Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Altra Torin Shoe Review: The Hoka Killer!

I have yet to thoroughly test my new Altra Torin shoes, but what I've experienced so far makes me like them. A lot. I've worn them all day at work and loved how comfortable they were. I've run on the treadmill and roads (both short 5K jogs) and they performed very well. Compared to my Hoka Stinson Evos, these Torins are the hands-down (feet up?) winners. Both shoes are full of extra cushioning. That's where the similarities end. The Hokas are awkward, unresponsive, inflexible, heavy, expensive, and narrow. The Torins are beautiful, responsive, flexible, lightweight, reasonably priced, and have a wide forefoot. They are not perfect on any of these measures, but they are good. Add in the extreme cushioning (which also provides nice protection) and you have a pretty awesome ultra shoe! The only reason I've "put up" with the Hokas is because they do provide a high level of cushioning and protection--something I value for long ultramarathons. The Torins should do the same, but with greater "class." I actually like them. They look good. Feel good. Fit my feet. These shoes are Hoka Killers!

The Torins fit true to size--unlike my Altra Superiors and Instincts which were small (I had to size up from my normal 13 to 14s in both). Some people have complained about the lack of secure lacing--especially at the top--it's not been an issue for me.  Interestingly, the Torins have the least wide toebox of my Altra shoes (still large and roomy, but not clown-like as with the Superiors and Instincts).

I cannot fully endorse any shoe until I have more than 50 miles of testing on them. I'd feel better if I reviewed them after 100 miles. Well, I'll be using my brand new Altra Torins at the Umstead 100 mile trail race this weekend. In four days I'll know if they passed the real test of an ultramarathon. Come back next week and see my Torin shoe review update. Wish me, and my Torins, well as we strive to tame the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run. I'll have both my Hokas and the Torins at the Umstead 100. Kind of a head to head (toe to toe?) competition. Who's going to win?  My money is on the Torins.  

(Actually, I guess my money has already been placed on both shoes. No free samples for me. I paid retail for both pairs.)

UPDATE: Both shoes performed well at Umstead 100. I finished the race in 23:56. Had three small toe blisters (probably from the narrower toebox of Hokas). Still, the Hokas provided that extra cushioning that really helped late in the race--especially on downhill sections. I think the Torins are my go-to ultra shoe for up to 50 miles. Hokas for 50-100 miles.

14 comments:

jeff said...

wait until you run 50 miles on hard frozen trails before you say they win over Hoka's

good luck at Umstead 100

think positive and run/walk your way to a PR

jeff

Chris said...

Positive thinking should last until...the starting gun goes off! I'm in trouble! Hey, I got in 6 miles last week and 3 this week. That's a good 50% taper, right?

Juli said...

Great to see you and congratulations on your sub 24!!! Just as you boldly predicted on 3/17 and only a few minutes off your actual finish time -- wow! You are amazing and it was great fun to spend time on the trail with you. I wish you could have dragged me with you since I choked in loops 6 and 7 and now I have to try again for sub 24 -- suggestions??? Hello to Sharon who I think of every day when I look at the lovebirds hanging in our kitchen window -- priceless! Keep doing 100 milers -- you are so good at it! Rest up, but not for too long... :)

Chris said...

THANKS Juli! It was great running, walking, and chatting with you during the race.

The Freemans said...

So how'd the Torin hold up? I believe my feet need more cushion than the Instincts provide and still a bit more than my Kinvaras. I've been trying to decide between trying the Hokas and the Torins

Chris Freeman

Chris said...

Torins were very nice. Used the Hokas too--and they were even nicer on the downhill sections. Extra cushioning is a blessing after 50-60 miles on the trails!

The Freemans said...

So for a non ultra runner, up to marathon distance, but looking for more cushioning than the Instincts but keeping within the minimal drop approach...?

I like my Saucony Kinvaras and have done up to marathon distance in them, but prefer the overall feel of the Instincts due to the shape, but the Instincts have really beat my feet up due to the lack of cushion.

Chris said...

Chris,

You should try the Altra Torins. They are like a super-cushioned Instinct (but still zero-drop with wide forefoot).

cashonly said...

Now that you've had some time with the Torins, are you still happy with them? After being a Newton fan, I feel I need more cushion as my mileage goes up (my first 50 is Umstead 50 in 2014).

I just got some Hokas and tried them out. While I like the cushioning, they feel a bit tight in the toe box and on my 6 mile test run, possibly with some rubbing on the toes.

I'm wanting something with a big toe box and lots of cushioning. I'm wary of the Altra's though because I wore the Instinct in a road marathon and I was in pain in most of my lower body starting at about 8 miles even though I had done 20+ on trails with them with no problem.

Chris said...

I do still like the Altra Torins and they do have a much wider toebox than the Hokas (which are a bit tight for me). I have a new shoe I'm trying--the Skechers GoRun Ultra. About same cushioning as the Torins, but more flexible, lightweight, and cheaper. The Ultra has much better traction too. Haven't tried them in any long runs yet.

cashonly said...

I just got the Skechers GoRun Ultras. I took them out for 13 miles this morning and they felt pretty good the whole way. Seems to be plenty of room for my toes. I think I have narrow heels and they are "ok" in the heel. Not as good as a New Balance shoe or my beloved Newtons, but they'll do. Nice cushioning like the Hokas without the toe issues. I didn't find any problem with my foot rolling, but I was only on asphalt.

Chris said...

I do find the Skechers Ultra to fit a little tighter than the other Skechers models. Still reasonable toe room, but a bit trimmer all over. Had some ankle rolling issues on technical trails with the Ultra. More testing needed, but I'm worried about them on long trails with uneven ground.

cashonly said...

I got the Skechers GoRun Ultra. Really like them for trails. Unfortunately, for roads, they are no good. The problem is the outer sole wears too quickly on asphalt. On my first run in them, I did 13 miles and lost 6-7mm off the outside heal of the sole!
Skechers was good and sent me a replacement pair, but I'm only using them for trails.

Chris said...

That's a good warning to avoid roads in the Skechers Ultra.