Altra Escalante Running Shoe Review for Forefoot Running

Today I’m going to do a running shoe review
on the zero-dropped Altra Escalante’s, which I think is the perfect beast for long distance
road running. Not to mention, the Altra Escalante’s were
awarded Editors Choice from Runner’s World and also, according to anecdotal feedback,
the Escalante’s are pretty credible for injury prevention, partly because the shoes make
you more accurately aware of how you are landing on your foot when you run whereby they really
work for helping you enforce a more productive, more safe forefoot strike landing pattern
during running. The Escalante’s are really starting to dominate
in popularity in the running community for reasons I’m going to talk about in this
video where I’ll also detail how the Escalante’s are conducive for forefoot running, the most
appealing aspects and positive elements of the shoe and why the shoe is verifiably an
overall, well-rounded, outstanding long distance road running shoe that has received high-marks
from not just me, but from other forefoot runners. One thing I really want to underscore is that
if the type of shoes you wear for forefoot running typically include the Nike Free, the
Saucony Kinvara 7, The Brooks Connect 3, the Altra Escalate is a superior variant of those
shoes. In that light, there’s an obvious giant
difference between the structure and feel, especially ground-feel of the Altra Escalante’s
to that of most pure and true minimalist running shoes, like the Vibram Five Fingers, Vivobarefoot,
or the Merrell Vapour Gloves. In that regard, if you love running in a shoe
that is an incredibly close substitute to running barefoot; if you really love to feel
the ground beneath your feet, if you love tons of sensory support provided by a running
shoe with a thin outsole than the Altra Escalante’s are NOT for you because the outsole is pretty
thick, even though the shoe is zero-drop, meaning there’s a 0 heel-to-toe differential,
the heel is level to the forefoot, which is an essential feature of the shoe that may
help get your forefoot strike landing pattern and leg swing mechanics more in order which
may help bring much impact protection — that’s one way the Escalante’s can be a positive
source of change in helping reboot your stride, but the major drawback of the shoe is that
the outsole thickness obviously provides very minimal sensory support, therefore there’s
sensory deprivation from the shoe, which can limit the shoe’s versatility in that I think
the Escalante’s are an optimal road running shoe, but are suboptimal for running on uneven
surfaces and technical trails because of the thickness of the underfoot padding may make
balance control a little difficult to sustain when running over very uneven terrain. But that’s just solely my assessment of
the shoe. Ultimately, the Altra Escalante’s work perfectly
for forefoot runners who enjoy a running shoe with a lot of underfoot padding and is not
interested in barefoot-mimicking running shoes and prefers not to be too close to the ground. Because of the thick underfoot padding and
thus the lack of sensory input at the feet, the Escalante’s feel a little excessive for
running on uneven terrain and tricky, technical trails and could compromise landing stability
when your feet are completely walled off sensorially from fully feeling the ground. Based on that, in my opinion, the Escalante’s
are not really a competent, heavy-duty trail running shoe. Not only that, they lack adequate tread and
traction for those punishing trails. So, in my opinion, that’s probably some
of the biggest disadvantages of the shoe is the sensory deprivation because of the thick,
soft underfoot materials, and that if you are looking for a fast, light, low to the
ground, treaded shoe that gets you sensorially connected to the ground when running on tough
trails, I wouldn’t recommend the Altra Escalante’s, that’s just fully based on my preference. However, I would highly recommend the Escalante’s
for putting in long miles on the road; tempo runs, interval runs on the roads, road racing
distances ranging from 10k to the marathon, this is where the Escalante’s totally deliver
and are a really productive shoe at offering responsive and comfortable ride quality from
start to finish and being an overall lightweight performance running shoe for the roads and
soft, light, flat, easy trails. So let’s look at the good elements of the
shoe, the pleasant prospects of the shoe, why do these Escalante’s work so well for
road running. I also really want to underscore that according
to other wear-tester testimonials, the Altra Escalante are really well-reviewed and favored
by not just me, but by really fast, seasoned forefoot runners which is a reaffirmation
that there’s every reason to love the Altra Escalante’s. For one, the Escalante’s can be a good primer
for someone wanting to slowly transition to running in minimalist barefoot-inspired footwear
or barefoot running because the Escalante’s aren’t physically oppressive on the feet
b/c the Escalante’s have no supportive structures; they have no arch support, no medial posts
or heel counters, so foot flexion, muscle activation, intrinsic muscle and soft tissue
engagement aren’t offline in the Escalante’s, like they so typically are in traditional
stability running shoes. Foot engagement is not really limited or restricted
in the Escalante’s which is a source of positive change for sustained functional strength
& health of the foot. The overall infrastructure of the Escalante’s
is tailored to comfortably fit the contours of the foot’s anatomy which is why the Escalante’s
were made with a wider-than-average toe-box and provides decent flexibility. This is how the Escalante’s wont do structural
or functional harm to the foot. Overall, the Escalante’s give a pleasing
foot-hugging fit that does promote muscle activation in the foot, the feet can still
function at a high level, which will definitely help get your feet in better shape than if
