Altra One 2.5 Review
The Altra One is a wonderfully light, comfortable shoe that I love to run in. Putting on the One makes me feel like I'm putting on a comfortable slipper rather than a running shoe. However there are two problems; the One wears out quickly, making it an expensive shoe in terms of cost per mile, and the best shoes are either lighter or better cushioned (or both.) (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Cushioning and Shoes
- 3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Altra One
- 4 Comparisons
- 5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
- Hoka Clifton is much better cushioned, but a little heavier, the Asics Gel Hyper Speed is a little better cushioned and a lot lighter. . It's a softly cushioned, lightweight shoe that's designed for a human foot. The
- . The One is softly cushioned, and comfortable underfoot. The cut away parts of the midsole add a bit of an egg crate effect, but not enough to cause problems.
- . In theory Altra shoes are zero drop but I measured a 3mm drop unloaded, which reduces to 2mm when worn, which is close enough to zero drop for most people.
- . This shoe uses single density of foam, but there is quite a bit of shape to the midsole. You might think that "zero drop" means a flat midsole, but it doesn't. There is a fair rise under the arch, though it didn't cause me any problems. The heel is quite cupped, which keeps your foot centered in the shoe without attempting to interfere with your biomechanics.
- . The One is a remarkably flexible for shoe due to the deep grooves in the bottom of the midsole, and the shallow grooves in the top. (The top cuts are hidden unless you dissect the shoe.)
- . There is almost no outsole, just a couple of tiny patches of the extreme front and rear of the shoe. The bulk of the bottom of the shoe is exposed foam, which helps keep the shoe light as the harder rubber used on shoes is quite heavy. However, the exposed midsole wears very quickly and dramatically, and I've got only a little over 200 miles from mine before they needed retirement. Other shoes seem to do much, much better, even with exposed midsole.
- I still have to cut the toe box open. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . The shoe is the classic Altra shape, which follows the outline of the human foot much better than other makes. It has a broad toe box, but I find there is not enough height for my toes and
- . The upper is reasonably thin and unpadded in the front, morphing into a thin layer of padding below the ankle opening. The ankle opening itself is nicely padded.
- . The One has a classic tongue, but it's partially attached on one side to keep it positioned, which I like a lot. It has minimal but adequate padding.
- . The flat laces work well and remained tied, though they are unusually long. I found they tended to catch on things, so I had to tuck the ends under the laces at the front.
- . There's really nothing you could justify calling a "heel counter", which is nice.
2 Cushioning and Shoes
It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.
3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Altra One
Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.
4.1 Altra One 2.5 and One 2
I'm assured the 2.5 is different from the 2, but it's hard to spot the differences. Apparently the upper has been redesigned, but I can't spot anything even on close inspection. The toe box has slightly more height, but it's still woefully short. The 2.5 also has "improved fit", but again, I couldn't spot anything. The biggest change appears to be that the 2.5 comes in different colors, so buy whatever's cheaper. (The sizes have changed; a size 11 in the 2.5 is the same size that a 10.5 was in the 2.0.)
4.2 Altra One and Hoka Clifton 2
I like running in the Altra One, but the Hoka Clifton 2 is a far superior shoe. The Clifton offers vastly more cushioning for only a couple of ounces more weight. However, the One is a lot more slipper like, with more flexibility and a more comfortable upper. It's not that the Clifton is uncomfortable in any conventional way, but because the midsole is so thick and inflexible, the upper has to be more sturdy to keep the shoe attached to your foot. The Clifton is also a lot cheaper shoe in the long run, as even though it has exposed midsole it does not wear as quickly as the One.
4.3 Altra One and Asics Gel Hyper Speed
The Asics Gel Hyper Speed offers nearly the same forefoot cushioning, and more real cushioning than the One, and it does so at a considerably lighter weight, and it lasts a lot longer. The One is shaped more like the human foot than the Hyper Speed, but I still find I need to cut open the toe box of either shoe. For fast, efficient running I'd always choose the Hyper Speed over the One.
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4.4 Altra One and New Balance RC5000
Compared with many shoes, the One is lightweight, but it's more than twice the weight of the New Balance RC5000. The RC5000 is the fastest shoe I've tested, providing just enough cushioning to improve Running Economy. The RC5000 suffers from being too cushioned to be a pseudo-barefoot shoe, but not cushioned enough for most runners used to a traditional running shoe. However, if you're efficient enough to be happy with this level of cushioning at your chosen distance, and you're looking for every edge you can get in a race there is nothing else that comes close. By comparison, the One is soft and luxurious. If the One is a Porsche 911 (reasonably fast, but comfortable), then the RC 5000 is a purpose built race car (speed is everything, and forget the comfort.)
