Shoe Review: Altra Superior 4.0
This is one that everyone has been waiting for. A perennial favorite among trail runners, the all new Altra Superior 4. We are and have always been Altra fans and this stems from any number of things they do well whether it is their engagement with the trail running community or the thoughtfulness they put in to the actual shoe design. That being said, we are always wary of their updates and always wondering how much different it’s going to be. We are very happy to say the Altra Superior 4 is everything we have been waiting for from this model.
The upper on the Superior 4 has been fully redesigned with an all new seamless wrap-around engineered knit that looks more like an overlay than anything. It flexes well and still provides a decent level of protection from the elements as well as breathability. It also adds a whole new rounded heel instead of the prior squared off version from the 3.5s. There is also a whole new tongue system which takes getting used to, whether it is better or not… to each their own.
The Superior was never known for the amount of cushion given it is designed to be the lowest stack trail runner Altra offers, but this doesn’t mean you want a ton of ground feel and absolutely nothing under your foot. The 21mm of Altra’s proprietary Quantic foam gives you a nice amount of comfort, but more importantly gives you a ton of responsiveness. These things feel quick and bouncy as anything.
Never one to disappoint in this department, the Superior 4 features Altra’s TraiClaw technology that rips across every surface without any problem. It does perform better on rough, rocky, and muddy environments and due to their sticky MaxTrac tech, you really hold your ground. They shine the most when you get them on a downhill. The new lug layout makes the descents super controlled and fast.
Style & Aesthetics
The design of the Superior 4 is all new. Gone is the old mesh upper replaced by this new knit that look more like visual panels. It’s actually a really interesting design because it doesn’t look necessarily like your typical running shoe, road or trail. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually really stylish, but just doesn’t look like what might expect. Also, I always love a little more pop of color on shoes, so I’d love to see a little more done with the trim work in the upper from a style perspective. It comes in three colorways for men and for women and like always the women’s shoe is designed for women, it is not a straight take down of the men’s shoe. It’s one of Altra’s biggest selling points.
So they’ve been updated, they look totally different, and now you’re probably ask how they perform. Out of the box they are a dream on the foot. The sizing is in line with all other Altra shoes and while the new tongue takes a little getting used to, they fit and feel really good.In run, the good news is they perform like they always have and in fact feel very similar, just lighter and more cushioned. The upper I think provides a bit more control than it ever has before, yet still breathes remarkably well. The 3.5 and 3.0 versions were starting to feel a little sloppy and this updated upper gives you a little more control over this side to side sloshing. It is still not a cushion shoe or even a distance shoe for us, so if you want that then check out the TIMP 1.5. The Superior 4 skews more towards a racing shoe because it’s so light and grips so well. My biggest gripe might be on the outsole as I am not getting the stickiness they are pitching. The lugs of course give you some control, but I had times when these almost felt slippery. I’ll keep on it of course and see how they wear in.
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The bottom line is the Altra Superior 4 is a fun shoe. It’s nimble and quick underfoot, and it really ticks all the boxes for a fun little quick racing trail shoe. We don’t think it’s a long distance shoe, but others love it so to each their own. We’ll always gravitate towards a bit more cushion, but the updated upper gives you a ton more control so worth the switch. I do wish the shoe looked as fun as it performs, but if that is my only gripe, then they’ve done a great job. This is going to score very high on a lot of people’s lists.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 7.9oz (size 9)
- Drop: 6mm heel/toe
- Type: Neutral (Cushioned)
- Stack Height: 21/15mm (heel/toe)
- MSRP: $110.00
- Available: Now