you are out on the trails either in mud, rain, etc the shoes wicks water quickly and cleans up well. While not water proof, they definitely handle the elements well. You won’t find a ton of structural support in the Superior 3.5, but really these arent meant for that.
The shoe also features a 5mm contoured footbed as well as a removable stone guard that you can choose to use or not use depending on terrain and the amount of flexibility you are looking for overall. The Superior also has their 4 point GaiterTrap which makes adding additional water protection very simple.
The midsole is a combination of EVA and Altra’s custom blend A-Bound technology with their InnerFlex technology as well. This leads to a more rigid and more responsive transition and honestly really delivers on the climbs.
The outsole is composed of their DuraTread Rubber which handles the variety of materials thrown at it really well. There was no noticeable breakdown at all regardless of what they were taken across. The Superior also features their TrailClaw technology which really is a reference to their amazing lug design and the ability for these things to grip. Which they do and why they are beasts on climbs and descents.
Style & Aesthetics
The Superior 3.5 looks like every Superior you’ve seen before and visually only feels like a color change from the 3.0. It comes in 3 colors for men and women, but more than anything when you see them it just feels like an Altra shoe.
The Superior is a grip machine. These things track in mud, gravel, whatever, and especially pay off on the uphills. The shoe is comfortable on your foot generally, but with the performance and lower stack height, there is also quite a bit of ground feel. At longer distances, I wasn’t tremendously happy with this and would switch to the Lone Peak or Olympus, but for real fast ones and especially runs where I foresaw a lot of ups and downs, the Superiors fit the bill quite nicely.
The Altra Superior 3.5 is a minor update to the platform, but it doesn’t change the value and quality of the shoe. These things are a beast and if you are a trail runner who values speed and works well with less cushion, then you’d be hard pressed to find better. The Lone Peak is a bit softer and features more cushion, but with that comes weight and the Superior is it’s quicker, lighter, baby brother.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 9.6oz (size 9)
- Drop: 0mm heel/toe
- Type: Neutral Trail
- Stack Height: 21mm
- MSRP: $110.00
- Available: Now