Shoe Of The Week: Altra Paradigm

The Altra Paradigm serves up a cushioned yet stable ride.

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The Altra Paradigm serves up a cushioned yet stable ride.

Maximally cushioned shoes have become all the rage this year, but the category is continuing to evolve with lighter materials and new designs. Enter the Altra Paradigm, a amazingly cushioned shoe that’s crazy light for its size but also surprisingly stable.

Like all Altra shoes, it is designed with a “zero-drop” profile, meaning the foot sits flat in the shoe or no heel-toe offset or ramp angle. The stack height of this shoe (the height off the ground to the bottom of the foot) is 34mm, one of the highest ever for a running shoe. While it looks big and chunky, it rides surprisingly smooth, thanks to its lightweight design (9 oz., for men’s size 9.0, 7.9 oz. for women’s size 7.0), easy-flexing demeanor and seamless, airy mesh upper. The best aspect of this shoe is that it’s not marshmallowy soft; instead, its dual-density foam midsole creates a blended sensation that’s somewhere between moderately soft and semi-firm and actually offers up a noticeable amount of stability. The support doesn’t come from a traditional firm medial post under the arch, but from a semi-firm foam wrap the extends along the medial sidewall to the back of the heel and a foam-reinforced medial arch support.

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Our wear-testers describe the Paradigm as “a unique shoe that seems ideal for recovery runs, long runs and ultra-distance runs” on pavements or smooth non-technical trails, but “it’s only for runners who have adapted to wearing zero-drop shoes.” Our testers unanimously shared their amazement with how light this shoe is. Summed up one tester: “For as much shoe as it is, it has ‘barely there’ feel to it.”

Price: $130
Weights: 9.0 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Drop: 0mm