I’ve been running in Altra shoes for the last couple years and they have continued to evolve as a company. Altra has always been progressive but they continue to offer designs and use materials in way that are both innovative and will appeal to a broader audience. The Paradigm definitely checks these boxes.
I think Altra nailed this shoe for the following 4 reasons:
1. Awesome Toebox: this is a no-brainer because all of Altra’s shoes have a wide toebox and without getting too scientific about it (I’d love to cut apart different models and compare measurements of the footbeds) the Paradigm toebox feels just right. The fabric seems a little stiff and prone to folding slightly but I’m assuming it will soften up over time.
2. Better Fit: I’ve noticed that Altra is standardizing a lace lock configuration on many models, presumably to help runners toes from slipping forward in the roomy toebox and it works. Aside from that, the interior of the upper is fairly seemless and Altra has continued to evolve the fit and comfort of the tongue which they nailed on the Paradigm. These shoes felt super comfy, fresh out the box.
3. It Feels Light & Cush: There are lighter shoes on the market and many companies are adopting lightweight foam, especially those that are shedding weight of max cushion offerings and the Paradigm is no exception. Weighing in at 9.1 oz, It feels light and cushioned without sacrificing strength and solidity.
4. Zero Drop Perfected: It’s tough to get the “flat” (no heel/toe offset) but “tall” (more cushion underfoot) combination right but the Paradigm gets this balance right as it has excellent cushion beneath the entire foot but doesn’t feel awkward. With the Paradigm your foot feels more like it sits in the cushion than on top of it which really helps to smooth out the ride and perfect the zero drop.
The Paradigm does not appear to be a true trail shoe although Altra recommends it for such and I agree it performs pretty well for light trail use. I hope that the next iteration of Altra’s max cushioning offerings adopt some if the designs of the Paradigm. Altra nailed it with a shoe the exemplifies their theories on running and bio-mechanics while driving innovation and staying close to current trends.