Article by Renee Krusemark, Beto Hughes and Sam Winebaum
Altra Vanish Tempo ($190)
Sam: Hot on the heels of their first carbon racer the Vanish Carbon, Altra launches the Vanish Tempo on the same 33mm zero drop platform powered by the same dual density supercritical EGO Pro foam but with no plate and with a different upper with visibly more supportive heel rear collars. The Tempo is a rigid rocker design but with a very front flex area.
Sized to Altra’s “Slim Fit” the thin soft engineered mesh upper is largely unstructured after the stout rear area but for a few underlays at midfoot and has no tongue gusset. The toe box while called out as “Slim” is soft and unstructured and quite broad allowing the foot to splay.
Weighing about 8.75 oz / 248g (US9) for the men’s and 7.83 oz / 222g (US8) for the women’s with that substantial stack height we were especially curious to see how the unplated EGO Pro foam would ride. Would we be tempo, general trainer or both?
Highlights: super energetic EGO Pro foam, superb light, very secure roomy upper Sam/Beto
Great cushion/weight ratio: Renee/Sam/Beto
Comfortable for mid/long runs at easy to tempo paces: Renee/Beto
Soft yet responsive midsole: Renee/Sam
Upper is very comfortable, different foot shapes adaptable with a secure/toe box roomy: Renee/Beto/Sam
Fast transition at toe off when doing reps: Beto
Pricing at $190 is steep for a plateless trainer maybe racer!: Renee/Sam
Overly soft front of shoe for a tempo type shoe lacking pop Sam/Beto
Approx. Weight: men’s 8.75 oz / 248g (US9) / women’s 7.83 oz / 222g (US8)
Samples: men’s 8.5 oz / 241g ( 8.66 right, 8.38 left) US8.5, 10.7 oz / 305g US12.5, 10.2 oz / 290g US11
women’s 7.83 oz / 222g US8
Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel / 33mm forefoot
Available now including at our partners below. $190
First Impressions, Fit and Upper
Sam: Finally Altra gets an upper with their broader anatomical “Foot Shape” toe box just right. Unlike the minimal Vanish Carbon unstructured thin heel counter here they went stout and high with a semi rigid design with a large non stretch panel wrapping the entire heel to the laces, some padding and especially higher collars. Altra’s recent squared off low ankle collars just don’t support that well and here they move them up.
All of the rear action is followed by thin floating rubbery midfoot underlays tied into the lacing. They are surprisingly effective.
The tongue is a non stretch thin but padded dense mesh fronted with a very lightly padded overlay down the center along the top 3 lace holes. There is no tongue gusset and none is needed.
After the top lace hole(s) the laces run through a doubled over eyestay panel drawing the shoe over the foot over a broader set of surfaces than laces just through holes. Effective.
The heel and midfoot construction assures the totally unstructured toe box area has a secure comfortable hold. I would call the fit more than “Slim” that is for sure due to the materials used. Maybe not quite a “tempo” speed shoe hold but pretty close with plenty of pliable mesh to keep my narrower right foot and wider left equally secure. I am easily true to size and secure with never a lacing adjustment, with both feet, a rarity in an unstructured thin mesh toe box
Renee: I’ve had the pleasure of wearing great shoes during 2022, and the Vanish Tempo is one of them. After running with the Vanish Carbon earlier this year, I was looking forward to the non-plated version of the shoe. The Vanish Carbon (read our RTR review) felt great underfoot, but the upper had issues. To get a good heel hold and fit, I had to tie the laces tight, which caused significant bunching and sliding of the tongue. I’m happy to say I had no problems with the upper of the Vanish Tempo. The heel hold is solid, the tongue stays in place (I had some slight bunching on longer runs, but nothing that affected fit and comfort). The heel has a fair amount of padding, the tongue is thin, and the upper material is flexible and breathable. Overall, the upper is everything I would want from a daily trainer. I wore a women’s size 8 and suggest true to size. The toebox and forefoot have a generous (not sloppy) width and height. The slim fit is not overly narrow.
