Long Term 400 Mile Review

Altra Torin 6 ($130/£140)

Editor’s Note: Matt Crehan brings unique perspectives to his first RTR solo review. Not only does he have a 2:18:23  marathon PR in 2021 but he owns a running store in the UK  Made to Run. Finally, he put 400 miles on his Torin 6 prior to his review!

Introduction

Matt: My first experience of Altra goes all the way back to the first iteration of the Paradigm, back then  it wasn’t the stability shoe it is today.  I used it for short runs, long runs and even track sessions, even putting it through its paces on a 40 x 400m ‘Emil Zatopek’ session with each 400m in around 72-75 seconds off 100m jog recovery. Why I tell you this is that such runs left me with a fondness for Altra a brand that grew out of the barefoot running craze of the early noughties which was heavily inspired by Chris McDougll’s ‘Born to Run’ in which the concept of barefoot running, though perhaps biomechanically sound, didn’t always fit the realities of paved streets which many of us have to run on. Out of this era, Altra’s ‘Zero Drop’ or as it’s now referred to ‘Balanced Cushioning’ and natural shaped toe box along with ample cushioning prevailed, enabling  “barefoot” biomechanics while giving ample protection to our bones and joints. 

The summer following my use of that original Paradigm, I got hit by a series of achilles injuries due to racing and training for the 1500m and mile in track spikes and so for around 5 years didn’t touch the Altra range. 

But in January of 2022, struggling with a knee injury brought on by overuse of carbon plated ‘super shoes’ in my build-up for what was meant to be the Seville Marathon and what ended up being the England Commonwealth Games trials in Manchester, due to said injury, I found myself picking up some samples of Altra shoes I’d had on the shelves at home for a couple years, one being a Torin 2.5 and the other a slightly more modern Rivera 1. Within a week of running in them, I started to feel a little knee pain relief.  Coincidentally I met with the new UK Altra Team to discuss placing an order for my shop for the AW22 season. 

Altra gave me a number of samples to train in, including the Rivera 2, Torin 5 and a Torin 6 with the latter, now finally able to be discussed. It’s worth noting that since getting the Torin 6 towards the end of January 22, I have run 400 miles in them before retiring them, around 50 miles further than I take most shoes.   

Firstly, my experience with the whole Altra current range is that the ‘Zero Drop/Balanced Cushioning’ isn’t noticeable at all, this in my mind is due to the addition of a curvature to the profile of the shoe which allows for a smooth transition throughout the gait cycle, helping negate worries my mind and my achilles had that I might be putting it at risk going back to Altra to log 80-100 mile weeks as I marathon train. 

The Altra Torin 6 is the latest in a line of Torin shoes which has jumped around with .5 versions along with the Torin Plush and Torin IQ etc.. In the Torin 5 and now 6 they streamlined the range, producing a  good all round everyday training shoe for your short and long runs and even as a speed session shoe if required, though other options such as the Rivera 2, Vanish Tempo and Escalante might be better suited for those looking for a lighter and more responsive shoe come session day, more on some of them later. 

The biggest thing that I was looking forward to in the Torin 6 was the updated molded heel collar, one of the only major changes to this Torin version over version 5 which was the first Torin to see the rollout of Altra’s Ego Max foam. 

Top: Torin 5,  Bottom: Torin 6

The Torin 6 remains a 28mm stack shoe, it gains around 20g / 0.9oz over its predecessor but that isn’t too noticeable for most uses, and still comes with a paper thin and slightly sharp tongue.       

Pros:

Molded heel collar provides fantastic heel and ankle lockdown. – Matt

Ample cushioning for long runs – Matt

Breathable knit mesh upper – Matt

Tacky outsole offering fantastic grip on wet roads – Matt

Natural Shaped toe box allows for spreading of the toes and a better toe off experience – Matt

Lower volumed upper around the midfoot allowing for a better fit and lockdown – Matt

Cons:

Sharp, super thin tongue which can cut into ankle if wearing low/no show socks – Matt

On the heavy side for faster work – Matt

Stats

Spec Weight: men’s 9.9 oz  / 280g   /  women’s 8.3 oz / 234g

Stack Height: men’s 28mm heel / 28mm forefoot

Available now.  ($130 / £140)

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Matt: My first impressions of the Torin 6 are that it continues the trend from Altra of trying to have a more appealing aesthetic, which for a brand with its very unique selling point, natural 

FootShape toe box, is always going to be a slight challenge. The Torin 6 ,and especially mine in the Grey/Red colour does a good job of hiding what in the Torin 2.5 I mentioned earlier made it look like I was about to head out to snorkel with dolphins when I’d look down at my feet! 

