Altra Escalante Racer Review
I love the Altra Escalante and consider it a wonderful shoe, and the "Racer" version has many of the same features that made its heavier sibling so great. The similarities include the same TPU foam midsole, that has more bounce and longevity than the traditional EVA foam, the Altra shape that's designed for a healthy human foot, and a good cushioning-to-weight ratio. Overall, the Escalante Racer is an Escalante that's a bit lighter and thus a bit less cushioned, which is just what you might expect. While I think the original Escalante is a little better for most runners, the Escalante Racer is an outstanding shoe that's well worth considering. I wouldn't think of it as a "racing" shoe in the sense of a slightly compromised, ultralight shoe like the long departed New Balance RC5000. It's a comfortable shoe that I'd be happy running in for a 50 miler, and maybe longer. I prefer the Escalante Racer over the Altra Solstice, but only very slightly, as both are similar weights and cushioning. One minor downside to the Racer is that it comes in Marathon Race editions, currently Chicago or Boston, which might put some folks off if they've not run those races. I rated the Escalate Racer as "highly recommended". (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.)
- Adidas Energy Boost and Saucony Freedom, as well as its larger sibling. The idea is that TPU provides more spring than EVA foam and it lasts longer. The Escalante Racer has a springy, bouncy feel that makes TPU cushioning so attractive. Altra rate the Racer's cushioning as "light", which I think it a little harsh. It's not a massively cushioned shoe, but it's comparable the [Asics Gel Hyper Speed]] and not that far behind the Hoka Clifton. . The Escalante Racer uses expanded TPU beads instead of the more usual EVA foam. That's the technology that's found in the
- . Altra always claim issues a zero drop, and the Racer is as close as it gets.
- . Like its big sibling, there's nothing about the Escalante Racer to interfere with your running form. The midsole is slightly higher under the arch, but this shouldn't be enough to make contact, or create pressure that could irritate the plantar fascia. There is no medial post or other structures that would try to limit pronation.
- . The Escalante Racer is slightly more flexible than the Escalante, but I can't tell the difference when running. The gaps in the rubber outsole allow the forefoot to bend evenly, rather than causing a crease in a specific area.
- . As you can see from the pictures above, the Escalante has harder rubber outsole under most of the sole of the shoe. This hard rubber actually protrudes a few millimeters, so I've seen no evidence of midsole abrasion at all. The shape of the sole does not create any stone traps.
- cut open the toe box. When looking from above, the shape of the shoe matches the human foot reasonably well, though like all Altra shoes it's a little exaggerated, and there is not quite enough room for the smallest toes. If you look at the shoe from the side, there is not quite enough headroom, but that wasn't too much of an issue with the Escalante or Escalante Racer. In fact, I feel like the Racer has slightly more toe box height than the Escalante. . The shape of the Escalante means that there is relatively little reason to
- . The upper is different on the Racer from its Escalante sibling. It has woven holes that improve breathability slightly. I found the upper extremely comfortable, and while some of the weight saving comes from less patting around the ankle opening, it's still more than enough.
- . The Escalante has a traditional styled tongue, and unlike the Escalante it's not sown in at all. There is no padding in the tongue at all, but the close spacing of the laces seem to spread the forces fairly well, so I don't think many runners will have an issue with the laces irritating the top of the foot.
- . The Escalante has flat laces that work nicely, and I never had them come untied.
- . The Escalante has no heel counter to cause problems.
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
2 Update after 275 Miles
After 275 miles, the Escalante Racer has some midsole compression under the ball of the foot, but not enough to cause me concern. The insole is holding up better than I would expect, with only a slight bit of compression under the ball of the foot. There's a tiny amount of wear on the outsole under the forefoot, and rather more on the extreme heel where I've scraped it doing treadmill descents. I've enjoyed the racer for a wider variety of paces, from long slow runs to interval training and everything in between. In some ways I'm enjoying it more than it's big sibling, though I suspect most runners will prefer the Escalante over the Racer.