Beto: Altra is finally tweaking its uppers and getting a better fit without losing that anatomical shape toe box and not being too roomy.
The first shoe with their Slim fit I ran was the Rivera 2 and I loved how that upper held my foot in place with good room in the toe box.
The Vanish Tempo is very similar in fit with a very accommodating upper and a soft and padded heel counter.The heel counter has a firmer bottom part and then the cushion starts to move to a soft and smooth material then going to that square shape heel collar which for me worked perfectly with no heel slippage, very stable when the shoe is locked in place.
The midfoot has a thin tongue with a firm material on top that flexes but protects the midfoot when tightening the laces too much.
I also like that the laces never came undone using a single knot.
The 3 eyelets towards the top work together with the underlays to make a nice and secure lockdown while the lower eyelets give the support you need to balance the roomy toe box.
The toe box has perfect room for my feet. I have wide feet but love snug fits so this upper will work very well for normal or narrow feet. I had no issues with breathability and I am running in very hot and humid conditions here in Mexico
I have to mention the Vanish Tempo has a very pronounced rocker you can feel when walking and that the shoe doesn’t feel like a zero drop at all which I think is good if you are transitioning to zero drop shoes.
My US12.5 pair fits true to size with a perfect fit. Great upper Altra!
Sam: The midsole foam is Altra’s new supercritical EGO Pro, an eTPE foam from what we understand. It is dual density with a softer layer below the foot and a somewhat firmer layer below that. Note how in the picture above the softer layer is thinner at the heel and thicker upfront to allow the foot to plunge down to toe off. Maybe too thick up front for my tastes the soft layer. In the Vanish Carbon, the carbon plate sits between the two layers while here there is no plate.
The total stack height front and back is 33mm which includes a flat squishy rubbery 4mm sockiner and with below that a softer EVA? Lasting board. The only firmish element in the stack is the thick rear outsole rubber as the front rubber feels when pressing and on the run to be relatively soft, even in a blown rubber commonly found upfront .
The flex profile combines a moderate rigid rocker with a surprisingly quite thin and flexible last few inches up front which is similar to the flex of the yet softer and springier Nike Invincible Run. In both shoes I find this final flex helps give some snap to the otherwise very soft forefoot of both shoes.
Altra’s EGO Pro foam is soft and at the same time very energetic, reminiscent of Nike ZoomX and New Balance FuelCell and at least as pleasing as those, maybe more. It is tons of fun to run but could use some modifications to help its really help it earn its “Tempo” name for me.
The heel feel with the thick rubber is fantastic and you would have to tell me a few times we are in a zero drop shoe. Even at slow paces the heel feels like 4mm or so with lots of rebound. The front of the shoe is very well cushioned, stable and has lots of bounce but lacks some snap and response, feeling a bit soft for my tastes in a tempo type shoe.
First the top softer foam layer I suspect is left over from the Carbon to take the bite out of the plate and allow the foot to plunge down towards the plate. I see no reason it could not be the same firmness of the decently soft layer below or make the top layer thinner at the front for more response. A more conventional firmer lasting board might also be in order. Or replace the thick mushy sockliner with a denser one, something I will try. Or as said before, make the front rubber a bit firmer. We are very very close to a truly awesome midsole here with the foam the clear star and shining more brightly than in the Carbon.
Jo: Soft, bouncy, (bordering on squishy, but I think the sockliner plays a big role here), a lot of rebound, noticeable forefoot rocker
Renee: Altra nailed it. The midsole ranks up there with the best of the best, in my opinion. The feel is soft and bouncy, and with 33mm of stack height, the shoe provides a lot of comfort underfoot. My first comparison thoughts were to the ASICS Novablast 2 and the New Balance Rebel v2. The bounciness reminds me of the Novablast 2, and the soft yet responsive feel reminded me of the Rebel 2. Of course, both of the shoes have a very different drop and geometry underfoot as compared to the zero drop/33mm stack of the Vanish Tempo. Like all Altra shoes, the Vanish Tempo is a zero drop shoe, but the geometry of the shoe creates a slight “rocker” when striking on the mid/forefoot.
