Altra Solstice 2

Shoe Review: Altra Vanish-R vs. Altra Solstice

Are you looking for a super light racing flat? Do you love that barely there feeling in a road shoe? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, then let us introduce the Altra Vanish-R and the Solstice. These two shoes came in a little under the radar, meaning that literally we really didn’t expect them and honestly, didn’t know a lot of folks were asking for them. We are reviewing them together because they are two ends of a spectrum, yet both are focused on remaining ultralight and keeping you close to the ground.

Construction: Views

The upper on both shoes is nearly identical. They are both made of engineered mesh and little else and while the Solstice has a bit more material, these things are more of a second skin than an upper. The Vanish-R is about as thin as you can get without actually being an upper. It’s a little crazy honestly.

Altra Vanish-R Upper Views

Altra Solstice Upper Shots

Construction: Midsole

The mid on both are also very similar, but the Vanish-R is actually a bit more technically thought through. They added a TPU Propel Plate that should help with the responsive and forward motion. The Nike Zoom Fly and 4% have a similar element made of carbon, so while this is not new, it does take this very minimalist shoe up a level in terms of performance. The Solstice on the other hand feels very practical, nothing super compelling.

Altra Vanish-R Mid

Altra Solstice Mid

Construction: Outsole

Both shoes use a laminated rubber outsole which grips very well and should remain fairly durable. The Solstice truly looks like its going to wear faster given all the EVA, but so far no complaints.

Altra Vanish-R Outsole

Altra Vanish R 11

Altra Solstice Outsole

Altra Solstice 14

Style & Aesthetics

The Solstice comes in 4 colors for men and women and the Vanish-R is built as unisex and comes in 5 colors, so quite a lot of variety here to choose from. In terms of general aesthetics, they align very well with each other, but look a little odd in terms of the overall Altra lineup.

Run Test

The Altra Vanish-R are intense… and fast… and weird. They feel like almost nothing on your foot, but that additional layer of TPU makes them market responsive than you’d expect. They are made for speed days and that is where they will stay because they can wreak havoc on your legs. If your legs are strong and you can sustain, then more power to you because you will need it. These are built for younger and more seasoned, but just love the feeling on your foot.

The Altra Solstice aren’t too much different, double the weight, but double almost nothing is still very low. They still feel great on your foot, but there is something about it that is causing an internal struggle. Why not go with the Escalante instead is the big question. The upper is better, the mid more responsive, and the weight is nearly identical. This one just doesn’t feel right in terms of the lineup.

Overall Conclusion

Let’s be honest, the Vanish-R is made for a very distinct group of runners and most people are not those. That being said, if you are one or if you really want to try and shoe that feels like nothing underfoot, almost barefoot, then it is very compelling. The Solstice feels a lot like what the One used to be, but also feels a little down market. It is difficult really to find a spot for this one given a small jump gets you in a much nicer model.

Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability

Altra Solstice

  • Weight: 6.9oz (size 9)
  • Drop: 0mm heel/toe
  • Type: Neutral
  • Stack Height: 23mm
  • MSRP: $90.00
  • Available: Now

Altra Vanish-R

  • Weight: 3.9oz (size 9)
  • Drop: 0mm heel/toe
  • Type: Neutral
  • Stack Height: 14mm
  • MSRP: $100.00
  • Available: Now