About two months ago I received a reviewer’s copy of The Altra Torin 2.0 and have been messing around in them ever since. First off, this is a big shoe, this is not to say that the shoe is large in size, but that it is thick, with a 27mm stack height. The height in and of itself is of no consequence to me, but since I typically run in a fairly minimal shoe, the Torin shocked me with the sheer volume of padding. I am taller in this shoe, and while an inch is menial, it is enough for people to notice and comment on them. Also, seeing that Hoka tends to have a cornerstone on the maximal shoe market, I have been asked numerous times if I liked my Hoka’s only to have to explain that they were indeed Altra branded shoes. A couple people looked at Altra's extra wide toe box and spotted the brand, but there was some brand confusion here.
That said, this is my second foray into Altra and their shoes. I’ve previously worn the Altra One, a shoe I had a mixed relationship with, especially on the construction side. This time around, Altra is more true to size—the 11.5 I ordered fit as it should and I didn’t have to swap for a 12. Further, while the One was a racing flat, the Torin is more of a highly cushioned road shoe that seems very well put together. The tongue makes sense, the shoe seems durable, and able to take a pounding, all positives.
The Torin has a high level of padding, the padding filling up the tremendous stack height of 27mm, and it feels like I am putting on a pillow. This feature took some getting used to, but felt great on recovery days. Yet the shoe remains zero drop, meaning you can run flat without an elevated heel, and thus while you don’t feel the road, your feet hang out in a wide toe box (no friction blisters here) and have a neutral, natural ride. Even with the thickness, the shoe remains flexible, and it moves with the foot surprisingly well. They lace quickly, can slip on and off, and unlike some brands, they do no rely on the heel collar for foot adhesion, thus freeing up my Achilles tendon from screaming at me in pain.
I do have mixed feelings on the padding. There is the age old debate of less versus more, am I landing softer or harder with more padding, and the science falls on both sides of said debate. Either way, the Torin doesn’t bother me while running, and feels comfortable overall, especially on recovery efforts. As an advocate of rotating shoes (I have four active, different pairs going right now), this shoe tends to be the model I slip on for the last 15-20 minutes of a recovery effort. Something to take the edge of the pounding off, something to put some good zero drop work on my calf muscles, and something to help me with my stride in a neutral setting. They handle grass and gravel well, the rocks are little bother, but I am hesitant to take them on the trail, especially a root laden path where one wants to feel the ground in order to remain safe.
Finally, they feel great for walking, and once I enter a more active phase of training I plan to update this section for speed work impressions.