Altra Escalante 2 Review
The Altra Escalante has been Altra’s most popular shoe since it’s launch. The one piece knitted upper was soft and stretchy to allow the shoes to fit lots of different shaped feet. The cushioning was flexible and soft. All built around Altra’s foot shaped last. Providing a very comfortable broad rounded toe box for your feet to spread and function.
So, how could Altra improve on such a popular shoe and have they managed to do so in the Escalante 2.0 ?
The main gripe over the years has been the stretchiness of the upper. To start with the very soft one piece stretchy upper was a major plus. However, over the years more customers have mentioned that when cornering at pace the upper stretches a bit too much and they don’t feel securely held on the shoes. For this reason the upper of the Escalante 2.0 is a bit different to the previous models. It’s still a one piece knitted upper and it still feels nice and soft. The difference is that the new upper of the Escalante 2.0 has more structure and less stretch. This holds the foot onto the shoe much better. Even when cornering at speed or on rough tracks. This extra structure isn’t gained by overlays or a chunky plastic heel cup. The knitted upper is simply made thicker where structure is required. There is no heel cup so the heel will still stretch around your heels no matter what shape they are. When laced up the upper pulls in around the foot holding you onto the shoe.
The upper will be a plus for all runners except those with large bunions who might find that the upper no longer stretches as easily over the bunion. Although it would be worth a try. As the upper is still broad with a reasonable volume.
The first generation of the Altra Escalante had a very soft cushiony feel. This was deemed to be a bit too soft for a shoe designed as a racer/trainer. So, each model since has had a firmer more responsive ride. The Escalante 2 is no different. The ride is firmer and more responsive than the Escalante 1.5. This makes the shoe feel more natural with more ground feel. The shoe is also more flexible. When running quickly I found this to be a real improvement. The shoe is still cushioned enough for long steady runs but, for most runners will feel a bit thin and flexible for those recovery runs or long runs. If you are looking for a soft feel in a light package then you could look at the Altra Kayenta. If you are looking for an all round training shoe that can be used for everything then the Altra Torin 4 would be worth considering.
As with most new shoes the changes to the Altra Escalante 2 will be viewed as an improvement by some people and not by others. Those runners who are looking for a quicker more responsive shoe with racer/trainer type of feel will enjoy the new version of the Escalante. Those who prefer a softer more cushioned ride might find them a little too firm.
Other similar shoes to consider:
Hoka Rincon: These are lightweight, have a soft cushioned feel but, a bit more feel for the ground than other more heavily cushioned Hoka’s. Like the Altra Escalante they are designed as a racer/trainer. The fit is much narrower and has the classic pointy toe shape unlike the more rounded toe box of the Escalante. Heel to forefoot drop is 4mm.
On Cloudflow: A narrower fit than the Escalante. A softer cushioned feel than the Escalante 2 but, not overly cushioned so there is still enough feel for the ground to do some quick running in these shoes. The cushioning is still soft enough for recovery runs and longer runs for most runners. Heel to forefoot drop is 7mm.
Here is our review of the On Cloudflow: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/on-cloudflow-running-shoes-review/
Topo Fli-Lyte 3: Topo’s have the broad rounded toe box similar to Altras. So, if you are looking for a shoe with a bit more toe box shape giving your feet room to function then these are an option. The Fli-Lyte 3 is light and responsive but, has enough cushion for slower recovery runs or longer runs. The heel to forefoot drop is 3mm.
Here is our review of the Topo Fli-Lyte 3: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/topo-athletic-fli-lyte-3-review/
New Balance 890: These have a fast roll to them. They are a shoe designed for speed. There is enough cushion for slower or longer runs but, not for those who like to run these runs at a very slow pace. As the curve in the shoe will encourage you to go quicker. The heel to forefoot is 6mm.
Here is our review of the New Balance 890 : https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/new-balance-890v7-review-low-drop-cushioned-road-running-shoes
New Balance Impulse: The Impulse is still classed as a racer trainer but, has a much firmer more responsive feel than the New Balance 890. For nearly every runner these will be too firm to use for recovery runs or long runs. However, there is enough cushioning to warm up and down in them before and after sessions or to use on Tempo runs or longer races. They have a very firm, responsive, fast feel. The heel to forefoot drop is 6mm.
Altra Kayenta: Zero drop like all Altra shoes. These have a much softer more flexible feel than the Escalante. A roomy rounded toe box as you would expect from Altra.
Here is our review of the Altra Kayenta: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/altra-kayenta-review/