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Our review: The Altra Duo 1.5 retains feather-weight cushion, copious toe space, and a no-drop ride ideal for wider feet.
- Stack Height:
Altra updated this zero-drop, max-cushioned shoe for race day. The good news? Its lightweight foam held up for more than 100 miles on hard surfaces. While the fit seems to be tailored for feet that are wider than this reviewer’s, the ride is plush.
- 6.8oz (women) 8.1oz (men)
- Stack Height
- 30 mm (women) / 32 mm (men)
- Lightweight EVA Max-LT foam
- Reindforced blown rubber FootPod
- Engineered Knit
100 Miles In: The Review
As I laced the Altra Duo 1.5 up for our first run, a few features stood out. Its beefy but surprisingly light cushion felt stacked high. A loose tongue, wide-open ankle collar, and Altra’s typical toe box contributed to a roomy fit. An aggressive rocker under the forefoot felt ready to roll.
A signature Altra feature, a “Footshape” toe box, provides ample room for toes to splay out and for the big toe to act as the lever it is designed to be. However, the footbed seemed to run slightly narrower than other Altras, as the ball of my foot was hugged width-wise. (This didn’t cause any blisters or hot spots, and could be a sign of personal problems, like growing bunions.) Height-wise, the toebox is voluminous, as is the instep.
On paper, my key-hole shaped foot fits Altra’s mold for female runners—a narrower heel and midfoot, higher instep, and longer arch they call Fit4Her technology. But on foot, it wasn’t a Cinderella slide-on-experience in my typical 7.5 women’s size. At first, the instep and heel were almost too spacious, but some lacing tweaks (for example, dog-ears in the top eyelets) secured my foot. What’s more, some runners find sizing down half a size dials in a better fit.
From the previous model, Altra revamped the engineered knit upper and heel collar. The upper was breathable and breezy. The thin heel collar, trimmed with a seamless overlay, bagged out a bit but would likely suit wider ankles and heels. The wide, thin tongue required some finagling to sit flat, but, once situated, stayed put.
Altra’s “balanced” (read: zero-drop) cushioning provided a stable platform. PSA: For those who aren’t used to low- or zero-drop shoes, proceed with caution; increase time in zero-dop shoes conservatively, and be sure to strengthen your feet and lower legs.
The cushion felt massive and soft, but not entirely squishy. Altra’s firmer foam is designed specifically for race day. While I prefer a bit more responsiveness when picking up the pace, such as in Altra’s Escalante Racer (which I reviewed here), this is ideal for anyone who appreciates a pillowy, zero-drop ride with a roomy fit.
The outsole, consisting of lightweight reinforced rubber, features cut-out geometric shapes. It held up well—with barely any signs of wear—despite 100-plus miles on pavement, concrete, gravel, and mixed-surface urban trails.
There’s The Rub
My feet felt insecure while cornering or on slants when running faster than easy pace, including steady-state workouts and strides—attributable to the personal fit issues.
Debris consistently got stuck in the FootPod outsole; I had to stop at least once on each run to pop little pebbles and cherry-sized rocks out.
As I approached 100 miles in the Duo 1.5, I liked them more than I did when first setting out. Perhaps these shoes had a break-in period, simply took some getting used to, require a more proactive lacing technique for narrower insteps, or merit sizing down (I tried a second pair, one half size down, and they fit much better, like a glove). Or, more likely, perhaps they fit other feet better than mine.
With the plethora of options that feel like Cinderella’s slipper on the first step-in, I’m hard-pressed to try something that’s not-quite-right at the outset. (Gone are the days of having to break in shoes.) But, as I ticked off a hundred miles, this pair worked its way into my arsenal—in particular on easy runs on the paved loop around Seattle’s Lake Union.
The updated, beefy Altra Duo 1.5 is designed for races but pulled the most weight as a sturdy daily trainer—in particular on smooth pavement. Launched in July 2019, the Altra Duo 1.5 is available in specialty running stores and online at altrarunning.com now, priced at $130.