Thursday, December 29, 2011

Altra Eve minimal running shoe review

  Its been really fun to try out the minimal shoes that came out this year from companies who began in order to tap into the minimal shoe niche.  The Altra story illustrates people seeing a need and then creating a product to address the need.

  When I first took the  Altra Eve  out of the box I noticed right off that they feel pretty light. They weigh  6 ¼ ounces according to my kitchen scale. That is a size 11 though. The site says 4.5 ounces however I doubt they meant my size.
 Besides noticing the weight, when I first get a pair of shoes I love to roll them up in a ball (or try to) and then twist them like wringing out a rag.  The Altra Eves are super flexible which means they will let your foot move the way it was meant to without inhibiting your form.

  As far as sizing goes, I had to get the next half size up. The site says true to size with the caveat of being true to size if you wear them with the footbed (insole).  On the inside of the box it talks about fit and they also mention to allow around 1/2" between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.  Interesting to me that I didn't know this until I started testing out shoes and working closely with shoe companies.

   For most of my life my shoes have been too small.  This is hard to grasp since I have big feet and going up to a half size larger is kind of tough to do mentally but all that aside.  I have discovered a new level of comfort which is far more important than being self conscious about having big feet.

  The site says that the shoes are gender specific but I just don't think that there is much of a difference in men's and women's feet. I am no expert on that and nothing to back it up so I am not dismissing it entirely,  it just seems to me that feet are feet.   Mine happen to be long and skinny with a splay that has spread out more over the years.  So, that being said, if you are a chic with wide feet, try the men's version.

   I often review both the women's and men's versions since I am right on the cusp of women's shoes not being long enough so I go to the men's.  The difference I have found is in the width and this is a plus for those wanting to run longer distances and who will be dealing with  the accommodations of swelling.  Although I did not try both men's and women's in this shoe, it has been my experience that the difference has been pretty much the same in fit.

  The lovely sole on the Eve is flat, low to the ground, and of course zero drop.  
The ground feel is fantastic and  although the 3.4 mm puncture resistant sole doesn't look like they have much traction they did pretty well and feel quite grippy.
  Did I mention I really love the sole on these? It is not squishy but dense and allows for your foot to use its own elastic recoil in movement instead of trying to "add to the experience".  This shoe makes your foot work.  Which is as it should be.

  The shoe is shaped well to accommodate many ranges of foot shape. For me they feel a little loose due to the width however the tightening system addresses the adjustment well.  They also say on the inside of the box that you might feel this looseness but you will get used to it a your feet are allowed to spread naturally.

I am not a fan of velcro tightening systems as I have found that velcro wears out over time where as laces don't wear out or can be replaced.  On the other hand these velcro closures have velcro that runs the length of the straps so there is much room for adjustability for anyone. 

  I am dubious of the strap that runs across where the forefoot splays.  My thinking is that tightening there would change the foots movement by restricting splay.  For me however I didn't have to change the adjustment at all straight from the box.   I would like to hear from others who have tested either the Adams (mens) or Eves if this was an issue.

   One thing I didn't like was how my big toes when my foot flexes (dorsiflection)  and my toes point up my big toes rub on the darker gray area of the shoe at the end.  I asked a fellow reviewer if they had the same problem and they said it wasn't an issue for them, so just keep it in mind.  Although annoying it didn't mess with my form.  (I wonder if their shoes were sized too small....)

  The upper is made of a very thin stretchy fabric and not great for warmth however they work well with socks and if you wore a pair of wool socks in dry weather they could work for a winter shoe. The upper stretches nicely to accommodate thick wool socks without making them feel too tight. 

  The flipside to breathabillity is that they are not water resistant but they do dry quickly which is such a plus in the summer when your feet sweat or when you need them to drain out water.

  These come with two removable insoles.  Overall my experience has been a good one when it has come to removable insoles. I like having the option of a little more padding.  For example I like the insoles if I know I will be walking all day and for running I like to take them out. If it is super cold out, I leave the insole in to help combat the cold seeping in from the ground.  The Altra Eve insoles didn't change the way my foot moves in the shoe.

  The heel seat is comfortable however  there are lots of seams.  I prefer to wear thin socks with these.  Having tried other shoes that have only one seam on the inside, its hard to not be a seam snob when I know it could be better.  As I mentioned above about these being wonderful in the breathability it defeats the purpose of being breathable if you have to wear socks with them since there are too many seams.

  Although there are many seams they are pretty soft and depending on foot shape will rub differently for each person.  I had issues with the seams on both the inside and outside of my feet right at the middle of my foot where the first velcro straps are attached.   The padding around the ankle is quite nice and I didn't experience any rubbing around the ankle.  

  I am not the biggest fan of how these look. They have huge potential and I would prefer it if they had a lacing system instead of the velcro but that is due to fit and not look.   I think the problem is in the color. Bright fancy happy colors would rock.  Of course a pair of crazy socks helps but I would love to see these in some bright fun colors.

  They run $99.00 which for shoes these days is pretty typical.  They have a great store locator map here.   There are also have a core training and trail running shoe to try on!

Check out my post on reviewing shoes and some criteria to check for when considering a shoe.
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