Altra Torin 3.5 Review | Zero Drop & Foot Shape Running Shoes
Altra Torin 3.5 Review
Altra’s Torin road running shoe is their most popular road shoe to date. Lots of runners who love the Torin, in its various iterations, will be a bit worried that it might have changed considerably from the shoe they are enjoying running in. The Torin 3.5 is still Zero Drop like all Altra shoes, which promotes a more natural mid-foot landing. The stack height (mid sole thickness) is still 28mm so there is still plenty of cushioning. The trademarked Foot Shape Toe Box is also still very evident of course, however there are a few major changes.
Firstly there are two versions; Alta Torin 3.5 Mesh and Altra Torin 3.5 Knit. At first glance it may just look like a fashion or aesthetic difference. However, on closer inspection there is a real difference in the fit and feel of the two different uppers.
Two Upper Models
The Torin 3.5 Mesh for men and women upper is the classic running shoe upper material that we are probably all used to. The mesh around the toes is very open, making these very breathable when running hard or in the heat. The tongue is well padded and comfortable. Together, the rounded toe box and mesh upper gives a very free and open feeling around your toes. The upper pulls in around the foot giving a very snug fit around the heel and midfoot but, still leaves the toes free to spread into the wide Foot Shaped Toe Box. For those who have calcifications on the back of their heels like heel spurs the heel cup will be a winner, as it’s got no plastic or card insert at all. It is just made from the felt of the shoes upper. The stability comes from the upper pulling in around the foot rather than any external support in the shoe. The upper is higher around the ankles than in the Torin 3, which was a very shallow cut.
Essentially the Torin 3.5 Mesh has a very soft, supple, comfortable upper that feels snug where it needs do.
The Torin 3.5 Knit, as you may have guessed, has a knitted upper. This is very similar to the Altra Escalante upper that proves incredibly popular. The knitted material is less open than mesh and a little warmer to run in. It also has a degree of stretch to it. Although the Torin 3.5 Knit doesn’t seem to be any narrower, the knit upper makes it feel a snugger, less roomy fit when you initially put the shoes on. That might feel better for those runners who haven’t got the widest of feet and have always felt that Altra shoes had a bit too much volume in the toe box for them. However, when the shoes are laced up, the upper doesn’t pull quite as tight as it does in the Mesh version. That actually makes the Knit version feel bigger when you are running in them.
The tongue lacks the padding of the Torin 3.5 Mesh, which some runners might prefer. The Torin 3.5 Knit also has a few overlays around the heel to give the heel cup a bit more structure. There is still no plastic internal heel counter, so the heel is still very flexible, but it isn’t as soft as the Mesh version and might not mould around heel spurs etc as easily. The overlays also come through to the midfoot which makes the Torin 3.5 feel much snugger around the midfoot.
If your foot is broad in the midfoot area the Torin 3.5 Mesh would be a better fit.
Landing and Feel
The other difference between the two models is the insole. The Torin 3.5 Mesh has a softer feeling insole which gives it a slightly softer, plusher ride. The Torin 3.5 Knit has a firmer feeling insole, which makes you more aware of the initial contact with the ground. For runners who like that ‘no impact’ feel, the Torin 3.5 Mesh will be the shoes to try. For those who like responsiveness and to ’know that their feet are on the floor’ as I enjoy, the Torin 3.5 Knit would be the shoes to try.
Cushioning & Recommended Use
The midsole and outsoles of the two versions of the Torin 3.5 is the same. The Altra Torin remains a very well cushioned road training shoe, ideal for your everyday miles and with a very smooth feel to them. The ride is slightly softer and less responsive than the previous Torin 3, more suited to those everyday miles. The Torin 3 was responsive enough to run some tempo runs or intervals in. For me the Torin 3.5 is an out and out trainer.
The advantage to having a shoe like the Torin 3.5 is that your easy runs will be easy. You won’t be tempted to run a bit too quick and then not be able to run as quick as you would like in your interval sessions. The Torin 3.5 is not trying to be a racer after all and is all about softer comfort. They are the shoe you reach for when you are just wanting a pair of shoes to pop on before you nip out.
The Torin 3.5 Knit or Mesh is like a perfect combination of promoting a mid-foot landing, more natural gait but also offering a high degree of cushioning.
Charlie @ Northern Runner
Brand New to Altra?
If you’re brand new to Altra, Zero Drop and Foot Shape Toe Box technologies, we always recommend a max cushioning shoe like Paradigm.
Want Something More Responsive?
If you enjoyed the more responsive ride of the Torin 3 then Altra still have a shoe that you would enjoy running in. The Instinct 4.5 (mens) and Intuition 4.5 (womens) is Altra’s more responsive trainer with a faster, firmer feel.