Altra Adams Minimalist Running Shoe - Review

It is an interesting thing. I have been running for almost four years, and since the very first day I have been looking for a pair of shoes that I can put on and then forget about. You know, concentrate on your running and not be bothered by pressures or pains coming from the shoes you are wearing. Sounds easy enough right?

Well not really. It seems like the major brand shoe makers are determined to make running shoes look flash, super spongy, supportive (in the wrong way), narrow toe box, and otherwise manage to do matters to running shoes that make them impossible to wear. If you have a look at my shoe corner, you will find stacks of shoes. Anything from the heaviest of trail runners, to the lightest of racing flats. Many of them have been worn only once or twice, and then thrown on the pile, to collect dust.

So what am I looking for in a pair of running shoes? I gues the same things you are looking for:

[dcs_ol bg="false" type="decimal"] They should not cause any pain; They should not cause any injuries; They should be light; I must be able to run on them very many hours; I am prepared to pay for them if they are perfect, but if I can get them cheap, he!; [/dcs_ol] Now, I must mention that I have a bunion on my left foot, just at the start of my big toe. This is becoming quite a bit of thing, and makes selecting a pair of shoes even more difficult. Any pressure from the upper will have my in serious pain within minutes.

So far, I have been very keen on the vibram five fingers, as they do fulfill most of the criteria I have listed above. I have been running VFF for a good three years now, pretty much exclusively, and I am very happy with them. But they have this one problem. They are sold in Australia for about two times the price as for example in the USA, hovering at around the $200 mark. I wear out a pair every 1500 km or so, making them quite expensive.

So my search for other options is always continuing, and there they arrived on Friday last week from a purchase in the States (and happily shipped to Australia), my first pair of Altra Adam’s. I will spare you the details that can be read in other reviews, and give you my initial thoughts, and result from test runs.

These shoes are very light, extremely flexible, and have a sole of only 3 millimeters. Heel to toe is a zero drop (another of these hot topics these days) and in many ways are similar in shoe as the vibram five fingers, but for the toe box. The Altra has an EXTREMELY wide and spacious toe box. And not just a few mill here or there, but a REALY spacious toe box. When I put my feet in these shoes I do not feel any of the sides of the shoes, my toes don’t hit any fronts of the shoes, in effect am not really aware I am wearing the shoes at all!

They don’t have shoe strings, but instead have two Velcro straps. The first is the strap around the front foot, the second zig-zags from behind the big toe to behind the pinky toe, and then crosses over towards the ankle. In some way it is a bit like a flip flop arrangements. It works very well for me. Initially I was concerned about my bunion. If the strip would get anywhere close, these shoes would have joined it’s companions on the dusty pile, but the straps are carefully positioned, and do not tough the bunion. Shoe heaven!!!

So, I threw myself in the deep and decided to give them a good try out with last weekends Ultra Run in the You Yangs. A nice unforgiving trail run through various terrain, lasting a good 50 kilometers (52 all in all). I know, I can hear you think. Noooo, not a race on new shoes. But don’t worry, these shoes performed so good, I swear, I didn’t notice the fact I was wearing any shoes at all. I finished good, no blisters, no hot spots, no sore calves. I was running the day after again. I hill climb this time, 600 meters up over 15 kilometers. Great!!!

I dare say, I think I have found the best running shoe for the moment. If you are used to running minimalist (or barefoot) I can highly recommend these shoes. If you run on the foamy version, I would recommend to give these shoes a try, I believe me, you will become a convert to.

Happy running.
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    November 10, 2011 2:14 pmPosted 6 years ago


    I’ve had a pair of Adams for a few days, I went out for a couple of runs, one thing I noticed was that they seem to be extremely loud. I mean, I usually run barefoot and make no noise whatsoever, but this is just insane. I thought that perhaps my form was horrible, but the noise is there even running in place, very very slowly and on purpose to try to minimize the noise. Somebody told me that it may be the material of the sole and the shape of the shoe, but I’d like to confirm with somebody else. I usually run on asphalt/sidewalks and I’m sure that doesn’t help either. Have you noticed these shoes to be loud? I tried with a thicker pair of socks but that didn’t make any difference. Thanks!

  • avatarVisit site
    October 23, 2011 6:19 amPosted 6 years ago
    Antoine Saunders

    Nice review! I am really considering the altra line of footwear, as i find minimalist footwear to be very comfortable and wearing regular socks with them in the winter is awesome.

    I still have a pair of kso’s, but they will probably last me a few months, totalling a year of usage. I am starting to have to use a little rubber on a few toes to slow down wear and tear.

    I am stuck between the adams and the instincts as my next purchase. Would the instincts last much longer and retain the comfort of a kso? Or is the adams sole more durable than the kso’s vibram sole.

    • October 23, 2011 8:22 amPosted 6 years ago
      DandyRunner (Author)

      Hi Antoine,

      I have logged a few hundred kilometers on the Adam’s so far, including a 50km ultra and a marathon. Mostly I run trails for training, so the Adams have had a decent work out. Checking out the soles, there is not any indication that the shoes have been used. There are no wear indication so far, so I think it will work out the same way as my old KSO’s, delivering at least a comfy 1000 kilometers, more if you running style is very good.

      I can’t say about the instinct. I have never tried them, but I think they will be a bit too much shoe for me.

      Let me know which way you decide and what you think of the Altra range. Happy running!


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