3 Update after 500 Miles
The midsole compression under the ball of the foot has reached the point where it's time to retire the Racers. The insole is badly compressed under the ball of the foot, but either going without insoles or new insoles doesn't correct the problem enough. You can see some wear on the outsole under the forefoot, but they've held up well for 500 miles. The wear on the outside edge of the heel is from treadmill descents, where I tend to scrape my heel as I get fatigued. The Escalante Racer has been a wonderful shoe, as you can tell by the way I've worn them well past their expiry date. I've been impressed by its comfort and its versatility, working well at all paces and workout styles. I wouldn't use it on trails, and sometimes I've wanted a little more grip on muddy asphalt as it's nothing like the super grippy outsole you get on Japanese racing shoes. However, the need for more grip as been quite rare, and it's been a shoe that I will miss. One of the best things about the Racer is the way I tend to forget about them when I'm wearing them; they're just a natural extension of my feet.
4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running 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.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.0||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.1||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||7.7||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||4.7||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.4||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.4||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||3.8||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||5.7||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||6.7||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||8.6||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.1||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.2||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||6.7||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.2||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.5||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.4||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.4||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.3||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.6||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.3||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.7||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.1||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.4||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||7.8||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.4||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||5.6||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||4.7||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.3||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.0||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||7.5||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||3.8||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||6.8||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||6.8||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||8.6||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.5||6|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.0||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.4||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.4||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||5.8||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.2||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.0||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.1||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.4||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||5.7||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.3||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.1||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.1||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.5||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.1||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.1||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||4.9||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||5.7||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.1||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.2||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.4||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||5.7||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.6||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||9.4||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.4||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||4.1||10.7||20.8||19||21||-1||4.4||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||8.8||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||7.5||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.9||11.4||17.7||23||25||-2||5.6||4|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||8.3||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.5||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||9.2||5.5||8.5||15||21||5||5.0||7|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.5||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.3||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Highly Recommended||$170||7.1||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||8.5||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.5||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||4.9||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.1||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.3||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.0||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||7.5||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||6.9||11.8||18.4||34||34||2||8.2||3|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||5.8||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.1||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||3.6||11.0||17.1||28||30||3||4.0||9|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||13.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||5||5.5||8|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||4.3||9.7||15.1||26||29||4||4.2||6|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||7.1||6.5||10.1||16||19||5||4.6||8|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||7.1||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.4||7|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.4||5.6||8.7||15||21||6||4.7||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||17.6||4.0||6.2||13||21||4||7.0||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||4.6||8.5||18.9||18||28||3||3.9||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.7||9.2||14.3||25||28||3||8.0||4|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||6.6||8.0||12.5||14||17||1||5.3||6|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||5.7||10.0||15.6||24||29||0||5.7||7|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||9.9||8.1||12.5||23||25||6||8.0||0|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||7.3||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||5.4||5|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||4.1||11.6||18.1||35||40||4||4.8||5|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||6.3||9.9||15.5||22||25||2||6.2||3|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.9||6.6||10.2||17||21||-1||5.2||4|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||4.6||10.8||16.8||24||24||2||5.0||5|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||2.3||11.6||28.8||30||31||0||2.7||10|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||4.2||9.6||14.9||31||25||-1||4.1||6|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||4.2||7.4||17.3||22||24||1||3.1||9|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||6.0||8.4||13.1||13||13||0||5.1||8|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||1.7||7.3||29.5||20||18||0||1.2||10|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||22.9||3.1||4.8||9||12||8||7.1||2|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||9.2||5.3||8.2||19||21||6||4.9||5|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||10.6||6.1||9.5||6||5||9||6.4||6|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||11.1||7.2||11.2||25||37||4||8.0||6|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||7.9||8.6||0.0||18||24||8||6.8||3|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.3||6.3||0.0||17||27||1||6.4||5|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||6.0||9.5||0.0||29||32||0||5.7||7|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||6.6||8.7||0.0||29||36||-1||5.7||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, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
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, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.