Once on foot, straight away you can tell that not only is the upper a more aesthetically pleasing design but one with a significant improvement in fit on that of version 5. 

The new molded heel collar offers a much more secure fit around the heel and ankle, something my ‘glass ankles’ were extremely thankful for and the slightly lower volumed knit mesh upper holds the midfoot and forefoot more securely, while still allowing for that natural spread of the toes. 

The molded heel collar actually does what it is meant to do in securing the heel when it is raised is that you notice that there isn’t a final eyelet for you to apply a heel slip/lock lacing method if you wanted to add that extra security. 

The downside to the upper is that Altra have brought the tongue from version 5 straight into version 6 and it’s very thin design with what I think is a quite sharp finish still leaving  me with cuts across my ankle if I choose to wear no-show or low running socks. 

Midsole

Matt: The Ego Max midsole carries over from version 5 of the Torin with very little change, it offers a soft, yet responsive feel providing ample cushioning to take  me from easy 5km runs to 20 plus mile long runs. it also provides enough stability that it doesn’t feel mushy or unstable if you choose to take it slightly off road or if you’re feeling a little tired from a hard day’s training the night before and your form might not be what it usually is. 

I used the Torin 6 for a range of easy and steady paced short and long runs from 5km to 25 miles in total during my Manchester Marathon block with paces ranging from easy 8min/mile – 7min/mile to steady 6min/mile paces and slightly tempo paces around 5:30min/mile. The Torin performed well during all runs, perhaps lacking in responsiveness due to its slightly increased weight during the faster paced runs, yet nonetheless it became a stable shoe in my marathon block. 

Outsole

Matt: Coming off the trails where Altra has the majority of its lineage with the Lone Peak, Olympus and Timp lines, the outsole of Altra’s current crop of road shoes have been fantastic. Out of the ones I’ve run in I would have to say the Provision 6 has the tackiest and grippiest of them all, but the Torin 6’s outsole offers more than enough grip for wet road surfaces and some baby trails. 

Altra uses their FootPod technology which maps the outsole rubber map to the foot’s bones and tendons to allow it to move and bend naturally with your foot.

Durability wise the outsole stood the test of time as I took the shoe to over 400 miles with the outsole is still in pretty good condition with some slight wear showing on some of the exposed Ego Max midsole and the tread patterns at the medial forefoot area.  

  

Ride

Matt: This may be a bit of a hot take, but after the injuries I sustained during my marathon cycles due to my overuse of carbon plated shoes for session days and marathon paced long runs, I think everyone should have an Altra shoe in their shoe rotation.  

My reasoning is that the ‘Balanced Cushioning’ gets the foot muscles to actually do some work, which in carbon plated shoes, the carbon plate is doing. This leaves many of us open to weakened muscles of the foot which in turn can lead to injuries further up the chain of the leg, in my case a knee injury. 

The ride of the Torin 6 is soft and well cushioned.  Its naturally shaped toe box allows spreading of the toes as you move into the toe off phase of the gait cycle and allows the ball of the foot and big toe to generate that push off with ease. 

The curvature added to the soles of many of the current Altra range and the better balancing of cushioning weight, including in the Torin, removes in my mind any worry of the zero drop feeling and the potential for added pressure on the achilles and calves. I have not suffered any issues there at all since swapping back to using Altra in January of 2022 and with over 1000 miles run in various Altra shoes from January 22 to now, August 5th.  It has also not caused me with any issues swapping back into other shoes in my rotation which have 10 or even 12mm drops although transitioning to zero drop if you are not used to it should be done cautiously. 

As mentioned earlier, my main quibble with the Altra Torin 6 is the added weight and its responsiveness at faster paces, but then one must recall it’s really designed more as a cushioned road shoe and Altra have quite a few other options in their range which, compared to the Torin 6, are better suited to those faster paced runs. 

