Many shoes that provide maximal levels of cushioning tend to be a bit on the heavy side. The Altra Duo bucks that trend in two ways: a blown rubber outsole and a very thin upper are both innovations that provide comfort and cushion without adding extra weight to the shoe.
Altra Duo General Info
The Altra Duo is a new release from Altra in 2018. For the past few years Altra hasn’t had a neutral maximally cushioned shoe in it’s lineup, and the Duo fills that void. But unlike other maximally cushioned shoes I’ve seen/worn, the Duo is very light.
In fact, that was one of the first things that stood out to me about these shoes. When I opened the box, the shoes looked like beasts! They looked very big and very heavy. Neither concern, however, was justified.
The shoes fit true to size and felt good from the first time I put them on.
And just like all Altra shoes, the Duo is built on a zero drop platform and features a foot shopped toe box.
Altra Duo Sole Unit
The sole of the Altra Duo is composed of a blown rubber outsole with a midsole of injection molded foam. Even if you don’t know what that means, I can say that the Duo delivers on the promise of being a maximally cushioned shoe.
The outsole of the Duo is different from many shoes that I’ve ever seen/worn due to the spaces in the tread.
These spaces help keep the shoe lightweight, but there is is still ample tread to maintain traction with the road/sidewalk in most running conditions.
The midsole of the Duo is firm, but not uncomfortable at all. Add a thin insole to the mix, and the Duo has a comfortably firm feel.
The layers of the sole in the Duo combine to provide a very smooth ride, especially for a shoe with a 30 mm stack height.
Even though this shoe is maximally cushioned, the Duo does not feel squishy/spongy when the foot hits the ground.
While the Duo may not feel like you’re running on clouds, the firm sole responds well to any type of workout and the cushioning maintains its integrity during long training runs and/or races.
Altra Duo Upper Info
The upper of the Altra Duo is a bit of a mixed bag for me.
The upper is advertised as a super thin mesh upper, and on that front the Duo is exactly as advertised. The mesh is reinforced around the toe cap, the laces, and the heel cup with a lightweight rubber-ish material.
The mesh upper of the Duo breathes well, which is a plus for warm weather running. The flip side of the mostly mesh upper, however, is that any external water/moisture is going to come right through to your foot as well.
On the whole, the mesh is comfortable and I haven’t had any issues with any rubbing anywhere on my feet while wearing these shoes.
The one issue I do have with the upper of the Altra Duo is around the opening of the shoe. The edge of the opening is somewhat rigid, and when moving laterally I’ve found the edges to dig into my ankles quite a bit.
To be clear, I can’t think of any times while running that this has been a problem, but when wearing this shoe do my pre-run warm up (specifically side lunges) the area where the shoe meets the ankle can be a bit uncomfortable.
However, as soon as I start my run, I haven’t experienced any other issues with the upper of the Duo.
Altra Duo Conclusions
All in all, I’m pretty impressed with the Altra Duo.
I tend to prefer my road shoes to have much less cushioning so I can “feel” the road beneath my feet.
While the Duos don’t provide much ground feel, I can’t deny that the shoe offers a very smooth ride which matters more to me than feeling the ground beneath my feet with each step.
The Altra Duo will definitely stay in my rotation going forward, which I really didn’t think I would be saying before I tried the shoe.
The Duo performs as advertised, that is for sure.
We purchased a pair of Altra Duo from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.