Altra Vanish-R Review
The Vanish-R is arguably Altra's first "racing flat", coming in at just 5.3oz in my US men's 10. This is light, but not stunningly light these days. Material science has allowed for the creation of some stunningly light and effective running shoes. The Vanish-R has lots of promise, but it has a few significant flaws, so it doesn't quite match up to the best of breed. The most obvious issue is the fit; the Vanish-R comes with two insoles, and with both insoles installed the shoe is rather too low in volume. However, with just one insole, the volume becomes too large and I had problems with the ankle opening rubbing on my heel bone. The cushioning with just one insole is also a little more minimalist than I'd like. The second problem is the lack of head room in the toe box, with the toes pressed flat. This is uncomfortable, and I fear it prevents the toes risking up to strengthen the arch (AKA "the windlass effect"). This is a problem to one extent or another in virtually every shoe, but it's particularly bad on the Vanish-R. The final issue is that the Vanish-R lacks durability. I retired mine after only 135 miles, mostly due to the compression of the cushioning. Having said all that, the Vanish-R is still "recommended; it's got good cushioning for its weight and I enjoyed running in it (with the toe box cut open as I usually do.) Sadly, the Vanish-R suffers greatly by comparison with the Nike Zoom Streak LT, which is almost exactly the same weight and cushioning, but the Streak is more comfortable and lasts far, far longer. (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.)
- . The Vanish-R is nicely cushioned given its light weight. The cushioning is reasonably soft underfoot without being mushy. A good portion of the softness comes from the two insoles. The shoe comes with both insoles installed, and you can remove one or both of them. I measured the Vanish-R with both installed, as that's how they come out of the box and there's nothing to indicate that just one should be used at a time. If you remove one of the insoles, the cushioning is noticeably reduced, and I'd consider them closer to a minimalist shoe when used that way. This dramatic change in perceived cushioning is probably due to the woven TPU plate over the EVA foam midsole. This plate is woven material, but still quite firm, so the cushioning the insoles provide has a disproportionate effect. (Note this is a woven TPU plate, not TPU foam used in some midsoles.) I've done most of the miles in the Vanish-R with both insoles installed, and I prefer them that way, even though the shoe volume is a little low in the forefoot.
- . The Vanish-R is zero drop when loaded, which is great.
- . The Vanish-R uses just one density of foam and doesn't attempt to manipulate or interfere with your natural biomechanics. I found the Vanish-R to be very honest and transparent, if that makes sense in a shoe. It doesn't get in the way or give a false sense of what the ground is doing.
- . While the Vanish-R has a plate that Altra imply might "offer maximum energy transfer for maximum propulsion", it's quite flexible with no real spring.
- . There's only small patches of harder rubber outsole, with the vast majority of the soft midsole foam exposed. While the Vanish-R doesn't disintegrate and disappear like the original Altra One shoes did, I found rather more wear than I would have liked.
- 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.) . Altra shoes are some of the few that attempt to actually fit the human foot. The Vanish-R does a great job of fitting the outline of the human foot, but there's no headroom for your toes at all. I found the Vanish-R presses down on my toes far too much, and I quickly had 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
- . The Vanish-R has a traditional tongue that is has a tab to attach it to the laces. There's no padding and the tongue is rather floppy, so you have to take care to ensure it's laying flat when putting them on.
- . The traditional flat laces stayed tied.
- . The Vanish-R has little in the way of heel counter.
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 After 135 miles
As you can see from the image above, there's some abrasion of the exposed midsole after 135 miles. I'm generally a low abrasion runner, so I'd expect most people to see more than this. The abrasion is fairly minor at this point, but it's rather uneven, wearing in the middle of the forefoot far more than the areas around. I suspect this is due to the cut outs in the middle of the forefoot which will concentrate pressure in this area. As with most shoes, the limiting factor is more the compression of the foam than abrasion. Because the Vanish-R relies more on the insoles for cushioning that most shoes, this is somewhat exacerbated, as insoles tend to be far less durable than the midsole. I found that after 135 miles the Vanish-R has compressed under the ball of the foot more than I'd like. I think I could push it out to nearer 200 miles, but I'm looking to protect my knees at this point, so I'm retiring them. As a comparison point, the Vanish-R has more of the uneven compression at 135 miles than my Nike Zoom Streak LT have after hundreds of miles. (I retired my Streak LT after 300 miles, then used them again for several weeks, retired them, then repeated the return-retire cycle several more times. I've no idea how many miles they have on them at this point.)
3 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||6.4||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.3||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.5||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.7||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||6.1||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||7.1||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||9.1||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.5||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.7||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||7.2||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.4||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.7||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.5||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.8||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||6.0||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||5.0||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||8.0||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||4.1||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.9||6|
|Altra Escalante 1.5 Review||Altra||Escalante 1.5||Best of the Best||$130||8.2||9.0||14.0||26||27||-1||7.4||7|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.7||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||6.1||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.7||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.4||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.8||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.6||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||5.2||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||6.1||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.4||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||6.0||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.9||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||7.5||10.7||16.7||19||21||3||8.0||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||9.3||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||8.0||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.2||11.4||17.7||24||25||4||4.8||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||9.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||5||5.3||7|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||8.5||5.5||8.5||15||21||3||4.6||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.3||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.5||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||4.6||11.8||18.4||35||34||0||5.4||6|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||6.1||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.4||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||5.3||11.0||17.1||28||30||5||5.8||8|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||6|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||6.6||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.0||8|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.0||9.2||14.3||25||28||4||7.4||7|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||8|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||8.5||10.0||15.6||26||29||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||8.1||12.5||23||25||0||5.7||5|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||8.2||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||6.0||7|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||5.6||9.9||15.5||21||25||-1||5.5||4|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||5|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||2.6||10.8||27.5||24||24||0||2.8||10|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||3.7||11.6||18.1||30||31||-1||4.3||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||3.4||9.6||20.7||30||25||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Torin 3.5 Review||Altra||Torin 3.5||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.3||14.5||27||28||0||5.4||8|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||5|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||3.4||8.4||23.8||13||13||0||2.8||10|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||6|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||16.1||5.3||8.2||19||21||4||8.5||6|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||10.4||7.2||11.2||25||37||8||7.5||2|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||5|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||8.9||9.5||14.8||29||32||4||8.5||6|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||8.3||8.7||13.5||29||36||8||7.2||3|
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.