Beto: Altra’s EGO Pro foam is fantastic, hands down!!! This is such a fun midsole to run! As Sam mentions this is a dual density foam a softer top foam can be felt and the bottom is a bit firmer, just by touch you can feel it but on the run it has a perfect balance of soft and dense midsole. The ride is very energetic and responsive. You can go easy and then crank up the pace in this shoe. This midsole reminded me a lot of FuelCell from New Balance, just a touch more dense and stable on landings. The foam and geometry of the midsole all work together to deliver a smooth ride with the rocker giving a nice rolling sensation from heel to toe.
For a 0mm drop shoe it runs more like a 3-4mm drop feeling like a Saucony Kinvara in that respect.
Renee: Unlike the Vanish Carbon, The Vanish Tempo outsole is rubber (not EVA), thank goodness. The rubber coverage is fairly standard for a lighter weight daily trainer. Some of the midsole remains exposed, but the rubber covers high impact areas under the forefoot and on the sides of the heel. My outsole shows no wear after 50 miles (mostly on gravel).
Sam: The outsole is in design identical to the Vanish Carbon with a large thick heel pad, followed by a central gap, and then segmented rubber upfront with the Carbon’s front rubber firmer. As there is no plate the outsole (and the firmer lower midsole) provide stability and structure. We have as described above a rigid mellow rocker followed at the very front by a flex point. I wish the front rubber was firmer, as in the Carbon to provide some pop and response to go with the foam’s clear rebound. I am also noticing some scuff type abrasion in that front flex area at about 20 miles and will keep an eye on that.
Beto: The outsole is identical in design to the Vanish Carbon as Sam mentions.
I can say the outsole grips very well on any road surface and on compacted dirt trails and paths. I put the Vanish Tempo to test on a rainy day and I had zero issues on wet road surfaces. The shoe felt secure and stable.
One thing I have to mention is the front outsole rubber is getting more abrasion than the rear firmer rubber pad. This said the picture above is at 150km so wear is appropriate at this point.
I can feel by touch the rear pad is a firmer rubber than on the front which feels softer. I can see the outsole will be durable but I believe the front could have more pop at toe off if the front rubber were made the same as the rubber at the heel. That would improve the ride and durability for me.
Renee: So, so, smooth. The zero drop might not work for everyone, but I absolutely love the ride of the Vanish Tempo. At slow and easy paces, the 33mm of soft midsole feels comforting. At mid and long distance moderate paces, the zero drop and geometry provides a ride that allows me to stride evenly from a mid to forefoot landing. The shoe is not heavy, so it works well for faster speeds too, although with 33mm of stack height, it’s not my first choice for speedy intervals or shorter, faster efforts.
Sam: As Renee says: smooth and soft with lots of energy return. Clearly one of the most fun and energetic riding midsoles. There is plenty of cushion for any length run and if you have never tried zero drop this is the place to start as in no way does Vanish Tempo feel overly low at the heel. I do find the forefoot a bit too soft lacking in pop for faster efforts making the Tempo more a daily training ride than a faster tempo one.
Beto: The ride is so smooth and energetic. It is one of those shoes that you know you’ll feel fast when you run in them. The ride is soft with lots of cushion and protection from the road on those longer runs, say 21k plus. The zero drop is something you will feel but not notice because it runs very similar for me to a Kinvara but it still is a zero drop shoe
The Vanish Tempo can be so smooth at easy paces: 6:30km – 5:00km but once you get into 5:00km – 4:30km the shoe starts to shine with a more energetic and bouncy feel which is great for those tempo runs/
One thing I loved about the Vanish Tempo was running intervals 100mts, 200mts and 400mts specially those 200mts sprints. The shoe feels completely different then. The rocker and energetic midsole worked together for a fast turn over. You can feel how the rocker and front flex Sam mentions makes the toe off so fast and smooth that I believe faster runners with 3:30km to 4:15km will benefit from this shoe a lot.
