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Road Shoes

Altra Provision 5: The Support of an Invisible Hand

The Altra Provision 5 provides creative stability through geometry, proprioception and subtle guidance, while delivering a smooth, neutral, balanced ride.

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Altra Provision 5 Review

The Altra Provision 5 is a durable and dependable trainer that offers plenty of stability for comfortable runs of almost any distance for any runner. While true to Altra’s natural running formula of equal cushioning heel to toe with plenty of toe-splay room in the forefoot, the Provision 5 is not minimalist. The midsole has ample cushioning, a wide, stable platform, and a mild, unobtrusive, “need-to-use” motion control to help keep your feet from straying into the unhealthy zone.

Specs

Weight: 11.2oz M, 9.2oz W

Stack Height: 31mm heel /31mm forefoot

Offset: 0mm drop

Price: $130

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Altra Provision 5 side
Photo: 101 Degrees West

What’s New

Altra addressed some of the upper deficiencies and cleaned things up with a more breathable mesh and plenty of toe protection. Underfoot, you’ll find the same well-cushioned midsole and durable outsole as the Provision 4.5.

This Is the Shoe for You If …

You want the smooth landings and roll of a heel-toe balanced shoe, you prefer solid protection and suggestive guidance when you need a little help aligning your gait, and you’re willing to forfeit some weight for stability.

First Runs

Just as there is power assist steering in cars and pedal assist in eBikes – with the notion that neither the steering nor bike will move without the driver or rider initiating the assisted action by turning the wheel or cranking the pedal to engage the assist function – the Provision’s (almost) invisible hand only kicks in to encourage natural foot placement with its gentle nudge from the enhanced medial midsole bridge if and when needed. As one tester observed, the shoe “feels remarkably stable without any control — it runs completely neutral so no need for any runner to fear or avoid it.”

Altra Provision Guiderail
Photo: 101 Degrees West

A runner may begin her run with perfectly efficient form and then, after tiring, begin to pronate excessively and/or shift from forefoot landing to midfoot. That’s when the innocuous guiding assist comes into play, subtly suggesting better foot placement. The stability is provided by the geometry underfoot, a medial guide rail molded out of the midsole foam, and supportive straps in the upper tied to the lacing, which you can feel when you cinch the laces down and when your arch rolls inward.

As expected, given the minor upper revisions from the Provision 4.5 to 5, testers didn’t detect much difference between the versions — and they were quite pleased with that because they thought highly of the predecessor model. The Provision 5 still features a contoured-surfaced insole that, although primarily designed to instantly trigger proprioception by triggering the nerves of your feet, also had a welcome massaging effect. And the tailored fit of the arch allows for a level of customization.

The EVA foam was “a good balance between cushion and stable road feel” and the ride was light and smooth. And, as with all Altras, the zero-drop “balanced cushioning” platform made it hard to heel strike while wearing the Provisions. Reported one tester, “I appreciated these most on long runs when they kept my stride quick and my feet supported even when tired. But they do fine on nearly every run, up to tempo pace.”

Atra Provision Laces
Photo: 101 Degrees West

The new upper is comfortable and supportive, particularly in the mid foot, and the foot-shaped, wide toe box allows for stable splay. The heel collar struck our test team as being low enough to allow freedom of motion while still holding well enough to be stable, without try to control or creating torque to counter the foot’s preferred motion path. The fit felt improved and secure for some testers yet overly snug for others. The Provision 5’s profile is low enough and outsole thick enough that you aren’t likely to roll an ankle in these, and they even fare well on mild trails. The guidance function only helps with that confidence.

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