It is still early on a Saturday fall morning with my run already in the rearview. Sometimes the grind of the week with the demand of early rising stays the course into the weekend. I am all for sunrise runs, but I also enjoy sleep more than anything. I accepted this situation and after some fresh brew I slipped on the Altra Outroad 2 ($120).
My half marathon route was going to incorporate road running and non-technical wetted singletrack and these shoes were an ideal choice. I then capitalized on feeling the warmth of the earth wake up all around me.
I have been wearing the Altra Outroad 2 over the last three months for when my runs incorporate both road and trail — it is designed to be a hybrid or cross running shoe, and it is optimal for smooth transitions and getting the job done with comfort and ease.
The Altra Outroad 2 hit the market in June 2023, after the original Altra Outroad came to the scene in 2022. It is made from the Slim FootShape shoe last and hits the scale with an actual weight of 10.26 ounces (291 grams) for a U.S. men’s size 9. It has the zero drop Altra fans are accustomed to, and a claimed stack height of 27 millimeters.
Altra Outroad 2 Upper
The Altra Outroad 2 upper is made out of engineered mesh with modest comfort in the heel cup and tongue. It feels cozy in the saddle, especially with the stiffened plastic heel for stability. The upper material is durable and debris resistant, but it isn’t the most breathable.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test it in rain, but I did some backyard mock trials with the hose as well as running through standing water out on the trail. The drain holes on the lateral side located within the welded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) work, but the thicker mesh material tended to hold on to water just slightly. Socks and continued running matter too, so takes this methodology with a grain of salt. My experience in other Altras is that they dry quickly.
The TPU reinforcement runs along the lateral side and onto the toebox, providing some structure and toebox protection for those trail moments.
In comparison to other Altras, the Outroad 2 has an elevated lateral arch. However, through the gait cycle, the feet feel smooth and balanced yet lifted. Likewise, the upper on the toebox has a tendency to crease along the medial forefoot at the base of the laces while hiking, walking, and slowly running. Initially, this was a cause for concern for me. The crease marks are visible in the tightly woven mesh when the shoes are at rest. Fortunately, once I hit my stride either hiking or while running, the creasing upper mesh was negligible and not an issue.
Altra Outroad 2 Midsole
The Altra Outroad 2 uses the brand’s familiar Altra EGO midsole foam, as found in the Altra Escalante 3 and the Altra Lone Peak 7 — check out my Altra Lone Peak 7 review. As a regular Altra wearer, this is par for the course for my feet and I am overall satisfied with this medium cushioned foam.
Responsiveness and more cushion are sometimes at odds with each other. It is a fine balance to ensure that the extra cushion doesn’t absorb stride compression forces without adequate energy return. There is something to be said for a midsole that can protect, elicit a strength response, and ignite some nimble athleticism into a trail run — while still providing cushioned support.
I believe the Altra EGO midsole foam does this well, both for their road and trail running shoes. The Outroad 2 is definitely heavier than a road shoe, but these weren’t designed for tempo runs and intervals.
Altra Outroad 2 Outsole
One of the main reasons I have been such a huge fan of the Altra Outroad 2 is the MaxTrac outsole. So much of my day-to-day training is on road and on non-technical, under-aggressive trails. This is primarily for efficiency during a harried work week.
Noteworthy, for southern Oregon where I live, is that during the summer the substrate dries out, and during the winter there can be a lot of rain and snow. But in the ideal shoulder seasons, the MaxTrac works and allows for that seamless road to easy trail transition that so many trail runners experience routinely.
Basically, the outsole is characterized by many shallow and small lugs on a balanced zero-drop platform. There is a river of exposed midsole foam from the heel flowing up to the forefoot, separating the big toe from the remaining four. This highlights the functionality for landing and push-off mechanics, and allows for decent stability and flexibility.
Also, given the environmental circumstances described, MaxTrac provides a decent amount of traction for notable performance. I haven’t noticed any substantial lug wear.
I also enjoy not dreading the first and last two- to three-mile road stretches to and from the trail. There also isn’t road stickiness or pronounced ground contact time as experienced with other outsoles, but which are definitely superior when it comes to technical, more challenging, all-weather, and all-terrain trail running.
Altra Outroad 2 Overall Impressions
It is good to have a hybrid trail runner such as the Altra Outroad 2 in the closet. I am a firm believer in having the right shoe for the course and/or training demand. A cross shoe such as the Altra Outroad 2 opens doors to training flexibility with comfort and durability. Simply put — this is an extremely versatile running and hiking shoe.
Also, Altra’s new iterations are proving to be more durable than original models, extending their lifetimes and mileage capabilities. It is ideal to keep this type of shoe in the mix throughout the year. I often take it along with me on long field days on the chance that I can run during lunch. I often don’t know where I will be or what running grounds I will have access to, thus, having the Outroad 2 allows for a dependable and good performing shoe on road or trail.
It is important to note that the Outroad 2 runs small and going up a half size is highly recommended. As stated before, this model is the Slim FootShape, thus wider feet beware. Especially take note if you are a runner accustomed to Altra’s Original FootShape fit.
The thick upper mesh isn’t the most breathable, but I don’t mind it on early morning star-filled sky runs when the temperatures dip into the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. On my solo run this morning, I agreed with myself that the Outroad 2 is ideal for distances up to 20 miles, maybe a trail marathon if seasoned. It is a zone two trainer with movement in mind.
Overall, I am keen on having this addition to my rotation, and I use it accordingly.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Altra Outroad 2 and, if so, what were your thoughts?
- Do you have a place in your running wardrobe for a road to trail shoe?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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