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Matt: As stated the Torin 6 became a staple of my Marathon training block for the Manchester Marathon which I finished in a 10 second PR of 2:18.16, so my overall conclusions are that they are great everyday trainer for hitting easy and steady paces and for faster work if they are only shoe to hand, though personally I chose a different shoe from the Altra line for those faster days. The upper is more or less perfect which,  against some of the other current Altra line is a big deal, as heel slip and high volume midfoot have been a pretty much a staple issue recently for the brand. My one big complaint is the tongue, which really hurts when it leaves a cut across the front of your ankle on a run as short as 5km. The perfect thing for Altra to do here would be to take the nicely padded tongue they have in the Rivera and Rivera 2 and put  it in the Torin 6.

RTR Score 7.8/10 (Ride: 8, Fit: 8, Value: 7, Style: 7)

Smile Score 😊😊😊😊 

Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Torin 5

Matt: The forerunner to the Torin 6 features the same Ego Max midsole, a mesh upper and weighed 0.9 oz lighter in a men’s US9. Overall the two shoes are pretty comparable. They both have the painful tongue. The Ego Max cushion gives the same soft yet responsive ride, though the Torin 6 weight gain makes it a little less favorable at the faster speeds. The Torin 6’s molded heel collar and less voluminous upper across the mid and forefoot provide a much more secure and fitted upper, meaning the Torin 6 would be my pick out of the two. 

Rivera 2  (RTR Review)

Matt: As a daily trainer the Rivera 2 would possibly sit below the Torin 6 as my choice, though I used both concurrently. With a whole ounce less weight and only a 2mm stack less height the Rivera 2 places itself in a more competitive position for the faster days, with it’s Altra Ego midsole being firmer and more responsive than the Ego Max of the Torin 6. That said it does not offer the soft cushion feeling you might want on the longer runs. Both are shoes I’d go for depending on what my training was that day. But if you could merge the heel lockdown of the Torin 6 and the padded tongue of the Rivvera 2 onto either shoe’s midsole you’d be on to a winner. 

Vanish Tempo (RTR Review)

Matt: Altra’s companion shoe to the Vanish Carbon race shoe, the Tempo features Altra Ego Pro which is just a pure delight to run in and is suitable for slow, steady, fast and race day paces making it such a versatile shoe. Its downfall being the durability of said midsole and outsole which aesthetically at least began to wear after only one run and at £175 compared to the Torin 6’s,  £140 it is pricey. That being said the Vanish Tempo has been such a fun shoe for me to train in that even though not as durable, I think it would be my go to running companion over the Torin 6 no matter what run.

Hoka Clifton 8  (RTR Review)   

Matt: The Hoka Clifton line is pretty comparable to the Torin, being that neutral cushioned everyday running shoe from each brand respectively. The Clifton 8 has a 33mm heel stack and 28mm forefoot stack, with a 5mm drop, giving it a comparative forefoot stack height to the Torin 6 and somewhat more heel. 

I find Hoka’s EVA in the Clifton line to be what I can only describe of as ‘mushy’ making feel quite unstable in the shoes at times and giving me little responsiveness for picking up pace, where as the Ego Max foam is soft while still managing to remain stable and puts the Torin 6 as my pick between the two for that daily trainer requirement. 

Brooks Ghost 14 (RTR Review)

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 14 is another daily trainer and with it having some of the highest sale figures in our store and in the neutral mid-cushioned running shoe category is another great shoe to compare the torin against. The Ghost has a 36mm stack in the heel and a 24mm stack in the forefoot giving it a 12mm drop which is as opposite as you can get to the Altra Torin 6’s 0mm drop, which gives quite contrasting rides, 

I would also say the Ghost 14’s DNA Loft midsole is just a bit firmer than the Torin’s Ego Max. Personally I’m not the biggest fan of the Ghost preferring the softer feel of the Brooks Glycerin or more responsive feeling of the Hyperion Tempo and Elite if choosing a Brooks shoe. Between the Torin 6 and the Ghost 14 I’d again lean towards the Altra option. The one thing I would give the Brooks Ghost over the Torin is the upper fit and lockdown.  This is Brooks’ ‘bread and butter’ and the upper on 99% of their training shoes is just perfection. 

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