they were to remain in inflexible motion control stability running shoes which tends to silence
a lot of muscle activation and engagement within the foot and we know this is a threat
to sustained foot functional strength. As I just mentioned, the toe-box of the Escalante’s
is roomy because it is wider than the toe-box of most conventional running shoes. In the Escalante’s, there’s more spatial
ability for the toes to flex, relax and spread out naturally which is part of the controls
for more secured landing stability during running. If you were a fan of the Nike Free or the
Saucony Kinvara 7, you’d undoubtedly would love and prefer the Esalantes because the
toe-box is more roomy, more form-fitting, it hugs to your foot more like a sock than
the Nike Frees and the Saucony Kinvara 7. So, the wide toe-box is another element of
the Escalates that can be a more reliable stabilizing force in helping to control landing
stability during running. Another appealing feature of the Escalante’s
is the knitted upper, especially the mesh around the forefoot, which is stretchy, it
gives an adaptable fit and feels exceptionally comfortable and it lasts; its very durable
probably because the upper materials are not made of the most thinnest materials. The material density of the upper is pretty
thick, especially at the lacing column, but does not compromise the weight of the shoe. I’m very pleased with the overall durability
of the upper materials because my Escalante’s literally show no signs of wear and tear from
running 21 km a day in harsh winter elements and in the heat over the last year. The upper is pretty winterized and does a
supreme job at keeping my feet warm, especially my toes, when running in extreme cold even
when wearing thin socks. When the fabric gets wet, it doesn’t add any
chill to my feet when running in the cold. I’m overly pleased with how the upper handles
cold, wet conditions which is why the Escalates are my go-to winter running shoe. They’ve definitely withstood anything the
Canadian winters has thrown at it. The Escalante’s also perform well in the rain
during hot, humid months. The upper materials are thin and breathable
enough so your feet don’t overheat when running in really hot weather. There seems to be pretty good airflow that
stops your feet from cooking. Another point about running in the rain in
the Escalante’s is that the upper doesn’t get bogged down when wet or from the moisture
when running in humid temperatures. The upper also really holds up well when running
through light muddy conditions. The fabric materials dries pretty quick. Ultimately, the upper of the Escalante’s really
does a nice job at being versatile for running in all types of weather conditions and I was
pleasantly surprised at how well the upper conforms to my foot; it really perfect lines
the shape of my foot, giving the shoe a real natural feel and very enjoyable comfort; you’ll
feel nothing but plush comfort especially if you wear the Escalante’s without socks,
which brings me to talk about the inside lining of the shoe which feels very soft, especially
around the ankle which has really thick plush padding around the inside of the ankle cuff,
but this doesn’t add unnecessary weight to the shoe and it doesn’t rub abrasively
against your skin; you can’t even tell that it’s there.The inner lining feels seamless,
doesn’t generate any hot-spots or blisters. I’ve ran plenty of miles in the Eslalantes
without socks, even in the rain and I did not get one blister. I’m extraordinarily happy that I can have
confident ride in the Escalate when sockless. In terms of underfoot feel, not only does
the Escalante’s give a fast-feel, my assessment of the underfoot-feel as well as in gathering
existing anecdotal data on how weartesters described the underfoot materials of the Escalante’s
is that the underfoot materials actually feel like you are walking and running barefoot
on grass, thus giving a natural sensory experience. This is because the materialistic elements
of the underfoot inside the Escalante’s is formulated to replicate the feel of being
barefoot. This is another impressive benefit of the
Escalante’s that makes them so rewarding because this barefoot-mimicking stimuli may
help you leverage a more effective forefoot strike that’s more easily sustained during
running. It may help you iron out mechanical wrinkles
and may help you put together positive changes you want to see in your biomechanics during
running. Therefore, if you don’t want to use barefoot
running or barefoot-mimicking running shoes, such as the Vibram Five Fingers, as a means
to correct mechanical inadequacies, because of the dose of barefoot-sensory mimicking
sensations, you can definitely rely on the Escalante’s to help make it possible for you
to improve your running mechanics at every level. The Escalante’s also comes with a removable
insole that delivers exceptional cushioning without adding weight to the shoe. However, as soon as I got the shoe, I removed
the insoles because the outsole itself offers enough padding, actually too much padding
for my liking because I’m used to running barefoot or in my Vibram FiveFingers. Any time I can strip away layers of cushioning
from a shoe, I do just that to try to get closer to the ground because for me, the less
cushioning, the more stable I feel when I run, but that’s just my preference. So, I’ve never ran with the insoles in the
shoe: I can’t report on the ride quality the insoles give when they’re in, but it’s
nice to have the option of additional cushioning for if you are a runner who enjoy lots of
plushy, underfoot cushioning. As for the Altra Ego midsole, it’s a bit
stiff and bouncy, but helps attenuate shock and contains grid-like flex grooves that’s
optimized to allow your foot to flex where it needs to for more speed, higher cadence
as well as helping to keep your forefoot strike consistently engaged and its also optimized