In my opinion the shoe at faster efforts disappears on my foot with such a fast response, fast turn over, and fast toe off. It lacks pop. Yes, that’s why I agree with Sam that if Altra swapped the front rubber outsole for a firmer one that should give it the pop it needs. Also I’m a heavy runner so maybe lighter runners will compress the EGO Pro midsole less and should get a better front response.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Renee: The Vanish Tempo is the shoe non-Altra runners need to try. Unfortunately, the $190 price tag might scare away those who already hesitate to run in zero drop. The geometry (much like the Vanish Carbon) provides a rocker-like ride, which makes the shoe feel like a low, but not zero, drop (at least from a midfoot strike). Given the relative light weight and high cushion, the Vanish Tempo works well for easy to moderate paces from shorter to long distance efforts. The shoe would not be my first choice for speed intervals, but the Tempo can handle it for runners who want only one shoe for every day of the week. I would not change anything about this shoe . . . except the cost.
Renee’s score: 9.6/10 (- .40 price)
New Smiles Score! Out of 5 This score is about how pleasing/fun the experience is on the run or in the case of race type shoes how effective it is to race.
Sam: I have run many many Altra over the years and the Tempo replaces the Torin 2.5 as my favorite from the brand.
The upper is impeccable in its comfort, lightness, and rear and midfoot hold while delivering a broad (enough) unstructured toe box with lots of splay room and comforting hold. Yes heavier, higher and more substantial than the Carbon’s upper at the rear but that what is required to make the rest work. In fact, I am thrilled Altra has moved away from their recent overly low ankle shoe collars here which made lighter uppers nearly impossible to work well for me be it road or trail.
The midsole is highly energetic and soft, just luxurious and super fun in feel. The stable heel landing with tons of rebound and early transition is fantastic. It could be firmer especially upfront to give the shoe more pop and snap. I think the soft front outsole, soft top layer of foam, plus soft sockliner and soft board could be reconsidered, too many softs added to the relatively soft foam. While I can see how they help take the edge off the Carbon and its plate where they are all as far as I can tell identical except that Carbon has firmer front outsole here they are too soft for me. This said the platform is not crazy, too soft and unstable in all its energy (Invincible) or mushy (say NB Fresh Foam Move) but is not as responsive and quick in overall turnover as it could be.
Value.. At $190 we are $10 above its less versatile and closest competitor the Invincible Run with a more practical high rebounding platform with a fantastic supercritical foam that is more stable and Tempo shod with a far better fitting and lighter upper. At $160 or so Altra would for sure get many more to try and buy but we know getting a unique high performing super foam as here is not easy or inexpensive to get these days when supply chains are in turmoil. And Altra got their unique super foam, no question about it. .
There is no doubt the ride is close to totally amazing and the fit is near perfect in hold and comfort. I could call it more all around daily training than tempo/ speed in nature. If you have never tried a zero drop shoe why not make it a super fun one that rides as if it was 4mm with never a low heel feel. I often talk about “training heels” and Altra, a few more millimeters of rear stack height from a cut piece of insole, but here the thought really didn’t cross my mind at all as the platform is so well balanced and the thick well matched rear rubber keeps things “on the level”. Of course start slowly to get used to the zero drop but here the transition should be shorter.
With a few tweaks (essentially a bit less softness especially upfront and a lower price the Tempo Vanish would score yet higher.
Sam’s score: 9.34 / 10
Ride 9.4 : A bit too soft especially upfront, could use some more pop especially for the “tempo”
Fit 9.7: Outstanding. Put this upper or at least its rear hold on the Carbon
Value 8.5 : Price pushes just beyond limits for a plateless shoe. Some front outsole durability concerns
Style 9: OK
Beto: This is the 0mm drop shoe so runners need to be careful transitioning. The $190 price point is high but worth every dollar as the shoe is versatile. You can do easy runs, tempo or take it to a local race. The shoe doesn’t feel like a 0mm drop. If you have run in a Kinvara you will have a similar sensation in drop and feel but the ride will be way more energetic and smooth.
Beto’s Score: 9.5 /10
Ride 9.5: The ride is smooth and energetic, a very easy shoe to pick up the pace.
Fit 9.5: The fit is a perfect balance between a trainer and a tempo shoe with an anatomical toe box.
