The Altra Escalante is a recent addition to the successful line of running shoes produced by Altra. I have been an avid Altra fan for several years. The features that are the core of all Altra running shoes are the zero drop technology and foot shape technology with the wide toe box. These features are designed to promote toe splay and a more natural running style. I have previously reviewed the Altra Instinct here.
To be honest, I had almost given up on Altra after the disappointing Instinct 3.5. I’m not sure what they did to that model but it was just not right when I ran in them. I retired the 3.5’s after only about 100 miles. So when I began researching alternatives, the new Altra Escalante had just been launched. After weighing my options and trying on a couple of other brands and models, I decided to give the Escalante a try.
Altra Escalante Specifications
I’ll do a comparison with the Instinct here since I was looking for a shoe that has similar specifications, particularly to the Instinct 3.0. The Altra Escalante is considered a neutral shoe with moderate cushioning designed for road training and racing. At 8.2 oz (232 g) it is lighter than the Instinct 4 (10 oz) but comparable to the Instinct 3.0 (8.1 oz). As is with all Altra shoes, the Escalante has zero heal-to-toe drop to promote a more natural running form. For me, this feature is important and I’m not sure that I’ll ever go back to a shoe that has more than a 2 or 4 mm drop. The upper is an engineered knit that is extremely comfortable. The shoe has a stack height of 25 mm.
As I have found with my other Altra shoes, the sizing tends to run a little small. I go up ½ size, and that was the right fit for the Escalante. From the second that I slipped my foot into the shoe, I knew I was going to love it. The upper is soft and my foot felt snug but not constricted. The tongue took a little getting used to because it is just a little rigid and non-traditional. However, it did not give me any discomfort, and I did not experience any rubbing.
The best way for me to describe the ride of these shoes is smooth. The moderate cushioning provides a little softness without sacrificing the responsiveness. Altra is touting the new Ego™ mid-foot technology, which uses a thinner cushioning that is supposed to result in some spring and comfort while providing a low-to-the-ground ride. I will say that I definitely experienced a more responsive ride when compared to my previous Instinct models. It is definitely a shoe that you can race in, especially for half-marathon to marathon distances.
After wearing Altra’s for a few years now, I have gotten used to the wide toe box, foot shape, and what I used to say “clown shoe” look. The Altra Escalante is stylish and a shoe that I could wear as an everyday casual. My first pair are the black-grey color that look nice. I’m strongly considering going with red on my next pair to match my Base Performance race kit.
My Experience with the Altra Escalante
My first outing in the Altra Escalante was about a six mile run with a portion of up tempo. For me, there was no need for any kind of break-in period. I could have easily done 10+ miles and I don’t think I would have experienced any issues. I did not have any hot spots or discomfort for the entire first run. Since that time I have done training runs of 15+ miles, three races (triathlons with 10k to 13.1 mile runs), interval work on a track, and even a little trail running (although they are not really a trail shoe). I have had zero issue with blisters, hotspots, or discomfort. After approximately 400 miles, these shoes are holding up well from a support perspective, and I’m seeing no signs of degradation of the uppers. The Escalante ranks as one of my top shoes ever with a perfect balance of comfort and performance. I will definitely be purchasing another pair.