Altra Torin 4 vs. Torin 4 Plush Review | Zero Drop & Foot Shape Road Running Shoes
Altra Torin 4 vs. Altra Torin 4 Plush
Last season Altra launched the Torin 3.5 road running shoe in a mesh and knit version. These were essentially the same shoe, just with different fit and feel from the uppers. The Torin 4 comes in two completely different models. The ‘regular’ or ‘original’ model Torin 4 comes with a lightweight mesh upper and the sister model, Torin 4 PLSH or Plush, has an engineered knit upper. They also differ in cushioning (stack height) by 2mm. The Torin 4 stack height has been reduced by 2mm from previous models and the PLSH feels softer, with the original 28mm stack height.
So, the regular Torin 4 is designed to feel a bit more nimble, with mesh and the new PLSH is designed to feel extra comfortable in both cushioning and a knit upper.
The Altra Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush are best categorised as every day, well-cushioned, neutral road training shoes. They are ideal for newcomers to the Altra brand, your longer runs, recovery runs and perhaps the odd faster session. If you’re into the knit upper, you might have a pair of Escalante 1.5 for your fast sessions!
The Altra Torin 4 regular has a 26mm stack height and, like all Altra shoes, is Zero Drop. This means that it doesn’t elevate your heel, improving your running posture and encouraging a landing on your midfoot. For those that have run in higher heel to forefoot drop shoes for years and want to transition to a low or Zero Drop shoe, the Torin 4 (or Torin 4 Plush) would be a great starting point. See here for advice on transition: northernrunner.com/blog/running-in-altra-zero-drop-shoes.
Compared to the Torin 3.5, the Torin 4 has gone through some real changes. It is ever so slightly heavier, has the 2mm less stack height, a new Quantic midsole, a redesigned mesh upper and a decoupled outsole that reduces the rigidity of the shoe. These changes make for a different ride. The Torin 4 has a much more stable feel to it, the forefoot feels more flexible and there is a firmer feel to the cushioning. This is designed for those that like to feel the ground, rather than have the illusion that they are running on cushions! This stimulates the feet more, allowing them to spread on impact and function inside the shoe. The mesh upper gives a good fit around the heel and midfoot. The rounded, FootShape Toe Box that Altra is famous for is still there allowing your toes to wriggle freely and offer stability, cushioning and propulsion as you run. Another difference is the look of the shoes. The design has made the Torin 4 look a lot less foot shaped than the Torin 3.5, which some people might like, however it is still there!
Torin 4 PLSH (Plush)
The Torin 4 Plush retains the 2mm extra stack and now with an added EVA Strobel layer. This is the bit between the midsole and the insole. Its purpose is to give the Torin 4 Plush a softer initial feel on landing, which it does well, although the Quantic midsole still gives the shoe a nice stable ride. The additional layer pushes up the weight by a modest 20g, which really isn’t noticeable. The knitted never gives as close of a fit as the mesh upper but the knitted upper on the Torin 4 Plush is actually a much better fit than its predecessor.
Both versions of the Torin 4 are very comfortable. The broad, more rounded toe box allows your feet to relax in the shoes and allows enough room for your feet to expand during a long run on a warm day. The width is similar to a other brands’ 2E or a Women’s D. The less pointy shape to the toe box that allows the toes a bit of wriggle room can make them feel a little larger to newcomers.
When running in the shoes the difference in the ride is more noticeable than the difference in the fit of the uppers. As you would expect, the Torin 4 Plush has a cushioned, relaxed feel to it. Ideal for those new to the brand, those that love a cushioned feel, (naturally) longer mileage and recovery runs. Although the cushioning isn’t soggy, like it is with lots of other shoes with this level of cushioning, it is still soft and very noticeable. The Torin 4 regular is still very well cushioned but is perhaps designed for those that are nimbler on their feet. I found it easier to blast along in the regular Torin 4 and they generally feel like they’re not even there as I ‘float’ along.
Although I prefer a firmer responsive road running shoe and a bit more feel for the ground, I did enjoy running in the Torin 4 Plush! It made the easy recovery runs feel like luxury.
In conclusion, if you want your everyday training shoe to ‘do it all’, that is feel comfortable but encourage you to move quickly, then try the Torin 4. If you want a well cushioned shoe for easier runs, longer runs or comfy recovery sessions, then the Torin 4 Plush is the one to try.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Other Shoes to Consider
Hoka Clifton 6
4mm from heel to forefoot. A more traditional pointy toe box. Available in two width fittings. The Clifton 6 has a much softer cushioning than even the Torin 4 Plush. A lot of runners don’t feel it when they hit the floor. The carbon plate in the shoe rolls you forward so you don’t sink into the cushioning and stay there. So, they offer less of a natural ride than an Altra as the shoe does some of the work. That said Hoka’s are still designed to help you run more on your midfoot with a better posture and the curve in the shoe helps reduce the tendency to lean forward at the waist when you get tied. This often happens in runners used to running in shoes with a high heel to forefoot drop.
Find Them Here
New Balance 1080 v9
8mm heel to forefoot to accommodate the heel strikers. The cushioning is luxurious without being too soft. The 1080 v9 is available in width fittings as many New Balance shoes are and although not a rounded toe box like Altra’s. They aren’t too pointy either.
Find Them Here
12mm heel to forefoot. So, a definite heel strikers shoe. Available in widths. Point toe design but, a very soft pliable mesh upper. The ride is soft but, not bottomless. Which makes it more of a versatile shoe that could be used for a little quicker running.
Find Them Here
8mm from heel to forefoot. The most cushioned model that On make at the moment. The High mileage trainer that still has enough of a feel to tick along at a quick pace if required.