Value 8.0: Price is high when you have other good choices at lower prices.
Style 9.8: Vanish Tempo looks good but needs more color options, less serious and more fun colors. but I like this white one.
Smiles: 😊😊😊😊1/2 This 0mm drop put a big smile on my face!
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Altra Vanish Carbon (RTR Review)
Approx. Renee: The carbon-plated Vanish is about one full ounce lighter in my women’s size 8 as compared to the Tempo. Underfoot, the Tempo is softer with more bounce, likely because it has no plate. I had issues with the upper of the Vanish Carbon (sliding tongue/heel hold), so between the two shoes I would choose the Tempo for that reason. That said, for marathon race paces, the Vanish Carbon (thanks to the plate) will provide both faster paces and reduced fatigue. Both shoes have a geometry that makes the ride feel like a low rather than zero drop.
Sam: The Vanish Carbon has not nearly the secure heel hold as the Tempo but is quite a bit lighter at 7.4 oz / 210 g vs. 8.5 oz / 241g for Tempo in my US8.5 in large part as a result of the lighter Carbon upper. I would trade some weight for the secure hold of the Tempo upper. The energy of the EGO Pro is more masked in the Carbon with the asymetrically flexing plate more prominent in the mix. Still zero drop it feels flatter and really needs to be run hard hard to shine unlike Tempo. I am not sure zero drop is the way to go in a carbon plated shoe despite the fine and identical to Tempo otherwise midsole geometry. Flexible carbon or not I think plated shoes need some drop to be effective for me. I bet a non carbon and or yet more flexible plate in the Carbon would be a big improvement.
Altra Rivera 2 (RTR Review)
Beto: The Rivera 2 is 1oz lighter than the Vanish Tempo but the Rivera has less stack and EGO foam only. The Rivera uses a similar slim fit upper design with dual mesh and a more daily trainer soft and cushioned heel counter. The lockdown is very good and keeps the foot in place and also has more structure than the Vanish Tempo. I think the Rivera 2 will work as a perfect companion for the Vanish Tempo and Vanish Carbon as it feels like the daily trainer that can go fast too and is light and responsive so then you can switch to the Vanish Tempo for faster training and longer runs then for race day the Vanish Carbon.
Rivera 2 US12 and Vanish Carbon US12.5.
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Fk (RTR Review)
Sam: A very close comparison here. The EGO Pro foam is very close to as energetic in feel and fun as Zoom X without a plate as in the Invincible. Adding more rubber and a more stable design in the Altra may take a bit of the crazy wild rebound of Zoom X off but with the Tempo you end up with a far more stable practical shoe at “only” $10 more. And as far uppers no contest the Altra’s is superior.
Topo Specter (RTR Review)
Sam: The Specter has a wider, more stable yet platform with an outer EVA frame and a super foam PEBAX core. The Altra is a little more exciting and little more linear and less broad underfoot and has a great implemented rocker and welcome 5mm drop. As far as uppers they are equally as fantastic in their toe box room and hold with a slight advantage to the Altra’s in hold.
Diadora Equipe Atomo (RTR Review)
Sam: A premium made in Italy uptempo daily trainer the $195 Diadora is beautifully crafted, long lasting, and very stable. Its proprietary foam is clearly firmer and more responsive, more of a classic tempo feel and is highly vibration absorbing. With a 36/31 stack and 5mm drop it essentially has the same amount of total cushion and weighs the same. The Altra is more fun fun, the Atomo more serious fun and leans more uptempo for me.
The Altra Vanish Tempo is available now including at our partners below
Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.
Beto Matamoros,Tamaulipas, Mexico
32 yrs old, Height: 5’10,, Weight: 195 lbs
I started running in 2016 and training to lose weight. I used to weigh 295 lbs and between running and Crossfit began my love for the fitness life and for running. I am now aiming to be a Boston Qualifier.
Weekly mileage: 60 – 75 miles Favorite distances: Marathon, Half Marathon and Ultra Marathon.
You can follow me on Instagram @betohughes https://www.instagram.com/betohughes/
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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