Review | Running Warehouse

Altra Instinct Product Review

Short Take

One of the most protective zero-drop shoes on the market, the Altra Instinct is ideal for running longer distances in a “natural” style.

Big Features

  • A-Bound Cushioning: Cushioning in a zero-drop shoe? It ain't common, but it comes standard on the Instinct.
  • Natural Ride System: The combination of a more natural, foot-shaped last, zero millimeter heel to toe drop, and metatarsal-specific shapes in the outsole to assist in proper foot mechanics and allow for more natural foot movement.
  • Seamless Upper: An important feature for runners who like to run sockless, the seamless upper design also integrates an A-Wrap design around the midfoot that holds the foot securely to the shoe's platform.
  • Insole Options: Choose the support insoles (5mm thick) for more traditional support and a molded arch or strengthen insoles (3mm thick) with a flat platform designed to strengthen the foot.
  • In-touch Outsole: The outsole design on the Instinct complements the foot's shape to work with the foot's natural movements and provide a flexible ride.

Road Test

The Instinct is a zero drop shoe that won't beat up your feet. Though it won't be confused with an Asics Gel Kayano or Nike Vomero, it's got a degree of cushioning that most other zero-drop models lack. That doesn't mean you have a green light to start heel striking all over the place in this shoe, but the Instinct is pretty forgiving and makes the case for zero-drop daily training.

The Instinct forces you up on your toes and almost immediately has you taking shorter strides. Your body just won't be happy with you if try to force a traditional running gait. All testers felt secure in the midfoot of the shoe, but most testers didn't feel as happy about the heel, which felt too loose. Daniel was easily able to lift his heel out of the shoe, even with it laced tightly.

And while the natural last certainly sounds like a good idea (no one is eagerly awaiting an unnatural last design), all testers felt that the extra room by the big toe was unnecessary. It didn't get in the way, but made testers scratch their heads a bit.

The Instinct certainly isn't a shoe for everyone, but deserves its big praise from runners who want to go the distance with a 'natural' stride.

Runners Say

“I can see why this shoe has lot of fans in the minimal/natural crowd. The footbed is comfortable, the midsole keeps you anchored without feeling claustrophobic, and you have all the room you need in the forefoot for your toes to splay out.” - Matt

“The low-to-the-ground feel with a bit of cushioning is nice. I don't see the need for all the extra room in the toebox, even in a midfoot or forefoot strike, but the extra material doesn't get in the way.” - Lauren

“I could run sockless in this upper without any problems. It feels like your foot is on its own to do its thing, but in a structured way (if that makes sense).” - Daniel