It’s been a good couple of years since I tried an earlier iteration of Altra’s Instinct. I logged just shy of 50 miles in the Instinct 1.5, but never really felt good wearing them – they were stiff, too firm underfoot, and a bit on the heavy side for my taste. I did enjoy the roomy forefoot however, so when Altra reached out asking if I’d like to try their latest version, I jumped at the chance.
I have no experience with the Instinct 2.0, so to keep things simple, this will be a straight up review of the 3.0 with no side-by-side comparisons to the previous version. To kick things off, I really like this shoe. It may not be the most attractive shoe I own, but it does have a lot going for it. At 8.4 oz for my size 10, the weight is right where I like it to be for a daily trainer. The air mesh upper is soft, breathes well and will hopefully prove quite durable. I’ve read a couple of online reviews where the upper has shown signs of tearing after 150 miles, so let’s hope those are isolated incidents and my pair holds up well. We’ll see. The laces are a little flat and a little long – utilizing the extra lace hole to lock down the heel helps with the length, but I find myself having to triple-knot the laces to prevent them coming undone. Maybe one day I’ll switch them out with another set of laces, but for now, I guess I can put up with the triple-knotting.
All things considered the upper is very comfortable. Both the heel cup and tongue are padded, but not too bulky. The foot-shaped toe box is generous, but not massive in terms of volume, and really allows the toes to relax and splay naturally. Note: Original weight Injinji socks pair very well with the Instinct 3.0! The huge bumper around the front of the shoe initially had my toes a little concerned, but it turned out to be a non-issue – maybe sizing up a half-size (as Altra advised) did the trick? Finally, a minor annoyance, the one thing I’m not keen on is the small loop at the back of the shoe. I guess it’s to aid putting on/taking off the shoe, but it’s not something I’m ever going to use and just seems a little redundant. Am I the only runner not using the loop?
Moving on to the base of the shoe, and for me the midsole/outsole is easily the standout feature of the Instinct 3.0. It flexes in all the right places and is durable exactly where I need the durability. The ride is surprisingly responsive and it’s easy to get up to speed quickly in the shoe. Great work Altra! To be fair, I’ve only run a few times in the Instinct 3.0s, but they performed equally well on a 3 mile tire drag as they did on a 2 hour, heart-rate-based Sunday morning long run. To back this up I have no hesitation adding the Instinct 3.0 to my regular shoe rotation and can see myself looking them out on a regular basis.
Worth mentioning, all Altra running shoes feature a fully cushioned Zero Drop™ platform that places the heel and forefoot the exact same distance from the ground. If you’re not used to wearing zero drop shoes, I’d definitely recommend following their How to Transition advice, where you gradually build up to harder/longer workouts over a 4 to 6 week period. Please don’t rush the process and put your calves and/or achilles at risk.
Official Altra Instinct 3.0 Video:
- Weight: 8.4 oz (Men’s Size 10)
- Stack Height: 24mm
- Outsole: FootPod™ Outsole
- Midsole: Ultralight EVA/A-Bound™ Blend with InnerFlex™
- Insole: 6mm Contour Footbed
- Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh
- Platform: Zero Drop™ Platform, FootShape™ Toe Box
- MSRP: $100 (see above for best current online prices.)
Question time. Leave a reply in the comments box below.
- Have you tried the Altra Instinct 3.0? Like ’em? Hate ’em?
- Do you own any zero drop shoes? If so, which brand/model?
- What’s your current favorite shoe brand, and why?
Disclaimer: The Instinct 3.0 are a media sample provided free of charge by Altra Running.