for better energy return, which collectively, is really the driver behind low impact running
and economical sufficiency. The midsole is also nicely cushioned, not
overdone and provides good energy rebound which can have an outsized influence on performance. In looking in detail at the outsole, the Escalante’s
rubber FootPod outsole is zero-dropped with a 25-mm stack height that helps maintain good
dexterity and also drives a faster toe-off which is handy for executing a faster turnover
during running. The outsole is impressively responsive in
that it really helps bolster a more smooth, faster transition throughout the cycles of
running gait. You feel like you have more spring-power to
your stride. As you probably noticed, the outsole is pretty
much entirely smooth, it lacks aggressive tread and outsole lugs and because of this,
the Escalante’s may not be the most sufficient trail companion, especially for extreme trails;
I don’t think the Escalante’s will help you excel at your next extreme trail race. Not to mention, the outsole thickness may
prevent you from being fully agile and may create a destabilized landing surface when
you need to change directions very quickly when running on rugged, uneven terrain or
extreme-technical trails. But for running in the winter, as I mentioned
earlier, the Escalante’s are my go-to winter running shoe. I also ranked the Escalante’s as my favorite
winter storm running shoe, not only because of the warmth they provide, but I slap a pair
of DueNorth Everyday wearable spikes to the outsole of the Escalante’s. In my view, the DueNorth wearable spikes,
which are linked down below in the description box if you want to check them out, they are
the ultimate blizzard running companion that really weaponizes and winterizes the Escalante’s
by providing solid traction for extreme icy, snowy, slippery conditions.This is how the
Escalante’s can be made for safe, easy running in blizzards because the DueNorth spikes really
clutches the snow and grips to the ice, which takes the worry out of slipping and running
clumsily and also the spikes don’t add unnecessary weight to the shoe, nor do they feeling cumbersome
while running. They really do strong work in the snow and
provide a safer ride quality and it becomes a huge game changer when you can maintain
your running volume and intensity all year round’ outdoors. In addition, with the wearable spikes, the
Escalante’s also work well in muddy conditions. Overall, the outsole of the Escalante is adequate
enough for light, flat, dusty soft, less technical trails, and of course, when paired with wearable
spikes, the Escalates are perfect for the winter, but ultimately, the Escalante’s are
more structurally conducive for the road, but thats just based on my experience with
the shoe. The outsole offers excellent protection on
the roads in that any rocks or debris that you run over you barely feel and the outsole
is durable enough to handle high mileage on the roads. The outsole also feels bouncy, it makes your
stride feel pretty spring loaded and reinforces a springy back-kick, it gives impressive motion
return, it’s extremely soft and plush-feeling. The outsole thins out at the forefoot and
its thickest point is at the heel, but you also feel lower to the ground in the Escalante’s
than in most traditional running shoes, which may help you use your forefoot strike more
effectively. With that said, the structure of the Escalante’s,
especially the outsole, was definitely conceived to help you navigate away from a hard-hit
heel strike landing while running and that’s what really matters, is that the shoe’s
framework aids you to a certain extent to make you more adept to avoid heel strike,
while encouraging a more organized forefoot strike that’s responsive & lighter in landing
intensity which can really be a great step forward in not only advancing your performance,
but also in enriching your injury prevention efforts. In closing, the Altra Escalante’s are certainly
not for the barefoot and pure minimalistic crowd because the shoes do under-fund the
feet with the natural sensory input that you would obviously get from running barefoot,
but the major upside to the Escalante’s and I think the general premise behind the construction
of the shoe is to somewhat mimic the sensation of being barefoot and they do deliver on that
to some extent, especially in the shoes construction in how it encourages flexion engagement of
the foot and by this, the Escalante’s won’t strip away foot strength like stability running
shoes so often do. As compared to the traditional running shoe,
no doubt, the Escalante’s have definitely a more minimalistic profile. Bottom line, the Escalante’s is a go-to
for many forefoot runners who love a cushioned ride. I also like that the Escalante’s are zero-drop
which helps make a difference in driving a forefoot strike that’s more well-positioned
to sustain low impact running. The Escalante’s work the greatest for long
distance road running, but they might be made more versatile with wearable spikes, I’ll
let you be the judge of that. The Escalante’s have done great things for
me as well as many other runners, so there’s no doubt that the Escalante’s will do great
things for you. And if you read the testimonials of other
Escalante weartesters, the shoes are really on record for delivering on many fronts for
having a well-balanced design that marries a barefoot-feel with plushy comfort thats
springy andresponsive. If you’re interested in the Altra Escalante,
I posted links down below in the description of where you can get them. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and for
more detailed reviews on shoes geared towards forefoot running, please hit the subscribe
button where you also stay informed on the latest research regarding the health and performance
benefits of barefoot running. Thanks so much listening and watching. Have fun out there on the roads and trails. Bye for now!

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