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.
4.5 Altra One and Asics GT 2000
I tend to compare shoes against my benchmark "normal running shoe", the Asics GT 2000. The GT 2000 is over engineered and these features go against The Science of Running Shoes, causing more problems than they solve. The One stands in stark contrast to the GT 2000, offering better cushioning, greater comfort, with less weight. The One is designed for the human foot, both in shape and function, while it seems like the designers of the GT 2011 never even seen a foot before. Compared with the One, the GT 2000 feels like you're running in a wooden clog.
5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Full Review||Name||Rating|| Recommended
|Asics 33-DFA Review||33-DFA||Worth considering||$90||5.7||10.6||16.5||27||27||0||6.1||6|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||8|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||7|
|Hoka Bondi Review||Bondi||Highly Recommended||$150||8.0||10.9||17.0||41||45||5||8.8||0|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Bondi||Review Pending||$150||6.1||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||7.1||4|
|Hoka Clayton Review||Clayton||Best of the Best||$150||8.8||8.3||12.9||26||30||3||7.3||5|
|Hoka Clifton 3 Review||Clifton3||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||9.8||15.3||34||38||3||8.9||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||8|
|Hoka Conquest Review||Conquest||Worth considering||$170||5.0||11.9||18.5||28||34||5||6.0||3|
|Saucony Cortana 4 Review||Cortana||Worth considering||$150||4.4||9.9||18.7||22||28||5||4.3||5|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||7|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||6|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||6|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin Review||Endorphin||Highly Recommended||$125||11.1||4.1||6.4||14||13||-1||4.5||9|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||6|
|Altra Escalante Review||Escalante||Review Pending||$130||9.1||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.9||7|
|Puma Faas 100 R Review||Faas 100||Highly Recommended||$90||8.4||6.1||9.4||15||20||1||5.1||9|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||8|
|Topo Fli-Lyte Review||Fli-Lyte||Highly Recommended||$100||6.0||9.4||14.6||23||24||4||5.6||6|
|Nike Free 4.0 Review||Free||Recommended||$120||5.3||8.2||13.6||24||30||6||4.4||6|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.8||7|
|Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review||Gel Lyte||Not recommended||$90||8.0||7.3||11.4||17||24||4||5.8||9|
|Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review||GOmeb 3||Worth considering||$120||6.9||8.1||12.6||20||24||4||5.5||8|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||5|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review||GRU-R||Worth considering||$105||6.5||11.3||17.6||30||40||6||7.4||7|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||4|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hupana||Recommended||$115||6.1||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.4||5|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||7|
|Altra Instinct 3.5 Review||Instinct 3.5||Recommended||$115||4.9||9.3||15.2||24||23||0||4.5||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Instinct 4.0||Review Pending||$120||6.0||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.9||6|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||7|
|Saucony Kinvara 7 Review||Kinvara||Best of the Best||$110||7.4||8.2||12.8||23||27||3||6.1||6|
|Nike LunaRacer 4 Review||LunaRacer||Recommended||$90||9.9||7.0||10.9||22||30||7||6.9||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||7|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||3|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Nomad||Review Pending||$110||4.3||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.5||5|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||4|
|Altra Olympus Review||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$130||5.4||11.8||18.4||27||27||3||6.4||4|
|Altra One 2.5 Review||One||Highly Recommended||$100||8.5||7.1||11.1||22||25||2||6.0||8|
|Altra Paradigm Review||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$130||6.4||9.9||15.4||25||25||1||6.4||4|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||7|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000 Review||RC5000||Best of the Best||$125||12.2||3.4||5.3||13||17||3||4.2||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||8|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||9|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||9|
|Topo ST-2||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||8.2||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||6.0||8|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||2|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Streak LT||Best of the Best||$80||8.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.8||6|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Torin||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.6||14.9||28||25||-1||5.5||5|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||6|
|Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review||Trail Glove||Best of the Best||$100||2.9||6.9||24.7||11||11||0||2.0||9|
|Topo Tribute Review||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||7|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review||Vapor Glove||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||6|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||7|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.