It is always great to see new shoes from Altra and not only are we talking about a new version of a shoe in this case but something altogether new, the Altra Rivera. It takes some of the things we know and love about the Escalante and finds a midpoint just below the Torin to add a whole new shoe to the Altra lineup. There has been a lot of conversation around whether this replaces the Torin and it does not, but instead will sit just below it in their lineup. You can expect a new Torin in the fall. And now on with the show…
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- A slightly trimmer and snugger spin on the tried and true Torin.
- EGO-based midsole, breathable mesh upper, and highly flexible.
- Weighs in at 9.1oz or 258g for a US Men’s 9, 6.9oz or 196g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 26mm of cushion and has a 0mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and comes in 5 colors for Men and Women.
The Escalante has always been a fun shoe for a lot of runners, it is the flagship performance shoe in the Altra lineup primarily because of its use of their EGO midsole as well as its lower stack. From there, you had to jump to the Torin and you lost a lot of what you might have loved about the Escalante when you made that move. Sensing that, Altra creates the Riviera which leverages parts of both shoes and combines them into one. A roomier more structured upper, additional cushion, but still that EGO midsole.
The Rivera upper is incredibly roomy and this is going to be positive and a negative for a lot of runners. Some folks love a lot of room up top and as long as you can get a good solid lockdown, then the rest of your foot can kind of relax. That is the case with the Rivera however some people like that really snug sock like fit and you will not find that here. Instead you will find something that is more accommodating, moderately padded, just enough but not too much basically, just something easy going. The EGO midsole feels great underfoot and having 4mm more of it than you’ve ever had on the Escalante is definitely a plus.
Out on the roads, the Rivera performs really well as an easy everyday shoe. The EGO midsole allows for an ability to turn things up and down as you like and distances from half marathon down are very comfortable. It’s also a great partner shoe to the Escalante if you want to use that as your primary racer or your speed day shoe, but that roominess in the upper keeps the Rivera itself from falling onto the performance side. You can of course wear it for longer distances if you like a bit more ground feel, but that’s where we might jump up to the Torin or even the Paradigm and opt for the extra cushioning. The Rivera outsole is actually a high point, the FootPod tech really creates targeted landing areas and supports you in ways you’ve never felt before. It is a clever design and highly effective.
It is challenging to find a lot of negatives with a Rivera, but we want to offer a few quick thoughts. First, the upper is very very roomy and that just may not work for everyone. Narrower feet will definitely feel like there’s too much movement here and it’s a problem we’ve seen historically with Altra shoes including the forefoot of the Escalante Racer. Normal to wider feed should be totally fine, but some of that will depend on how you like your shoe to feel. Second, we wish they would be more open to color in their palette. Yes they have a light blue and they have the gray/orange but for the most part, it is a very muted simple looking shoe and that does a disservice to its ability to perform.
Quick note, if this is your first go-around with a shoe that as a 0mm drop or Balanced Cushioning as Altra calls it, then take your time. It can be hard on the lower leg, especially the calves, so make sure you make the transition slowly. Also trying shortening that stride and landing more mid-foot, are all recipes for a better Altra experience.
The upper features a breathable engineered mesh that is quite roomy and inevitably might be too much room for narrower feet. The tongue is lightly padded and non-gusseted and it uses standard flat non-stretch laces. The heel collar is also moderately padded and the heel itself lacks a definitive counter in favor of structural elements that have been added on the lateral and medial sides.
For most people who like Altra you fall into one of two camps. People who love their EGO midsole because they have tried the Escalante and like a more responsive feel and then people who like them or traditional midsole design, Quantic or other. We think there are elements that are great in both areas, but there is no question that the EGO delivers a better balance of performance along with cushioning. With the Rivera, you are getting 26mm of cushion which is ample for most everyday runners. Altra also designed a technology called InnerFlex which are grooves within the midsole that enhance overall flexibility across the entire foot.
Altra actually put a lot of thought into their outsole design using a technology they call FootPods. If you note the actual placement of the contact points on the outsole map closely to the bones and tendons of the human foot providing more ground cushioning at those specific points of need. They also use just a thin membrane of rubber across that EGO midsole with these little teeth to help with traction on the road while also increasing durability.
Style & Aesthetics
The Rivera is innocent-looking in its design and if anything is a bit disingenuous to its actual performance. While there are a few brighter colors available, for the most part, the pallet is relatively muted and we would have loved to see them brighten it up a bit.
The Rivera is a really welcome addition to the Altra lineup. Escalante runners needed an everyday counterpart with more cushion and a little more in the upper and the Rivera delivers on all of that. If you are interested in trying a shoe with a minimal drop, but we’re always a bit weary, then the Rivera can be a great transition shoe just like the Torin but with a little less stack height. The EGO midsole is fantastic for both cushioning and responsiveness and while the shoe might seem simple, the Rivera works really well for your easy everyday runs. Our only watch-out is for those that prefer a snugger fit up top or runners with narrower feet.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.